Friday Five | June 3, 2022

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Five takeaways from Biden’s inflation plan 

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden laid out a plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed to fight inflation levels. Although levels dipped in April to 8.3%, they continue to trend at a 40-year high. He said that bringing down inflation is his top economic priority. The gist of the plan is to not intervene with the Federal Reserve’s approach to fight inflation by raising interest rates to bolster the purchasing power of the dollar and instead support damaged supply chains to balance out supply and demand issues.

“I won’t meddle with the Fed, but I will tackle high prices while guiding the economy’s transition to stable and steady growth,” Biden wrote.

The plan also talks about bringing down demand by continuing to reduce the federal deficit, which is projected to fall by $1.7 trillion this year. Overall, both Biden and the Fed agree that dropping prices for American consumers without a drop in overall economic growth should be their ultimate goal.

The Hill provides 5 key takeaways from Biden’s plan here.

2. Hogan vetoes 18 bills as part of final action needed on nearly 300 bills 

Last Friday, Governor Hogan announced he would veto 18 bills and allow nearly 300 bills passed by the legislature to go into effect without his signature, officially marking the end of the Maryland 2022 legislative session. One of the most notable bills vetoed included a measure that would have allowed voters to correct their signature-less ballots after mailing them in to get counted. But he said he was rejecting the bill because it lacked any way to verify the signatures in that process.

“[A]s our vote by mail numbers rise, the missing piece in this legislation is that balance — for even the appearance of impropriety or the opportunity for fraud can be enough to undermine citizens’ confidence in their electoral system,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan’s other vetoes included bills that would have affected public utilities and Baltimore transit and allowed people to deduct their union dues from their state income taxes.

Read the full story here.

3. SECURE Act 2.0 passes House, signaling massive retirement savings and investment policy shift 

In a 41-45 vote on Sunday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022, representing a massive economic policy shift regarding retirement savings and investment if passed into law. The retirement savings legislation, also known as SECURE Act 2.0, expands on the original SECURE Act and includes provisions to boost the required minimum distribution (RMD) age from 72 to 75 over time, broaden automatic enrollment in retirement plans and enhance 403(b) plans. In his “Update on the March-April Work Period” letter last Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated that:

“By expanding automatic enrollment in employer provided retirement plans, simplifying rules for small businesses, and helping those near retirement save more for longer, this legislation will help increase Americans’ access to retirement funds and help families save for the future.”

Read the full story here and if you own a small business, here are 7 things you should know about the new retirement bill.

4. U.S. economy adds 390K jobs in May, unemployment holds at 3.6 percent

Data released today by the Labor Department showed that the U.S. added 390,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held even at 3.6 percent in May. The May jobs report was largely in line with economists’ projections, who saw the U.S. gaining 350,000 jobs last month and pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent, its level in February 2020. Economists also rightly predicted job growth to slow in May after the U.S. added more than 2 million jobs this year despite high inflation, staggering gas prices, rising interest rates and fading fiscal stimulus. The data also showed that the labor force participation rate and the employment to population increased by 0.1 percentage points in May to 62.1 and 60.1 percent, respectively. Experts believe the higher labor force participation, slower wage growth and stable unemployment could be a sign of lesser labor shortages.

Read the full story here.

5. Port of Baltimore gets $15.6M to improve rail infrastructure

Port officials announced on Wednesday that the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore will receive $15.6 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Consolidated Rail and Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) program for its Rail Capacity Modernization Project. The FRA CRISI Project will build four new rail tracks totaling 17,670 track feet and two crane rail beams totaling 7,000 linear feet. It will aid in updating the Seagirt Marine Terminal’s infrastructure and support increased demand for double stacked trains of containerized cargo to markets across the country. In addition to providing more seamless and efficient rail operations, the CRISI Project will also add environmental benefits such as improving air quality around the Port by increasing rail usage and converting existing diesel-fuel rail yard operations to electrified equipment. It will also help alleviate ongoing logistical bottlenecks on major interstate highways.

Read the full story here.

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