Tales from the Trail

from MacroScope:

Another kind of death panels

U.S. Representative Barney Frank has never been shy about expressing his opinions. His opening remarks at a hearing he chaired with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday was no exception. Frank poked fun at a political squabble over healthcare reform as he detailed his position on what to do about non-bank financial firms considered "too big to fail."

    "There will be death panels enacted by this Congress, but they will be for non-bank financial institutions that will not be considered too big to die.
    I say that because we have this euphemism that we are going to be 'resolving' these institutions. It has not been my experience that when someone says they are going to resolve something, they kill it. We are talking about dissolution, not resolution. We are talking about making it unpleasant for the entities. This is not a fate people will want."

The First Draft: Obama and Netanyahu

OBAMA/ABORTIONBack from South Bend, Indiana, President Obama meets today at 10:30 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The new/old Israeli leader wants to talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions — his government has not ruled out military action, while Obama wants to emphasize diplomacy.

Netanyahu hopes the emphasis on Iran will mean that Obama will have less of an opportunity to press him on other issues, like Palestinian statehood and expanded Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

First draft: No driving with the king this time

The last time Barack Obama saw Jordan’s King Abudullah, the monarch literally gave him a PORTUGAL/ride to the airport in Amman. That was before Obama was elected president, and the king shouldn’t expect a return of the favor during his visit to Washington today.

But Abdullah — the first Arab leader to hold face-to-face talks in the White House since Obama took office – has been invited to Obama’s personal dining room for a one-on-one meeting with the American president before a more formal gathering with aides in the Oval Office.

Abdullah is expected to lobby on behalf of Arab states for a stronger U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking, according to Jordanian palace officials.

The First Draft: chilly winds and hot air

There’s a cold wind blowing in Washington on Tuesday morning, one day after a late-winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow on the region. DC residents anticipate a thaw when our national leaders provide their daily dose of hot air. WEATHER-USA/SNOW

President Obama meets U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the White House at 11:30. They are expected to discuss their efforts to revive the global economy.

After that, Obama meets with Boy Scouts at 3 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies to Congress about the economy starting at 10:00, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies about Obama’s budget proposal at 12:30. Markets are continuing to swoon after yesterday’s plunge; will their testimony spark a rally?