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The sequester, the series of federal budget cuts that went into effect March 1, remains for many in this city a theoretical concept.

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In the week ending March 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 385,000, an increase of 28,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 357,000. The 4-week moving average was 354,250, an increase of 11,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 343,000.

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THE 2009 economic stimulus package has come and gone. So, too, have the temporary payroll tax cuts of 2011-12. Most of the Bush-era tax cuts, in addition, have been made permanent. Yet the lasting effects of these policies have been meager.

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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but not enough to suggest the labor market recovery was taking a step back.

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As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we think that some of our answers to follow-up questions from Congressional hearings may be of general interest, so we’re posting them.

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The Senate did its part today to stave off a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution in order to keep the government funded.

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Leaders in both parties voiced confidence in an emerging House immigration agreement, giving momentum to an issue that has been a bright spot early in President Obama’s second term.

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Congress is in the midst of trying to agree on government spending for the rest of this year, plus a budget for next year. As is often the case, members are battling it out over what they think the government should spend its money on.

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Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Brian Bennett reports that the bipartisan “gang of eight” Senators have come close to an agreement on how to offer legal status to the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants. The plan isn’t straightforward, but it seems to satisfy the framework laid out by President Obama and supported by Marco Rubio, one of the leading Republicans (along with John McCain and Lindsey Graham) in the gang of eight.

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As any of you who ever watched “The McLaughlin Group” or Fox News will understand, I’m not only glad to be here, but to be anywhere where I can finish a sentence without getting interrupted. Or shouted at, in the case of McLaughlin. Little did I know when I started on that show at its launch in 1982 that I was present at the beginning of the end of civil discourse in America … if not the beginning of the end of Western civilization.

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The federal budget comes back into the Washington political spotlight this week, as Congress tries to move forward on government spending for the rest of this year as well as a budget for the next.

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Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee say they hope to keep the focus during this week’s expected marathon markup on setting a sound course for the country’s fiscal future.

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