Backstage with Art Benjamin, Mathemagician
Today's News Update: Citigroup Repaying the Government, Health Care and More

In today’s news update we provide links to updates on retail sales, the health debate and Democrats splitting based on views on Afghanistan.

Retail Sales in U.S Increase More Than Forecast

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — Sales at U.S. retailers rose more than forecast in November, a sign consumer spending is gathering speed heading into 2010.

The 1.3 percent increase followed a 1.1 percent gain the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Purchases excluding autos climbed 1.2 percent, also more than anticipated and the biggest gain since January.

Senate health debate hits snag over imported drugs

Reporting from Washington – Expanding access to low-cost prescription drugs from overseas might look like a sure winner in the effort to make healthcare more affordable. President Obama supports the idea, as do many Democrats and several Republicans.

But the seemingly popular proposal brought the Senate healthcare debate to a standstill Thursday, as Democrats divided over whether they should bow to the drug industry’s fierce opposition.

Regulatory reform poised to pass House

WASHINGTON ( — The House is poised to pass legislation aimed at preventing the next big financial crisis and usher in the most sweeping set of changes to the banking regulatory system since the New Deal.

The bill would impose more oversight and stronger capital cushions for the largest banks and Wall Street firms. It would force them to pay a total of as much as $150 billion into an emergency fund that could be tapped when a troubled firm needs to be taken over and broken up.

Health care, Afghan war splits Democrats

Washington (CNN) — Health care reform is a signature issue for Democrats, but the attempt to overhaul the nation’s health system has pitted liberals against centrists, exposing fissures 11 months before the 2010 midterm elections.

A year ago Democrats were united in victory after winning back the White House and picking up additional seats in Congress. But with victory comes expectations that are accentuated when a party controls both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Backstage with Art Benjamin, Mathemagician
Today's News Update: Citigroup Repaying the Government, Health Care and More