Washington Watch

Tammy Lytle has covered the White House, Congress, politics and breaking news in the nation’s capital for 23 years. She is the former Washington bureau chief of the Orlando Sentinel and her work has appeared in newspapers magazines and websites.

What Will Obama Say to You Tonight?

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, President Obama could well focus on general themes like the expansive divide between rich and poor in America and touch on specific issues such as unemployment insurance. Could the president’s focus on income equality lead to improved Social Security benefits? That’s the hope of Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Adcock said he doesn’t expect the speech to …

Is Your State a … Weakling?

Politico Magazine has tallied the numbers, and the Oscar for best state goes to … New Hampshire. Actually, the magazine’s ranking is pegged to a different winter event: the president’s annual State of the Union address. Here’s what Politico‘s Margaret Slattery has to say: Tuesday, President Obama, if precedent holds, will declare that the state of America’s union is “strong.” Is it? One way to judge is by the state of the states of the union: How strong are they, and, …

What the $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Means for Older Americans

The $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress funds federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, eases the sharp budget cuts known as the sequester and ends the lingering threat of another government shutdown. It also affects a number of programs especially important to older Americans. Here’s how, according to an AARP analysis: Increases spending by $41 million on nutrition programs for older Americans, including Meals on Wheels. This replaces across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that took hold …

What’s the Nation’s No. 1 Problem?

It’s the government, stupid. Bill Clinton won a presidential campaign with the motto, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But these days the top issue to most Americans is the government, according to a new Gallup poll.   Some 21 percent of Americans polled in the Jan. 5-8 survey said that the most important problem facing the country today is the government itself - including poor leadership, corruption, abuse of power and general dissatisfaction with Congress and politicians in general. The second most important …

Need Help From the IRS? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Have tax questions or problems? You probably shouldn’t expect much in the way of help from the IRS these days, according to the latest report from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the agency. Some of the major findings: The IRS no longer helps elderly, disabled and low-income taxpayers prepare their annual returns. Ten years ago it prepared 476,000 such returns. Only 61 percent of calls to the IRS from taxpayers wanting to speak to someone were answered, …

Extended Jobless Benefits Clear Hurdle in Senate

When it comes to unemployment, older Americans face a double whammy. Many face age discrimination. (About a third say that they – or someone they know – were recently discriminated against because of their age.) On top of that, employers also discriminate against job applicants who have been out of work the longest, according to Deborah Chalfie, AARP senior legislative representative for financial security. Of the unemployed, people 55 or older were out of work an average of 51 weeks, …