Obama seeks $310 billion in tax cuts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama is seeking as much as $310 billion in tax cuts as part of a massive stimulus plan to counter what senior policymakers warned could be a prolonged period of economic stagnation and deflation.

Obama's plan is the latest in a series of measures aimed at tackling a financial crisis that began with U.S. mortgage defaults in 2007 and has now plunged major economies into recession, reshaped the banking landscape and taken entire countries to the brink of bankruptcy.

Over the weekend, both Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, and Lucas Papademos, vice president of the European Central Bank, highlighted the risks of deflation -- an economically damaging spiral of falling prices and demand.

Investors have, however, begun to make tentative bets that the worst of the turmoil triggered in September by the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers is over.

Kicking off the first full week of 2009, they pushed up stocks, the dollar and commodities while selling safe-haven plays such as government bonds and the Japanese yen.

Elsewhere there were signs of greater stability. South Korea, one of those countries that appeared to be on the brink of financial collapse, said its foreign exchange reserves rose in December for the first time in nine months.

Helping increase the appetite for riskier assets, senior Democratic aides said Obama planned to discuss his tax cut and stimulus package plans with Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives on Monday.

The tax relief proposals are designed to attract support from fiscal conservatives in Congress, who prefer cutting taxes to increasing federal spending.

Under Obama's proposal, about 40 percent of an economic package worth as much as $775 billion would be in the form of tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, one aide said.

FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC FIRESTORM

The U.S. economy is in need of drastic measures. U.S. jobs data at the end of the week are expected to show half a million jobs were lost in December alone, pushing the unemployment rate to 7 percent.

"The financial and economic firestorm we face today poses a serious risk of an extended period of stagnation -- a very grim outcome," Yellen, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee in 2009, said.

"I'm strongly supportive of a substantial fiscal stimulus package," she said at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association on Sunday.

"If ever, in my professional career, there was a time for active, discretionary fiscal stimulus, it is now."

Even with the Fed's efforts to restore credit flows, an extended period of economic weakness was likely, she added.

Yellen also said the Fed would likely expand its raft of unconventional monetary policy measures now that its benchmark rate has hit rock-bottom. The Fed's target rate is between 0.25 percent and zero.

The ECB's Papademos, meanwhile, said that more interest rate cuts may be needed to support the euro zone economy and keep deflation at bay.

"We will do what is necessary, in terms of the timing and in terms of the size (of interest rate policy action) to ensure that price stability is preserved," he said.

Central banks elsewhere are rushing to reduce interest rates to historically low levels.

The Bank of England is expected to cut interest rates to 1.25 percent this week, taking its base rate to the lowest since the BoE was founded in 1694.

Central banks in South Korea and Indonesia are also expected to lower borrowing costs again this week.

STOCK RALLY CONTINUES

Since hitting multi-year lows in November, stock markets have responded positively to the flood of money pouring into the system from central banks and governments.

Tokyo's Nikkei average ended a shortened session up 2.1 percent, while stocks elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region gained 1.4 percent by 0337 GMT, hitting a two-month high.

Oil prices gained 1.8 percent, while base metals such as copper and zinc also rose on expectations of a recovery in industrial demand.

Still, some analysts cautioned against expecting a rapid rebound in economic growth.

"It took more than three years for the economy to recover from both the dot.com bust of 2000 and the stock market crash of 1929," Merrill Lynch's U.S. economist David Rosenberg said in a note.

"So, in our view, hopes that the economy is going to recover as soon as mid-year are likely to be dashed in coming months."

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On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.