Wonkbook: Jobless aid advances; Kagan wins committee vote; energy bill uncertain
Republican attempts to filibuster the unemployment insurance extension failed yesterday, setting up the bill for final passage over a month after benefits expired; the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor; the Obama administration is moving to reform homeownership by giving renters a bit more consideration; and in a notable rhetorical shift, Harry Reid is no longer promising a climate and energy bill by August.
Welcome to Wonkbook.
A Republican filibuster of an unemployment benefits extension failed, reports Lori Montgomery: "The bill before the Senate would extend benefits retroactively. While state laws vary, Labor officials and advocates for the unemployed said some people could expect to see lump-sum payments covering lost income back to June 2. Even if the bill passes, many people will have to wait two to four weeks before checks are restored, said Rick McHugh, a staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for jobless workers."
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Elena Kagan's nomination, 13-6, reports Paul Kane: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who previously voted for President Obama's nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was again the only Republican on the panel to support Kagan. 'I think there's a good reason for a conservative to vote yes,' Graham told his colleagues."
Harry Reid is no longer promising a climate bill before August recess, reports Darren Samuelsohn: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has wanted to introduce a sweeping energy and climate bill by next week, and Reid even told POLITICO on Monday night that the package was almost ready to go. But by Tuesday afternoon, Reid was noncommittal about when a bill would come or what it would contain. 'We’re going to make a decision in the near future,' Reid said, describing plans for a Democratic caucus on the issue Thursday. 'We’re really not at a point where I can determine what I think is the best for the caucus and the country at this stage.'"
Scandinavian pop interlude: Robyn plays "Dancing On My Own" on Letterman.
Still to come: Harry Reid may be punting on climate change; credit rating agencies are discouraging customers from relying upon them; some progressive states are having trouble funding high-risk health pools; and a pug sings the theme song to Batman.
Thad Allen has given BP another 24 hours to test its cap: http://nyti.ms/d9iszw
BP has sold off $7 billion in assets, reports Steven Mufson: "The sale takes BP most of the way toward its goal of raising $10 billion over the next year by selling exploration and production assets. Those asset sales would cover half of the $20 billion BP has pledged to put in an escrow fund to cover claims resulting from the spill."
An BP oil rig manager says its safety device was flawed: http://bit.ly/bZzXyo
David Leonhardt considers the case for a rules-based approach to climate change mitigation: "Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, has proposed new rules not just for vehicles but also for appliances, building codes and power plants. If these regulations were tough enough, they could make a difference, as the fuel economy rules have. So some Democrats and environmentalists see this approach as their best remaining chance. 'There’s a way Senator Reid and the president could manage this to get a very strong energy bill,' Hal Harvey, head of the ClimateWorks Foundation in San Francisco, said...The result would almost certainly be higher, albeit better disguised, costs than with a carbon cap or tax."
Tom Friedman argues Senate paralysis is preventing an energy revolution: http://nyti.ms/c8JvHU
Adorable animal being adorable interlude: A pug sings the Batman theme song.
Credit rating agencies are attempting to stop their products from being used in official documentation, reports Anusha Shrivastava: "Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings are all refusing to allow their ratings to be used in documentation for new bond sales, each said in statements in recent days. Each says it fears being exposed to new legal liability created by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The new law will make ratings firms liable for the quality of their ratings decisions, effective immediately. The companies say that, until they get a better understanding of their legal exposure, they are refusing to let bond issuers use their ratings."
The housing market is slowing again: http://bit.ly/awlLMZ
A group of Democrats is brainstorming ideas for cutting the deficit, reports Simmi Augla: "Reps. Gary Peters, John Adler (D-N.J.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are getting more vocal on their concerns about government spending. They’re forming a working group to propose major cuts to spending in areas like defense, energy, housing and agriculture that they say would save about $70 billion over ten years."
Both the AFL-CIO and SEIU are backing Elizabeth Warren to head the CFCB: http://bit.ly/9uG4h4
European Central Bank economists are making the case for austerity, reports Brian Blackstone: "'Our findings suggest that the effectiveness of spending shocks in stimulating economic activity has substantially decreased over time,' ECB economists Jacopo Cimadomo and Sebastian Hauptmeier wrote with Markus Kirchner of the University of Amsterdam. The authors conclude that aggregate demand is 'increasingly being crowded out' by fiscal expansion, and 'the response of private consumption to government spending shocks has become substantially weaker over time.'"
Jagdish Bhagwati believes the US is now the main impediment to a global trade deal: "Today, domestic politics in the US and India has left America as the only stumbling block to progress. The last election freed India’s Congress Party of its coalition with the Communists, who opposed trade, and thus increased the flexibility of pro-trade Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But the last election in the US ushered in a Democratic congressional majority that is indebted to trade-fearing unions, thus constraining the pro-trade President Barack Obama."
Ed Glaeser argues FinReg ignores human error on the part of regulators: http://nyti.ms/cKLXup
Steve Pearlstein draws lessons from the Post's revelations of intelligence budget bloat: "In the wake of the financial crisis, there was a consensus that one problem was that the resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission had failed to grow with the size and complexity of the financial markets it was supposed to oversee. Although inadequate resources were surely a factor, it doesn't really explain why the agency basically sat back and failed to respond to the dangerous leverage taken on by investment banks, or ignored flagrant ratings-shopping by issuers, or did nothing about widespread use of undisclosed off-balance-sheet vehicles by public companies."
Michael Boskin thinks Obama is overselling the stimulus: http://bit.ly/9OU9Rr
Early 60s interlude: Best quotes from Mad Men's women.
The Obama administration is seeking to overhaul housing policy to give more support to renting and less to homeownership, reports Zachary Goldfarb: "Three months ago, the Treasury Department and HUD released seven broad questions about the future of housing. Comments from the public are due Wednesday, and the administration is required by the financial overhaul legislation to offer a proposal for housing reform by early next year...Officials in a new Office of Capital Markets and Housing Finance set up in Treasury are studying options for reform, and generally have concluded that federal policy should focus on what they call 'sustainable homeownership' and not on simply boosting the homeownership rate."
Reihan Salam and Christopher Papagiania make the case against subsidizing homeownership: http://bit.ly/a4ia0m
States with the most progressive health laws are having trouble getting funding for high-risk pools, reports Sarah Kliff: "Five states -- Vermont, Maine, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts -- have 'guaranteed issue' of insurance: individual subscribers cannot be turned away because of a health condition. Moreover, all five states have some form of community rating, which bars insurers from charging exorbitant rates based on health, gender and other factors...While states say they’re committed to getting their fair share of the new federal funds, they will have to work much harder to comply with the program, all the while uncertain how many residents it could serve."
A Supreme Court decision could allow tens of thousands of deported legal immigrants redress: http://nyti.ms/a5lva0
Advocates are stepping up a push for the Dream Act, reports Tara Bahrampour: "On a patch of asphalt outside the White House this week, Renata Teodoro, Maricela Aguilar and scores of other students are risking deportation simply by sharing their full names and immigration status with anyone who asks... undocumented high school and college students and graduates have been streaming into Washington this week to demand passage of the Dream Act, legislation that would give unauthorized young immigrants a path to legal residency if they contribute to the country by serving in the military or getting a college education."
Treasury is being attacked for switching to paperless Social Security checks: http://bit.ly/dqtG4Z
The House and Senate are fighting over a food safety bill, reports Lyndsey Layton: "Dingell wrote the House bill, which would grant vast new authorities to the Food and Drug Administration and mark the first serious reform of food safety laws in 70 years. The measure was headed for easy passage in Senate until the spring, when Feinstein said she wanted to add language that would ban a controversial chemical, bisphenol A or BPA, from food packaging. Feinstein's BPA proposal won applause from some public health groups but sparked immediate protest from the chemical industry, food manufacturers and major business interests, who pledged to withdraw their support for the bill if it included a ban on BPA."
Auto safety experts are concerned about the composition of the panel investigating Toyota's acceleration problems: http://bit.ly/ds5g2B
Dahlia Lithwick believes the Kagan hearings show the value of taping Supreme Court sessions: "Were the public allowed to scrutinize, criticize, and engage with the Supreme Court on a day-to-day basis, we would all be better prepared to have a serious discussion at these hearings. More important, we'd know what the real stakes are and why these nominations matter, beyond just picking nominees with really Compelling Family Narratives. Because we reserve all our umbrage, passion, chills, and spills for these very occasional and very staged hearings, we have none left over where and when it matters: At the court itself, every other day of the year."
Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard. Photo credit: Melina Mara/the Washington Post Photo
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