More whistle-blower protections signed into law
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday that affords greater protection to federal employees who expose fraud, waste and abuse in government operations. Capping a 13-year effort by supporters of whistle-blower rights, the new law closes loopholes created by court rulings, which removed protections for federal whistle-blowers. One loophole specified that whistle-blowers were only protected when they were the first to report misconduct. Obama also signed legislation that protects U.S. airlines from having to pay into a European Union program to cut down on pollutants. Earlier this month, the EU postponed its enforcement of the payment for non-EU airlines amid protests from numerous countries and threats of a possible trade war. The law makes it easier to punish supervisors who try to retaliate against the government workers.
Obama hopes to build support for his plan to avoid fiscal cliff
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama plans to make a public case this week for his strategy for dealing with the looming fiscal cliff, traveling to the Philadelphia suburbs Friday as he pressures Republicans to allow tax increases on the wealthy while extending tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or less. The White House said Tuesday that the president intends to hold a series of events aimed at building support for his approach to avoid across-the-board tax increases and steep spending cuts in defense and domestic programs. Obama’s tactics were quickly panned by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said Tuesday that “rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail, presumably with the same old talking points we’re all familiar with.”
Stocks close nearly 90 points down after Reid’s comments
NEW YORK Stocks slumped on Wall Street Tuesday after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was frustrated by the lack of progress in talks over the U.S. budget impasse in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 89.24 points to 12,878.13. The Dow and other indexes had been moving between small gains and losses, then turned lower after Reid’s comments in the early afternoon. “We have to get away from the happy talk and start talking about specific things,” Reid said. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 7.35 points to 1,398.94 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 8.99 points to 2,967.79.
Costs from injuries, deaths in motorcycle crashes hit $16 billion
WASHINGTON A government watchdog says direct costs from deaths and injuries in motorcycle crashes were $16 billion in 2010, but the full cost is likely higher. The report by the Government Accountability Office said motorcyclists are involved in fatal crashes at higher rates than drivers of other types of vehicles, and are 30 times more likely to die in a traffic crash. The report says laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proven to reduce fatalities. It said only 19 states have such laws. Some motorcycle groups endorse the use of helmets, but have lobbied against state laws requiring them. They say such laws infringe on personal liberties.
The Associated Press contributed.