N2K Top 10: Welcome Back; Recasting the Social Safety Net
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | 7:31 a.m.
- WELCOME BACK. President Obama is in Indonesia today to make a long-anticipated visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation, where he spent part of his childhood. He'll try to boost U.S.-Indonesia security and trade ties while offering a nod to the Muslim world.
- RECASTING THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET. House Republicans have targeted one of the first programs they would like to ax: the $25 billion emergency fund for people who lose their jobs, part of last year's stimulus bill. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said the program encourages states to increase their welfare caseloads “without requiring able-bodied individuals to work, get job training, or make other efforts to move off of taxpayer assistance.”
- GOLD TOPS $1,400 AN OUNCE. The price of gold continued its surge and hit a new record of $1,414 on Monday, clearly a sign that investors are worried about inflation, a falling dollar, or both. One reason is the Fed’s decision, much criticized by Germany, China, and other countries, to launch a second round of quantitative easing and pump another $600 billion into the economy. But Ireland’s debt woes and heightened worries about defaults by sovereign governments may be part of the story, too.
- NEW FED SPLIT? Fed governor Kevin Warsh, a close ally of Chairman Ben Bernanke, had surprisingly harsh words for the Fed’s QE2 program. In a speech yesterday, Warsh warned that “the Federal Reserve is not a repair shop for broken fiscal, trade, or regulatory policies.” Warsh voted for QE2 last week, but he said on Monday that the program had “significant risks” and that the Fed should reverse course if “purported benefits disappoint or potential risks threaten to materialize.”
- 24/7 OVERSIGHT. Incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wants to hold oversight hearings every day. The good news for Democrats is he won't, because he can't. The bad news for them is that Issa is hungry for headlines and will have many. Soon-to-be ranking member Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., is not considered by many people to be up to the task of effectively taking on Issa, and some Democrats are floating scenarios in which a Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will have to find a more energetic replacement for Towns.
- JUST THE BEGINNING. New cargo security steps taken by the U.S. government include an indefinite ban on air cargo coming from Yemen and Somalia. Yet these are only the beginning of restrictions to come as the government moves to plug gaps exposed by the foiled mail bomb plot from Yemen, government and industry officials told National Journal.
- ANOTHER LEADERSHIP RACE BREWS. As National Journal reported in late October, House Republicans will carve out a new seat at the leadership table for a member of the freshman class. The lawmaker will have a seat at the leadership table, including at the weekly meetings held in the Speaker’s office. Reps.-elect Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Tim Scott of South Carolina have been floated as possible contenders.
- RUNNING HARD. House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton, R-Texas, continues his campaign to become chairman of the powerful committee, posting an op-ed to the committee Republicans’ website on how the party can make good on its promises to repeal the new health care law. Barton wants to start with a repeal bill on the House floor in the first 90 days, and says the individual insurance coverage mandate has to go, along with “the tangle of outsider/insider councils,” like the comparative effectiveness board.
- TEA PARTY BUST. Less noticed among last week’s higher-profile contests: the failure of tea party activists and other fed-up-with-government types to win ballot measures that would have triggered constitutional conventions in four states.
- CHINA SYNDROME. When President Obama tapped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, as ambassador to China, there was lots of speculation he was trying to get an attractive 2012 challenger out of the way. But former John McCain strategist John Weaver just founded a PAC in Utah with a bunch of Huntsman buddies. Plus, Huntsman recently bought a home in Washington.
(YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW. Tonight is the National Press Club annual book fair, a great place to get signed copies of great books for the readers on your holiday shopping list. Among the authors inking their tomes: National Journal’s Terry Samuel (The Upper House), Chuck McCutcheon (What are Global Warming and Climate Change?) and Michael Hirsh (Capital Offense).
Today's Need-to-Know Video: The Government Response to Metro Terror Plot.