The Leader's Ledger

Posted by Brian Patrick on

Good morning,

The do-nothing Senate is spending the final weeks of the year engaged in outright political theater. Instead of working constructively with House Republicans who identified extending the payroll tax as an area of common ground, they’re voting on a dead-on-arrival proposal that would raise taxes on the very small businesses we are counting on to create jobs. In contrast, the House continues to focus on common sense measures that will improve the environment for small businesses growth. This week, the House will vote on two bills that will improve the regulatory process so that small businesses can begin expanding and hiring again. The President and Senate Democrats need to stop playing politics, and start working with the House on areas of agreement that will grow the economy and pave the way for job creation. A good place to start is the more than 20 House-passed bipartisan jobs bills that are waiting in the Senate.

Today In History: In 1929, American explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole, flying from their base on the Ross Ice Shelf to the pole and back in 18 hours and 41 minutes.

Birthdays: Rep. Jean Schmidt, Howie Mandel, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Mangione, Shannon Brown and Anna Faris

Here is what’s in today’s Ledger …

State Of Play: Senate Democrats Look To Raise Taxes On The Very Small Businesses We Are Counting On To Create Jobs

Senate Dems Tie Payroll Tax Extension To Small Business Tax Hike. Senate Democrats introduced legislation Monday to extend and expand an expiring payroll tax cut, setting the stage for a showdown with Republicans who are almost certain to reject the Democrats’ proposal for paying for the cut. … “Republicans have said that extending the payroll tax break is a potential area of common ground,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for the House speaker, John A. Boehner, “but coupling it with a job-killing tax hike on small businesses makes no sense whatsoever.” The New York Times

Even The White House Is Ducking Questions Surrounding Senator Reid’s Tax Increase On Small Business. In Monday’s White House briefing, press secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t say if President Obama would sign into law an extension of the payroll tax cut if it didn’t include more taxes on the rich. "The president looks forward to the Senate voting on the bill that Senate Democrats are putting forward," he said. Politico

The Road Ahead: A Leading Energy Security Expert Calls Out Democrat Inaction On Developing Domestic Energy Resources and Job Creation

The Brookings Institution's Energy Security Initiative Director: Democrats Need To Get Serious About Domestic Energy Development, The Keystone Pipeline and Jobs. Let me say upfront that I have always been a Democrat. However, I also vote my conscience and have supported independent candidates. Today, energy policy is one area where I think my party is wrong.This month, the party reached a new low: The Obama administration's delay of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, in spite of its promise of an additional 750,000 barrels of oil per day and the thousands of new jobs it would create, was an inexcusable political decision unbecoming of a pragmatic leader. … The former generation of Democratic legislators would have embraced the energy opportunities before the United States today. … The previously accepted inexorable decline in U.S. oil and gas production is being reversed: New "tight oil" — resources trapped in low-porosity formations such as shale rock — could provide the country with several million barrels of oil per day in the coming decades, and the country's abundant and accessible shale gas reserves may leave us gas independent for up to a century. There also are still conventional reserves to be tapped, most notably in Alaska, where the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and the North Slope hold an abundance of hydrocarbon reserves. The Los Angeles Times

• Exploitation of these resources would have a number of benefits. Increased domestic oil production, coupled with growing imports of Canadian oil sands, would result in a reduction of non-North American oil imports, leading to a significant improvement in the country's yawning trade deficit. Increased gas production would be valuable for cleaner electricity generation (when compared with coal) and could also signal a revival of the U.S. industrial and petrochemical sectors. Further, if natural gas can be deployed in the commercial heavy-duty vehicle fleet, we would be able to reduce our oil imports dramatically. We may even be able to export gas to our allies and trading partners. … The Democratic leadership must start facing the hard truths about energy and stop proselytizing that renewable sources of energy can replace the fossil fuels currently in use. This is not to argue that the reduction of fossil fuel emissions is not an urgent priority. However, the emphasis must be on job creation and on building the 21st century energy infrastructure that will reestablish America's primacy in the world. The size of our energy resources gives us the wherewithal to make this transition. The Los Angeles Times

Former Obama Advisor Calls Opposition To The Keystone Pipeline “Naïve.” People in the U.S. opposing TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline are being “naïve,” said Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “It’s a bit naïve to think the tar sands would not be developed if they don’t build that pipeline,” said Goolsbee, speaking today in Toronto at the Economic Club of Canada. “Eventually, it’s going to be built. It may go to the Pacific, it may go through Nebraska, but it’s going to be built somewhere.” Bloomberg

The Economy: Editorial Boards Call The Latest “Jobs Created” Stimulus Numbers Into Question

Editorial: CBO Lowers Stimulus Impact, Admits In Many Cases That “Jobs Created” Weren’t Really Created Simply Shuffled Around. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Congressional Budget Office released its latest estimates of the economic effect from the Obama stimulus package, and guess what: The stimulus did less good than earlier estimates suggested. There's a big shock. … What's more, the CBO concedes that "the impact on employment suggested by [CBO] reports could be too great. Some people whose employment was attributed to ARRA might have worked on other activities in the absence of the law." In many cases, that is, the stimulus may not have "created" jobs so much as shuffled them around. This is backed up by research done by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Northern Virginia. Researchers there found that in three out of five cases, businesses receiving ARRA money hired people away from other jobs, rather than giving jobs to the unemployed. Finally, the CBO concedes that in the long run, the stimulus will be harmful because of "the resulting increase in government debt." … It might not show up in tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the pro-stimulus snow job may be the biggest ARRA-related job of all. Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Editorial: The CBO Isn’t Actually Counting Jobs. So according to the CBO formulas, the stimulus created between 0.5 million and 3.3 million jobs, but employed between 0.4 million and 2.4 million people — maybe. How can the estimate of the number of people employed vary by the populations of Vermont and New Hampshire combined? Easily. The CBO isn’t counting actual jobs. It’s estimating them based on mathematical formulas. … As Suderman reported, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last year about the CBO’s model for gauging stimulus success. He said the CBO is “repeating the same exercises we [aleady] did rather than an independent check on it.” In other words, the CBO doesn’t really provide an “independent check” on stimulus job claims. Rather, every few months it plugs new numbers into a model that assumes job growth. The questioner, seeking clarification, responded: “if the stimulus bill did not do what it was originally forecast to do, then that would not have been detected by the subsequent analysis.” Elmendorf replied: “That’s right. That’s right.” So how many jobs has the stimulus actually created? We have no idea. But it did cost $825 billion. And the CBO predicts — using models favorable to the stimulus — that its positive effects (whatever they actually are) are fading and the burden of its debt soon will begin dragging the economy down. So, happy holidays. The Union Leader

Committee Check

Regulatory Review: House Subcommittee To Hold A Hearing On The Obama Administration’s Attempt To Put A Billion Dollars In New Costs On The Trucking Industry. The pending hours of service revision will get more congressional scrutiny at a House hearing scheduled for Wednesday. The Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is planning a session titled, "The Price of Uncertainty: How Much Could DOT's Proposed Billion Dollar Service Rule Cost Consumers This Holiday Season." … The hearing is the most recent move by Republicans in Congress who see the new rule as an example of excessive government regulation. House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va., asked President Obama to withdraw the pending rewrite and stick with the current rule, saying that by doing so he can avoid adding a $1 billion regulatory burden. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and three of his Republican colleagues on the committee, told Obama in a letter that they will "aggressively oversee" new regulatory burdens. Trucking Info

Meanwhile Across The Aisle ….

Tension Runs High Among House Dems As The Fight For Franks’ Committee Spot Turns Ugly. The retirement of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has put in motion a potentially brutal fight for the top Democratic slot on the Financial Services Committee, raising sensitive issues of race, seniority and ties to a vilified financial sector. Allies of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a veteran member of the Congressional Black Caucus, are vowing “Armageddon” if her seniority does not land her the top slot. She is next in line after Frank on the panel but faces a potential challenge from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.). … Both women are close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). They are on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and Waters also is a member of the Democratic whip team. “Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi are homegirls,” Cleaver said. … Beside serving as top Democrat on the committee, Frank leaves large shoes to fill for the remaining committee members, Democrats said. “Looking at the Democratic committee roster, it’s an intellectually thin bench,” a second Democratic lobbyist said. Roll Call

Keeping Tabs

Frank’s Retirement Highlights What Many Democrats Are Saying Privately – They Cannot Win Control Of The House In 2012. House Democrats are jumping ship — suggesting a growing concern within the party that winning back the majority in 2012 will be a difficult task. … The Democratic retirements extend to the highest ranks of the party. Frank, the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, made his announcement just days after Texas Rep. Charles Gonzalez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he will not run again in 2012. … “There are very few Democrats who see the prospect of the House shifting.” He [Artur Davis] added: “I predict there will be five to 10 other senior Democrats that will announce their retirements in the coming months.” The numbers are stark: Of the nine House members who are retiring and not seeking another office, all are Democrats. Another eight Democratic members are running for different offices entirely — deciding, apparently, that their political prospects are better served in venues other than the House minority. Politico

What Do Senior Democrats Know That Nancy Pelosi Doesn’t? But in recent weeks a herd of old bulls have announced their retirements. On Monday, Barney Frank became the 17th House Democrat to announce he would not seek another term. Thanksgiving weekend saw the departure of Charlie Gonzalez on the heels of Jerry Costello, Dan Boren and Mike Ross. Is there something these old timers know that we don’t? After all, if Pelosi had a shot of taking back the House next year they would have plum positions of seniority – many of them would be committee chairmen. TIME

GOP Health Care Reforms