The battle over raising the debt ceiling has sent disapproval of Congress to its highest level on record and left most Americans saying that creating jobs should now take priority over cutting spending, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. A record 82 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
The debt-ceiling agreement passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this week calls for cuts of $2 trillion in the next 10 years. But threats to Medicare and Social Security were averted -- for now.
The agreement calls for $917 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, and a bi-partisan Congressional committee to identify more than $1 trillion in additional cuts, or risk triggering automatic cuts in defense and entitlement programs. This New York Times graphic explains what happened and what has yet to happen.
In light of the deal, Charles Rotblut of the American Association of Individual Investors suggests that investors avoid stocks in companies that rely on defense and other government spending, according to this Reuters report. Current cuts and cuts that could be triggered later will affect spending on state and local projects, he predicts. Also, it makes more sense than ever to defer taking Social Security benefits as long as you can, to take advantage of automatic age-related increases, rather than risk losing growth as cost-of-living raises are cut in future budget moves.
Market Remains Jumpy: Nervous investors roared into Treasury bonds, cash and other low-risk assets amid this week's stock market turmoil. "The move to cash is symptomatic of a broader concern about growth and the stock market," Mike Ryan, chief investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, tells The NYT. "It's all part of a generic derisking exercise." A stronger-than-expected July jobs report helped steady global markets today, but the action remains volatile, as The Wall Street Journal and Times report.
Red-Hot Lady: Actress Helen Mirren was voted "Body of the Year" in a recent poll by the LA Fitness chain. Mirren, who is 66, ranked ahead of Elle MacPherson, Jennifer Lopez and Pippa Middleton. The voters ranked soccer star David Beckham, 36, as the best male body, according to Britain's SkyNews.
What Women Fear: While declining health and an inability to take care of themselves are big worries for women 50 and older, their biggest fear is running out of money, according to author Barbara Hannah Grufferman, writing at the Huffington Post. Readers responding to Grufferman's online poll said their biggest fear is not having enough money as they get older. Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50, says their fears are well-founded, as lower wages, lower pensions and lower Social Security payments mean widows and divorced women often are at a financial disadvantage compared to men.
Staying in the Game: How we age is 30 percent genetics and 70 percent under our direct control, says orthopedic surgeon Vonda Wright, the author of Fitness Over 40. "Baby boomers get that, and they want control -- they've always wanted control," Wright tells The Washington Post. "But sports medicine doctors haven't caught on that these athletes want to hear how to keep playing -- not why to stop playing." She adds, "The fact is a 75-year-old athlete may still perform many times faster and be in better health than a sedentary 30- or 40-year-old."
Nonprescription Lipitor? Drug giant Pfizer is considering seeking approval to make its popular cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor available over the counter, according to a report in The New York Times. The company makes an estimated $11 billion a year on the drug -- the most-prescribed in the world -- but its patent expires later this year. Other makers of similar drugs, called statins, have been unable to secure FDA approval for over-the-counter versions.
It Was 40 Years Ago: On Aug. 1, 1971, Beatle George Harrison hosted two concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York to raise money for famine victims in Bangladesh. Musicians including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston performed, and sales of tickets and a boxed album set raised millions for UNICEF to feed the starving people in the small nation. The concerts begat a wave of similar themed benefits, from Willie Nelson's Farm Aid to 2010's Hope for Haiti. The Bangladesh album set is now available on iTunes.
My Vacation: SecondAct reader Margo Millure learns French in the Loire Valley. Patty Knight snaps photographs and grazes her way through Tuscany, Venice and Florence. English teacher Matt Keighley savors baseball in Hiroshima, Japan. These reader stories are featured in SecondAct.com's new "My Vacation" series. Want to share your travel adventures and photos? Read more here.
Website of the Week: Encore Careers is a helpful online hub that helps people find new opportunities that allow them to do what they love and help make the world a better place while getting paid for it. The website is run by San Francisco-based Civic Ventures, a "nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose."
Last word: "If making choices was the theme of our youth, adapting to radical changes is the challenge for us today." -- Forbes Senior Editor Deborah Jacobs writes in her debut "Conversation With Baby Boomers" column