Wonkbook: Small biz bill passes; Warren's powers uncertain; DREAM Act
Harry Reid's long, national nightmare is finally over. Yesterday, Senate Democrats joined with two Republicans to finally pass the small-business lending bill. The legislation itself is a fairly modest measure to help small businesses access credit and lower their tax burden. It was, in fact, designed by members of both parties. But at this point, it's a huge lift for the Senate to do even the small stuff.
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Luis Gutierrez were enthused by a meeting they had with president Obama on the DREAM Act. The president, they reported, promised to push hard for the legislation, which would help the children of illegal immigrants achieve legal status if they graduated from college and.or served in the military. At one point, the legislation was bipartisan. Today, of course, it isn't. But supporters are hopeful about the bill's prospects if the president gets behind it. Ah, to DREAM the impossible DREAM. (Sorry, sorry.)
Welcome to Wonkbook.
The Senate gave final passage to the administration's small business aid bill, reports Brady Dennis: "The aid package passed Thursday includes about $12 billion in tax relief for small businesses, as well as a $30 billion lending fund that will be administered by the Treasury Department. Those funds would go to qualified small banks that promise to extend new loans to small businesses, many of whom have had trouble getting loans in the wake of the financial crisis."
The White House will announce Elizabeth Warren's appointment this morning: http://politi.co/bnFUL1
Warren's powers in her new position remain uncertain, reports Damian Paletta: "Ms. Warren won't have the full powers that a Senate-confirmed director of the agency might have. She would be joining a team of administration officials who have already begun taking steps to create the new agency, and whether she takes over the effort or plays an advisory role remains unclear....Lawyers were scrutinizing a two-paragraph section of the Dodd-Frank law (Section 1066), which suggests Treasury's powers setting up the agency might extend only to areas such as transferring employees and other powers from existing agencies. In other words, Treasury—and Ms. Warren by extension—might not have broad authority to write new rules and guidelines."
John Boehner says the GOP will not force a government shutdown: http://politi.co/ad8Ef2
Senators pressed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to get even tougher on China's currency manipulation, reports Howard Schneider: "At a hearing of the Senate banking committee, chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) told Geithner that 'a disturbing pattern of behavior has emerged' with China and that 'it is time to move beyond just talking.' 'There is no question that the economic and trade policies of China present roadblocks to our recovery,' Dodd said. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) wondered, 'Why is the administration protecting China by refusing to designate it as a currency manipulator?'"
Poverty is at its highest point since the Census Bureau started keeping records, reports Carol Morello: "At organizations where the unemployed come to get help finding a job or seek food, the numbers were no surprise. 'In the decade I've been doing this work, this is a low point,' said Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore. 'We're getting a real feeling of desperation. For sheer numbers, it's a new, unhappy world.' At the nonprofit Action Though Service in Prince William County late Thursday morning, the shelves of the agency's pantry were starting to empty, as the line for help snaked out the door with a few dozen people seeking assistance."
Obama will put his muscle into the effort to pass the DREAM Act, reports Kendra Marr: "After meeting with President Obama, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) told reporters that she urged him to work with the Senate to pass the DREAM Act on immigration. 'The president committed to talk to senators,' she said. 'We will encourage the community at large to help us, because next week is going to be a crucial week.' Echoing Obama, she called for an 'up or down vote.' Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) added that Obama made it clear that he would 'leave no stone unturned.' He said they asked Obama to use the 'full weight, the full might of the White House.'"
'70s rock interlude: Fleetwood Mac play "What Makes You Think You're the One".
Still to come: OMB nominee Jack Lew promises the Hill that he'll abidy by PAYGo; Dave Roberts defends against charges that environmentalists overreached on cap-and-trade; the House takes another crack at the health bill's 1099 requirements; and a bear does yoga.
OMB nominee Jack Lew is promising to adhere to pay-as-you-go budgeting, reports Ed O'Keefe: "Lew, who served as OMB director during Bill Clinton's administration, said budget surpluses like those in the late 1990s and the early part of the next decade won't be possible again without strict fiscal discipline. He also said Clinton reluctantly adhered to 'pay as you go' rules. 'That meant saying no to a lot of things that we would have liked to have done,' Lew said. He added that the current lack of fiscal discipline is affecting the private sector."
Jobless claims are at a two month low: http://bit.ly/a8Peq2
The recession has been most volatile for the rich, reports Mark Whitehouse: "In the first year of the recession that began in 2007, the top 0.01% of earners in the U.S. saw their pretax income fall by an average of 12.7%, compared with 2.6% for all earners, according to an analysis of data from income-tax returns by economists Jonathan Parker and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, in a paper presented Thursday at a Brookings Institution conference. The richest also did better on the way up. In the four years leading up to the recession, their income rose at an annualized rate of 13.9%, compared with 1.8% for everyone."
Daniel Indiviglio explains how jobless claims relate to the unemployment rate: "Each of these statistical methods will provide a number of unemployed Americans. For example, if you add continuing claims and EUC, you find that 8.2 million people filed for unemployment insurance during the week ending August 28th. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for August says 14.9 million Americans were unemployed. As you can see, these are very different measures. This shouldn't be surprising. You will always find the total number of unemployed Americans reported by BLS is higher than those claiming benefits."
One bank in Boston got special attention amongst TARP recipients: http://bit.ly/ctA0Qh
Nouriel Roubini argues for a payroll tax cut: "The argument that increased demand for capital leads to greater demand for labor (i.e., if you buy more machines you need workers to run them) has not held up. Firms are investing in capital goods, equipment and offshore offices that allow them to produce the same amount of goods with less -- and lower labor costs. To avoid a chronic increase in the unemployment rate, we need to subsidize the demand for labor -- achieving job creation -- rather than making it cheaper to buy capital, as investment and other tax credits would do. President Obama could fully fund the reduction in payroll tax by allowing the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year to expire. Meanwhile, the Bush-era cuts affecting middle- and low-income earners -- the vast majority of Americans -- would remain in place for the time being."
Valerie Jarrett urges legislation to close the male-female wage gap: http://bit.ly/a1Y1wO
Steven Pearlstein credits economic inequality with coarsening our politics: "While slowing growth and rising inequality have afflicted all advanced economies in recent decades as a result of globalization and new technologies and globalization, Hacker and Pierson find them to be more pronounced in the United States, as Thursday's report on the nation's soaring poverty rate attests. Conservatives like to ascribe such trends to the natural dynamics of efficiency-producing, liberty-protecting markets, but Hacker and Pierson remind us that there are no such thing as 'pure' markets, and that markets everywhere are shaped by laws and regulations, cultures and the institutional arrangements that themselves are shaped by the political process."
Adorable animals being flexible interlude: A bear doing yoga.
China is acknowledging its problem cutting down on energy use, report Ian Johnson and Keith Bradsher: "The acknowledgment of difficulties by Zhang Laiwu, deputy minister for science and technology, comes as China has become the world’s largest auto market and is spending heavily on high-speed rail and other infrastructure projects that require a lot of steel and cement, which are energy-intensive to make. A top Chinese auto executive predicted Thursday at a conference in Chengdu that annual auto sales in China would reach 40 million vehicles by 2020, more than twice the peak of the American market before the recent economic downturn."
The EPA is investigating a chemical used at a BP plant: http://bit.ly/cisd6T
California is nearing a showdown over its climate change law, reports Adam Nagourney: "The law in question, known as A.B. 32, mandates slashing carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, by forcing power companies and industries to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Some oil industry leaders said it would force them to invest millions of dollars to comply, and asserted that it would force companies to cut jobs and raise the price of gas at the pumps. Although the vast majority of the money being contributed to fight the law is coming from oil companies, the oil industry is clearly not united in opposition: some major California oil refineries, including Chevron, have notably stayed out of the battle so far."
Senators Boxer and Feinstein are introducing legislation to ensure oil pipeline safety: http://bit.ly/dapIiW
Liberals did not overreach on climate change, writes David Roberts: "As to the notion that Democrats 'refused to compromise,' it's an impressive feat to say that with a straight face, even for Dillon. Cap-and-trade began its life as a compromise, a conservative answer to liberal environmental regulations, originally passed by Bush Sr. This whole latest mishegas kicked off with an enormous compromise in the House: Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) started with what Joe Romm once called 'the weak, coal-friendly, rip-offset-heavy USCAP climate plan,' developed by centrist green groups and big corporations. Grassroots greens felt burned from day one and from that point on it was one compromise after another -- more coal subsidies, more free permits for polluters, softer regulatory oversight for Big Ag, on and on."
Death-defying interlude: People jumping out of the way of cars and trains.
Lawmakers are attempting to overhaul a phone subsidy fund, reports Amy Schatz: "House lawmakers began debating Thursday a proposal to overhaul the $8 billion Universal Service Fund, which uses money from long-distance customers to subsidize phone lines in low-income communities and isolated rural areas. The program has grown rapidly over the past decade, and become target for lawmakers looking to cut federal spending. The Federal Communications Commission is also proposing changes to the program, mainly to shift its focus to funding broadband Internet lines instead of just phone service."
An FDA investigation pins the salmonella outbreak on problems with chicken feed: http://bit.ly/cprPt9
As DC chancellor Michelle Rhee prepares to leave, reformist NYC schools head Joel Klein is also under fire: http://bit.ly/aRibtu
Members of Congress are still targeting health care reform's tax reporting provision, reports Jennifer Haberkorn: "Now Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are considering a new push to repeal the provision, and a floor vote could come as soon as next week. But their plan, like all of the others, comes with strings attached that will make it virtually impossible for the other party to sign on....The new Democratic plan would offset the $17 billion loss by taxing carried interest, a move Republicans and at least some moderate Democrats are likely to oppose.
Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard. Photo credit: White House.
September 17, 2010; 6:36 AM ET
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