Today’s news from The Hill
Posted November 2, 2011on:
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORY:
All eyes on Bernanke: The Federal Reserve will issue its latest statement on Wednesday, and as usual, the markets will pore over every word in an attempt to look deep into the psyche of Fed officials and what they really think about the economy and what to do about it.
After the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will make his next stand before the press after the meeting to relay the Fed’s thinking — his third in what had been a relatively rare occurrence.
He’ll probably field questions on the Fed’s outlook for the economy, and perhaps even some of the political pressure facing it: the Fed decided to do the Twist — nope, not the 1960s-era dance — after receiving a letter from GOP leaders asking them to avoid doing just that.
Bernanke will most likely make a full-throated defense of the Fed’s latest policy move, “Operation Twist,” which has the Fed buying up long bonds and selling off short ones. He’ll mount that defense despite the fact that he will likely continue to face a hard bloc of opposition within the Fed on the strategy. Three FOMC members have dissented from the last two Fed statements, an unusually high amount of division for the typically consensus-minded institution.
Even if the Fed does not make any groundshaking announcements, Bernanke will drive headlines.
(I do not believe the Federal Reserve should be abolished and the management of our money should revert back to Congress given our Congressmen’s miserable history of managing anything. I do however believe Congress must have much greater control over and oversight over the Federal Reserve. BB)
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR
Ode to 100 days: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be under the spotlight of the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow, as a subcommittee dives into what the brand new bureau has been up to in its first 100 days. Since beginning work in July, the CFPB has embarked on projects to streamline documents consumers use to get a mortgage or student loans, while continuing to flesh out its infrastructure.
And it’s been done it all without a director, as Obama nominee Richard Cordray remains bogged down in the Senate due to GOP lawmakers demanding changes to the agency. Tomorrow, Raj Date, the president’s special adviser in charge of the bureau and Elizabeth Warren’s successor, will discuss the bureau’s opening days with lawmakers, and likely will face some tough questions from skeptical Republicans.
(Another Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill monstrosities that needs to be shut down! BB)
Going postal: A possible solution is in the offing for the troubled U.S. Postal Service. On Wednesday, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), all higher-ups in the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, are getting together to release a bipartisan bill to, in their words, pull the Postal Service “from the brink of financial failure.”
USPS lost around $10 billion last fiscal year, and the postmaster general has said the agency could run out of money next August or September if nothing is done to change its financial trajectory. But the legislative process on a USPS overhaul likely still has a ways to go, with the bill from the four senators expected to have some significant differences from the measure being pushed by House Republicans.
(The US Post Office is in trouble because of the huge number of overpaid and vastly over benefitted employees. Stamps are going up again to $.41 per stamp. No wonder only those given cheap postage rates like junk mailers use the postal service! Time for a big shake up and the dismissing of thousands of postal workers. Also I really don’t see a need for daily mail anymore since the computer has made communication so fast and easy and CHEAP. BB)
On the hot housing seat: Two witnesses convicted of defrauding the nation’s largest federal public housing construction program will testify during a joint Financial Services subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. The subcommittee will examine whether a lack of internal controls at the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) makes the HOME Investment Partnership Program especially vulnerable to fraud.
“HUD’s lack of oversight within the HOME program is extremely troubling,” said Insurance and Housing subcommittee Chairwoman Judy Biggert (R-Ill.).
(HUD has always been high on fraud and abuse from the very beginning. HUD should never have been in it’s present form because it is too big and lacking in oversight. BB)
Iran sanctions: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up a bill to strengthen Iran sanctions laws to compel Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening activities.
(Talk about useless endeavors! What needs done is what Israel did to Syria when they got too close to going nuclear. That isn’t likely to happen however with Obama in the WH. I don’t understand what is holding Israel back this time. BB)
A bridge to a jobs bill: President Obama will make a push for his $60 billion infrastructure proposal during a speech at Georgetown Waterfront Park — in front of the Key Bridge that links Washington, D.C., and Virginia over the Potomac.
After the speech, the president heads to the G-20 summit in Cannes, France.
(What will the Giver in Chief give away this time??! there really is not much left of the United States that he hasn’t already given or destroyed. BB)
Isn’t it grand: Members of the deficit supercommittee on Tuesday said they are still seeking a grand bargain that would go beyond the group’s mandate to find $1.2 trillion in savings.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said that she is continuing to seek a deal that would include spending and entitlement cuts as well as tax revenue, even as the Nov. 23 deadline for the 12-member group looms.
(As I stated the other day, please don’t hold your breath for any kind of solution to the problems we are having. Not that solutions aren’t out there but the Republican “cut spending” and the Democrats “taxers” just are not likely to move off the33ir stands. You know of course that I am a firm believer in cutting government spending. There are so many agencies (150 the CBO found to be ineffective!) and even whole departments that need to be done away with. And of course Medicare and Social Security should be means tested. BB)
Reid steps back: As the supercommittee contemplates entitlement overhauls, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appeared to put some distance between himself and the committee’s deliberations.
“I’m not negotiating this deal. They’re doing it,” Reid told reporters.
The statement seemed to conflict with recent statements by aides that Reid was getting more involved to break the debt impasse, Erik Wasson and Russell Berman report.
No need to be moody: The fate of the nation’s AAA credit rating does not hinge solely on the final product of the deficit supercommittee, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The credit rater said Tuesday that while there is a “significant chance” the panel will fail to reach a deal, the ultimate outcome of its work will not be “decisive” in assessing whether to keep the nation’s credit rating at AAA, The Hill’s Peter Schroeder reports.
Minibus leaves the Senate: The Senate on Tuesday cleared a $182 billion appropriations “minibus” bill on a bipartisan basis after working through a week that included the first detailed debate in the Senate over fiscal 2012 spending levels, The Hill’s Josiah Ryan reports.
The legislation, passed 69-30, was the first to emerge from the Senate that includes cuts in discretionary spending that conform to the summer’s debt-ceiling deal under which both parties agreed to a cap of $1.043 trillion in discretionary spending for 2012. The measure includes spending for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Transportation, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and federal housing programs for 2012.
(You really don’t need my comments on this one. I agree with the cuts certainly but why give the most useless and fraud filled departments and agencies more money? BB)
Nixing fees: Amid a customer backlash, Bank of America is nixing its plans to charge a monthly $5 debit card fee, The Hill’s Vicki Needham reports.
The news follows announcements last week by several other major banks, including Chase and Wells Fargo, that they wouldn’t pursue the fees. Atlanta-based Sun Trust and Regions Bank said Monday they wouldn’t move forward with the fees.
Tackling the taxman: The House is expected to consider, and pass, a bill that would put a five-year moratorium on new taxes levied only on wireless devices like cellphones.
State and local tax collectors have said the measure ties their hands in an era of deep deficits. Still, more than half of the House has signed on to the bill, and it easily cleared the Judiciary Committee over the summer.
Proponents of the bill note that wireless taxes can be fairly steep, with studies finding an average rate of 16.3 percent.
Challenger Job Cuts: A measure of how many jobs cuts are planned by U.S. employers last month.
MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.
ADP Employment Change: The group measures private-sector employment for the last month.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Manufacturing expansion slows in October
— Regulators: ‘Possible deficiencies’ in customer accounts drove MF Global to bankruptcy
— Simpson, Bowles to issue dire warning to supercommittee
— Hoyer nearly able to block spending riders
— Geithner, Boehner meet to discuss Europe
— AIG pays back nearly $1 billion to Treasury
— Watchdog goes after SEC over personal email use
— Bloomberg: Occupy protesters should blame Congress, not banks, for mortgage crisis (’bout time that pansy Bloomberg made a sensible statement. Only in New York and California can one find such stupid politicians! BB)
— Scott Brown, US Chamber continue push for 3 percent repeal (You know in Europe public works get done on time and made to last because the contractors are held to their bid and put out of business if they don’t perform. In the united Statews it is a game as to who can under bid a job the best because over runs are always funded and no one is ever held accountable or jailed. When will we learn? BB)
— Construction spending rises for the second straight month
— Hoyer wins vows from 182 Democrats to oppose policy riders in spending bills (Great! BB)
— Reid wants to alter House withholding bill (Why in Hell the people of Nevada reelected Reid is beyond me. Nevada is one of the most badly hit states by this bad economy and Reid is more that responsible for this bad economy. Go figure. BB)