How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency

How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency. Pew Research Center. Michael Dimock. January 10, 2017

Barack Obama campaigned for the U.S. presidency on a platform of change. As he prepares to leave office, the country he led for eight years is undeniably different. Profound social, demographic and technological changes have swept across the United States during Obama’s tenure, as have important shifts in government policy and public opinion. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank

Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank. RAND Corporation. David A. Shlapak, Michael Johnson. November 2016.

Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—former Soviet republics, now member states that border Russian territory—may be the most problematic. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Truth about Trade Agreements—and Why We Need Them

The Truth about Trade Agreements—and Why We Need Them. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Chad P. Bown. November 21, 2016

US trade agreements could be the first economic casualty of the 2016 election. One of President-elect Donald Trump’s signature campaign promises was to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and even potentially pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization (WTO). And as Democratic leaders now contemplate their party’s future, they, too, are questioning the wisdom of such international deals.
Existing US trade agreements rose from the ashes of World War II and the Great Depression. Understanding how they protect the US economy, American workers, and consumers is critical to avoiding a repeat of the policy mistakes of the 1930s. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Federal Budget Deficit and the Business Cycle

The Federal Budget Deficit and the Business Cycle. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, CRS Insight. Grant A. Driessen, Marc Labonte. December 9, 2016.|

The annual federal budget deficit has fallen significantly over the course of the current economic expansion, from a high of 9.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in FY2009 to 3.2% of GDP in FY2016. However, the debt held by the public has continued to increase, and was equal to 76.6% of GDP at the end of FY2016, the highest level since FY1950. This Insight discusses how deficits responded to previous expansions and recessions. Based on historical experience, recent trends toward achieving fiscal sustainability are likely to reverse the next time the economy enters a recession.

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Federal Reserve Economic Projections: What Are They Good For?

Federal Reserve Economic Projections: What Are They Good For? Brookings Institution. Ben S. Bernanke. November 28, 2016

Four times each year, just prior to a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the nineteen FOMC participants (seven Board governors when there are no vacancies, 12 Reserve Bank presidents) submit projections for four key economic variables—real output growth, the unemployment rate, overall inflation, and core inflation (excluding prices of food and energy)—and for short-term interest rates.[1] Projections cover the current year and up to three additional years (so, for example, the projections made in September 2016 are for full year 2016 as well as for 2017, 2018, and 2019). Projections are also made for the “long run” values of the variables—the values to which the variables would be expected to converge over time if, hypothetically, there were no new shocks to the economy. Importantly, projections are conditioned on each participant’s individual view of what would be “appropriate” monetary policy, defined as the policy that the individual believes would be most likely to help achieve the Fed’s inflation and employment objectives. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy

Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Andorra Bruno. November 30, 2016

A refugee is a person fleeing his or her country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Typically, the annual number of refugees that can be admitted into the United States, known as the refugee ceiling, and the allocation of these numbers by region are set by the President after consultation with Congress at the start of each fiscal year.
For FY2017, the worldwide refugee ceiling is 110,000, with 96,000 admissions numbers allocated among the regions of the world and 14,000 numbers comprising an unallocated reserve. An unallocated reserve is to be used if, and where, a need develops for refugee slots in excess of the allocated numbers. The FY2017 regional allocations are, as follows: Africa (35,000), East Asia (12,000), Europe and Central Asia (4,000), Latin America/Caribbean (5,000), and Near East/South Asia (40,000).

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Nepotism Statute: Limits on Appointing, Hiring, and Promoting Relatives

The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute: Limits on Appointing, Hiring, and Promoting Relatives. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress & Analysis, Legal Sidebar. December 01,2016.

The process of presidential transition has raised questions about who may be appointed to certain executive posts in the White House, an issue addressed under a federal law commonly known as the anti-nepotism statute. Nepotism is defined generally as the exercise of favoritism by a person in a position of authority towards that person’s relatives, particularly giving them jobs. The federal anti-nepotism statute applies to all public officials (including the President and Members of Congress) in all three branches of the federal government. Such officials are barred from appointing, hiring, or promoting – or advocating for the appointment, hiring, or promotion of – a specific class of relatives to a civilian position in the agency in which that official serves or over which the official exercises authority.

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