Another Republican Debate And What Else To Expect Out Of DC Today

Today at 8 pm is the latest installment in the Republican presidential debate drama this time, appropriately enough, straight out of Sin City. Here is what else to look forward to from DC.

9:30 am -- CFTC rulemaking meeting on position limits.  The CFTC will consider a final rule on position limits, as well as a final rule for clearing organizations and a change in the effective date for swaps regulation.

10:00 am -- Tax reform.  The Senate Finance Committee will hold another hearing on the subject, this time focused on the effect of reform on charitable giving, which many have cited as a key concern in eliminating tax deductions in favor of lower statutory rates.  The super committee is thought to be considering including “instructions” for tax reform to the committees with jurisdiction (i.e., the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees) but the deadline might not be until 2013, and it is unclear that there would be any penalty for failing to achieve the goal, leaving whatever process the super committee sets up essentially non-binding. 

10:00 am -- Treasury Sec. Geithner testifies on small business incentives. In the Senate Small Business Committee.

11:00 am -- President Obama speaks in North Carolina on jobs.  The President yesterday challenged Congress to consider portions of his jobs package separately,  now that the entire package has been voted down in the Senate. He has pointed to the $35bn in fiscal aid for state and local governments as the first item that should be considered; Sen. Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) said yesterday he would attempt to bring up that proposal as standalone legislation later this week. The bill would be paid for with a smaller version of the millionaire surtax the Senate considered last week (a 0.5% tax on incomes over $1mn, rather than the 5.6% considered last week).  The likelihood of passing is fairly low, however, and we don’t assume this proposal in our forecast for 2012.   The President will speak again at 5:00 pm in Virginia on the same thing.

2:30 pm – Govt and industry testifies on pipeline safety.  The focus will be the explosion in California, and pending pipeline safety legislation. Some discussion of the proposed Keystone Xl pipeline also seems likely to come up.

8:00 pm -- Republican presidential debate.  This one will be hosted by CNN, in Las Vegas. Current polling puts former Mass. Gov. Romney roughly tied with businessman Herman Cain at around 23-24% apiece, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 13% and the rest of the pack in single digits.  One interesting question is whether Romney’s competitors begin to adopt his more aggressive stance on economic relations with China—he has said he would cite China for currency manipulation and would use countervailing duties to offset what he believes is China’s unfair currency policy.  A broader embrace of such a position could put pressure on the House to consider currency legislation, not to mention the Obama Administration, which last week delayed the publication of its semi-annual report on foreign exchange past its October 15 due date (the report is often delayed).