And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Round up on Congressional actions this week.

Posted on: October 14, 2011

Catch up on what happened this week in DC and things to watch for.  the Republicans in the House are doing what they can to clean up Obamanation thru the Supercommittee because they know nothing they do will get past the democratic Senate.  BB

FRIDAY’S BIG STORY:

President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will take a victory lap in the Motor City on Friday after passage of a free-trade agreement between the two nations this week with a visit to a General Motors plant.

The Detroit trip comes two days after Congress passed three trade deals, with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

The Obama administration extracted some changes to the South Korean agreement last year improving access and lowering tariffs for U.S. automakers, a deal supported by House Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), Ford and the United Auto Workers.

The auto industry is expected to increase its exports to South Korea by 54 percent, or about $194 million, the U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated.

“We know from experience that free-trade agreements lead to doubling and sometimes tripling and quadrupling the amount of trade and investments going into each others [countries],” the South Korean president said Thursday during lunch in Washington. “What’s more important is the fact that FTAs lead to creation of good, decent jobs and it spurs growth and innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Korea is aiming to approve the agreement soon so the pact will go into effect by Jan. 1.

But before they head off to Detroit, Obama and Lee — and scores of others, for that matter — will chow down Thursday night at an official State Dinner.

The evening’s menu is laden with Korean influences (masago rice pearl crispies and rice wine vinaigrette, for instance) and features local ingredients, including some culled from the White House kitchen garden, the White House said.

Two-cents deadline: Congressional committees have until Friday to submit their two cents — or maybe trillion-dollar saving recommendations — to the deficit supercommittee.

Keep a close watch on the the bipartisan recommendations of the House and Senate Agriculture panels, which are expected to suggest serious cuts to farm programs in the interest of warding off even deeper slashing of subsidies.

House Democrats delivered 16 letters to the deficit group on Thursday from committee ranking members focusing on job creation and tax increases. House Appropriations ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) used his detailed letter to show the damage to discretionary spending that could result if the supercommittee fails to agree on a sensible mix of cuts and taxes.

Technical issues delayed substantive debate on the three-in-one appropriations bill package that was set to come to the Senate floor on Thursday.

Votes on the combined Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Transportation, Housing bill is not expected until next week.


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR

Mingling of interests: Capping off a week that saw Congress pass three free-trade agreements, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver an address to the Economic Club of New York on the intersection of economics and foreign policy;

Supercommittee member and House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) will join other budget experts at a Newseum media briefing hosted by National Journal; and

OxFam America activists will fight against cuts to foreign aid on Friday by dressing up as members of the congressional supercommittee and protesting outside the east front of the Capitol.

European economic elixir: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner head to Paris on Friday for a meeting of G-20 finance ministers, as well as a separate meeting of central bank governors. You may have noticed, but there’s a bit of economic drama in Europe these days, as leaders wrestle a debt crisis that is threatening some of its largest economies. But there is some good news to greet Geithner, as Slovakia finally passed a European Union deal to beef up its rescue fund, after voting it down the first time earlier in the week.

Do a little derivatives dance: The House Financial Services Committee will dive deep into the world of derivatives on Friday, as a subcommittee mulls a number of bills to tweak that market, which is under scrutiny by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. That hearing comes on the heels of a similar event at the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, where lawmakers discussed a slew of bills amending government regulation of the financial tool.

The movement on the three bills could also give the GOP negotiating leverage when riders on the environmental and labor bills step to the forefront.

When that happens, Democrats will no longer be able to say the entire government faces a shutdown if the less controversial bills are already in effect.


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Retail sales: The Department of Commerce releases its measure of the total receipts of retail stores. The changes in retail sales are widely followed as the most timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns.

Michigan sentiment: The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan group puts out its report on consumer confidence.

Business inventories: The Department of Commerce report includes sales and inventory statistics from all three stages of the manufacturing process (manufacturing, wholesale and retail).

Export-Import prices: The Department of Commerce releases its report tracking trends in exports and imports. The export data is worth watching for indications that a strengthening competitive position at home and/or strengthening economies overseas are boosting U.S. growth.


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

— Watchdog group wants info from the SEC

— House panel slogs through on postal reform bill

GAO suggests Postal Service did not pay too much into retirement program

— USPS didn’t like the GAO report

— Senate Republicans put together a jobs plan

House Dems want new revenue sources from deficit panel

— Maybe Geithner should fly coach, or maybe business class

— Trade deficit narrows, China figures widening

— House Dems want investigation on bank fee hikes

First-time jobless claims drop slightly

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