By Bernie Becker, Erik Wasson, Peter Schroeder and Vicki Needham - 01/24/11 11:59 PM EST
As The Hill and other outlets have noted, the president’s address is expected to advance the administration’s edge toward the center and its friendlier attitude toward the business community.
Our Erik Wasson noted over the weekend that Obama has previewed his speech in a video message to supporters, calling job creation and competitiveness a top priority. For his part, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, reiterated the economy would be a dominant theme in the State of the Union, without releasing many details.
With that in mind, trade, the deficit and tax reform are all widely expected to get at least some attention on Tuesday night.
What Else to Watch for:
Getting FOMC-y:The Federal Reserve kicks off a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on Tuesday. The get-together comes as the Fed has been showered with recent criticism over its decision to buy back $600 billion in Treasury bonds in an attempt to boost private lending – a move Republican politicians have warned could lead to inflation.
The Fed has thus far shown no interest in backing off on the program -- which is scheduled to wrap up in July -- and Fed watchers expect the central bank to stick to its plan.
House Debate on Spending Cuts: The House is set to hold a symbolic Tuesday vote on a measure that would make deep cuts to 2011 spending. The resolution to instruct Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, to cap 2011 spending at 2008 levels or less would slash at least $84 billion from current funding levels, according to estimates. The vote is scheduled for the day of the State of the Union to put Republicans out ahead of the president on spending. Meanwhile, it will be up to appropriators to come up with the actual spending cuts -- and they could already find themselves behind schedule.
Elsewhere on the House side, the Rules panel will start the process on the consideration of another (smaller) bill to cut spending -- but one that could have presidential implications. The bill would eliminate public funding of presidential campaigns and conventions, something good government groups say would push politicians even deeper into the arms of lobbyists. The Rules Committee is expected to pass a rule for future consideration of the bill that would allow amendments on the floor.
More from the House: In the morning, the Ways and Means Committee is slated to hear from corporate representatives on the need to pass the Colombia, Panama and South Korea free trade agreements, which have been stalled since 2007. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the committee’s new chairman, has vowed to push for approval of all three deals, none of which got a Ways and Means hearing during the last Congress. Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, is not scheduled to appear at this hearing, but will reportedly testify at a later date.
And finally, the House Financial Services Committee gets off the starting blocks with an organizational meeting, as it prepares to play an expected key role in the overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Also likely on tap for the panel: keeping a close eye on the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.) With the panel now in GOP hands, tomorrow's hearing shouldn't have too many surprises, and will be followed in short order by a Wednesday hearing on how the government may be impeding small business and the overall economic recovery.
Housing Talk: The conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will offer its take on reforming housing finance on Tuesday afternoon, playing host to a panel discussion dubbed "What Should Replace Fannie and Freddie?" Besides AEI, contributions at the forum are also expected from the Center for American Progress and the National Association of Home Builders.
In a paper released earlier this month, AEI made an argument for a wholly private mortgage system, free of any government guarantees. The administration and others have a different take, making the case that some form of government backing is a key component to a functioning housing market.
-- The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are expected to drop Tuesday morning.
-- The Labor Department is set to release regional and state unemployment figures for December.
-- The Conference Board is slated to announce its Consumer Confidence Index for this month.
-- The Federal Housing Finance Agency is scheduled to release the monthly house price index for November.
-- And the American Petroleum Institute is expected to circulate weekly data on gasoline production and inventories.
States Declaring Bankruptcy?: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, says not so much. At a briefing with reporters on Monday, Cantor flatly said “there will be no bailout of the states,” The Hill’s Russell Berman reports. Some conservatives have advocated taking a look at allowing states to declare bankruptcy as a way to take on mounting debt.
Russian Investment: Russia is stepping up its search for foreign investment, The New York Times reports. Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian president, is scheduled to the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, while the country has also lined up Bank of America Merrill Lynch to help with the sale of a stake in the state bank.
What You Might Have Missed:
On the Money’s Monday:
-- Clarence Thomas didn’t report his wife’s income on annual disclosure forms, according to Common Cause.
-- Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is heading to South America to talk trade next month.
-- Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wants the Senate budget to get a haircut.
-- A recent poll shows more businesses appear willing to hire.
-- G.M.’s sales zoomed in China last year.
-- Some House Republicans want to press ahead on that $100 billion target.
-- And 33 progressive lawmakers want the president’s red pen to stay away from Social Security.