It has been a trying week for the nation's financial community. Numbers released by the government indicate the economy is cooling.
Auto sales dropped by 3.4 percent in February. Retail sales also fell. While home buyers have been enjoying the lowest mortgage rates in 40 years, the economy, aside from the real estate sector, seems to be drifting. Indeed Wall Street seems so disengaged that even the goofiest of rumors can cause frantic responses. This week alone, separate rumors of an Osama sighting, a coup by Iraqi Generals, and a CIA deal with Saddam sent normally sober Wall Street traders into a buying frenzy.
In an effort to curtail the massive deficits contained in the White House's budget proposal, both senate and house budget committees have begun tinkering. The senate wants to pare back some of the tax cuts proposed by the administration. The house proposal seeks to aggressively curtail spending, proposing to hold non-military budget increases next year to a scant 4-tenths of a percent.
To that end some budgets will suffer serious cuts. Among the targeted will be programs contained in USDA budgets, including farm subsidies, conservation programs, and food assistance programs like food stamps and the Women, infants and children subsidies.