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    HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong's last remaining stock market floor traders are taking their final orders as the exchange prepares to shut its trading hall. The bourse's operator, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, says it will close the trading hall by the end of the month and turn the space into a showcase for the city's financial markets. Yip Wing-keung, a trading manager at brokerage Christfund Securities, donned his red trading jacket for the last time Friday, his final day on the floor. He and the other few floor traders left have been moving out ahead of the closure. The shutdown marks the end of an era for the stock market, which symbolized the city's ascent as an Asian finance hub. Activity on the floor, one of a few such venues left worldwide, dwinded as stock dealing became fully computerized. 'I feel sadness and regret,' said Yip, who has been a floor trader since the hall was opened in 1986 after four previous exchanges were merged. 'Hong Kong is one of the world's financial centers, but if we don't have the stock market trading hall, it will be a little sorrowful. This is my own individual reflection.' Yip said the floor traders resisted the closure. They sent a protest letter to the government but it was in vain. 'We wrote it but were overruled,' he said. 'We can't stop the times from changing.' Hong Kong's stock exchange, Asia's third biggest by volume, follows other global peers like Tokyo, Singapore and London that have eliminated their trading floors In the U.S., floor traders at the New York Stock Exchange still provide the backdrop for financial TV news reports and bell-ringing ceremonies. But Chicago and New York commodity futures trading pits, where traders used old-fashioned 'open outcry' techniques, have shut in recent years as volume fell to 1 percent of the total. Hong Kong Exchanges stopped updating stats for floor trading in 2014, when it accounted for less than 1 percent of monthly turnover. In the 1980s and 1990s the hall housed more than 900 trading desks. The exchange's most recent count showed only 62 dealing desks were leased, with about 30 traders showing up on an average day. On a visit to the hall this week, only about seven traders could be seen. Back in its heyday, floor trading was computer-assisted but dealers still needed to talk to each other to complete transactions, either by phone or in person, depending on how far away they sat from each other, Yip said. 'If they were too far you had to use the internal phone line, but If you couldn't get through, you had to run over to them,' he said. 'So you saw lots of people running back and forth.' These days, Yip just punches orders into his computer. 'Now it's more comfortable' but relationships with other traders are not as good as they used to be, said Yip. He doesn't look forward to returning to his head office. 'It won't be so free,' he said. ___ Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman
  • LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Friday tossed out a $417 million jury award to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer by using Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson granted the company's request for a new trial, saying there were errors and jury misconduct in the previous trial that ended with the award two months ago. Nelson also ruled that there wasn't convincing evidence that Johnson & Johnson acted with malice and the award for damages was excessive. The decision will be appealed even though Eva Echeverria has died, said her attorney, Mark Robinson Jr. 'We will continue to fight on behalf of all women who have been impacted by this dangerous product,' he said in a statement. Echeverria alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about talcum powder's potential cancer risks. She used the company's baby powder on a daily basis beginning in the 1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to court papers. Echeverria developed ovarian cancer as a 'proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder,' she said in her lawsuit. Her attorney contended that documents showed that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer for three decades. The company said it was pleased with the ruling. 'Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease — but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used in Johnson's Baby Powder for decades. The science is clear and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder as we prepare for additional trials in the U.S.,' spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement. Similar allegations have led to hundreds of lawsuits against the New Jersey-based company. Jury awards have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. However, on Tuesday a Missouri appellate court threw out a $72 million award to the family of an Alabama woman who has died, ruling that the state wasn't the proper jurisdiction for such a case. The court cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that placed limits on where injury lawsuits could be filed, saying state courts cannot hear claims against companies not based in the state where alleged injuries occurred.
  • U.S. regulators have approved a new, more effective vaccine to prevent painful shingles, which is caused by the chickenpox virus. Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said the Food and Drug Administration approved it late Friday. It will be the second shingles vaccine in the U.S. market. Merck launched the first one in 2006. Studies paid for by Glaxo found it prevents shingles in about 90 percent of people. Merck's is about 50 percent effective. Both versions are for adults 50 and older. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, recommends vaccination for those 60 or older, partly because it loses effectiveness over time. Anyone who's had chickenpox — nearly everyone over 40 — harbors the varicella-zoster virus that causes the disease. The virus can resurface decades later, triggering painful sores on one side of the body. About 10 to 20 percent of those who get shingles also develop debilitating nerve pain that can last for months, even years. About one-third of people who have had chickenpox get shingles. That's about 1 million Americans a year. But once someone has recovered from shingles, it rarely reoccurs. Chickenpox was a very common childhood illness until a Merck vaccine was introduced two decades ago; it's now part of routine childhood shots. GlaxoSmithKline PLC said the price of its shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, will be $280 for the required two shots. Merck & Co.'s one-shot Zostavax costs $223. Most insurance plans cover it. The two vaccines are made differently. Glaxo's is genetically engineered and includes an ingredient that boosts effectiveness. In addition to preventing shingles, it also reduces the risk of nerve pain by nearly 90 percent. Glaxo studies also show it retains about 90 percent of its effectiveness for four years, and follow-up studies indicate it lasts years longer, according to Dr. Leonard Friedland, Glaxo's vaccines director for North America. Merck's vaccine uses a live but weakened virus, so it can't be used by people with compromised immune systems. It reduces risk of shingles by half and risk of nerve pain by 67 percent, according to the CDC. One study found it doesn't prevent shingles after eight years. More research is being done. Glaxo is testing its vaccine against Merck's. Meanwhile, Merck has been testing a different vaccine on cancer patients and people with compromised immune systems. ___ Follow Linda A. Johnson at https://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma
  • MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Google's parent Alphabet Inc. said Friday that its stratospheric balloons are now delivering the internet to remote areas of Puerto Rico where cellphone towers were knocked out by Hurricane Maria. Two of the search giant's 'Project Loon' balloons are already over the country enabling texts, emails and basic web access to AT&T customers with handsets that use its 4G LTE network. The balloons — called HBAL199 and HBAL237 — are more than 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) above land, according to FlightRadar24.com . They navigate using an algorithm that puts them in the best position to deliver signal by rising and falling to ride wind currents. They are also solar-powered and only provide signal during the day Several more balloons are on their way from Nevada, and Alphabet has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to send up to 30 balloons to serve the hard-hit area, according to Libby Leahy, spokeswoman for Alphabet's X, its division for futuristic technologies. Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post that Project Loon is 'still an experimental technology and we're not quite sure how well it will work,' though it has been tested since last year in Peru following flooding there. Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of 3.4 million people since making landfall last month. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Friday the death toll had risen to 49. Less than a fifth of the island has electricity, half its cellphone towers are still not functioning, schools are closed and more than 4,000 are in shelters, according to a government website . AT&T spokesman Jeffrey Kobs said the company has set up 14 temporary cell sites, and as of Friday more than 60 percent of the population was connected via mobile network, in part due to the help of humanitarian and government groups and Project Loon. Other technology companies such as Cisco, Facebook and Tesla have also pledged help or have sent teams to the island to improve communications and restore power.
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — First the U.S. government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires. The Federal Aviation Administration recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags. The FAA says in a filing with the International Civil Aviation Organization that the lithium-ion batteries in laptops can overheat and create fires. Some questions and answers about the shifting U.S. policy. ___ WHY IS THE FAA WORRIED ABOUT THIS DANGER NOW? The FAA has long been concerned about the potential hazardous of lithium batteries. The agency's tests of the risks of shipping large quantities of batteries as cargo on airliners showed that when a single battery overheats, it can cause other nearby batteries to overheat as well. That can result in intense fires and the release of explosive gases. Based on those test results, the FAA was able to convince ICAO two years ago to ban cargo shipments of lithium batteries on passenger planes and to require that batteries shipped on cargo planes be charged no more than 30 percent. The risk of overheating is lower if the battery isn't fully charged. More recently, the FAA conducted 10 tests of fully charged laptops packed in suitcases. In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo —which is permitted in checked baggage — was strapped to the laptop. A heater was placed against the laptop's battery to force it into 'thermal runaway,' a condition in which the battery's temperature continually rises. There was a fire almost immediately and an explosion within 40 seconds with enough force to potentially disable the fire suppression system. Other tests of laptop batteries packed in suitcases with goods like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions. ___ ISN'T THE GOVERNMENT CONTRADICTING ITSELF BY FIRST SAY LAPTOPS SHOULD BE CHECKED, THEN SAYING THEY SHOULDN'T? The different messages are the result of two agencies with different missions: security versus safety. Last March, the Department of Homeland Security imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the U.S. from 10 Middle Eastern airports to prevent them from being used as a tool in an attack. Many passengers put their laptops in their checked bags instead. The ban was fully lifted in July after airports in the region took steps to improve security. This ban is being sought by the FAA, which is focused on the risk of an accidental explosion more than the prospect of a terrorist attack. ___ WHEN WILL THIS GO INTO EFFECT? There are no guarantees that there will be ban on packing laptops in checked bags. The FAA is presenting its case at a meeting this week and next of ICAO's dangerous goods panel. European aviation safety regulators, aircraft manufacturers and pilots' unions have endorsed the proposal. Even if the panel were to agree with the proposal, it would still need to be adopted at higher levels of ICAO. And it would only apply to international flights. ___ WILL THE U.S. IMPOSE A BAN ON CHECKING LAPTOPS ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS? This is unclear. Individual countries can decide whether to implement domestic bans. The United States has not indicated if it will do so. The effect of such a ban may not be great, since many passengers don't check bags to avoid surcharges, and those that do often prefer to carry on electronics. ___ WILL THE U.S. CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BAN? This is also unclear. The FAA, which favors the ban, is handling negotiations for the U.S. at the ICAO meeting. But, for future meetings, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is having another agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, take the lead. It's not clear if that agency, known as PHMSA, will share the FAA's position. PHMSA previously led dangerous goods negotiations, but the Obama administration put the FAA in charge after congressional Democrats complained that PHMSA officials were too cozy with the industries they regulated. The Transportation Department said in a statement that PHMSA 'has a unique and highly effective' approach to regulating the transportation of hazardous materials, and that it will consider what impact any change in aviation rules might have on transportation. The statement also said PHMSA will collaborate with the FAA. ___ Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signaled Friday that he is considering dual nominations for the Federal Reserve's top two jobs. Trump may appoint Jerome Powell, a member of the Fed's board, potentially as chairman, and John Taylor, a Stanford University economist, as vice chairman, according to a transcript of an interview with Trump distributed by Fox Business. Asked about that possibility, Trump said, according to Fox Business: 'It is in my thinking, and I have a couple of others things in my thinking but I like talent and they're both very talented people. It's a hard decision.' The interview is to air Sunday. Speculation about Trump's choice has intensified on Wall Street and in Washington as several candidates have met with the president in recent weeks. Powell has served on the Fed board for five years and has voted to support Chair Janet Yellen's low interest-rate policies. By contrast, Taylor, a favorite of some congressional Republicans, has long advocated a higher-rate policy to guard against inflation and asset bubbles. Yellen, whose four-year term as chair ends in February, met with Trump at the White House on Thursday. 'I really like her a lot,' Trump said of Yellen in the interview with Fox Business. 'So I have three people that I'm looking at. And there are a couple of others.' Trump is also considering Kevin Warsh, a former Fed board member and former economic official in President George W. Bush's administration. Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, has been under consideration, too, but reportedly fell out of favor after criticizing the president's response to demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. During the presidential campaign, Trump sharply criticized Yellen, the first woman to lead the nation's central bank, as being too political in the Fed post. Trump asserted that she was keeping rates low to favor Democrats. But since taking office, Trump has dropped his criticism and has praised Yellen, saying she's 'done a good job' and favors low rates as he does. 'I will make my decision very shortly, pretty shortly,' Trump said in the interview with Fox Business, according to a transcript released Friday evening. Besides the Fed chair position, Trump can also name a vice chair, with Stanley Fischer having just stepped down from that post. ___ AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one step closer to oil and gas drilling. A budget measure approved by the Republican-controlled Senate late Thursday allows Congress to pursue legislation allowing oil and gas exploration in the remote refuge on a majority vote. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska said Congress can create jobs and enhance energy security by opening a small section of the 19.6 million-acre site to drilling. 'More energy production means more American jobs, more American economic growth, more American national security ... and a more sustainable global environment, because no one in the world produces energy more responsibly than Americans, especially Alaskans,' Sullivan said. But Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said drilling was not worth the risks to a fragile ecosytem that serves as important habitat for polar bears, caribou and migratory birds. 'The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine areas of the United States, and we have been protecting it for decades for a reason,' Cantwell said, criticizing the idea of sacrificing biologically important areas 'for oil that we don't need. It's not worth it.' The wildlife refuge has been the focus of a political fight for more than three decades. President Bill Clinton vetoed a GOP plan to allow drilling in the refuge in 1995, and Cantwell-led Democrats defeated a similar GOP plan in 2005. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are pushing to revive the drilling plan as a way to help pay for proposed tax cuts promised by President Donald Trump. The GOP-approved budget includes $1 billion in revenue from drilling leases over 10 years. Democrats scoffed at that claim, saying the plan would generate far less revenue at a time when oil production in the lower 48 states, especially Texas and North Dakota, is booming. Royal Dutch Shell abandoned an oil exploration program in the Arctic Ocean in 2015 amid concerns that lower global oil prices made drilling in the remote region a risky investment. Debate on the drilling plan got personal Thursday night. Sullivan said he did not appreciate critical comments by Cantwell and other Democrats from the lower 48. 'Senator Murkowski and I care a lot more about the environment, the wildlife, the pristine wilderness in our great, amazing state than any other member in this body,' he said. 'I don't need senators coming down from places like Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island talking about Alaska's environment, OK? With all due respect, I know a heck of a lot more about it than any of them.' Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., was unbowed. The GOP plan would 'hand over the wildest place left in America to Big Oil,' Markey said. 'This is nothing more than fossil fuel folly.' Markey accused Republicans of using the budget process 'to ram through drilling in the crown jewel of America's wildlife refuge system' because they know they lack the 60 votes needed to approve the bill under regular order in the Senate. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined with Democrats to oppose opening the refuge, while Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., backed drilling. Any oil drilling is likely years away, although the Interior Department is moving forward with plans to conduct seismic studies to help determine where oil is located, a first step toward drilling. Congress has sole authority to determine whether oil and gas drilling can take place in the refuge.
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Divided Republicans in Congress are tackling an ambitious overhaul of the nation's tax system that would deeply cut levies for corporations and double the standard deduction used by most average Americans. Despite controlling Congress and the White House, Republicans failed to carry out their years-long promise to dismantle and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. They say the nearly $6 trillion tax plan, to bring the first major revamp in three decades, is their once-in-a-generation opportunity. President Donald Trump sets it as his highest legislative priority. But can they deliver? What are the next steps for Congress? How would the changes affect the average taxpayer? Some questions and answers: __ WHAT DOES THE TAX PLAN DO? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Trump and Republican leaders unveiled the proposal last month, pitching it as a boon to the middle class and a needed spark to economic growth and job creation. It's only an outline, with Congress left to put meat on the bones as lawmakers turn it into complex legislation. The plan calls for reduced taxes for most individuals, slashing the corporate tax rate from 36 percent to 20 percent, and doubling the standard deduction used by most average Americans to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families. The number of tax brackets would shrink from seven to three, with tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. (Now make that four, with an added bracket for high-income earners, rate to be determined, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday.) Inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates would be repealed. It would bring far-reaching changes for businesses large and small, with fallout too for American companies beyond U.S. borders. The American middle-class family could take advantage of a heftier child tax credit and the extra money that could come from the bigger standard deduction. But there are too many holes in the spare nine-page plan, like the income levels that would fit with each tax bracket and what might happen to other deductions used by middle-class people, to know how it actually would affect individual taxpayers and families. Other looming unknowns are how it would be paid for and how much it might add to the mounting $20 trillion national debt. __ HOW DO THE PLAN'S BACKERS AND OTHERS SAY IT WOULD AFFECT AVERAGE PEOPLE? The Trump administration is promising that the tax cuts — 'which will be the biggest in the history of our country!' — would bring a $4,000 pay raise annually for the average family. Trump expanded that number even further Friday, telling Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, 'It can be $5,000 average per individual, per group.' That might sound like the pledge of 'a chicken in every pot' that's been attributed to President Herbert Hoover in the 1920s. But Trump's claim is based on fuzzy math, in the view of skeptical tax experts and Democratic lawmakers. Rather than helping the middle class, Democrats charge, the plan mainly would benefit wealthy individuals — like Trump — and big corporations. The partisan debate over the plan is all about who's got the middle class's back. You'll be hearing those two words a lot out of Washington in coming weeks. __ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Now that Senate Republicans have muscled through a $4 trillion budget plan, and the House is poised to adopt it, the ground has been laid for serious work to begin on filling in the details and whipping up complex tax legislation. The budget plan provides for $1.5 trillion over 10 years in debt-financed tax cuts, busting earlier GOP pledges of strict fiscal discipline. More bad news on the federal budget deficit came Friday, when the government reported it rose to $666 billion in the just-completed fiscal year, an $80 billion increase. But the work won't be quick. Strap in for a long slog in separate House and Senate committee hearings, drafting meetings and closed-door negotiations. And a feast for lobbyists descending on lawmakers, especially members of the two tax-writing committees. The swarm depicted in 'Showdown at Gucci Gulch,' the book chronicling lobbying in the landmark 1986 tax overhaul under President Ronald Reagan, is about to get its second act. The Republicans are promising to get a final bill to Trump's desk by Christmas — already slippage from the earlier Thanksgiving deadline. The House version of the legislation is expected to come forward by early next month. The Senate has its own ideas and may well craft its own bill, which means the differences would have to be hammered out in a potentially contentious joint conference. __ THAT SOUNDS HARD. AND THE REPUBLICANS THEMSELVES ARE DIVIDED? Complicating the picture further, the tax plan already has driven a sharp wedge through House Republicans, cracking open regional fault lines within the majority party. The plan would eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes, a widely popular break used by some 44 million Americans, especially in high-tax, Democratic-leaning states like New York, New Jersey and California. Republican lawmakers from those states have revolted, balking at supporting the tax plan when their votes are so critically needed. Their opposition has led the GOP leaders in Congress to hear out the fractious GOP members and seek a compromise with them. At the same time, the White House has made overtures on the tax plan to conservative Democrats in the House and Democratic senators from states that Trump won in the 2016 election. __ This story has been corrected to reflect that the proposed tax rate for the third bracket is 35 percent, not 25 percent.
  • MasterCard is planning to drop the requirement on merchants to have you provide your signature when you make a credit or debit purchase next year. RELATED: These 7 credit cards have the most potential fees No more signing your name MasterCard says in a new blog post that come April of 2018, you’ll no longer have to use your John Hancock at the checkout register. In fact, we’ve already reached the point where more than 80% of MasterCard in-store transactions don’t require a cardholder signature at checkout. That’s according to Linda Kirkpatrick, MasterCard’s Executive Vice President of U.S. Market Development. So the writing is clearly on the wall that MasterCard has steadily been on the path to ditching signatures. What’s remains to be seen is if other major plastic providers like American Express, Visa and Discover will jump on board with this movement. The idea of signing for a purchase dates back to the early days of plastic when a signature on the back of a card could be used as verification. But today, verification can happen on the back-end via any of a number of methods such as chip, tokenization and biometrics, Kirkpatrick notes. And just because you won’t have to sign for an in-store purchase with MasterCard, that doesn’t mean your transaction will be inherently any less safe. Zero-fraud-liability will still be offered to consumers on all MasterCard transactions. Furthermore, if a certain retailer who accepts MasterCard wants to keep requiring a signature after April 2018, they will be free to do so. It’s just that MasterCard’s network will officially do away with the antiquated requirement of collecting a signature. Early word from retailers about this development has been favorable, particularly at Walmart. “Removing this step at checkout will save time for our customers and decrease the expense associated with storing and presenting signatures back to the issuer, all while preserving security for customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told PYMNTS.com. “We anticipate this will result in savings that can be used to continue to lower prices for our customers.” Build your credit with Petal Related Articles from clark.com: Credit Freeze Guide: The best way to protect yourself against identity theft Read More Your calculator app has a secret feature that will change your life Read More Social Security benefits are getting another boost in 2018 Read More
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal budget deficit rose to $666 billion in the just-completed fiscal year, a spike that comes as Republicans are moving to draft a tax code rewrite that promises to add up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the coming decade. The sobering deficit numbers, released Friday by the Treasury Department and the White House budget office, followed Senate passage Thursday night of a 10-year budget plan that shelves GOP concerns on deficits and debt in favor of a tax overhaul. Still, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin insisted Friday on 'CBS This Morning': 'We're Republicans. We're sensitive to the deficit.' President Donald Trump and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill promise this year's tax legislation will spark a burst of economic growth — and hope it will pay big political dividends for their party. Friday's budget figures represent an $80 billion jump over last year's $585 billion deficit, which itself was way up over the previous year's $438 billion. The administration says the sour deficit report shows a need to pass the tax overhaul measure. 'Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit,' said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 'These numbers should serve as a smoke alarm for Washington, a reminder that we need to grow our economy again and get our fiscal house in order. We can do that through smart spending restraint, tax reform and cutting red tape,' said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. Democrats argue that the GOP should work with them on a bipartisan approach to revamping the tax code without adding to the deficit. 'With the deficit as large and growing as quickly as it is, Republicans pursuing a reckless plan that would blow a huge hole in the deficit and put Medicare and Medicaid at risk is the height of irresponsibility,' said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Mulvaney drafted Trump's May budget plan, which promised to balance the budget within a decade, but only through politically unrealistic cuts and rosy assumptions of economic growth. But Trump hasn't promoted the effort, which was quickly shelved by the GOP in Congress. The White House in July revised its short-term deficit outlook significantly to warn of worsening deficits. Since then, a bad hurricane season has forced the government to spend billions in disaster relief. The deficit issue has largely fallen in prominence in Washington in recent years, and Trump doesn't speak of the issue. He has ruled out cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Earlier, gridlock between former President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans took hold after failed attempts at budget deals. Most economists don't believe the deficit is very worrisome in the short term, though it is creeping above 3 percent of the size of the economy, a threshold that bears watching. The picture over the long run is more problematic, at least under a conventional view that if deficits continue to rise and the national debt grows, government borrowing will 'crowd out' private lending and force up interest rates. And if interest rates go up, the government would have to pay much more to finance the more than $14 trillion in Treasury debt held by investors.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Police are investigating after a young child's body was found on a Texas beach. >> Read more trending news Officers responded to a call Friday evening from an individual who said they found a body near the shoreline of a Galveston beach, according to the report posted on the Galveston Police Department's Facebook page. Police determined that the body was that of a white boy, approximately 3-5 years old. The child has not been identified and no missing persons reports match the child's description, KHOU reported. Galveston police Capt. Joshua Schirard told KHOU that this is a very unusual case. Schirard said the U.S. Coast Guard and agencies in surrounding counties are assisting with the case.
  • A 26-year-old Bunnell man is dead after his motorcycle crashed on an Interstate 95 on-ramp, the Florida Highway Patrol said.  Read: Florida man arrested after bombs, ammo, school maps found in home Troopers said the man was driving on the entrance ramp to I-95 from U.S. 1 around 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he lost control of his motorcycle.  Read: Teacher embroiled in student sex scandal in Seminole County bonds out of jail His motorcycle flipped over and threw him off, troopers said.  The man died at the scene, troopers said.  The crash remains under investigation.  Troopers have not yet identified the man. 
  • More than 60,000 people have already registered for the  event, which is meant to help people with food following Hurricane Irma. Over 100,000 thousand are expected to show up throughout the week. Organizers say the event was prepared based off of similar event that were held in Volusia and Brevard Counties. The events caused huge lines that stretched out the door. The DCF Regional Director says the program is open for people not already on public assistance who suffered some sort of loss or damage because of the storm. They will leave with a debit card to buy groceries. Those who live in neighboring counties but could not make it to their county’s registration events will not be turned away. Roughly 15,000 Orange County residents have already been served at other events. People in Seminole County are encouraged to go to Orlando Live Events in Casselberry. People who decide to show up should expect to wait in line for hours, as well as expect traffic congestion. Attendees are advised to bring a valid Florida Driver License or Identification card. Attendees are also advised to show up on days corresponding to the first letter of your last name. The centers will be open between October 21st and October 25th. The information for the Orlando and Casselbery centers are as follows: Orange County: Camping World Stadium1 Citrus Bowl PlaceOrlando, FL 10/21 – A - F10/22 – G - J10/23 – K - O10/24 – P - Z10/25 – Make-up Day Seminole County: Orlando Live Events6405 S US Hwy 17 92Casselberry, FL 32730 10/21 – A - F10/22 – G - J10/23 – K - O10/24 – P - Z10/25 – Make-up Day More information can be found here: https://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff/siteLocations.shtml
  • A Florida man was arrested after homemade bombs, an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition and school maps were discovered inside his bedroom.  Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news conference Thursday that deputies were set to search the home Randall Drake, 24, of Dunedin, Florida, shared with his parents for a child pornography investigation. >> Read more trending news During a search of Drake’s bedroom on Wednesday, authorities said detectives found explosives and numerous firearms in a locked closet, The Associated Press reported. The weapons included the following: An AK-47 rifle with a 60-round clip A .308-caliber rifle A .50-caliber pistol A 12-gauge shotgun Numerous other handguns About 15 knives A baseball bat with protruding nails in it  A crossbow Brass knuckles A container of gunpowder More than 2,300 rounds of ammunition Three incendiary devices A homemade silencer Tactical vests Detectives also said they found a map and aerial images of an elementary and middle school in Tampa, Florida, as well as the Hillsborough County Water Treatment Plant. According to deputies, journals and a handwritten letter that talked about revenge were also discovered. Gualtieri said his office is trying to figure out why Drake had the incendiary devices and what he was going to do with them. Drake has since posted $20,000 bond. He faces two charges of unlawfully making, possessing or attempting to make a destructive device.
  • A day after Senate approval of a budget outline for 2018 that authorizes expedited work on a tax reform plan- without the threat of a Senate filibuster – House GOP leaders set the table for a vote next week on the budget measure, hoping to give more momentum to the bid for the first major tax reforms since 1986. Friday afternoon, House GOP leaders signaled their plan to simply accept the budget plan passed 51-49 by the Senate, setting a Tuesday meeting of the House Rules Committee, which sets the ground rules for bills on the floor of the House. “We want Americans to wake up in the new year with a new tax code, one that is simple and fair,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “Now it is time to meet this moment and deliver real relief to hardworking people.” Approval of the Senate-passed plan would allow tax-writing committees in both the House and Senate to get to work on the actual details of tax reform; what’s been released so far is an outline, but not the fine print. “This is another important milestone for tax reform, and sets the stage for us to pass major tax cuts that will deliver more jobs and higher wages for hardworking Americans all over the country,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As for Democrats, some feel like they are being set up by the GOP, predicting that Republicans will unveil their tax reform bill, and then demand a vote on it days later. “I am perfectly willing to negotiate,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO). “I can’t do it in a vacuum.” “It doesn’t work that way,” McCaskill told reporters. “Why can’t we have a bill?” When you look back at the 1986 Tax Reform Act – that took months to make its way through the House and Senate, and then a conference committee for final negotiations. Need some weekend reading? Here is the link to the explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act – it’s only a little under 1,400 pages. It’s a gentle reminder that if you do ‘real’ tax reform – it is a very complicated endeavor.