FED UNDER FIRE: Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter FDA proposes rule to offer over-the-counter hearing aids MORE BLAST THE FED. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is sure to face a testy audience when she testifies later this month before Congress. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are intensifying their criticism of the central bank. We pick it up with Paul, whose "Audit the Fed" bill is getting pushback from Fed officials...
Let's drink, Kentucky bourbon?...
-- SHOT, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), defending his "Audit the Fed" legislation to The Hill: "The Federal Reserve will say and do anything to keep their business hidden from the American people... This [is a] secretive government-run bureaucracy... Citizens have the right to know why the Fed's policies have resulted in a stagnant economy and record numbers of people [are] dropping out of the workforce."
-- CHASER, Dallas Fed Bank president Richard Fisher to me on Paul's legislation: "Who in their right mind would ask the Congress of the United States — who can't cobble together a fiscal policy — to assume control of monetary policy?... They simply find it convenient to create a boogeyman out of an entity that does its job efficiently — the Federal Reserve... To some outsiders the Fed appears to be some kind of combination of Hogwarts, the Death Star, and Ebenezer Scrooge — especially to those who don't take the time to read the copious amounts of reports and speeches and explanations we emit." My story: http://bit.ly/1xqIYbv
As an avid Harry Potter fan, we think he meant Gringotts and not Hogwarts...
-- THE POLICY: Paul's legislation would allow the government to audit the central bank, which its supporters say would bring more transparency. Yellen and Fed officials say the bill would politicize the Fed and therefore hurt the economy. For the Fed, it's a headache -- and a big one. They didn't have to worry about it last Congress with Democrats controlling the Senate. But now Paul is emboldened by GOP control. Even if President Obama opposes the legislation, the fallout could linger in 2016 with Paul weighing a presidential bid and the legislation certain to be a signature piece of his platform.
-- THE POLITICS: Paul, eyeing a 2016 presidential campaign, will be in Des Moines, Iowa, tomorrow at a rally touting his "Audit the Fed" proposal. It was first championed by former-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), his father, and strongly supported by libertarians. For Sen. Paul, it's an opportunity to tout his libertarian-streak and tap into his dad's grassroots support. Nearly seven years after the 2008 financial crisis and government bailouts, Paul has wide appeal to a certain part of the electorate that's angry not only at Wall Street but at government institutions that used their money for taxpayer bailouts.
Back to Warren-world...
'DISTURBED' WARREN TO FED: WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT LEAKS? Pete Schroeder for The Hill: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) are demanding details from the Federal Reserve about how critical information leaked out of the central bank in 2012 and who may have gained from it.
-- WHAT WARREN WANTS: [Warren and Cummings] asked for details regarding how the central bank investigated an alleged leak of monetary policy deliberations, and what the agency is doing to ensure that such information, which can affect financial markets, remains protected. The two said they were 'disturbed' by the lack of transparency from the Fed on its probe and are considering legislation to address the matter." Pete's story: http://bit.ly/18S141M. Warren's letter: http://1.usa.gov/1D2LD1I.
-- FLASHBACK, Schroeder in December: Liberals turn on Fed. http://bit.ly/1rTJqmX
POPE TO CONGRESS: SEPT. 24. Scott Wong has the details for The Hill: http://bit.ly/1Fbw6MA.
ON-TAP FOR TOMORROW: JOBS REPORT. Carl J Riccadonna and Joshua Wright for Bloomberg: "The median forecast for the unemployment rate looks for no change at 5.6 percent... Unwarranted optimism abounds, again. January is a difficult month for forecasting employment, based on the track record of payroll forecasters in recent years...
"The next couple of employment reports will prove critical in terms of the level of confidence policy makers have about low inflation ultimately trending higher, especially after the tepid tone of labor inflation data in Q4. As such, while the labor data are always closely watched by market participants, the significance increases as the Fed liftoff approaches." http://bloom.bg/1zcphES
TALK OF THE TOWN: AARON SCHOCK'S 'DOWNTON' OFFICE. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) talked to ABC News about criticism over his office decor. He quoted Taylor Swift's annoying pop-song "Shake It Off," saying: "Haters gonna hate." Judy Kurtz for The Hill: http://bit.ly/1IaNgPx But Schock's bad day was about to get worse...
-- SCHOCK STAFFER RESIGNS, Scott Wong for The Hill: "[Schock's senior adviser Benjamin Cole] has resigned after he made a number of racially charged comments on his Facebook page." http://bit.ly/1v2wW8n
-- GOP strategist Ford O'Connell tells OVERNIGHT on Shock's bad week: The wall color is a nothing burger that the media is trying to ride the coattails of to push copy. Voters like personality and passion and Aaron Schock has both. As long as the congressman continues to diligently represent his constituents back home he is fine...
On the resignation: "It was wise for Rep. Schock to accept the aide's resignation because that was a messy situation that if not attended to immediately could have hurt the congressman's standing back home."
INSURANCE GIANT HACKED and The Hill's cybersecurity ace Cory Bennett is all over the story: "The nation's second-largest health insurance company, Anthem Inc., has been hit by a data breach that may have exposed data from up to 80 million customers. The company said the digital thieves made off with a slate of personal information — names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and income data — but did not obtain credit card or medical information. The infiltrated database had the records for 80 million people in it; Anthem said it is not sure if every person's information was exposed. Still, the insurer estimated tens of millions of customers have been affected." http://bit.ly/16wdKtB
-- CHINA TO BLAME FOR ANTHEM HACK? Michael A. Riley and Jordan Robertson for Bloomberg: "Investigators of Anthem Inc.'s data breach are pursuing evidence that points to Chinese state-sponsored hackers who are stealing personal information from health-care companies for purposes other than pure profit, according to three people familiar with the probe." http://bloom.bg/1AwKK24
-- Anthem attack prompts new calls for legislative action, via Julian Hattem for The Hill: http://bit.ly/1Axbq2L
-- Administration officials say Anthem hack didn't impact ObamaCare website, Bennett reports:http://bit.ly/1D2WPeC
-- White House: Anthem attack 'disturbing,' Bennett reports: http://bit.ly/18ShK9r
HOUSE PASSES REG RELIEF BILL, via Cristina Marcos: "The House on Thursday passed a bill requiring federal agencies to measure the costs of regulations on small businesses. Approved 260-163, the measure would require federal agencies to calculate the direct, as well as indirect, costs of proposed rules." You already know: White House threatening to veto the legislation. Marcos's story: http://bit.ly/1zU7NUL
RYAN OPTIMISTIC ON TRADE. From our Vicki Needham: "A top Republican said Wednesday that he expects Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation this spring. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters that, with President Obama's help, the House and the Senate can pass a TPA measure with bipartisan support.
"To that end, Ryan and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, praised the White House's ramped up efforts to generate more support among Democrats. 'These are enormous issues that speak to the future of our country and I do believe it's good for the political system that we deliver some common ground and we get some things done,' he said.
"Ryan said he 'wouldn't begin to try' to pass TPA with just Republicans votes because 'I want it to be bipartisan.'" http://bit.ly/1v2EHeC
ON-TAP FOR NEXT WEEK: TAX EXTENDERS, KEYSTONE, via Cristina Marcos: "The House will consider two packages of bills to permanently extend sections of the tax code next week, as well as clear the Senate-passed measure to approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. One of the packages will permanently renew tax credits for charitable contributions, while the other would extend the Section 179 credit that allows businesses to write off certain expenses." http://bit.ly/16wbsL4