News in Brief: National Deficit Surpasses $1 Trillion for Second Year, and More

National Deficit Surpasses $1 Trillion for Second Year

For the second year in a row, the federal budget has surpassed $1 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office announced a $1.29 trillion deficit for the fiscal year ending September 30 on Friday. This is down from last year’s $1.4 trillion deficit, but the Obama administration has said it expects another $1.4 trillion deficit for the 2011 fiscal year. This is sure to assure whichever party controls Congress after November’s elections a tough governing term, reported The Associated Press. To date, $1.09 trillion have been appropriated for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Federal Reserve Prepared to Act to Boost Economy; Social Security Benefits Won’t Rise in 2011

Consistently low inflation and a sluggish drop in unemployment has led Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to announce a plan to take new action to boost the economy. In his comments, Bernanke laid out the intellectual foundation for efforts to strengthen growth that are expected to be announced at the Fed’s next policy meeting, reported The Washington Post. The primary target of the Fed’s actions is to return inflation to predicted levels, but hopes remain that the stimulus could also tackle large unemployment numbers – according to the US Department of Labor, the current rate is 9.6 percent.

More than 58 million Americans who receive monthly Social Security payments will not receive a cost-of-living increase to their benefits next year, the government announced, following the release of data showing new inflationary pressures. The automatic, annual adjustments are set to keep up with inflation, and 2011 will be the second year in a row without an adjustment, reported MarketWatch. The last adjustment, an increase of 5.8 percent, was made in 2009.

Insurance Companies Will Continue to Charge More for Sick Kids

Major insurance agencies, arguing that under the Obama administration’s new health care rules many parents were waiting to buy insurance until their kids were sick, stopped offering new child-only policies early this year. To keep affordable health insurance for children available, the administration was forced to respond by telling insurers that they can charge more to cover sick children after all, reported The New York Times, as long as there is a period of time each year that anyone can sign up without extra charges. The fix will last until 2014, when almost everyone will have to buy health insurance.

Two Convicted of Hate Crimes in Death of Immigrant

Two Pennsylvania men were found guilty by a federal court Thursday on multiple charges related to the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant. Derrick M. Donchak, 20, and Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, had been acquitted of murder charges in state court, but were convicted of depriving Luis Ramirez, 25, of his civil rights and committing hate crimes. Originally, the men were convicted of simple assault, but backlash from Latino groups helped push the case to federal court, reported CNN.