Bo makes a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations before 90,000 visitors come through the doors of the People’s House this holiday season. Find out more about the 2012 White House Holiday celebrations, including the special tributes to troops, veterans and military families at wh.gov/holidays.
While the President is committed to working with Congress to reach compromises on areas of disagreement, there is no reason to delay acting where everyone agrees: extending tax cuts for the middle-class. There is no reason to hold the middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners.
Our economy can’t afford that right now. New analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that:
Allowing the middle-class tax rates to rise and failing to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) could cut the growth of real consumer spending by 1.7 percentage points in 2013. This sharp rise in middle-class taxes and the resulting decline in consumption could slow the growth of real GDP by 1.4 percentage points, which is consistent with recently published estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
Faced with these tax hikes, the CEA estimates that consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would have in 2013 just because of higher taxes. This reduction of $200 billion is approximately four times the total amount that 226 million shoppers spent on Black Friday weekend last year. As Figure 5 shows, this $200 billion reduction would likely be spread across all areas of consumer spending.
American consumers are the bedrock of our economy, driving more than two-thirds of the overall rise in real GDP over 13 consecutive quarters of economic recovery since the middle of 2009. And as we approach the holiday season, which accounts for close to one-fifth of industry sales, retailers can’t afford the threat of tax increases on middle-class families.
President Obama and Congressional Democrats have proposed to extend all the income tax cuts that benefit families who make less than $250,000 per year.
The President has called on Congress to act now on extending all income tax cuts for 98 percent of American families and not to hold the middle-class and our economy hostage over a disagreement on tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000 per year. The Senate has passed this bill and the President is ready to sign it.
As the holiday season approaches, I think back to my childhood and the times enjoyed with my family. We were lucky. My immigrant parents realized the American Dream, and on the fourth Thursday of every November we had much to be thankful for. Even if my dad sometimes wasn’t there because he had to work, we didn’t mind. As a doctor, he and his fellow health care professionals knew that sickness takes no holiday. Policemen and firemen, plumbers and 911 operators: all kinds of Americans know well the sacrifices and pride that comes with providing essential services.
But while the right to one’s health and safety may be inalienable, the right to shop is not. Yet Wal-Mart recently announced that it would open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day; Target and Toys R Us followed suit, with plans to open at 9 p.m. They are hardly alone. The Gap Stores (Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic) will be open Thanksgiving Day, as will Sears and Kmart. Shoppers may appreciate the extra hours, but what about all the people who will have to end their Thanksgiving meal, or forgo it altogether, in order to man the cashiers and stock the shelves?
In the battle for holiday shopping dollars, the early bird gets the worm. And with spending expected to rise more than 4 percent this year according to the National Retail Federation, retailers are doing everything they can to draw in consumers and build loyalty before this year’s holiday shopping melee.
And there’s a lot at stake—according to some estimates, the holiday season accounts for as much as 40 percent of total annual sales with many retailers still in the red before shoppers descend on their local malls on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).
But times are changing. Despite improving confidence in the economy, consumers might still be feeling a bit wary about opening up their wallets and going overboard this holiday season thanks to sluggish economic growth and the fact that millions of Americans remain unemployed.
That’s meant retailers have had to get much more creative when it comes to pitching their wares to consumers, running advertisements and establishing holiday displays earlier than ever. By mid-October, Target had already started running its holiday commercial, a move that the industry hadn’t seen before.
If you’re planning to go all out and buy someone a laptop or tablet this holiday season, but aren’t sure which device to choose, then here’s some advice: go with a tablet.
According to a new survey from price comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com, 59 percent of consumers would rather receive a tablet than a laptop this year. Which tablets are on most people’s wish lists? Apple’s iPad and iPad mini.
In the survey of 1,475 U.S. online shopping consumers, 63 percent of respondents said that of all tablets, they would prefer the brand-new fourth-gen iPad, or the iPad 3, released back in March. Twenty-two percent said they would like to receive a Samsung Galaxy tablet this year, while 20 percent want the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and 13 percent are coveting a Microsoft Surface tablet.
This holiday season, Minnesotans in favor of same-sex marriage rights are being encouraged to talk politics and religion at the dinner table.
Turning a popular American adage on its head, Minnesotans United for All Families released a “Holiday Conversation Starter” just before Thanksgiving that encouraged families to engage in a “conversation about why marriage matters with the people you see every day.”
Minnesotans United’s goal is to defeat a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, which will be up for vote in November 2012. If the amendment fails, gay marriage won’t be legal in the Land of Lakes, but the legislature or state courts could eventually recognize it. To date, constitutional bans on same-sex marriage have passed by popular referendum in 29 other states. A ban has been rejected once, by Arizonans in 2006, though voters approved the same measure two years later.
After being seized by Republicans following landslide elections in 2010, the state legislature passed an amendment in May that defines marriage exclusively as a union between one man and one woman. The vote fell nearly along party lines, though four Republicans broke ranks and voted against the amendment, including freshman John Kriesel, who lost both legs in Iraq in 2006 while serving with the Minnesota National Guard.
A 14-year-old Filipino-American boy abducted in July by suspected Islamic militants in the Philippines is free, officials said.
Kevin Lunsmann was reunited with his mother, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said Monday, without offering additional details.
“It was a tough time. It was a tough five months,” Kevin’s father, Heiko, told CNN affiliate WSET, from the family home in Lynchburg, Virginia. “I’m just so happy.”
Heiko Lunsmann said the boy had plotted his escape for a while and eventually seized the opportunity some time late last week while his guards slept.
He “was spotted alone” Saturday about six miles southwest of Lamitan City on the island of Basilan, a stronghold of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, the official Philippines News Agency said.
Army officials turned him over to American forces in the southern Mindanao region, the Philippine government said in a statement to CNN affiliate TV 5.
The Philippine Inquirer quoted the Lamitan city mayor, Roderick Furigay, as saying Kevin walked for two days, surviving on candies his captors presumably gave him and on coconuts that he retrieved by climbing trees.
“In this holiday season nothing makes me happier than knowing that an innocent victim is returned to his family in time for holiday celebrations,” Harry Thomas, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, said in a weekend statement.
“If ever we are to be inspired by the human spirit, we should take comfort in the courage, commitment and love that the Lunsmann family exhibited during this trying ordeal,” Thomas added.
A market research firm has boosted its projection for Kindle Fire shipments in the current quarter, as the Amazon tablet is proving to be one of the hottest consumer devices this holiday season.
“Our supply chain numbers are up to 6 million now,” Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch, said in a phone interview Friday.
Shim said the timeline for manufacturer build plans was originally at 4 million units. “Shortly after preorders they upped it to 5 [million],” Shim said. “Then, about a week and a half ago as they were getting closer to the actual launch date, they upped it to 6 [million].” The Kindle Fire went on sale November 15.
This comes after eDataSource told CNET last week that preorder sales through Amazon continued to be very strong.
Guess they didn’t read the reviews…