The Week Ahead: Feb. 13-19, 2012

February 13, 2012 01:43 AM
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

TOPICS: FY 2013 budget | Surface transportation | Payroll tax holiday extension | Farm bill hearing

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposals, released today, budget-related hearings, continued House and Senate work on a surface transportation bill, and conference meetings on extending the payroll tax holiday are the Washington highlights this week. At the end of this week's business, both the House and Senate will recess for the week of Feb. 20 for the Presidents' Day work period. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene Feb. 27.

President Obama and his Cabinet will release details of the administration's Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposals, which some observers have already labeled a “political document” ahead of Nov. 6 elections.

Lawmakers in both chambers will debate different versions of a multiyear highway and transit reauthorization legislation, with major disagreements on funding levels, budget offsets, and the length of the reauthorization. The Senate will consider a two-year, $109 billion reauthorization bill (S 1813). Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he hopes the Senate will vote on final passage of the bill before Congress adjourns for the Presidents' Day recess. Reid said he expects related titles produced by Senate committees to be added as amendments to the bill. The Senate Finance Committee Feb. 7 approved the tax portion of the bill during a mark-up session. Senate Banking adopted the transit and public transportation provisions the week prior to that.

House members will consider their version (HR 7) of surface transportation reauthorization this week. The five-year, $260 billion measure would extend the Highway Trust Fund's authority as well as motor fuels and transportation taxes that go into the fund. A one-time transfer of $40 billion from the general fund would replace the guaranteed transfer of 2.86 cents per gallon of each of the federal motor fuel and gas taxes that are earmarked for transit programs. Debate could begin by mid-week.

Action on the payroll tax holiday extension is a possibility because the current two-month extension expires Feb. 29. Congressional leaders want to complete the conference on a bill (HR 3630) for a 10-month extension of the tax cut. Some members of the conference committee have made a self-imposed deadline of Feb. 14 or Feb. 15 to reach a compromise on the legislation, in order to get the legislation on the floor before the cut expires. Some farm-state lawmakers may attempt to attach some new farm bill language to the payroll tax cut measure.

The major hurdle in completing the payroll tax holiday extension is budget offsets. The measure includes a 2 percentage point payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance benefits, and prevents a cut in Medicare physician payments. Reid last week said he would offer his own version of the bill if the conference was unable to reach an agreement.

Congressional committees will focus on examining Obama's FY 2013 budget proposals, the European debt crisis, regulatory reform and a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the new farm bill. Also, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture will meet Friday to hold a hearing on the budget for USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify along with other USDA officials.

Key events and reports on tap this week include:

Monday, Feb. 13
Obama FY 2013 budget:
President Obama releases his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013, likely to forecast a $1.33 trillion deficit. The online version will be available at
Greece debt:
Deadline for Greece's final debt-swap offer to private bondholders.
Federal Reserve:
San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks about monetary policy.
USDA long-term projections:
USDA releases its long-term supply and demand projections for the U.S. and world.
Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve).
USDA reports
: Export inspections (AMS) | Feed Outlook (ERS) Wheat Outlook (ERS) | Livestock and Meat Trade Data (ERS) Farm Income and Costs (ERS) US Agricultural Trade Data Update (ERS).

Tuesday, Feb. 14
China: President Obama meets with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House.
EU: Italy, Greece and Spain auction debt.
Japan interest rates: Most observers see the Bank of Japan holding interest rates steady. Near term, most see the yen gaining against other currencies because lower yields discourage overseas investment.
Egypt elections: Egypt holds elections for the Upper House of Parliament.
Fiscal 2013 budget: Committee hearing. Senate Finance Committee. Witness: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Fiscal 2013 budget: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Witness: Jeffrey Zients, acting director and deputy director for management, Office of Management and Budget.

Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: Retail Sales | Business Inventories | ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | NFIB Small Business Optimism Index | Import and Export Prices.
USDA reports: Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook (ERS) | Aquaculture Data (ERS).

Wednesday, Feb. 15
Greece debt:
The Euro group is set to consider Greece's proposals.
Federal Reserve:
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher speaks about Fed operations.
Fiscal 2013 budget – Dept. of Transportation:
Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Witness: Ray LaHood - secretary of Transportation.
Agriculture nominations vote:
Committee markup. Senate Ag Committee. Nominations: Michael Scuse to be undersecretary of Agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services and to be a member, Board of Directors, Commodity Credit Corporation; Chester John Culver to be a member, Board of Directors, Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation; Bruce Sherrick to be a member, Board of Directors, Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.
New farm bill:
Committee hearing. Senate Ag Committee. Agenda: Energy and Economic Growth for Rural America.
Jobs trends and analysis:
Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Ineffectiveness of government reorganization plans:
Committee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Fiscal 2013 budget:
Committee hearing. House Budget Committee. Draft bill: Fiscal 2013 House Budget Resolution. Witness: Jeffrey Zients, acting director, Office of Management and the Budget.
Impact of presidential recess appointments:
Committee hearing. House Judiciary Committee.
Fiscal 2013 budget:
Committee hearing. House Ways and Means Committee. Witness: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Current Situation In Egypt:
Subcommittee hearing. House Foreign Affairs — Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.
Pay for performance:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions hearing on pay for performance, focusing on incentive compensation at large financial institutions.
Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | MBA Purchase Applications | Empire State Mfg Survey | Industrial Production | Housing Market Index | FOMC meeting | Treasury International Capital Report.
USDA reports: Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (ERS) | Turkey Hatchery (NASS) | Potato Stocks (NASS) | Broiler Hatchery (NASS).

Thursday, Feb. 16
EU: France and Spain hold bond auctions.
Federal Reserve: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks.
Fiscal 2013 budget: revenue proposals: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Witness: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Fiscal 2013 budget – revenue and economic policy proposals: Draft bill: FY 2013 House Budget Resolution. Witness: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Fiscal 2013 budget – Energy: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Witness: Steven Chu - secretary of Energy.
European debt crisis: Committee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Regulation and regulatory review: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Egypt outlook: Committee hearing. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads).
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | Housing Starts | Producer Price Index | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | Phila. Fed Survey.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Crop Values NASS).

Friday, Feb. 17
Fiscal 2013 appropriations – Agriculture: Subcommittee hearing. House Appropriations — Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies. Witnesses: Tom Vilsack - secretary of Agriculture; Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of Agriculture; Joseph Glauber, chief economist, Department of Agriculture; Michael Young, budget officer, Department of Agriculture.
Economic reports: Consumer Price Index | Leading Indicators.
Energy: Monthly Petroleum Statistical Report (API).
USDA reports: Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Meat Price Spreads (ERS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations (NASS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Tree Nuts: World Markets and Trade (FAS).

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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