Global Glance: Health care battle could decide balance of power; Fed says rate hikes could accelerate

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

Analysis: Health care battle could decide balance of power

WASHINGTON (AP) — The messaging battle is on over repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and the balance of power in Washington may be at stake. Democrats believe they already lost the public opinion fight over the law once, when they pushed through the Affordable Care Act in the first place, and Republicans grabbed hold of the issue to drive Democrats into the minority. Democrats are determined that this time, they’ll come out on top. For their part, Republicans are painfully aware that they’re embarking upon the task of repealing and replacing the complex law at their peril. If Democrats get their way, the GOP will own every problem and complication that results from the rework, and there are certain to be many. For both sides, the repeal-and-replace fight represents a risky and unexpected do-over nearly seven years after Democratic majorities in the House and Senate passed the law on a party-line vote. Read more

Fed minutes: If economy heats up, rate hikes may accelerate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials, who boosted a key interest rate last month, said they might need to accelerate future rate hikes if a faster-growing economy pushes down the unemployment rate farther than currently expected. Minutes of the Fed’s December meeting released Wednesday showed that Fed officials discussed the impact of Donald Trump’s proposed economic program of tax cuts, deregulation and increased infrastructure spending. The Fed officials attributed the surge in stock prices, the increase in bond rates and the stronger dollar following the election to enthusiasm among investors about Trump’s plans to bolster economic growth. The minutes said that Fed officials believed they could maintain plans for gradual rate hikes but would need to be ready to hasten those increases if necessary to fight inflation. Read more

Trump names Wall Street lawyer Clayton as SEC chairman

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday chose a Wall Street attorney with experience in corporate mergers and public stock launches as his nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Trump announced his nomination of Jay Clayton, a partner in the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, as chairman of the independent agency that oversees Wall Street and the financial markets. If confirmed by the Senate, his responsibilities will include enforcing the scores of rules already written by the agency under the 2010 law that reshaped financial regulation after the 2008-09 crisis. The law, known as Dodd-Frank, has long been scorned by Republicans and is high on Trump’s target list. Clayton has worked on many of the securities deals that the SEC regulates and has represented Wall Street powerhouses including Goldman Sachs and Barclays. Read more

Republicans target Obama rules on methane, coal

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Wednesday kicked off their efforts to block or undo scores of regulations and executive orders issued by President Barack Obama. On a near party-line vote, lawmakers approved legislation that would allow Congress to overturn, with a single vote, executive branch regulations finalized near the end of an outgoing president’s term. The bill was approved, 238-184, and now goes to the Senate. Four Democrats joined 234 Republicans to support the bill. Republicans said the bill would stem what they call a growing trend by presidents of both parties to impose costly “midnight rules” during their last few months in office. The vote came as GOP leaders said their top regulatory targets will be Obama’s rules to reduce methane emissions and lessen the environmental impact of coal mining on nearby streams. Obama has pushed for rules to protect air and water as part of his focus on curbing global warming. He argues that the regulations enacted have benefited the economy more than they have cost. Read more

The Latest at CES: HTC’s Netflix for virtual reality

LAS VEGAS (AP) — HTC is launching trackers for its Vive virtual-reality system that users can attach to physical objects such as bats or toy guns in order to make them part of a virtual reality adventure. During a media briefing at the CES gadget show Wednesday, the company showcased a number of tracker-enabled accessories, including what it says is the first VR camera, multiple rifles built for VR shooters and haptic gloves. The tracker weighs less than three ounces; the company hasn’t set a price. To foster more development, the company will give away up to 1,000 trackers to developers. The company is also launching its first ever app subscription service, which will allow unlimited access to VR apps for a flat monthly fee. That service will launch in early 2017. HTC didn’t say how much it will cost. Read more

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