April 13, 2012 Edition

In this week’s edition … From the Editors, While We Were Gone, Administration, Congress, Economy, Health Care, Budget, Committee Action, Other News, Elections, For Your Information.

From the Editors.  We recently added a new resource section to the website, which provides a variety of resources for our readers.  Please let us know if you would like to see add any links.

While We Were Gone.

  • Romney won the Maryland, DC and Wisconsin primary on April 3. 
  • The Supreme Court ruled on two cases: one that allow strip searches; the other that said that witnesses who lie to a grand jury are protected from civil lawsuits, giving them the same protection that witnesses get at trials.

Administration.  On April 4, President Obama signed into law the Stock Act and on April 5 he signed into law the JOBS Act.  On April 10, he spoke in support of the Buffett Rule, which would require that taxpayers with annual income above $1 million pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.  The White House also released a justification.  The Senate will vote on the proposal; see below for more

As reported by Politico, “In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. The receipt launched that year and, now, we’ve updated the tool to reflect current spending. Just enter a few pieces of information about your taxes, and the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care.”  See it here.

Congress.  Congress held a constituent work period.  Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene on April 16th.  As previously mentioned, the Senate is expected to vote on the so-called Buffett Rule, when it returns but it is not expected to secure the necessary votes (60).

Reuters reports that House Republicans are reconsidering the ban on earmarks so that they can be used to grease the legislative process. 

Politico commented on the rather surprising outbreak of bipartisanship in the Senate but the AP doesn’t think it will last. 

NPR’s Morning Edition looked at how a Member of Congress’ committee assignments impact their fundraising ability.   

Economy. 

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke about the status of the economy (article).
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking to overhaul the mortgage servicing industry, reported The Hill.
  • USA Today reports that gas prices may have peaked. 
  • The administration released a first-of-its-kind Commerce Department report that analyzes the direct effects U.S. industries using intellectual property have on job creation.

Health Care.

  • The Washington Post reports that “shortfalls of prescription drugs are common among hospital pharmacies, and in some cases have threatened to delay lifesaving treatments.
  • The LA Times reports that the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama’s healthcare law went bankrupt due to medical bills. 
  • Apparently, some conservative lawyers were surprised by the tone of the Supreme Court hearing on the health care reform bill. 

Budget.  Politico looked at the difficulties the House may have trying to implement the cuts called for in the Ryan Budget (see March 30 Edition for more on the budget).  Two budget experts wrote about the severe impact sequestration would have on our nation’s economy, security and safety. 

Committee Action.  No hearings were held due to the District Work Period but some committees have scheduled hearings for next week (not a comprehensive list):

  • The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee Transportation and Infrastructure will both hold hearings on the GSA’s spending, including a Las Vegas conference.  For more on the hearings, click OGR/T&I.
  • The Senate Budget Committee will markup the FY 13 Budget Resolution during the week of April 16. 
  • House Armed Services subcommittees will begin marking up the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill during the week of April 23.

Other News.

  • Politico reported that the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General “has opened investigations into 66 alleged cases of corruption, embezzlement, collusion, false statements and other fraud violations stemming from stimulus-funded transportation projects. The Department’s statement about the investigation (again, as reported by Politico):  “We are proud of the role we played helping put more Americans back to work building the roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure our country needs as part of the Recovery Act. Preventing fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars is a priority at the Department of Transportation, and it’s important to remember that no conclusions have been made regarding these cases, which represent .004 percent of the more than 15,000 projects we oversaw.”
  • The Pentagon has released its annual report on demographics within the ranks.
  • A New York Times looks at how the unexpected energy production boom is changing the country’s foreign policy, reshaping the environmental debate and changing the day-to-day realities of life in America.
  • Politico reports on the shift within the Republican Party on gay marriage. 
  • The Washington Post reports that most Americans are not equipped to manage their retirement funds. 
  • Reuters reports that gun sales (and the stock of gun manufactures) is on the rise on fears of a second term for Obama.

Elections.

  • Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10.  Technically, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still in the race but, absent a MAJOR development, Romney will face Obama in November. 
  • The primaries will still be held in those states that have not held them yet.  Next Up: CT, DE, NY, PA, and RI on April 24.
  • Candidates that fail to be elected to office but still have money left in their campaign account essentially have five options: Keep it. Spend it. Donate it. Convert it for other political uses. Do nothing.  Politico explains the options in a little more detail. 

For your information.  On Monday, President Obama hosted the 134th annual Easter egg hunt on the grounds of the White House (article/pictures).  Congress used to host a similar event on the grounds of the Capital but it stopped when Congress passed the Turf Protection Law.  President Rutherford B. Hayes then invited children to the White House lawn for the Easter egg roll in 1878, starting the tradition (thanks to Politico).

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