Dispatch from the Front: The Week of January 11

By January 11, 2010Economy, General

Jobs and health care rise to the top of the Washington hubble bubble this week, with national security and terrorism still percolating. As the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission meets for the first time Wednesday (witness list), new corporate earnings reports prompt table thumping about executive bonuses.

The House is back, if half-heartedly, convening at noon Tuesday, establishing an official quorum at 6:30 p.m., and meeting again Wednesday. The brief floor schedule is here.  Democrats repair to Fort McNair, Md., on Wednesday for their three-day issues conference, with President Obama on the schedule and health care dominating. Former President Clinton joins the retreat on Friday.

The Senate postpones its return to the Capitol until the following Tuesday, the 19th, with politics rushing to fill the void. Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) negotiate à trois with the President Thursday on the health care bill.

President Obama meets yet again today with labor leaders  including AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka and White House frequenter Andy Stern of the SEIU to talk about the excise tax on health care plans. Stern already concedes the tax is likely to remain in pending legislation: Now that’s bargaining from a position of strength.

House Hearings: On Wednesday, Intelligence holds a closed briefing on the terrorist attack on the Delta plane flying to Detroit, and Armed Services considers recent security developments regarding China. On Friday, the Foreign Affairs Committee holds a field hearing at Stanford University, “The Impact of U.S. Export Controls on National Security, Science and Technological Leadership.”

Executive Branch: Energy Secretary Steven Chu is Indiana today at the Cummins Columbus Technical Center to make an announcement about stimulus projects. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves today for travel to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with international security the focus. We’d hope the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact also gets some attention. And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in Detroit today, having participated in this morning’s opening ceremonies for the North American International Auto Show. The Detroit News has a section devoted to the Auto Show here, and the Detroit Free Press highlights its coverage here.

Economic Reports:  On Tuesday, the Census announces November trade deficit figures. On Wednesday, the Fed releases the Beige Book; on Thursday, we get December retail sales. Friday is the big report day of the week, with reports on the Consumer Price Index, December industrial production, and January consumer sentiment. For more, see Neil Irwin’s report at The Washington Post and Reuters’ coverage.

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