And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

More news from The Hill; some good and some bad

Posted on: July 26, 2011

Some more news from the Hill that may interest you.  Keeping up with Congress—at least with the house since the Reid dominated Senate isn’t doing a whole lot of anything but milling around like cattle while Senator Reid refuses to allow any bills to come to the floor for discussion and vote.  BB

WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORY:

How will it all get done in a week? Who knows?

All through Tuesday, House leadership struggled to secure support for House Speaker
John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling plan. And that was before the Congressional Budget Office score of the proposal didn’t quite meet expectations.

The CBO figures forced Boehner’s office to say it was tweaking the plan, leading to some doubt that the framework could get its scheduled Wednesday vote. (As of Tuesday evening, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office said it was still a go for tomorrow.)

The Tuesday take from CBO was that the Boehner proposal rolled back deficits by $850 billion over a decade, a figure which could have opened the GOP up to criticism that it was not getting its pledged dollar of cuts for every dollar in debt-ceiling hike. Top House Republicans had said in recent days that their plan would have allowed President Obama to request a $900 billion increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit.

As it stands, no Democrats are on record supporting the Boehner plan, though some Blue Dogs have not closed the door on it.

With that in mind, Republicans are trying to ensure that no more than 23 members of their conference vote against the proposal, and more than that number told The Hill throughout Tuesday that they were undecided, leaning no or definitely voting no.

A failed vote on the Boehner plan could rattle markets but also be a boon to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid’s plan extends the debt ceiling through the next election and is the preferred option of the White House. So if Boehner’s plan goes down, Reid’s plan may be the only option left on the table with the Aug. 2 deadline looming.

In any case, Reid vowed to kill the Boehner plan on Tuesday, and the White House said that advisers are recommending a veto. Boehner’s office claims this leaves the door open a crack for the bill to become law.

Meanwhile, on K Street, the Boehner plan has sparked conservative civil war. The Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform want the plan passed, but Tea Party groups, Heritage Action, the National Taxpayers Union and Club for Growth are demanding “no” votes.WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR:

Beige has never been so exciting: The Federal Reserve will offer up its newest “beige book” tomorrow, offering once more a slew of anecdotal takes on what’s happening nationwide on a range of economic factors. Given what we’ve heard from Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, over the last several weeks, we’re guessing business contacts have been giving Fed officials some reasons for economic optimism for the second half of the year – even as some sectors (i.e., housing) continue to struggle.

Rating the raters: A House Financial Services panel is set to join the conversation on a hot topic these days. The credit rating agencies that are currently piling dire warning on top of dire warning on the debt limit and U.S. debt in general.

The Financial Services oversight subcommittee will specifically discuss exactly what it means when these market scorekeepers toss out three A’s in a row and how raters will function in the wake of Dodd-Frank. As you may recall, the raters didn’t make many friends after the financial crisis, after assigning AAAs to all sorts of shoddy mortgage-backed debt.

Officials from the Fed and the comptroller, not to mention from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, will be on hand on Wednesday to offer their take.

The corporate take: Senate Finance is welcoming a quartet of corporate executives to The Dirksen Senate Office Building tomorrow to discuss the need to overhaul the tax code. (The four companies: Wal-Mart, Kimberly-Clark, PMC-Sierra and CVS Caremark.)

Corporate officials have been no stranger to congressional testimony on tax reform in recent months, having generally called for a switch to a territorial tax system for foreign earnings and appearing fairly open to at least considering exchanging tax credits for research and development and other incentives for lower corporate rates.

Speaking of which…: The chairman of that other tax-writing panel — Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) of House Ways and Means — is set to discuss both tax reform and the stalled trade deals at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce breakfast tomorrow.

As you probably know, the trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia have been hung up over a dispute over the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Camp vowed this month to separately consider TAA if the Obama administration did not send the program up as part of the South Korea pact.

The carving knife, part 1: A House Appropriations panel is slated to discuss a particular conservative sore spot – foreign aid. As our Erik Wasson reported, the spending bill the panel will mark up essentially cuts spending on core functions for the State Department and foreign aid by 11 percent, once the War on Terror is excluded.

The carving knife, part 2: The House Oversight Committee is set to examine several proposals aimed at decreasing the government’s real estate holdings.

Rep. Jeff Denham, who has been working with the Obama administration, has envisioned a civil version of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), which led to the shuttering of more than 350 defense installations between 1989 and 2005.

The California Republican’s measure focuses on how the federal government can restructure how it manages and consolidates real estate over the long term, while also figuring out how it can house more employees in less space.

Several officials, both in the administration and out, are set to testify on the issue.

Spending trim: The bicameral Joint Economic Committee’s topic du jour for Wednesday will be restraining government spending, with James Miller, OMB director in the Reagan administration, among its witnesses.

Economic indicators:

— The Mortgage Bankers Association is set to its weekly application index.

— And the Commerce Department will release data on a leading indicator of manufacturing activity: durable goods for June. The measure is the volume of orders, shipments and unfilled orders of goods whose intended lifespan is three years or more. The figure can be skewed by huge increases in aircraft and defense orders. The figure also is measured without transportation factors.

BREAKING TUESDAY:

NLRB v. Boeing: The Obama administration announced it opposed a House Republican bill that would restrict the National Labor Relations Board’s ability to force an employer to shift workers “under any circumstance.”

The House Rules Committee, which has had its hands full with the Boehner debt-ceiling plan, still has to get the bill ready for the floor. The measure cleared the House Education and the Workforce Committee on a party-line vote last week.

Gap widens
: Hispanic wealth dropped more sharply between 2005 and 2009 than it did in black and white households, the Pew Hispanic Center reported on Tuesday.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

On the Money’s Tuesday:

— Standard & Poor’s keeping it neutral.

— Elizabeth Warren: Leaving on that midnight train to Harvard.

— Democrats on the Fair Tax: Sounds like a misnomer.

— Lawmakers divided on USPS closures.

— Christine Lagarde to U.S.: Get hopping on the debt limit.

— House Dems want administration to stay the course in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations

— Poll finds Americans trust Obama more on the issue.

— New home sales fall 

— But home prices rise 

— (As does consumer confidence, for that matter.)

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