The House overwhelmingly approved dozens of business and individual tax breaks Wednesday, including credits for research and development, energy, college students and commuters.
The bill, which will allow taxpayers to claim the deductions on their 2014 tax returns, now needs approval from the Senate, which is likely to come next week.
The legislation that passed by a 378-to-46 vote was a far more modest measure than Republicans and Democrats had been discussing since the midterm elections. But both sides abandoned the more ambitious tax plan after the White House threatened to veto the effort because it did not do enough for the working poor.
The U.S. economy kept expanding in October and November, helped by solid gains in consumer spending, manufacturing and overall employment, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of business conditions across the country.
The Fed survey found many areas of strength. For the first time this year, the report did not see a need to qualify its summary of growth by using words such as “modest” and “moderate.”
The Fed said business executives remain optimistic about the prospects for growth in 2015. The gains in economic activity were coming as overall inflation remained subdued although the report did find upward wage pressures for some skilled workers.
The report, known as the “beige book” for the color of its cover, will form the basis for discussion at the Fed’s final policymaking meeting of the year on Dec. 16-17.
Much of the optimism reflected reports of solid consumer spending, which the Fed said reflected in part the fact that gasoline prices have fallen, giving households more money to spend on other items. In addition, an early cold spell in parts of the country spurred sales of winter clothing.
The report said auto sales were particularly strong in the Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco districts. Manufacturing showed gains in most districts.
Home construction was mixed with only about half of the districts reporting increases in home sales. Employment gains were widespread across the country in October and November.
— Associated Press
● Honda Motor has signed Autoliv to supply air-bag inflators for recalled vehicles, reducing the automaker’s dependence on Takata, which made the original, fatally flawed safety systems. It will be about six months until the first Autoliv parts are delivered, the Stockholm-based maker of air bags, seat belts and radar systems said in a statement. Honda said it may also turn to Japan’s Daicel for such replacement inflators.
● Microsoft shareholders approved an $84 million pay package for new chief executive Satya Nadella, despite concerns raised by an investor advisory group about the size of stock grants. The tech giant has achieved strong financial performance, and its stock is up roughly 30 percent for the year.
● Parent company Freedom Communications is laying off about 100 employees at the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the papers’ new publisher told staffers. Richard Mirman, an ex-casino executive who took over as publisher in October, announced in a memo the layoffs of “approximately 100 colleagues across several business units.” The layoffs are the latest in a series of staff reductions at the financially struggling Freedom papers. In September, the company stopped production of the Los Angeles Register just five months after it began publication.
● Federal authorities said Rite Aid paid nearly $3 million to settle allegations that it improperly used gift cards to lure new business. The Justice Department said the pharmacy chain settled a whistleblower lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing. The government alleged that from 2008 to 2010, Rite Aid violated the False Claims Act by offering gift cards to entice Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to transfer their prescriptions to Rite Aid pharmacies.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims.
● 10 a.m.: Weekly mortgage rates.
● Earnings: Barnes & Noble, Dollar General, Sears Holdings.