Washington Extra – Stood up
Welcome to the new bipartisan Washington, where Obama and the Republicans are not only at odds over tax cuts, they can’t even agree when to have dinner.
Republicans apparently pulled out of the November 18 meeting called by President Barack Obama because of “scheduling conflicts.” Which is about as convincing a reason for not going to dinner as “I have to stay in and wash my hair.” Apparently some Republican aides had been grumbling that Obama had called the meeting without consulting with their bosses.
In this sort of atmosphere, it wasn’t entirely surprising today to learn that Republican Senator Orrin Hatch poured cold water on the Democrats suggested compromise on taxes, a permanent extension for the middle class and a temporary one for wealthier Americans. Still, there is an element of brinksmanship about all of this, and Washington Extra still wouldn’t bet against a deal before year end.
Here are our top stories from Washington today…
Panel urges renewed U.S. pressure on China on currency
The U.S. should name China a “currency manipulator” and take on trade-distorting Chinese policies in the WTO, a congressional advisory body said. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Chairman Dan Slane said the report “reflects the commission’s conclusions that China has failed in some notable areas to fulfill the promises it made nine years ago when it joined the World Trade Organization.”
For more of this story by Paul Eckert, read here.
Republicans will block tax compromise: Sen. Hatch
A top Republican in the Senate said his party would block any Democratic deal on extending Bush-era tax cuts if rates for the middle class and wealthy are not extended together. “Are you kidding, of course we would,” said Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. The Utah Republican was responding to a deal floated by the White House and some Democrats in which lower rates would be extended for the first $200,000 of income on a permanent basis, while additional tax cuts for wealthier Americans would be renewed for a shorter period.
For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.
Inflation subdued, housing starts tumble
Core consumer inflation touched a record low in October and new home building sagged, lending support to the Federal Reserve’s move to boost the sluggish economy through additional monetary easing. The data could help ease criticism of the Fed’s decision to pump more money into the economy through purchases of $600 billion worth of government debt.
For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.
Federal Reserve officials see need for full QE2
Federal Reserve officials said the central bank is likely to follow through on its entire $600 billion bond buying program based on an anticipated weak economic recovery. “As the forecast looks right now it looks like we’ll be purchasing at this pace through the end of the second quarter to add up to $600 billion,” St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard told reporters.
For more of this story by Mark Felsenthal, read here.
Fed officials defend drive to lower US rates
Federal Reserve officials fought back against a stream of criticism over the $600 billion economic stimulus, arguing it was necessary to shore up the fragile recovery. The Fed’s effort to pump money into the financial system has sparked fears it will feed asset bubbles in emerging markets and generate domestic inflation.
For more of this story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.
Federal Reserve issues dividend guidance for banks
The Federal Reserve issued guidance that would allow some large banks to increase dividend payments and buy back shares. The Fed also said the 19 banks that were subject to stress tests last year will have to submit updated capital plans by early next year that can be used to evaluate their ability to withstand losses under “adverse” economic scenarios.
For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.
Hillary Clinton tries to rally Senate to back START treaty
Hillary Clinton, vowing to do “whatever it takes,” tried to rally Senate support for a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, even as more Republicans voiced opposition to a vote before the new year.
For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.
Senators complain about airport patdowns
Even senators are bridling at new airport security measures that include highly personal patdowns of some passengers. As the busy holiday travel period approaches, senators complained to Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole about the tougher screening, which entails a patdown or highly detailed body imaging.
For more of this story by Tabassum Zakaria, read here.
What we are blogging…
Will she? Won’t she? Palin’s still a maybe
Republican celebrity, best-selling author, reality TV star and self-proclaimed mama grizzly Sarah Palin is thinking about another title: president. Not exactly news, except that the forthcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine says she’s now thinking seriously, right down to the need for new advisers and the means to prove herself on the issues. “I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here,” Palin says.
For David Morgan’s full post, read here.
All Russia invited to help name Putin’s new puppy
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has invited Russians to help him name his new puppy, which he received as a gift from his Bulgarian counterpart. “Anyone who wishes to can send their suggestion of a male name for the prime minister’s new dog to his site,” a government statement said.
For more of this story, read here.
Photo credit: Reuters/White House handout (table setting at a lunch in Obama’s private dining room at the White House)