Economic Daily Outlook




House Republican leaders set to break budget deal

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are ready to break a hard-fought budget deal with Democrats as they try to quell a revolt by conservatives who are insisting on deeper spending cuts ahead of the November elections.

House Republican aides said on Tuesday that House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were pressing for a modest $19 billion reduction of discretionary spending caps in this year’s Republican budget plan.



OPINION: Over-regulation dragging down capital markets, small business (Rep. Ed Royce)

If the name of the bill didn’t give it away, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act is meant to spur job creation. Instead of taking President Obama’s approach of borrow and spend, this bill takes a look at how start-up companies in the U.S. are regulated. This new look at job creation is long overdue.

Over the last decade forces have fundamentally changed the look of the global capital markets. The first comes from increased competition abroad: Europe and Asia have developed mature financial hubs that are increasingly on par with New York and Chicago. But like a coach benching his star player, the U.S. has done a lot to help the competition.

EDITORIAL: Help for Student Borrowers

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is right to take on the poorly regulated, private student lending industry. Too often, college students are lured by schools or lenders into ruinously priced loans, even when they are eligible for affordable federal loans that offer hardship deferments and broad consumer protections.

Under a new initiative, the bureau is providing one-stop shopping for complaints on billing and collection disputes, and financial institutions will have to resolve complaints within 60 days. The bureau should require lenders and schools to make the differences between loans clear, and Congress should require private lenders to contact colleges before issuing loans to determine if student borrowers are eligible for federal loans. The schools should then steer students toward the federal program.



Health-Law War Heats Up as Court Review Nears

Democrats and Republicans are reviving their competing campaigns over the health-overhaul law in advance of the Supreme Court’s review of the measure this month.

After largely avoiding the issue in the 2010 midterm elections, a handful of Democrats are extolling the law on the campaign trail and their websites. Later this week, top Obama administration officials will start traveling to events across the country to celebrate the law in conjunction with its two-year anniversary on March 23.

CBO cuts cost estimate for Obama healthcare law

The estimated net costs of expanding healthcare coverage under President Barack Obama’s landmark restructuring have been reduced by $48 billion through 2021, though fewer people would be covered under private insurance plans, a new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showed on Tuesday.

The CBO also revised its overall federal budget deficit estimates to show a $92 billion increase in the projected fiscal gap for 2012, confirming a fourth straight year of $1 trillion-plus deficits.



Obama energy chief disavows 2008 remark in favor of raising gas prices

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday disavowed his 2008 comments about increasing gas prices to European levels, remarks that Republicans have pounced on in recent weeks.

“I no longer share that view,” Chu said during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, adding that he wants to lower gas prices.



Policymakers Weigh Gathering More Data for NAEP

As many experts raise questions about the future of “the nation’s report card,” the governing board for the assessment program is exploring changes aimed at leveraging the achievement data to better inform education policy and practice.

The core idea, outlined in a report to the board, is to expand and make far greater use of the background information collected when the National Assessment of Educational Progress is given. In doing so, the report suggests, NAEP could identify factors that may differentiate high-performing states and urban districts from low performers.



Leon Panetta arrives in Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday to meet with troops, commanders and Afghan government officials just days after a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a deadly shooting spree.

The visit was planned months ago, long before the weekend slaughter that claimed the lives of 16 villagers, including women and children. But the trip propels Panetta into the center of escalating anti-American anger and sets the stage for some difficult discussions with Afghan leaders.



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