OVERNIGHT MONEY: Senate plugs away at federal jobless benefits renewal

THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:

Extension question: The Senate is faced on Thursday with how it will move forward on a renewal of federal unemployment benefits as Republicans and Democrats continue their talks on how to pay for the $6.4 billion three-month measure. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scrapped a planned vote on Wednesday night with the aim of talking further with his own members and Republicans toward finding a way to pay for up to a one-year deal. 

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Senate Republicans spent most of Wednesday rolling out ideas on how to cover the cost of providing another batch of benefits to those who have been out of work for at least six months and are still struggling to find a job. 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said Wednesday night that his goal, right now, is finding a way to pay for a three-month renewal as a first step in working toward an overhaul of the program that would provide better job training initiatives, as well as weekly checks, to ensure that the long-term unemployed obtain the skills they need to find a new job. 

Portman predicted that a more comprehensive approach would help bolster Republican support and smooth passage of a bill. 

Some of those offsets have met with Democratic disapproval but there is plenty of talking, finally, going on between the two parties about the best way to move forward, even with tough demands from both sides. 

Republicans, especially House GOP leaders, insist that the bill either be paid for or it will go nowhere.

Democrats, who would prefer that lawmakers move swiftly to renew the benefits that expired at the end of the last year, have warmed up to the idea of offsetting the cost with spending cuts in other parts of the budget so are holding out for the best possible idea to pay for the bill. 

We'll have to wait until Thursday to see if an agreement can be reached on how to move the three-month plan with an eye on the one-year deal. 

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Ease on down the road: A House Financial Services subcommittee will discuss the effects of the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus program on markets around the world with several experts on Thursday. Republicans have been critical of the central bank's massive program to boost the economic recovery by buying up bonds. The Fed started to ease those purchases and are expected to gradually wind down the program this year.

I'll trade ya: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker heads to Los Angeles to discuss the importance of increasing trade and investment throughout Asia and Latin America.

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Rosier picture: The federal government ran a budget deficit of $182 billion for the first three months of fiscal 2014 — October through December — the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The CBO estimates that figure ran about $111 billion less than the shortfall in the first three months of 2013.

The government is spending less and bringing in more revenues than it did during the same period last year.

Revenues totaled $664 billion, $48 billion more than the same time a year ago.

Receipts from corporate income taxes rose by $6 billion, or 10 percent. Those receipts included most final estimated quarterly payments for calendar year 2013.

Spending was down 7 percent compared to last year, or $62 billion less. 

Much of the drop in spending occurred because payments from the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the Treasury were $34 billion more than they were last year.

The increase happened for two reasons.

First, Freddie made a one-time payment to the Treasury of about $24 billion because of a revaluation of certain tax assets that significantly increased its net worth.

Second, because Fannie and Freddie were profitable last year, the companies were required to make quarterly payments to the Treasury. Those payments are recorded in the budget as offsetting receipts, the CBO said.

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits, a day before the government will produce a report on December's hiring levels. 

Challenger Job Cuts: The Chicago-based firm will release its report on the number of job cuts that are planned by U.S. employers in December.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Spending bill scramble intensifies

— Senators press for currency manipulation provisions in Asia-Pacific trade deal

— Poll: Majority support extension of jobless aid

— Senators say omnibus could include disabled veterans fix

— Fed stepped back from stimulus amid job gains, program doubts

— Democrats push regulators for Volcker Rule fix

— Senate Dems to test GOP on jobless bill without offset

Pro-children group blasts GOP tax credit proposal

— Republican senators look to merge fights over military pensions, jobless benefits

— House Dems reject GOP offset for jobless aid

— Private sector adds 238,000 jobs in December

— Senate Republicans offering up ways to pay for federal jobless benefits

— Warren, Coburn seek end of 'back-room' settlements

— Retailers renew push for online sales tax bill

— Watt delays fee increase for Fannie, Freddie

— GOP leadership aide heads to K Street

— Chamber's Donohue rips Obama policies

— Democratic super-PAC hits Scott Brown with first 2014 attack

— Regulators launch probe of banks’ post-crisis activities

 

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