OVERNIGHT MONEY: Obama, Boehner meet over 'fiscal cliff'

Well, let's keep those positive vibes going. 


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR

So where's that money?: Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate  Permanent subcommittee on Investigations will, join small-business owners in a call on Friday to discuss the need to restore corporate tax revenues in a fiscal cliff deal.

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The conversation comes amid revelations that Google avoided about $2 billion in income taxes worldwide in 2011 by stashing nearly $10 billion in revenues in Bermuda. The beach might be nice at Christmas ... oh wait, we need to deal with that fiscal cliff. 


LOOSE CHANGE

Storm help coming: While the clouds turn black and lightning strikes over the lack of progress the fiscal cliff talks, the Senate is expected take up a $60.4 billion bill to provide disaster assistance to those hit by Hurricane Sandy. 

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican congressmen from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut unveiled a proposal to provide a bevy of tax breaks to individuals and businesses affected by Sandy.

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) also recently introduced a measure that would provide tax breaks for those affected by the storm. 

Banking behind the curtain: The Democratic side of the Senate Banking Committee is getting a makeover. Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) announced Thursday that it was undergoing a staff shakeup: committee staff director Dwight Fettig, who has worked with Johnson off and on for more than 16 years, is leaving for the private sector. 

“For more than 16 years dating all the way back to my years in the House, I was fortunate to have Dwight serve on my staff,” said Johnson. “I can’t thank him enough for his dedicated years of public service."

In his absence, Charles Yi will take over that spot, after serving as chief counsel and deputy staff director. Of course, that leaves a fresh opening at the deputy director position, which will be filled by Laura Swanson, the panel's policy director.

You can see where this is going. The now-empty policy director position falls to Colin McGinnis, a senior advisor/professional staff member for Johnson, and Glen Sears is the committee's new deputy policy director, after working as the panel's senior policy adviser. Follow all that?

Step away from that argument? A group of House Democrats hammered the point home on Thursday that an increase in tax rates for the wealthiest earners won't cut into economic growth next year. 

The mostly Ways and Means lawmakers jumped on an update of a Congressional Research Service report, which was first released in September, showing that there was no link between tax cuts for the wealthy and economic growth. They then strongly suggested that Republicans step back and take a closer look at their stance on those tax hikes, which President Obama is pushing for and the GOP is steadfastly against. 

The report said: “This analysis finds no conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year reduction in the top statutory tax rates and economic growth.” 

CRS had reached the same conclusion in a September report, but retracted the report after congressional Republicans complained about its findings. 

House Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) demanded that Republicans end their "blockade" on the idea of passing a bill that would extend middle-class tax cuts. 

“This CRS report reemphasizes the need for the Republicans to end their intransigence to stop blocking a vote on the Senate bill that would extend middle class tax cuts and which would not extend the tax cuts for the top two percent," he said Thursday. 

For House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the report seals the deal that some tax breaks have to expire. 

“The CRS today provides us the final nail in the coffin to a fictional theory," he said. "It puts a stake in the heart of the Republican argument that small increases in the marginal tax rates for wealthy individuals somehow hurt economic growth.”


ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Consumer Price Index (CPI): The Labor Department releases its November report that measures the price level of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. CPI is the most widely cited inflation indicator and it is used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for government programs.    

Industrial Production-Capacity Utilization: The Federal Reserve will release its November report showing the physical output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities. The monthly report also provides a measure of capacity utilization.  


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Report: Judge approves BP’s $525M settlement with SEC

Four members to join Paul Ryan’s Budget Committee

— Dem lawmaker calls on regulators to get tougher on big banks

— Senate fails to advance bill extending banks' transaction account guarantee

— Thune calls raising income taxes the 'Holy Grail' for Democrats

— Labor market showing stronger signs of improvement


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