The US budget deficit for the current year will be about four times that of last year, reflecting government spending to ease the deep recession. The huge increase could hinder US President Barack Obama’s hopes of reforming health care, energy and education.
The deficit reflects government spending to bail out Wall Street and the banks, as well as Obama’s economic stimulus bill.
Obama, while acknowledging his reforms will cost large chunks of money, defends the deficit on the grounds that he inherited a massive amount of red ink from the previous administration.
The deficit is now forecast to climb by US$89 billion to US$1.84 trillion in the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, meaning the government will be borrowing US$0.46 for every US$1 needed to run the government under the Obama administration’s plan.
In one of the few positive signs to emerge in the period of deep global recession, the actual 2009 deficit was likely to be US$250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another US$250 billion in financial bailout money.
Meanwhile, the White House proposed on Monday to raise nearly US$60 billion by closing tax loopholes including those related to the estate tax. It also revived a bid to cap deductions wealthy individuals can claim.
Funds raised from the estate tax and other changes would beef up a reserve fund of US$634 billion that Obama wants to use to revamp health care and expand insurance to tens of millions of Americans who lack it.
The proposals “take on what we believe are a series of unjustifiable loopholes, unjustifiable tax breaks that we simply can not afford,” said a senior administration official who could not be identified under the ground rules of a briefing for reporters.
SECRET OUT: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday accidentally revealed that the infections occurred at the ministry’s Taoyuan General Hospital The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the fifth COVID-19 case in a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital, where four other medical workers were confirmed to have been infected over the past week. The latest case is a nurse who had tested negative on Tuesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference. However, on Thursday, she developed symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a cough, and a second test yesterday found that she was infected, Chen said. She is the head nurse of a ward where two
VIGILANCE: While two of the cases are family members of a nurse, there is no sign of community spread and the source of infection is identifiable, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four new domestic COVID-19 cases associated with a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital. Since the first case was identified on Tuesday last week, five healthcare workers — two doctors and three nurses — at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Taoyuan General Hospital have tested positive for the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that two of the four new cases are the husband and daughter of a nurse (case No. 863) who had earlier been confirmed to have COVID-19. The husband (case No. 864)
Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan, is opening its first store in Taiwan today. The three-story Don Don Donki store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, which operates 24 hours a day, has already created 400 jobs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said in a press release. Many Taiwanese, including Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), consider a trip to Don Quijote an essential stop in Japan. “I have been to Don Quijote at least 10 times myself,” Huang said yesterday at a news conference announcing the store’s opening. “They are rendering an important service, because we cannot travel
CHANGE OF GUARD: Hsiao Bi-khim’s attendance at Joe Biden’s inauguration will come as a boost to those in Taiwan who feared that the new US administration would be less friendly than that of Donald Trump to the nation Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to attend US President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony at the US Capitol after she was invited by the US Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a news release issued by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US said last night. The news came as a surprise as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been reticent about the matter, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members had accused the Democratic Progressive Party administration of hedging its bets on the Republican Party. Asked about when Hsiao received the invitation, the ministry did not