By Vicki Needham and Peter Schroeder - 11/13/12 11:50 PM EST
Executives at the nation's top companies are getting more involved in the legislative process, meeting with Obama as well as lawmakers to push their point that something must be done soon to quell the uncertainty they argue is stifling business investment and hiring.
BRT launched a campaign on Tuesday that puts its chief executives on the ground to meet with lawmakers and do a hard sell on extending expired and expiring tax provisions until comprehensive tax reform can be enacted. They also want to stop automatic spending cuts, address the looming debt ceiling and approve permanent normal trade relations with Russia, all by year's end.
There's more than just talk happening on at least one front: normalizing trade relations with Russia. The House Rules Committee agreed Tuesday evening to move the legislation to the floor either Thursday or Friday.
The president wrapped up an hour-long meeting with labor leaders on Tuesday, and the verdict was that he will maintain tax rates for the middle class.
Obama is already starting to dig in on letting tax cuts expire for wealthier Americans.
Republicans and the business groups are backing the idea of extending the tax rates until a grand bargain can be crafted so as to not upset the already delicate economic balance.
While Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others have expressed a willingness to raise revenues by ending some tax breaks and overhauling entitlement programs, they don't want to move forward on raising tax rates for those making at least $250,000 a year.
Labor unions will begin a campaign of their own on the issue, and Obama is expected to hit the road after Thanksgiving to drum up support for his viewpoint as Congress bears down during the lame duck in December toward, at least, a short-term solution to hold them over until next year.
To wind up the week, congressional leaders head to the White House on Friday.
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR
Monetary minutes: The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its Oct. 23-24 meeting on Wednesday. As usual, markets and wonks will pore over the details for any morsels of information on the central bank, but headlines might be hard to come by in this edition because the Fed basically agreed to its existing policy and not a whole lot else last month.
Basel-tov: The Senate Banking Committee is squeezing in a bit more work during the lame-duck session, as the panel will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Basel III capital rules. That international accord is intended to beef up bank capital requirements and help shore them up against the dangers of the financial markets. But banks have bristled against U.S. efforts to implement them, warning that tight requirements could stifle their ability to do business. The Federal Reserve has fielded more than 1,000 letters on the issue from the nation's biggest banks. On Wednesday, top officials from banking regulators will be on hand to offer their take.
Trade adjustments: A House panel will tackle on Wednesday whether a trade adjustment assistance program for U.S. firms is effective and what, if any, changes need to be made.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program (TAAF) provides technical assistance to eligible small- and medium-sized businesses that have been negatively affected by overseas import competition. In September, the Government Accountability Office released a report that found the program has helped several struggling firms, but could be improved with better funds allocation.
MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.
Retail Sales: The Commerce Department will release its October report measuring the total receipts of retail stores. Sales figures are widely followed as the most timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns, which represent 70 of economic activity.
Producer Price Index (PPI): The Labor Department will release its October report tracking the prices of goods at the wholesale level. The market tracks PPI closely because it represents prices for goods that are ready for sale to consumers.
Business Inventories: The Department of Commerce will release its September report on sales and inventory from all three stages of the manufacturing process: manufacturing, wholesale and retail.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Geithner: GOP should be open to rate hikes in fiscal deal
— Pelosi: Dems don't want to go over the cliff
— Poll: Most Americans would blame GOP if Congress fails on 'fiscal cliff'
— Senators want Obama to request more disaster funding for Hurricane Sandy
— US deficit was $120 billion in October
— Reid and McConnell start lame duck at odds on taxes, deficit issues
— Chamber of Commerce open to 'fiscal cliff' deal that raises revenues
— Small businesses remain pessimistic about economy
— Consumer bureau's deputy director heading for exit
— Grassley: Senate will wait on tax extender package due to fiscal cliff talks
— Manufacturers: Obama, Congress under pressure to get tough on China
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