Overnight Money: Boehner touts tort reform
October 26, 2011
Vicki Needham, Bernie Becker, Peter Schroeder, Erik Wasson
Super friends: The supercommittee welcomes back Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf for an encore presentation of the "CBO needs the deficit-reduction plan by Halloween-ish ... please."
Elmendorf could try to spook the panel with that refrain. Many eyes will be focused on whether he'll press the point that he needs to see a deal by next week so he can do his job of providing a cost assessment and whether the supercommittee can meet its rapidly approaching deadline.
The meeting on Wednesday is the first public hearing for the panel since September and will focus on discretionary spending. The topic, chosen months ago, appears to be a side-show, as the supercommittee is far more focused on mandatory spending, tax reform and entitlements, although there's no indication that the panel has made inroads on those or any fronts. That's mostly because no one on the 12-member panel is talking.
House liberal Democrats will hold a rally to urge the group to preserve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. The rally comes as the AARP launches a major advertising campaign to pressure the supercommittee to protect seniors' benefits.
A key proposal under consideration is changing the way inflation is measured for the purpose of calculating entitlement benefits.
On Tuesday, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Republican co-chairman of the panel, downplayed concerns that the panel has made little progress as its deadline for action nears, The Hill's Russell Berman reports.
The secretive 12-member committee has until Nov. 23 to find a minimum of $1.2 trillion in budget savings. Reports in recent weeks have indicated the committee is not close to an agreement, although its members have generally refused to characterize the negotiations.
Meanwhile, Democrats aren't so optimistic.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Tuesday said he's not entirely confident the panel will succeed in reaching a bipartisan agreement as the clock ticks down, our Mike Lillis reports.
Choosing his words carefully, the Maryland Democrat said he's "hopeful" the panel meets its goals. But when asked directly if he's "expressing confidence" in the committee's success, Hoyer said no.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING
Boehner touts tort reform: A day after putting down a major marker on Russia’s quest to join the World Trade Organization, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will get into tort reform at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.
Boehner’s Russia remarks make clear that the House GOP is ready and willing to hold up WTO accession until Russia makes concessions to its neighbor Georgia and, more broadly, on human rights.
We'll see if Boehner sees a path ahead for medical liability reform independent of a grand deficit bargain with the White House.
Regulatory rework: The House Financial Services Committee will occupy itself with a markup of four bills tomorrow, all aimed at the overall goal of trimming regulations and requirements for businesses and smoothing the path for them to line up capital and start pumping money into the economy. Three of the bills on tap have been offered up by Republicans, while a fourth was introduced by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.).
Rejecting Robin Hood: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has not been shy in criticizing Democrats — including President Obama — of engaging in class warfare in recent months.
On Wednesday, Ryan appears ready to take up the subject again at the Heritage Foundation, in a speech titled "Saving the American Idea: Rejecting Fear, Envy and the Politics of Division." According to a Heritage advisory, Ryan's speech will touch on how governing elites exploit "the politics of division to pick winners and losers in our economy and determine our destinies for us," and outline the Wisconsin Republican's alternative ideas.
Group of four: The Bipartisan Policy Center holds a discussion on the launch of a bipartisan housing commission, which will "develop consensus recommendations on the most effective way to meet the future housing needs of an increasingly diverse American society."
There are plenty of familiar faces in this crowd: Former housing secretaries Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez, also a former senator from Florida, as well as former Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and George Mitchell (D-Maine).
No small effort: Karen Mills, the Small Business Administration chief, is set to testify before — you guessed it — the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday. Mills and several other witnesses will discuss oversight of SBA financing programs.
Up all night: President Obama makes an appearance Tuesday night on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. The commander in chief and Leno talk foreign policy, including the death of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya at the hands of rebels last week, the withdrawal from Iraq and the criticism the president faces from congressional Republicans, as well as a bit on his 2012 campaign for reelection.
"Obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators," Obama will say when the show airs tonight at 11:30 p.m.
The president is then headed to San Francisco for more jobs-bill hawking and campaign fundraising, and is slated to arrive in Denver tonight for two more events.
He'll remain in Colorado for most of Wednesday before heading back to Washington.
TUESDAY IN BRIEF
Housing policy moves up the agenda: Echoing a growing number of House Democrats, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) warned Tuesday that the Obama administration’s new anti-foreclosure strategy alone won’t solve the housing crisis, Lillis writes.
Larson, who heads the House Democratic Caucus, said the administration's new housing reforms, which were announced on Monday, are “a good step” toward stabilizing the volatile housing market but that more needs to be done to help struggling Americans keep their homes.
Regs check: On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved the REINS ACT, a key piece of the House GOP’s fall anti-regulatory agenda. The sweeping bill would require congressional approval for regulations now under the sole purview of the executive branch. A floor vote is expected soon.
Not a flat fan: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on a trip to North Carolina, pooh-poohed the new flat tax proposal from Rick Perry, Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate.
"At their core, these plans have the feature of shifting the burden substantially from upper income Americans to the less fortunate, to the middle class," Geithner said, according to media reports.
Asia trade: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will hold a discussion about Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and advancing U.S. economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region at the Chamber on Wednesday.
• MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.
• Durable orders: The Department of Commerce releases its report for September that measures the dollar volume of orders, shipments and unfilled orders of durable goods. Orders are considered a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, and the market often moves on this report despite the volatility and large revisions that make it a less than perfect indicator.
• New home sales: The Department of Commerce released its report for September on sales of new privately-owned single-family houses sold and for sale.