Just a few quick thoughts ahead of the Labor Day weekend. President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of measures to stimulate hiring and the economy next week, although we are assured this will absolutely not be a second stimulus. I guess that means it won’t have a major price tag attached, in terms of its effect on the deficit. But you also have to wonder how much effect it will have on the economy, even if Obama manages to get any of it through Congress.
Tales from the Trail
President Barack Obama’s a pretty smart guy.
Coatless, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up, microphone in hand, bottled water at the ready, he fielded questions for an hour from ordinary folk perched on picnic tables and settled into Adirondack chairs in the leafy backyard of Ohio natives Rhonda and Joe Weithman in Columbus.
Sounds like people had plenty to say about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a Treasury forum today. For example, Bill Gross of PIMCO, who oversees more than $1 trillion in assets, called for a massive program to refinance mortgages at low rates as a way to lift the economy – a more sweeping recommendation than Treasury organizers had anticipated. “It is not tenable to leave in place the system we have today,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged, but said the government must still have some role.
President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to strengthen border security, and just to make sure the message got through, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took the podium at today’s White House media briefing. Immigration has always been a tough political issue, and in an election year no great strides are expected on major reform before the November vote. “It cannot only be done by Democrats. The Republicans need to come to the table,” Napolitano said.
A new round of extremely violent thunderstorms rolled through Washington this morning and brought with it more stormy economic news. The latest hiccup to what President Barack Obama had hoped would be a “recovery summer” was the news that filings for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000 in the week ended Aug. 7.
Tempers ran high in the Senate today as Republicans blocked a $30 billion Democratic plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses. Democrats are fast running out of time to show they are doing something to cut unemployment ahead of November’s elections, but this is just the latest bill to founder on objections from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue extra spending should be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget.