Wonkbook: Warren as temp; China bill; Why your lightbulb is not made in America
The Obama administration will appoint Elizabeth Warren to oversee the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection in a temporary capacity. Confused? So, frankly is everyone else. The upside for the administration is that Warren dodges a Senate confirmation battle -- and the endless waiting associated with it. This is a Senate after all, that just can't be bothered to vote on nominees to the Federal Reserve. The downside is that piqued Republicans are even less likely to support her in a future Senate battle, meaning this temporary appointment might come at the cost of a permanent position. And won't potential employees be reticent to join the agency when they don't really know who their actual boss will be?
Just so you know, there are no Top Chef spoilers in today's Wonkbook. There is, however, the most amazing food slideshow I've ever seen.
Elizabeth Warren will build the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without going through Senate confirmation, reports Brady Dennis: "The official said Obama plans to name Warren as an advisor to him and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner - giving her responsibility for shaping the consumer bureau in coming months...Under the law, the Treasury maintains responsibility for setting up the new regulator until the president nominates a director, subject to approval by the Senate..Scores of Obama nominations far less polarizing than Warren's have languished in the divided Senate for months. Warren herself has told allies on Capitol Hill that she would prefer to be assigned on a temporary basis, rather than enduring a prolonged confirmation process."
Sen. Bob Corker is not pleased: http://bit.ly/c2rYvo
We need Elizabeth Warren, writes Matt Miller: http://bit.ly/aHxXQL
A bill targeting China's currency devaluation could pass Congress, report Kathy Chen and Kris Maher: "The bipartisan bill, which has 143 co-sponsors, would allow the U.S. to impose tariffs and other penalties on countries that undervalue their currency--with China a main target. Many U.S. businesses, policy makers and economists argue that the country keeps its currency artificially low against the U.S. dollar, giving its exports an unfair price advantage on the global market...Several bills addressing China's currency policy have emerged in Congress in recent years but have made little headway. But both supporters and detractors of the Ryan-Murphy bill say it could have a real shot at passage this year."
Neil Irwin previews the Fed's preliminary policy meeting next week: "Top Fed officials will be preparing formal forecasts for the economy over the coming weeks in advance of their meeting Nov. 2 and 3. If their consensus is that growth will be too slow next year to bring down the unemployment rate significantly, they will be more inclined to take action, even if the exact economic impact is modest and hard to predict, according to analysts who study the Fed...As the debate over further bond purchases has ripened within the central bank and among outside economists, many Fed watchers expect action before the end of the year unless economic data improve significantly."
Rafael Nadal is poised to pass Roger Federer as tennis's top earner: http://bit.ly/dDp8i3
Innovations are often made in America, but the associated manufacturing jobs are lured by other countries, reports Peter Whoriskey: "Now, as Lighting Science rapidly expands its production of what is considered the next-generation technology, the company is being courted by China and Mexico. Aside from the enticement of lower-wage workers, those countries offer significant cash incentives for capital equipment and labor, amounting to as much as $4 million, company officials said. The United States, by contrast, has offered financing under the stimulus program, but the process has proved too cumbersome for the small company. Lighting Science is largely owned by Pegasus Capital, a private equity group."
"The incentives are 'a game that the foreign governments are playing, but the U.S. isn't,' chief executive Zach Gibler said. 'Like any manufacturer, we have to look at our options.'"
The most amazing food pictures I've ever seen: http://bit.ly/9Cbi7W
Still to come: Geithner gets tougher on China; Greenspan attacks the stimulus; Menendez introduces a comprehensive immigration bill; and the charming taps of Irish hand dancing.
Tim Geithner is taking a tougher tone with China, reports Howard Schneider: "Geithner's remarks did not detail possible steps being considered. The United States would potentially have a variety of tools at hand, such as complaints with the World Trade Organization, a more aggressive application of U.S. law or even the crafting of punitive legislation, a step favored by some in Congress. But the change in tone is significant, highlighting frustration with the resurgence of China's trade surplus with the United States, as well as the increasing sensitivity of economic issues before the midterm elections."
Public workers earn less on average than those in the private sector: http://bit.ly/bgmYZl
House Rules chair Louise Slaughter signaled she will not allow open amendments on a Bush tax cuts extension, reports Jonathan Allen: "Replying to the GOP's request for a more open amendment process on upcoming legislation extending lower income tax rates that would otherwise go up at the end of the year, the New York Democrat noted Minority Leader John Boehner's concession on Sunday that he would -- if forced into an up-or-down vote -- choose to support a bill cutting taxes for most, but not all, taxpayers. 'Mr. Boehner's statement suggests that it may be possible to find bipartisan common ground -- I hope that more of your colleagues in the Republican Conference will join Mr. Boehner in expressing support for these middle class tax cuts,' Slaughter wrote."
John Boehner has repeatedly retracted his offer to vote for Obama's tax plan: http://politi.co/aIKI0V
Greenspan attacked the stimulus in a recent speech, reports Michael Derby: "At this point, 'we’d probably be better off doing less than more' because 'you’d be far better off to allow the normal market forces to operate here,' Greenspan said. That’s largely because stimulus spending is not proving as effective as many had hoped. 'To the extent the evidence suggests very large deficits concurrently crowd out capital investment, there is a debit to the stimulus program that is somewhere between a third and a half of what the gross stimulus is,' he said."
Bruce Bartlett argues Baby Boomers should leave some of their inheritance to the government: "Perhaps in the days when revenues were flush and the public's willingness to tolerate taxation was greater, governments could afford to reject such opportunities to obtain private funds for public purposes. And of course there will always be a legitimate concern that those making private contributions are buying more than the praise and good will of the citizenry. But in times like these, when resistance to taxation and spending are intense even for programs with broad public support, we must be open to new methods of building and maintaining society's critical infrastructure."
New OMB chair Jack Lew should put a premium on management skills, write Jitinder Kohli and John Griffith: http://bit.ly/aB11ev
Richard Riordan and Alexander Rubalcava propose a "Race to the Top" for state pensions: "Here’s how it would work. A city, county or state facing insurmountable pension costs would appeal to the Department of Treasury for relief...the applicant would have to take action to assure it can meet the debt service on its bonds, including placing a permanent cap on its pension liabilities...In exchange, the Treasury would authorize the fund to issue tax-free “pension protection” bonds which, for a fee, would be guaranteed by the federal government. Proceeds from the bond sales would cover its liabilities, providing a quick resolution to the underfunding crisis."
Stationary dancing interlude: Irish hand dancing.
Unions and environmental groups are still pushing for a renewable energy standard: http://bit.ly/9I37aq
The US is ordering oil companies to plug idle wells, reports Siobhan Hughes: "The U.S. Interior Department and its offshore-drilling oversight agency said almost 3,500 wells that aren't producing oil or gas must be plugged. Another 650 oil and gas platforms must be dismantled if they are no longer being used for exploration or production, the government said...The mandate becomes effective on Oct. 15. Companies will have 120 days to submit plans to decommission production facilities and wells. Under the regulation, any well that has not been used during the past five years for exploration or production must be plugged. Production platforms and pipelines must be decommissioned if no longer in use."
Climate activists want to woo back John McCain: http://politi.co/9CxIez
John Perlin debunks myths about solar cells: "Myth: Photovoltaic cells require much more area to generate power than do power plants run on fossil fuels or nuclear Fact: If the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels and nuclear is accounted for as well, then the area required for the production and generation of the three energy sources is about the same."
Mashup interlude: Everything's a Remix.
Robert Menendez will introduce a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate, reports Scott Wong: "Sources familiar with the Menendez bill said it would include border security provisions, employment verification, a temporary-worker program and a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S...Menendez and two vocal reform backers in the House -- Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) -- said they would meet with President Barack Obama Thursday afternoon to request his support for the new legislation and the immigrant-student bill, known as the DREAM Act."
Tom Coburn is still holding up a food safety bill on deficit grounds: http://bit.ly/9eQw6n
A federal agency is weighing railroad price controls, reports Josh Mitchell: "Daniel R. Elliott III, appointed last year by President Barack Obama to chair the Surface Transportation Board, pointed to concerns that railroads are using market dominance to charge 'excessive' rates for the shipment of goods. Mr. Elliott also suggested that the Staggers Act, signed by President Jimmy Carter, was outmoded and may have given railroads too much pricing power over farmers, grain merchants and other shippers."
The House will vote on a bill giving lawmakers the right to swear in new citizens: http://bit.ly/aDXNow
Obama is readying a new defense of health care reform, report Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah Kliff: "The Obama administration and its allies hope tough new insurance restrictions due to go into effect Sept. 23 and an accompanying public relations push will help turn the tide and give Democrats campaign-ready ammunition six weeks ahead of the midterm elections. This month’s new restrictions include some of the health care overhaul’s most consumer-friendly and popular changes, such as no co-pays for preventive care in new insurance plans and bans on denying coverage to children and taking away coverage from anyone when they get sick."
Guitar heroics interlude: Marnie Stern's "For Ash".
Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard. Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News Photo.
Posted by: magnus_terra | September 16, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rmgregory | September 16, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: visionbrkr | September 16, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 16, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: visionbrkr | September 16, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 16, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | September 16, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | September 16, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: msoja | September 16, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: justin84 | September 16, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | September 16, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: slag | September 16, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse