BEHIND THE NEWS: The worse it gets...

November 12, 2008 2:01:58 PM PST
Another down day on Wall Street, more drops in corporate earnings, and bad news from governments about their budgets.

Are you sick of the recession that's not yet officially a recession?

The hard truth is no one's predicting any kind of recovery in the next year, which means it's likely going to get worse. A lot worse.

Today, Gov. David Paterson announced his plan to buffer a $2 billion budget gap -- a plan that includes $41 million less in municipal aid to New York City, cuts in education and Medicaid, and increasing tuition at state universities. He's trying to avoid laying off state workers, but he admits he may have to in this next fiscal year.

In Yonkers, Mayor Phil Amicone plans to cut millions in expenses from that city's budget, which has a deficit of $16 million. More than 200 city workers will be laid off.

Also in Westchester County, officials want to shift Rye Playland to an all-you-can-ride admission fee instead of the cafeteria-style fees they now charge. The one-charge fee will raise more money for the County.

We are all affected: Certainly those who've lost their jobs, but also those who still have theirs. People are spending less money; there is clearly a recession mentality that is in play. The "what if?" question is on everyone's mind: What if I lose my job? And so people aren't buying, and in an economy that depends on consumer spending, that's not good news.

I'm figuring out how to talk to my children this next week about calling a total moratorium on Christmas and Hanukah gifts. They know what's going on around them, and they're now old enough to understand that this holiday season will be one of cutting back. Or at least I think and hope they're old enough and mature enough. I am thinking of proposing giving a gift to kids who can't afford one, or serving meals to the homeless, or some sort of other act of kindness.

I suspect I'm not alone in my thinking about this year.

And I know I'm not alone about not spending like it was 2006.

And I also know that people are well aware there's precious little bailout for the average Joe and Jane, although the recent proposals for those in or close to foreclosure may help a bit.

Late this afternoon, the Big Three carmakers got some good news, however: A $25 billion emergency injection. The trade off is that taxpayers will now own a piece of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. What's the old saw about as goes GM, so goes the country? These car companies haven't been reacting to demand by Americans for lower gas mileage, so now we have an ownership piece of these non-responsive corporations?

Charming. We can list them in our portfolios along with the brilliantly run banks we also have a stake in because of the bailout.

We're airing our unemployment special today on Eyewitness News at 5:30 p.m. In fact, we have a live chat going on right now, and we've been taking your e-mail suggestions. We thank you for writing in. Here are a few:

From Donna Stec of New Jersey: "TIP:: Now more than ever one of the best ways to save money is to cut manufacturers grocery store coupons. It takes a little effort and a bit of your precious time but when you hit the grocery store with a handful of coupons and the store may be giving 'double coupons' -- well then it feels like you've hit the jackpot. If possible spread your shopping between two or even three stores and watch for the specials and add your coupon to that and the savings really add up. Here in NJ most stores double coupons up to 99 cents and if the store is really feeling generous once in a blue moon they offer TRIPLE COUPONS (A&P did this last week). That kind of savings is an even bigger jackpot. If you are really savvy you can actually get items for free or close to free. If you really work at it you can save quite a bit on groceries. Start cutting those coupons from magazines and the Sunday paper insert and don't forget to check sites on the internet that offer manufacturers coupons. A little effort can go a long way."

Diane of Forest Hills says that "Shopping for clothes ..... and shopping lower end stores.. With a little creativity can make cheap look expensive. Have to stick with black and grey. Really enjoy Bill Ritter."

Penny from Long Island observes that, "the stores are already playing Christmas music. It makes me worried that I won't get shopping done, but working in healthcare I usually work the holiday. So I started years ago celebrating Three Kings Day or Epiphany in Jan. Thus being able to shop the after Christmas sales. I have been at this stretching a dollar so long I have come up with all the ideas people are just discovering. ie:Manager specials in the grocery store, shopping the dollar store for items-powder,saran wrap,napkins etc(I even saved my name brand cutter with the zipper to put my dollar store brand of plastic wrap in to make cutting easier.) Of cause buying in bulk is always good. If you can get others to go in with you on items all the better.

Thanks for this article I love reading it since I am at work and miss the news. You keep me in touch with what's going on."

Marie Monaco of Long Island says that people should "attend community college and save two years of private college tuition."

And Robert Stewart of New York City has a tip for my own job security: "This is not a survival tip, but rather a message to tell you how much I enjoy reading your thoughts. This is surprising, because I am a book writer, and I never respond to the kind of blog you write. But I find that you are intelligent and articulate and quite perceptive. (WABC) has an invaluable man in you, which I am sure (your) News Director knows full well. Keep it up. C'est fini!"

We'll have the latest on the economy and today's developments, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, big news today about same-sex marriages. A judge in Connecticut upheld the state's new law, and so gays and lesbians are now allowed to marry there. Meanwhile, at the Mormon Temple on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a huge protest is expected by people angry over the passage of Prop. 8 in California, which overturned that state's same-sex marriage law.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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