The Budget Showdown
President Obama ordered the start of $85 billion in government spending cuts on March 1, beginning a potentially decade-long wave of belt-tightening that risks curbing U.S. economic growth this year. The across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, were part of a 2011 deficit-reduction agreement and were intended to be so onerous that Congress and the president wouldn’t let them occur. Instead, Democrats and Republicans deadlocked on an alternative.
William Cohen, a former U.S. Defense secretary, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that the threat posed by Russia to Ukraine -- which 20 years ago gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees -- may make Iran less likely to agree to forgo nuclear weapon development.
UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer, said profit fell 7.8 percent, hurt by cuts to its Medicare Advantage program for elderly and disabled Americans. The shares declined the most in six months.