The company announced its plan late Wednesday as the Triumph was being towed to a port in Mobile, Ala., with more than 4,000 people on board, some of whom have complained to relatives of uncomfortable and unsanitary conditions. The company has disputed the accounts.
The Triumph is expected to arrive this afternoon, but passengers' stay will be short. Carnival says passengers can board buses to Galveston, Texas, or Houston, or spend the night in New Orleans. Those staying in New Orleans will be flown Friday to Houston. Carnival said it will cover the transportation costs.
Instead of making the hard choices to fix Social Security's financial problems, policymakers "use it as a tool of political rhetoric," Astrue said.
Astrue, 56, has headed the federal government's largest program since 2006 — he was nominated by former President George W. Bush. By law, Social Security commissioners serve six-year terms, so President Barack Obama will now have the opportunity to choose his own nominee, who must be approved by the Senate. Astrue's last day on the job was Wednesday.
The trustees who oversee Social Security say the program's trust funds will run dry in 2033, leaving Social Security with only enough revenue to pay about 75 percent of benefits. Already the program is paying out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes.
As commissioner, Astrue served as a trustee. He regularly urged Congress to address Social Security's long-term financial problems but refrained from publicly weighing in on various options to cut benefits or raise taxes — until now.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Astrue said benefit cuts and tax increases are inevitable — despite fierce opposition to both. Yet he questions whether Congress is up to the task.
They've been dating for a year, and now it looks as though the marriage of American Airlines and USAirways will be announced tomorrow, according to a source close to the negotiations.
The source tells ABC News that details of the merger agreement have been worked out.
The two airlines' Boards of Directors have approved the deal Wednesday evening, according to a source close to the negotiations.
If the two carriers merge, they are expected to retain the American Airlines name. The new airline would become the largest in the world.
Any deal is still subject to approval of the bankruptcy judge overseeing American Airline's bankruptcy, as well as the anti-trust division of the Department of Justice. Both are expected to sign off on the agreement.
This would be the third mega airline merger in the past five years. Delta and Northwest announced a merger in 2008, followed by United and Continental in 2010. The industry consolidation would leave four major carriers operating in the U.S., American, Delta, United, and low-coast carrier Southwest.
For travelers, nothing will change immediately.
These complicated mergers can take more than a year to accomplish. Will this ultimately mean higher fares for travelers?
Some analysts believe fares won't be greatly impacted, because American and USAirways don't compete now on many of their routes.
But ABC News Travel and Lifestyle Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown says less competition among airlines generally means higher prices for consumers.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com agrees, telling ABC News that a merger "guarantees these two airlines will never compete in the future, and competition is the main driver of cheaper airline ticket prices."
One thing travelers won't have to worry about is their coveted frequent flyer miles. The airlines will merge their two frequent flyer programs, and the larger route system will give passengers more opportunity to earn those miles.
Airline mergers can be messy affairs.
Brown notes that when United and Continental merged there were major computer glitches that virtually shut down their systems.
The biggest problem with most mergers, though, is consolidating employees and employee contracts. In this case, deals have already been worked out with pilots, flight attendants and mechanics, which will help ensure smoother sailing when and if the airlines combine.