This morning, the President will sign the bipartisan STOCK Act into law. This measure reached the White House thanks to the hard work and commitment of both parties to strengthen rules banning insider trading and make clear that elected officials and their staff are living under the same rules as everyone else. The STOCK Act demonstrates that we can come together and deliver results for the American people, and we should build on this momentum going forward.
Today In History: On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Birthdays: Robert Downey Jr., Craig T. Nelson, Maya Angelou, Muddy Waters, David Blaine and Heath Ledger
Here is what’s in today’s Ledger ...
State Of Play: President Obama To Sign Two Bipartisan Cantor Initiatives Into Law In Two Days – The STOCK Act Today, The JOBS Act Tomorrow
Editorial: Cantor Notches Major Legislative Successes – The STOCK Act and JOBS Act. The majority leader in the House has a lot of responsibilities, most notably the scheduling of legislation for votes. But recently House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has also been crafting high-profile bills. Earlier this year he reworked a Democratic measure that sought to ban insider trading for members of Congress. The legislation attracted some controversy, but ultimately passed the House, 417-2. President Obama is scheduled to sign the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act on Wednesday. The Hill
• Cantor’s Leadership On The JOBS Act Was Crucial To Its Passage Through Both The House and The Senate. Cantor will be at the White House the following day for the signing of bipartisan legislation that the Virginia lawmaker helped shepherd through Congress. … The president’s invitation to Cantor to the signing ceremony of the JOBS Act has been viewed as an olive branch. How long this détente lasts is anybody’s guess. But it appears that neither man will attack the other with the same ferocity that they did in 2011. In an interview with The Hill last weekend, Cantor expressed hope that the bipartisan cooperation would continue this election year, adding, “We all know there are plenty of differences between the two sides in Washington.” … It is worth noting that Senate Democrats initially balked at the JOBS Act, then backtracked after it cleared the House, 390-23. The Hill
Leader Cantor Visits The Googleplex, Discusses Innovation, Entrepreneurship and The JOBS Act. Cantor visited Google and other tech firms in advance of President Barack Obama’s expected Thursday signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which reduces securities regulations on startups and young companies as they seek easier access to capital. Cantor steered the bill through the House, which overwhelmingly voted to pass it. Cantor met with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel. He also met with executives at Google’s venture arm, Google Ventures, and some of the entrepreneurs Google Ventures has supported. In an interview after the meetings, Cantor said that he discussed the JOBS Act and other ways to help entrepreneurs. Talking to founders of startups, he said, was “validation” of the JOBS Act. But more needs to be done. “Washington has a problem embracing a sense of risk taking,” Cantor said. People he spoke to on his trip to Silicon Valley “made it loud and clear that Washington is making it more difficult for startups to succeed.” Cantor outlined other things lawmakers could do to help what he called “innovation industry,” policy areas such as highly skilled immigration visas, better access to capital, patent rights and protection of intellectual property. Politico
Small Business Groups Voice Support For JOBS Act, Say It Will Increase Economic Growth and Boost Job Creation. The Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act will do some real good for America’s entrepreneurs — our nation’s primary job creators who, with help from laws like the JOBS Act, can pull the country out of its financial stupor. The JOBS Act addresses one of small businesses’ biggest problems: a lack of access to credit. Banks' loan portfolios have been reduced by more than $47 billion since the pre-recession peak -- and that affects business owners across the country. Recent opinion polling Small Business Majority released found 90 percent of small businesses say the availability of credit is a problem, and 60 percent have faced difficulty themselves when trying to obtain loans that would grow their business. Another 61 percent of small business owners said it is harder now than it was four years ago to get a loan. The Hill
State Of Play (2): House GOP Blasts President Obama’s Inflammatory Rhetoric and His Failure To Put Forward Real Solutions Addressing Our Nation’s Budget Crisis
Chairman Ryan: The American People Will Hold President Obama Accountable For His Violation Of Trust. “Like his reckless budgets, today’s speech by President Obama is as revealing as it is disappointing: While others lead by offering real solutions, he has chosen to distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record. His empty promises are quickly becoming broken promises – and the American people will hold him accountable for this violation of their trust.” Press Release
• Ryan: President Obama Has Failed To Provide Real Solutions, His Action’s Are Below The Office Of The President. Virtually none of the claims he makes about our budget are actually true,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tells CNBC's Larry Kudlow. “He’s distorting the truth, he’s dividing the country, and he’s becoming more bitter and partisan by the day. Frankly, it’s kind of sad to see.” "This is surreal. Really bizarre," Ryan told CNBC's Larry Kudlow. CNBC
• Chairman Ryan Refutes President Obama’s Speech On Special Report: President Obama Is Distorting The Truth Fox News
Speaker Boehner: President Obama Has Recommitted Himself To The Policies That Have Made Our Nation’s Debt Crisis Worse. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Obama has “recommitted himself to policies that have made our country’s debt crisis worse.” Boehner said Ryan’s budget “makes the tough choices the president refuses to make to address the staggering deficits and debt that are slowing our economic recovery, costing jobs and threatening to destroy the American dream.” Boehner added, “House Republicans, led by Chairman Ryan, passed a responsible budget that would help put Americans back to work, protect our seniors, close President Obama’s massive budget deficits, and do ‘all of the above’ to address high gas prices. ... Republicans are committed to the budget we’ve put forward and committed to solving the serious economic and fiscal challenges our country faces. It’s time for the president to join us.” Roll Call
Leader Cantor: Mr. President, Rhetoric and Political Spin Won’t Fix The Economy Or Put A Dent In The $15 Trillion Debt. Today, the President again claimed that he wants an 'economy built to last.' But there is a reason his budget plan was rejected unanimously in the House last week, because it will result in an economy that comes in last. The President’s budget flatly ignores the drivers of our debt and calls for massive tax increases on hardworking families and small businesses to pay for more spending. … Rhetoric and political spin won’t fix the economy or put a dent in the $15 trillion debt. Press Release
Apparently There Is A Red America and Blue America: President Obama’s Outlandish Attacks On The Ryan Budget Are Precisely What Senator Obama Found Appalling. If there's a Laffer Curve for Presidential invective—some point at which dishonest political abuse yields diminishing returns—the White House political team must not think their boss has hit it. Even in this hyperpartisan age, President Obama's speech to the Associated Press yesterday was a parody of the form. … All of this is a political fable carefully constructed to erase the record of the last three years and blame every current anxiety on a GOP House that has been in office for all of 14 months. The President claims to have "eliminated dozens of programs that weren't working," but the savings from these eliminations amount to less than 0.1% of the budget, or less than $100 million. Meanwhile, the budget has grown by more than 20% since he has been President. After deficits of $1.412 trillion, $1.293 trillion, and $1.299 trillion over the last three years, and an estimated $1.326 trillion due for 2012, he still claims the deficits are all Mr. Bush's fault—except for the extra spending on Medicare, which he likes. … The last two days have revealed Mr. Obama at his least appealing—and least Presidential—first warning the Supreme Court not to dare overturn his health-care law, and now demonizing the motives of his political opposition. It is a long, long way from his "there's no red America, there's no blue America" stuff of 2004, much less the inspiration of 2008. The Wall Street Journal
The Road Ahead: 1071 Days and Counting … When Will Senate Democrats Pass A Budget?
Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Reid On Budget. The Senate’s chief referee has issued a key ruling against Majority Leader Harry Reid, POLITICO has learned — a move expected to bring unwanted election-year pressure on the Nevada Democrat to act on politically dicey budget bills. Newly appointed Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, whom Reid recommended for the job, has decided that last summer’s deal on the debt ceiling and spending caps does not preclude the Senate from taking up other budget resolutions this year. The ruling could force vulnerable Democrats to cast tough votes that hurt them in November, a situation Reid and other leaders are eager to avoid as they work to protect their fragile majority. The written opinion, shared late last week with a handful of Democratic and GOP senators, gives Republicans significantly more leverage to push for votes on budgets of their choosing. Politico
• Senate Democrats Fear Budget Votes Because It Will Result In The Unanimous Rejection Of President Obama’s Budget. But a version of President Barack Obama’s own $3.6 trillion budget proposal, which the House unanimously rejected last week, also could come to the Senate floor, ensuring an embarrassing replay of last year when not a single senator voted for the president’s budget. The MacDonough ruling essentially means any senator can place a budget proposal on the Senate calendar. Reid still controls the floor and could choose not to bring them to a vote, though the political optics of such a move could be damaging. …Democratic aides have dismissed the ruling as irrelevant, arguing that the historic debt deal already serves as a legally binding budget. And they warned that votes on resolutions would take up valuable floor time … Democrats fear going down that path. Only 51 votes are needed for the Senate to take up a budget resolution. Once that happens, senators can offer and require votes on unlimited amendments — a ritual often referred to as the budget “vote-a-rama.” Politico
VIDEO – The White House Has No Answer For Why President Obama Refuses To Call Senator Reid and Tell Him To Pass A Budget – Hot Air
Rep. Hurt Discusses The Need For President Obama To Implement A True “All Of The Above” Energy Strategy Like The Plan House Republicans Have Put Forward To Increase Domestic Supply. High fuel costs are squeezing local loggers and a Java sawmill already hurt by a slump in new home construction. Lumber demand, which is the highest it’s been in the past five years, is not the problem for the Gregory Lumber Inc. sawmill, explained co-owner John Gregory. The problem is the increased cost of production when lumber prices remain low. “If we don’t get a handle on this cost of petroleum, there’s not going to be any recovery. We can’t stand anymore,” Gregory told U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, who toured the sawmill, a logging site and the VanDerHyde Dairy’s energy-generating digester on Tuesday. … Hurt pointed to his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship crude oil from Canada and northern states to Texas, as a way of helping do that. Hurt said he supports an “all of the above” energy policy that opens domestic supply, whether it be off the coast of Virginia, the Gulf of Mexico or in Alaska. The 5th District Congressman said he routinely hears from constituents about high gas prices. “It points to the importance of us in Washington going to work and trying to create a sensible domestic energy policy,” Hurt said. Go Dan River
Audit Finds That Solyndra’s Loan Guarantee Was Rushed To Accommodate A Press Release. The U.S. Treasury Department was given one day to complete its review of the government’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra LLC, the bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer, to accommodate an Energy Department press release, according to a Treasury audit. While Treasury staff say they had enough time to review the loan, internal e-mails cast doubt on whether staff suggestions to provide a partial instead of a full guarantee were addressed by the Energy Department, the Treasury’s Inspector General’s Office said today in the report. Bloomberg