Jennifer Haberkorn reported yesterday at Politico that, “Democrats are licking their chops over the idea of another Republican budget that attempts to dramatically reform the Medicare program.
“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has indicated that his budget will address Medicare and could include the revised plan he crafted with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Under their plan, seniors would get ‘premium support’ to help them buy private insurance coverage or traditional Medicare.”
The article noted that, “Ryan on ‘Fox News Sunday’ said he hasn’t written the budget yet because the Congressional Budget Office baseline isn’t out, but he added, ‘We’re not going backward; we’re going forward. We’re not backing off of any of our ideas, any of our solutions.’”
Pete Kasperowicz reported on Friday at the Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “The GOP this week couldn’t stop President Obama’s request to raise the debt ceiling by another $1.2 trillion. Next week, House Republicans will counter by advancing bills that they hope will create an incentive to slow deficit spending through changes to the budget process.
“Among other things, the House will take up bills that require a study on how spending bills affect the economy, and remove automatic inflation-related spending increases. Republicans will also be advancing other budget reform bills in committee that are not yet ready for floor action.”
Mr. Kasperowicz added that, “In the background, members of the House and Senate are continuing to work on a compromise for extending the payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance, and the doc fix beyond the end of February, when they expire.”
Felicia Sonmez reported yesterday at the 2chambers Blog (Washington Post) that, “The Senate on Thursday voted against proceeding on a symbolic resolution that would have disapproved of President Obama’s request earlier this month to raise the federal borrowing limit, clearing the way for the $1.2 trillion increase to proceed as expected.”
“Even if the resolution had passed, Obama most likely would have vetoed it, and lawmakers would have faced the hurdle of a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers to override the White House’s decision.”
Daniel Newhauser reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “Republicans today dismissed Democrats’ proposal to include a package of expired tax extenders in the payroll tax cut conference committee.
“Rep. Dave Camp, the co-chairman of the committee, indicated that he does not think the group of about 80 tax provisions should be brought up as the panel looks to extend a payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and prevent cuts to doctors’ Medicare reimbursements.”
A House Budget Committee news release from yesterday stated that, “The House Budget Committee advanced three legislative reforms today to address the broken budget process. The reforms focused on bringing greater accountability and transparency, and stronger protections for hardworking Americans’ tax dollars. While the House Budget Committee works to advance solutions, today marks 1,000 days without any budget from the U.S. Senate.”
And Alexander Bolton reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) pledged Tuesday that Republicans would pass a budget every year if they win control of the Senate in November.”
However, Josiah Ryan reported yesterday at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “Pointing to the Budget Control Act the Congress passed last summer, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) attempted to debunk the GOP’s repeated claims on Tuesday that the Senate had not passed a budget in a 1,000 days.
“‘When our colleagues come out here and say we have not passed a budget in 1,000 days … wow,’ Conrad exclaimed from the Senate floor. ‘Could they have really missed … the consideration of the Budget Control Act? Did they really miss all of that or are they saying something they know not to be true?’”
Yesterday’s update added that, “Conrad said the Budget Control Act, which the Congress passed last summer after weeks of horse-trading over raising the debt ceiling, included the budget for this year and next year and that in many ways it is ‘stronger’ and ‘more extensive’ than a traditional budget.”
Byron Tau reported yesterday at Politico that, “The Obama administration’s 2013 budget will be delayed by one week, an administration official told POLITICO.
“The Office of Management and Budget will put out next year’s budget on February 13th, instead of February 6th. Under the law, the budget is supposed to be released on the first Monday in February, but the administration has released the budget late in the past.”
Pete Kasperowicz reported on Friday at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “Whatever show of bipartisanship Republicans and Democrats manage to put on during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, 2012 is already looking like another year of bitter divide over what has become the political question of our time: How much should government spend?
“Obama has made a recent nod toward cutting the deficit, by combining several economic agencies into one. He’s likely to remind his GOP critics of this proposal during Tuesday night’s speech.
“But outside the glare of the speech, Republicans are already planning their next assault on federal spending. Tuesday and Wednesday, the House Budget Committee will mark up bills that seek to end the automatic inflation of budget items, require a macroeconomic analysis o the budget, and ensure that the congressional budget resolution has the force of law.”
Pete Kasperowicz reported yesterday at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would prevent Congress from considering an increase in the debt ceiling unless both the House and Senate have approved a concurrent budget resolution, something the Senate has not done in nearly three years.
“Lamborn announced his bill as the House was debating whether to accept President Obama’s request to increase the debt ceiling by another $1.2 trillion. The House voted to disapprove of Obama’s request, but the Senate is not expected to follow suit, making the debt ceiling hike inevitable.
“Lamborn said his bill would at least require a budget to be in place before these debt-ceiling increases can occur.”
Meanwhile, yesterday’s Need-to-Know Daily Email from National Journal reported that, “Asked in a mid-afternoon briefing on Wednesday if President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline would factor into ongoing negotiations to extend the payroll-tax cut and other tax provisions, a visibly angry House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said ‘all options are on the table,’ adding: ‘This fight is not over – you can count on it.’”
“Wednesday’s 239-to-176 vote took place largely along party lines, with 233 Republicans and six Democrats voting ‘yes’ while 175 Democrats and one Republican voted ‘no.’ Two Republicans voted ‘present.’
“The vote marks the second of two ‘resolutions of disapproval’ allowed for in the August debt deal. In September, the House passed a similar resolution on a 232-to-186 vote. But the measure was blocked by the Senate, and the debt ceiling was raised by $500 billion.”
Jeffrey Sparshott reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The U.S. government curtailed its investment in a federal retirement fund Tuesday as it looks to stay under the legal debt limit while awaiting a congressional vote on raising the federal spending ceiling.”
The Journal article noted that, “The political theater—the House is expected to vote Wednesday, to express its displeasure at raising the limit—is a result of last summer’s compromise to raise the debt ceiling in stages.
“‘As a result of the debt limit certification submitted to Congress by the president on Jan. 12, 2012, unless a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted, the debt limit will be increased…effective after the close of business on Jan. 27,’ Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday in letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and other congressional leaders.
“To give Congress time to return from a holiday recess and vote, the White House held off on formal notification until last week.”
Daniel Newhauser reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “The House will return this week for a brief start to the second session of the 112th Congress, voting to disapprove of a debt ceiling hike before Republicans huddle in Baltimore at their annual retreat to try to coalesce after a rough December.
“Ending the first session on a low note after bowing to pressure on a short-term payroll tax cut extension, House Republicans have the opportunity to use the short legislative week to unify the Conference before President Barack Obama’s Jan. 24 State of the Union address.”
Executive Branch Issues (Organizational Structure), and Budget News
Mark Landler reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “President Obama on Friday announced an aggressive campaign to shrink the size of the federal government, a proposal less notable for its goal — the fight against bloat has been embraced by every modern-day president — than for the political challenge it poses to a hostile Congress.
“Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote. If granted the authority, he said, he would begin pruning by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.
“The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs. The savings is a mere rounding error in the $3.7 trillion annual budget, but the numbers may be less important than the message that Mr. Obama wants to cut wasteful spending.”
“Formal notification by the administration gives Congress 15 days to disapprove of an increase, or the debt ceiling would automatically adjust up an additional $1.2 trillion.
“But under procedures resulting from last August’s budget agreement that sought to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama could issue a veto, and the ceiling would rise even if Congress moves to block it.”
Yesterday’s Need-to-Know Daily Email from National Journal reported that, “When Congress returns, it will feel a bit like déjà vu. One of the first orders of business will be the last order of business from 2011: the payroll-tax cut. And while Republicans lost politically in the last fight, that doesn’t mean GOP negotiators are willing to concede the forthcoming battle. ‘Right now the needle hasn’t moved,’ Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., one of the conferees, told National Journal. ‘But I will say that we are prepared on our side in the House. We have to do a better job of getting the details of the policy out to the American people, so old-school politicians can’t capitalize on their messaging and politics.’”
Atlanta District: “While much of the District witnessed various degrees of drought ranging from ‘abnormally dry’ to ‘exceptional’ in late November and December, both Georgia and Louisiana experienced the most severe conditions. Demand for cotton was flat as a result of global economic concerns and competition from synthetic fibers. Prices for cattle and hogs continued to increase because of strong foreign demand. Several regional agritourism contacts noted plans to expand next year.”
Chicago District: “Farm income for 2011 was higher than in 2010; and farmland values and cash rental rates were reported to be higher once again. After falling initially during the reporting period, corn and soybean prices rose in the last half of December. More generally, crop prices fell during the harvest period. However, most crop deliveries involved sales at pre-harvest prices, as many end users found it necessary to ensure sufficient supplies prior to the harvest. In contrast, for those who didn’t pre-sell, more of their crop ended up being put into storage. Milk and hog prices fell during the reporting period, while cattle prices increased. Still, export demand helped keep prices for both dairy and meat products higher than they were at the end of 2010. Input costs have risen for the coming planting season.”
St. LouisDistrict: “As of the beginning of December, the number of bales of cotton ginned (separated from the seed) in the District states was up by 11.9 percent over the same period in 2010. Monthly output of commercial red meat for October 2011 increased compared with September 2011 and October 2010. However, the District’s total live weight and number of young chickens slaughtered decreased between September and October 2011.”
Minneapolis District: “Growth in the agricultural sector moderated, as some commodity prices declined. Prices received by farmers for wheat, corn, hogs, and dairy products decreased in December from the previous month. Cattle, poultry, egg, dry bean, and hay prices increased in December from the previous month. Meanwhile, a partnership announced the development of a large grain-loading facility in Minnesota.”
Kansas CityDistrict: “Agricultural growing conditions improved in late November and December but farm income prospects dimmed with high input costs. Timely rains eased drought conditions in the Southern Plains. Most of the winter wheat crop emerged in good condition, though more protective snow cover was needed for the winter dormancy period. Volatile crop prices and high input costs tempered crop profit expectations for the coming year. High production costs trimmed margins for livestock operators even though strong export demand underpinned prices. Still, with historically high profits, many farmers were repaying operating loans, buying farmland and purchasing additional machinery and equipment. District contacts reported an increase in the number of farmland auctions as record high land prices enticed more landowners to sell.”
Dallas District: “The District remained largely in drought, although recent rainfalls have lessened the drought’s severity in most parts and benefitted the winter wheat crop. There is still very little grazing available, resulting in costly supplemental feeding of livestock. Demand for agricultural products receded slightly over the reporting period, although beef exports remained strong.”
Amie Parnes reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The Obama administration will be asking Congress to raise the debt limit in the coming days, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
“‘I’m confident it will be executed in a matter of days, not weeks,’ he told reporters.
“The notification by the administration — which had been scheduled for last month — was delayed because Congress has been holding only pro forma sessions.”
Yesterday’s update noted that, “The White House will be asking Congress to raise the U.S. borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion. The move would mark the third and final increase from the debt-ceiling deal reached last year by Congress.”