OVERNIGHT MONEY: President Obama takes a road trip

THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:

On the road again: President Obama heads to Milwaukee and Nashville on Thursday as part of his post-State of the Union canvassing to discuss the economy and his plan for growing jobs.

During a trip on Wednesday, Obama focused on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a push he is expected to make again. 

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"Americans overwhelmingly agree, nobody who's working full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty," the president said during his Wednesday road trips.

"And that is why I firmly believe it is time to give America a raise."

Obama is known for hitting the road to discuss economic issues around the country, especially after big speeches like Tuesday's State of the Union address. 

"Let's make this a year of action," he said Tuesday night. "That's what most Americans want — for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."

The president faces considerable resistance from congressional Republicans who argue that he has not done enough to push for policies that can create enough jobs to provide more robust economic growth. 

He has said that while he would like Congress to help, he will find ways to boost growth on his own, if necessary. 

"What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class," he said.

"Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I."

As part of the effort, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will meet with workers at an Ace Hardware store in Washington to discuss raising the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department will release its first measure of the nation's economic activity for the fourth quarter on Thursday.

Growth could come in around 3.3 percent for the final three months of the year, according to a forecast from Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics.

He expects that growth was powered by a 4 percent gain in consumer spending. But cuts in federal spending and less inventory accumulation were the main drags on growth.

"Without the government shutdown and brinkmanship over the debt limit, real GDP growth would have been closer to 4 percent," he said. 

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Nominee chat: The Senate Finance Committee will discuss a couple of nominations on Thursday. Lawmakers will chat with Karen Dynan, who has been nominated to be assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, and Richard Frank, picked to be assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Health and Human Services Department. 

 

LOOSE CHANGE

IRS in the spotlight: On Wednesday, a House Ways and Means subcommittee will gather for its first chat with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen since he was confirmed for the job last month. The hearing is expected to focus on the ongoing investigation of IRS targeting, the newly proposed regulations for nonprofit groups, the backlog of applications for tax-exempt status and the agency's responsibilities under the healthcare law. 

Show Fannie the money: A federal bankruptcy judge approved a $537 million settlement between Lehman Brothers and Fannie Mae. The mortgage giant will recover the money for its claim against the estate of the failed Wall Street bank over mortgage securities that went bad.

Lehman went bankrupt in September 2008, and played a role in the start of the financial crisis. 

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits.  

Pending Home Sales: The National Association of Realtors will release its December index that gauges contract signings, a forward-looking indicator of home sales.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Reid rejects Obama’s trade power

— Fed sticks with plan to shrink stimulus

— Lew: Congress has 'accepted' deadline

— 'We will not default,' Paul Ryan says

— Officials defend NSA, decry Snowden

— Wall Street endorses Obama’s IRA account

— Dodd-Frank architect goes to law firm

— House spending panel shuffles members

— Dems, Republicans at odds over fast-track authority

— Lawmakers won’t have to disclose the farm subsidies they receive

— House passes $956B farm bill

— Ryan explains reversal on farm bill vote

— Shuster: Obama transportation funding proposal ‘recycled’

— Peterson to decide on reelection by March

— DOT chief: Obama transportation funding proposal ‘bold’

 

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