This material does not constitute a recommendation to engage in or refrain from a particular course of action. The information within has not been tailored for any individual. The opinions expressed herein are those of Michael A. Higley as of the date of writing and are subject to change. MML Investors Services, LLC (MMLIS) provides this article for informational purposes, and does not make any representations as to the accuracy or effectiveness of its content or recommendations. Mr. Higley is not an employee of MMLIS and any comments, opinions or facts listed are those of Mr. Higley.This commentary is brought to you courtesy of MML Investors Services, LLC (Member FINRA, Member SIPC). Past performance isn’t indicative of future performance. An index is unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index. Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as specific tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it is not guaranteed. Please note that individual situations can vary, therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. Clients must rely upon his or her own professional advisor before making decisions with respect to these matters. In December 2011, Congress passed the “Budget Control Act of 2011” which set spending limits for our country’s discretionary spending (i.e., not Social Security, not Medicare, not Medicaid) for the nine fiscal years of 2013-2021. Last week the House voted to ignore those spending caps (the Senate will vote on the legislation this week) and increase our nation’s discretionary spending by $171 billion in FY 2020 and $153 billion in FY 2021, the 5th time Congress has taken such action since January 2013. The bill “kicks the can” down the road that would force Congress to finally control its spending. The White House and Congress are also expected this week to suspend our nation’s debt ceiling limit for two years from now until 7/31/21, i.e., there will be no statutory limit on borrowing by the United States government for the next two years (source: BTN Research).Just under a third of the companies in the S&P 500 reported 2nd quarter 2019 earnings last week. Even some “less than stellar” numbers from a few high-profile corporations could not derail the bull market for U.S. stocks. The S&P 500 set two more all-time record closes last week, making it 13 this year, and finds itself up +22.1% YTD (total return) through the close of trading on Friday 7/26/19 (source: BTN Research).U.S. trade officials are expected to meet in Beijing this week, restarting trade negotiations that broke down in May 2019. American exports to China were $43 billion YTD through 5/31/19, down 19% from $53 billion a year earlier (source: Commerce Department).Notable Numbers for the Week:VERY DIFFERENT PERIODS – In the last 25 years, i.e., 7/01/94 to 6/30/19, the U.S.A. suffered just two recessions. In the 25 years before that, i.e., 7/01/69 to 6/30/94, the U.S.A. had suffered five recessions (source: National Bureau of Economic Research).WHAT IF THEY GOT MAD AND LEFT? – The wealthiest 1% of Californians, i.e., taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income of at least $877,560, pay 48% of the total state income tax collected (source: Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy).MORE THAN A DECADE – If the Fed does cut short-term interest rates as expected on Wednesday 7/31/19, it will be the Fed’s first rate cut since 12/16/08, a span of 3,879 days. The S&P 500 closed at 913 on 12/16/08. The S&P 500 closed at 3026 last Friday 7/26/19 (source: Federal Reserve).HOME PRICE – The median sales price of existing homes sold in the U.S.A. in June 2019 was $285,700, a record price. However, the median sales price of existing homes sold in July 2006 ($230,200) is equal to $289,750 in today’s dollars, a record price on an inflation-adjusted basis (source: National Association of Realtors).© 2019 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. All rights reserved.www.massmutual.com.