Wonkbook: NCLB reform coming; Boehner opposes new gun laws; John Kerry's speech; oil spill recommendations
Obama wants to revise No Child Left Behind, reports Nick Anderson: "President Obama will mount a fresh attempt this year to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a top administration official said this week, and key congressional Republicans said they are ready to deal... Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of a subcommittee on elementary and secondary education, said there is bipartisan consensus that the 2002 law should be overhauled...[but] some Republicans say a big bill could die of its own weight. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has indicated that he might push instead for a series of small education bills. Duncan said Monday he was 'open to that conversation' but does not want to leave major problems unaddressed."
House Speaker John Boehner will not support new gun controls after the Tucson shooting, reports Mike Lillis: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is rejecting gun-control legislation offered by the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in response to the weekend shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 19 others in Arizona. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) announced plans Tuesday to introduce legislation prohibiting people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of members of Congress...King said the legislation is not intended only for the safety of government officials but also to protect the public. He said elected officials are not necessarily more important than constituents, but by protecting them in this way, they would feel safer in meeting federal officials at public events. "
If you read only one John Kerry speech today, make it this one. An excerpt: "All of this underscores the current danger to our country in ways that go far beyond that single debate and highlight a host of other issues that demand and deserve common resolve, not constant suspicion and division. If treaties ratified almost unanimously yesterday get just 71 votes today, what’s the forecast for other decisive endeavors that once would have commanded 79 votes in the Senate? We can’t afford for the old 79 to become the new 49, dooming our national will to unbreakable gridlock. Because in the 21st century where choices and consequences come at us so much faster than ever before, the price of Senate inaction isn’t just that we will stand still; it isn't just that America will fall behind; it's that we will stay behind as we cede the best possibilities of this young century to others who are more disciplined."
The BP oil spill commission has released its recommendations, report Juliet Eilperin and David Hilzenrath: "The presidential oil spill commission said Tuesday that the federal government should require tougher regulation, stiffer fines and a new industry-run safety organization, recommendations that face an uncertain future in the new Congress... The panel proposed several safeguards aimed at strengthening regulators' control over the oil and gas industry, including establishing an independent safety agency within the Interior Department that would be headed by someone for a fixed term in order to insulate the appointee from political interference...It also called for funding the regulatory agency that oversees offshore drilling, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), with fees from the companies who are tapping into the nation's petroleum resource."
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'90s alt-rock interlude: Eels' "Last Stop: This Town".
Still to come: The administration and the Chamber of Commerce are growing closer; why Republicans are largely responsible for health care reform's high-risk pools; a GOP congressman proposing cutting ten percent of the federal workforce; Obama might use an executive order to implement the oil spill commission's suggestions; and an adult lion plays with seven of his cubs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's rift with the Obama administration is healing, reports Jia Lynn Yang: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce signaled Tuesday that its rift with the administration is beginning to ease, just three months after bitterly sparring with the White House during midterm campaigns. In a speech at the Chamber's headquarters, directly across the street from the White House, Tom Donohue, the group's president, said disagreements with the administration have 'never been personal.' He noted 'a new tone' at the White House and praised President Obama's selection of William Daley as his new chief of staff, calling him 'a real pro.'"
Read Donahue's speech: http://bit.ly/f3WT7N
China has started yuan trading in the US: http://on.wsj.com/hmclyM
Ben Bernanke has the votes to continue quantitative easing, reports Jon Hilsenrath: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appears to have support from other Fed officials to continue his $600 billion bond-buying program when they convene for their next policy meeting on January 26-27. Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, was the latest to signal a desire for continuity from the Fed, even though he is highly skeptical of the program's effectiveness. 'I wish we hadn't done it, but that doesn't mean I want to stop it right now,' Mr. Plosser said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Plosser is among four regional Fed bank presidents who become voting members of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee this year."
Job openings fell in November: http://bit.ly/ekWrz6
China's currency reserves are at a record high, reports Neil Irwin: "The thorniest problem in economic relations between the United States and China is getting worse, just as the world's two biggest economies prepare for a summit next week in Washington. At issue is the imbalance in their financial relationship. China's central bank said Tuesday that Beijing's holdings of foreign cash and securities amount to $2.85 trillion - a jump of 20 percent over the year before - despite Chinese promises to try to balance its trade and investment relations with the United States and other countries. China added $200 billion to that stockpile in the last three months of the year alone, as the country socked away capital from the rest of the world at a torrid pace."
Currency manipulation is hardly the US' only grievance with China, writes David Leonhardt: "The truth is that the exchange rate is not the main problem for American companies hoping to sell more products in China and, in the process, create more jobs in this country...For the United States, the No. 1 problem with China’s economy is probably intellectual property theft. Technology companies, for example, continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for programs they have never bought, at least not legally. No wonder China has become the world’s second-largest market for computer hardware sales -- but is only the eighth-largest for software sales. Next on the list, say people who work in China or do business there, is the myriad protectionist barriers China has put up."
We're not stuck in a "new normal" economically, writes Catherine Rampell: http://nyti.ms/gIdRTh
Public employees' unions should carve out a "grand bargain", writes Steven Pearlstein: "Such a bargain inevitably begins with a freeze on current wages in exchange for future increases when the economy improves. Going forward, unions might propose tying overall compensation to the rhythms of the business cycle, making up in good times what is lost in bad. Rather than continuing to fight reform of work rules and protecting underperformers, unions could trade those away for across-the-board bonuses for service improvements and a guarantee that employees get a sizable share of any productivity gains. To preserve health benefits for retirees, active workers will need to accept greater cost sharing on their health insurance policies, which will not only reduce the cost to government in the short run but slow the growth in premiums for everyone over the long haul."
Sketch interlude: The Noam Chomsky Talk Show.
Republicans bear responsibility for health care reform's failing high risk pools, writes Timothy Noah: "High-risk pools are, in fact, a terrible solution to the health-care crisis. But they happen to be the terrible solution Republicans most favor (along with tax breaks) whenever they're forced to state their preferred alternative to last year's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They were the central idea in the health plan proposed by Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the 2008 election. They were the central idea in the House leadership's proposed substitute for the Democratic plan in 2009, and they played a major role in the alternative plan set forth that year by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a medical doctor who became the GOP's lead opponent to Obamacare."
The Supreme Court has ruled medical residents must pay payroll taxes: http://nyti.ms/dUAFsS
A Republican Congressman wants to reduce the federal workforce by ten percent, reports Ed O'Keefe: "Texas Republican congressman wants to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent in the next decade, impose a three-year pay freeze across federal agencies and Capitol Hill, and trim government printing and vehicle costs. Rep. Kevin Brady's bill, the Cut Unsustainable and Top-heavy Spending (CUTS) Act is the first detailed series of spending proposals introduced in the GOP-controlled House that targets government operations and the federal workforce...Brady chairs the Joint Economic Committee and is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee - perches likely to put him at the center of Congress's forthcoming debate on government spending and deficits."
The chances of any gun control bill passing are slim: http://wapo.st/gLeBHZ
A Tea Party campaign has ended an integration program in North Carolina schools, reports Stephanie McCrummen: "The sprawling Wake County School District has long been a rarity. Some of its best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city. And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents cannot afford a house in the neighborhood. But over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives has set the district on a strikingly different course. Pledging to 'say no to the social engineers!' it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation's most celebrated integration efforts."
High-capacity magazines should be banned, writes Ruth Marcus: "For all the focus on weaponry, one of the most useful parts of the now-lapsed federal ban on assault weapons was that it prohibited the manufacture of magazines of more than 10 rounds. If the law, which expired in 2004, were still in effect, it would not stop crazed gunmen from inflicting damage, but it might limit the amount of damage they could inflict...Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, safe districts and swing seats: Look at the pictures of Christina-Taylor Green, shot dead at age 9. Imagine that she was your daughter, and she was hit by the 15th bullet or the 25th. And ask yourself: Isn't 10 rounds more than enough?"
Adorable animals having family time interlude: A lion plays with his seven cubs.
Obama might try to implement the oil spill commission's recommendations through executive order, reports Andrew Restuccia: "President Obama has asked his staff to look into executive actions that could help make offshore oil drilling safer...The co-chairman of the national commission investigating the BP oil spill said Obama told staff to look into possible executive actions during a Tuesday meeting with commission members and key administration officials at the White House...The report has revived talk of passing oil-spill response legislation, but two senior House Republicans have given a cool response to the recommendations. Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the commission co-chairman, told The Hill that commission members made the case to Obama that the administration has the authority to begin instituting a number of important safety measures."
The chairs of the House Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce committees were reluctant to back the panel's recommendations: http://bit.ly/hhe0ns
GM plans to introduce more plug-in hybrids, reports Nick Bunkley: "General Motors plans to introduce two more plug-in hybrid vehicles in the United States based on the Chevrolet Volt in the next few years, its chief executive, Daniel F. Akerson, said Tuesday.
Mr. Akerson, speaking at an industry conference near the Detroit auto show, also said G.M. could build at least 25,000 Volts this year, more than double its initial goal of 10,000. The Volt...could become profitable in three years, after it moves to the second-generation design that is under development, he said. By then, Mr. Akerson said, G.M. expected to be selling a hatchback and a crossover-type vehicle that use the same plug-in technology as the Volt, which is a four-door sedan that seats four."
Delaying the EPA's climate rules would be disastrous, writes David Roberts: http://bit.ly/fN2tsY
Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: White House.
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