September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012
Overnight Money on the Hill in DC


Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It has been another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Wonders will never cease to amaze me but because it is an election year, our elected officials in Washington, DC came together to find the funds to keep the government running until next March. Now far be it from me to point out it would have been political suicide for Republicans to pull the same bullshit they did last time when they almost caused the country to default on our debt which caused our credit rating as a country to be lowered for the first time.

But let me get on to the news about what happened as reported...

The end is near ... at least for congressional work before the election: The Senate returns on Wednesday with a veterans jobs bill and a fiscal 2013 continuing resolution squarely on the agenda.

The House passed the six-month stopgap government funding bill on Thursday, tossing it into the Senate's court to complete this week. There will be a procedural vote to end debate in the afternoon with the expectation that the upper chamber should finish the bill by Thursday, before heading back to their states for the November elections.

Passage means that President Obama can sign the bill and put it on the books.

Congressional leaders crafted the stopgap agreement before the August recess to avoid a pre-election shutdown and showdown.

The $1.047 trillion measure, set by last summer's debt-ceiling agreement, funds the government through March. The measure also includes $6.4 billion for disaster relief and continues the pay freeze for federal employees.

Work on the CR is the last major action expected by Congress before heading home.

Lawmakers will return to Washington after the elections to forge some sort of short-term agreement on the fiscal cliff's tax and spending issues.

Meanwhile, the bipartisan veterans jobs bill faces at least one more hurdle before lawmakers can wrap up work on the legislation, including a vote on a budget point of order.

Senate Democrats and Republicans have teamed up on the measure but, so far, enough steam hasn't build up to get it through the upper chamber.

WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR

Time's a-wastin': The tax-writing panels appear to be searching for as much knowledge on the fiscal cliff as they can accumulate before lawmakers scurry for the exits.

Senate Finance members are scheduled to meet behind closed doors with a trio of heavy hitters — Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Doug Elmendorf, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, and Tom Barthold, the chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation.

That meeting comes a day before the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to come together to discuss year-end issues in private.

Examining trade assistance: A House subcommittee will take a look at how trade adjustment assistance has helped firms and how the program can be improved. The House Overnight and Government Reform subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management will evaluate the operation and performance of the Commerce Department program, which provides technical assistance to eligible small- and medium-sized firms in the United States that have been negatively affected by foreign trade.

A recent Government Accountability Office report showed that while the program has proved helpful, there are areas for improvement.

Bryan Borlik, head of the program, along with several other government and business officials, will chat with lawmakers about possible changes.

More on trade: Trade leaders will converge at the Global Services Summit in Washington on Wednesday. About 20 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have begun discussions aimed at launching an agreement on trade in services, known informally as the International Services Agreement (ISA).

Significant services agreements are under negotiation as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions, as well as the within the EU-US High-Level Working Group, which aims to address market access issues for services.

The speakers list is pretty impressive and includes U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast, Mexican Secretary of the Economy Bruno Ferrari, Costa Rican Foreign Trade Minister Anabel Gonzαlez, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser, Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Bark Taeho and Michael Froman, deputy assistant to President Obama.

Buffett Rule time!: OK, not that one. No, the House GOP is set to vote on a measure — seemingly introduced to mock the Democrats' Buffett Rule — that would make it easier to donate more money for deficit reduction on tax forms.

Wednesday's scheduled vote is the latest in a string of messaging votes on taxes from both chambers in recent months, and comes just days before Congress goes home for good before November's elections.

The Democrats' Buffett Rule legislation, named for the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would have mandated that those making more than $2 million a year pay a 30 percent tax rate, and would have phased in the rule for those making between $1 million and $2 million.

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.

Housing Starts-Building Permits: The Commerce Department releases its August report on the number of residential units under construction along with building permits, which allow work to start and are a forward-looking indicator of where the sector is headed.

Existing Home Sales: The National Association of Realtors releases August figures for sales of existing homes. Existing-home sales are completed transactions across a broad range of housing types, including single-family homes.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Majority of '47 percent' likely to back Obama

— White House slams Romney over 47 percent remarks

— Still, some conservatives see opportunity for Romney

— Ryan avoids the topic during a campaign event

— Tax Policy Center analysis shows who's included in the '47 percent'

— Economist Zandi: 15 percent chance of going over fiscal cliff

— Builder confidence continues ascent to highest level in more than six years

— Obama, Romney duel on trade with China

So now you are caught up on what has been happening today. Hope you have a beary great and safe Friday.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.



big bear hug,





Daddy Dab