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National Govt & Politics
Fed Chair raises possibility of interest rate cut to spur economy
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Fed Chair raises possibility of interest rate cut to spur economy

Fed Chair raises possibility of interest rate cut to spur economy

Fed Chair raises possibility of interest rate cut to spur economy

Jawboned by President Donald Trump to cut interest rates, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress on Wednesday that weaker signs of domestic economic growth in the second quarter combined with trade tensions could lead the Fed to reduce interest rates in coming months in an effort to spur new growth.

"In particular, economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the U.S. economy," Powell told a House committee in his regular update on the economy.

While citing strong growth at the start of 2019, Powell said the second quarter data raises some questions about what is otherwise a strong and health economy.

"However, growth in business investment seems to have slowed notably, and overall growth in the second quarter appears to have moderated," Powell testified.

“We see the economy as being in a good place,” Powell added, as he faced repeated questions from lawmakers about where monetary policy would go next.

Democrats also pushed the Federal Reserve chief to publicly repeat his declaration of earlier this year - that he would not let President Trump push him out of the Fed post.

Asked by panel chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) what he would do if the President told him he was fired, Powell calmly said he would not quit.

“Of course, I would not do that,” Powell said in a low tone.

“My answer is, I would not do that,” Powell added, saying he fully intends to serve his four year term at the Fed.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • Authorities arrested 35 people earlier this month in a series of nationwide immigration raids that targeted 2,000 families suspected of entering the country illegally, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  Citing government figures, The New York Times reported 17 people who were apprehended were part of families that crossed the border together while 18 people were considered 'collateral apprehensions.' An unidentified Homeland Security official also confirmed to CNN that 35 people were arrested in the raids, which were slated to take place in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. The Times previously reported the operation was aimed at apprehending families that recently crossed the border and which were notified in February to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office and leave the United States. Officials do not typically announce planned immigration raids ahead of time, according to The Associated Press. President Donald Trump, however, confirmed the raids were set to take place and touted the effort as a major operation in his efforts to stymie illegal immigration. 'If the word gets out, it gets out. Hundreds of people know about it,' he told reporters July 12. 'It's a major operation. … They're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from.' The advanced notice spurred action from immigrant advocates and might have prompted some of those targeted to flee.  'There is no way to quantify the impact that had but you could turn on any TV station for several weeks (and learn about the raids), this being one of the lead topics,' acting ICE Director Matt Albence told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. 'It's very difficult to locate those individuals who don't want to be found.' Albence told the Times on Monday that he was unaware of 'any other population where people are telling them how to avoid arrest as a result of illegal activity.' 'It certainly makes it harder for us to effectuate these orders issued,' he said. From mid-May to mid-July, nearly 900 people were arrested by ICE officers as part of cross-check operations in which regional field offices dedicate resources toward a goal like picking up people who remain in the U.S. despite final deportation orders or people suspected of entering the country illegally who have criminal records, according to BuzzFeed News. White House officials on Tuesday said 605 people who have criminal records and who were suspected of entering the country illegally were recently picked up by ICE officers.
  • It was framed as a clear decision- does JEA shrink in to the future, or does it grow? After months of detailing relatively grim options involving layoffs, rate hikes, and more, JEA’s Senior Leadership Team has now put forward details of an alternative “non-traditional” response, which would spare those consequences, by removing JEA from the City of Jacksonville’s government structure. The Board of Directors voted Tuesday to move forward with exploring that “non-traditional” response- to solicit and study community or private ownership of the utility. This all comes as part of JEA’s strategic planning process. Leadership has said in recent months that continuing on JEA’s path without any change would lead to electric rates climbing 52% by 2030, with water rates up 16%. This is the result of several factors, including continued moves toward energy efficiency, which largely means less revenue for the utility. To avoid this outcome, the utility rolled out a proposal for what they deemed “austere” changes last month, involving 574 layoffs and more moderate rate hikes. JEA’s Board of Directors voted to move forward with planning for that proposal at that time, but said they wanted more information about other paths that could be taken. JEA leadership had previously talked about an alternate “non-traditional” approach, but Tuesday’s Board meeting was the first time more information was provided about what that would look like. There were several different possibilities, but the commonality is removing JEA from the city government structure and putting it in to the hands of community or private ownership. The Board ultimately voted to move forward with this option instead, saying they want to work on growing JEA in to the future, and this is the way to do it.  There are several different options that JEA will now consider in terms of new ownership, from community control to running as a private operation to partnering with some other company, including major tech or oil and gas. As part of this exploration, JEA says there will be “minimum requirements” to any deal. That will include customer rebates, base rate stability, protections for employee compensation and retirement benefits, moving forward with a new Downtown headquarters, and more. Multiple Board members spoke about the importance of these measures, in wanting to ensure the community, customers, and employees alike are all cared for by the current service and as they look at what the future holds. Removing the government control element is vital for the future of JEA, according to the utility, because of the barriers for future growth that exist in the current dynamic. Leadership cited examples like provisions of the Florida Constitution that could preclude them from working in electric vehicles, terms of the City Charter that prevent geographic growth, public records laws that could put them at a competitive disadvantage in new developments, and more. While they projected they could have some success in changing the City Charter, they estimated a change to the Constitution to be a costly battle with a very small chance of success.  They, therefore, believe that removing themselves from the government arena is the most effective way to get rid of those existing barriers for growth. Tuesday’s vote triggers what is expected to be a roughly year-long process, that will ultimately culminate with not only a vote by JEA’s Board of Directors and the City Council, but by voters as well, according to the framework JEA has laid out. JEA has floated privatization in the past, which ultimately led to a politically charged debate and the creation of a special City Council committee to study the matter. At the time, the idea was put out as a desire to understand the value of JEA, but Board Members now say they believe the current discussion is what the intended purpose of that idea was. That prior “exploration” stalled out, when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that he would not put forward any privatization plan for City Council consideration. Given that, WOKV reached out to the City for a response to today’s vote by JEA’s Board, and a statement from Curry says whatever path JEA takes must have guarantees for the community. WOKV is working through all of this new information, including the lengthy Board discussion, associated resolutions, and what it means for the path forward. This is a developing story that will be updated through today.
  • Attorneys for Jeffrey Epstein have appealed a judge's decision last week to hold the wealthy financier and accused child predator in jail pending his trial on allegations of sex trafficking. >> Read more trending news  Epstein's attorneys filed a notice of appeal Monday after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman denied their client bail last week. In his decision, Berman cited the potential danger Epstein poses to others and the community. The appeal was made public Tuesday, according to Reuters. Prosecutors last week asked Berman to hold Epstein, 66, without bail, arguing that he is a flight risk and danger to the community. Attorneys for Epstein denied that their client posed a flight risk and asked Berman to allow Epstein to be held under house arrest at his Manhattan mansion. Epstein is accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005 at his homes in New York and Florida, allegedly heading a sex trafficking scheme that saw his victims recruiting other girls to be abused.  He has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges. Epstein avoided significant jail time and prosecution in 2008 after he was accused of molesting girls in Palm Beach County, Florida. As part of a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors in Florida, Epstein pleaded guilty to two lesser counts of soliciting a minor for prostitution and agreed to register as a sex offender. He served 13 months in jail as part of the deal.
  • A decomposing body discovered earlier this year behind a cooler in a shuttered Iowa supermarket belongs to a Council Bluffs man who had been missing for more than a decade, authorities said Monday. >> Read more trending news According to the Des Moines Register, investigators believe that Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada, who worked at the No Frills Supermarket when he vanished in 2009, died in the store after falling off a cooler and getting stuck behind it.  Murillo-Moncada's parents, who filed a missing-person report Nov. 28 of that year, said their son, then 25, was upset when he fled from their home during a snowstorm, authorities said. They never saw him again. Workers found his remains in January 2019 while removing coolers from the store, which closed three years ago, CNN reported. Officials used DNA to identify the body as Murillo-Moncada's, according to the news outlet. Read more here or here.
  • A pregnant Georgia mother was holding her 2-year-old son’s hand when she was shot and killed at an Athens apartment complex Monday night, WSB-TV reported. >> Read more trending news The unborn baby did not survive, Athens-Clarke County police Deputy Chief Jerry Saulters told the news station. Bystanders were already attempting CPR when authorities arrived at the Clarke Garden apartments on Carriage Court just after 9:30 p.m., police said. It is not known if she died at the scene or if she was taken to a hospital. She was identified by police as 24-year-old Auriel Callaway. The 2-year-old was unharmed and is being cared for by relatives, Saulters said.  Investigators do not know if she was the intended target of the gunfire. They are going door-to-door at the complex Tuesday morning looking for any witnesses.  “We’re trying to get information about what happened, what led up to it,” Saulters said. – Please return to AJC.com or WSBTV.com for the latest on this developing story.

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