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Unemployment Ticks Down 0.2 Percentage Points In Wake Of Jobs Summit

Unemployment rate ticks down. BLS release this AM: "The unemployment rate edged down to 10.0 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-11,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. In the prior 3 months, payroll job losses had averaged 135,000 a month. In November, employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and information, while temporary help services and health care added jobs."

President tells USA Today not to expect big second stimulus, big deficit reduction: "'You've got essentially a 7 million to 8 million gap between where jobs should be for relatively full employment and where we are,' Obama said in an interview with USA TODAY and the Detroit Free Press. 'That is my greatest fear, is we don't close that gap.' Before kicking off a summit meeting on job creation, the president said the federal government can't be counted on for most of the money this time. The two-year, $787 billion economic stimulus package he signed in February won't be the model for the next round of initiatives, he said. 'It is not going to be possible for us to have a huge second stimulus, because frankly, we just don't have the money,' Obama said ... He ruled out an immediate effort to reduce the $1.4 trillion budget deficit until the economy rebounds further and the 10.2% unemployment rate begins to decline. Focusing on the deficit too soon, he said, could risk a 'double-dip recession.'"

W. Post reports on President's takeaways from jobs summit: "Obama says he does not have the money for the plan many of his liberal supporters say packs the biggest employment punch -- direct federal investment in job creation. Instead, he came close to embracing a to-do list for the private sector that sounded rather familiar: weatherization, small-business incentives, regulatory and other help for exporters, and tax credits for employers who hire new workers."

"Cash for Caulkers" appears likely. NYT: "The president said he would announce some new ideas of his own next week. One of those, he indicated when he participated in a discussion group on clean energy, would be a program of weatherization incentives for homeowners and small businesses modeled on the popular 'cash for clunkers' program ... Called 'cash for caulkers,' it would enlist contractors and home-improvement companies like Home Depot — whose chief executive was on the panel — to advertise the benefits, much as car dealers did for the clunkers trade-ins this year."

WH High-speed rail conference today. WSJ: "Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood leads conference this afternoon on domestic high-speed rail manufacturing. The conference follows up on a June roundtable at the White House with governors and Vice President Joe Biden and LaHood. Obama had released his vision for high-speed rail in April, calling for $13 billion in federal spending." Bloomberg adds: "...32 companies [are] pledging to establish U.S. rail- manufacturing operations or expand their domestic workforce if they get economic stimulus funds for high-speed passenger trains."

CQ reports on plans for House jobs bills: "House Democrats are eager to pass legislation this month to renew expanded unemployment and health care benefits programs set to expire by year’s end. These include extending a subsidy used to defray health insurance costs for laid-off workers who keep the coverage from their previous employer under a federal program known as COBRA ... House members also are considering additional funding for food stamps and a change to the child tax credit ... The House also plans to pass a bill before the end of the year that would include funding for infrastructure projects, more direct lending for small businesses still struggling to get bank loans, more aid to state and local governments, and a plan for public works hiring ... The Senate is expected to wait until next year to take up the House’s second jobs package..."

Pelosi rejects "war tax" proposal reports W. Post.

Dodd Backs Ben, Bunning Backs Sanders

Banking Chair Dodd banks Bernanke. Bloomberg: "[Dodd] backed Bernanke yesterday and said he’s likely to be confirmed by the full Senate. Dodd credited Bernanke with preventing a financial meltdown, even though the Fed’s oversight of banks leading up to the crisis was an 'abysmal failure.' ...
Dodd faulted the Fed for failing to protect consumers from predatory lending and for tolerating excessive risk-taking by banks."

GOPer joins Sen. Sanders in delaying confirmation. W. Post: "Although Sanders is not on the banking committee, another vehement critic, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), is a member and he pledged to Bernanke that he would 'do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out this process as long as I can.'"

Bernanke takes some responsibility. NYT: "'I did not anticipate a crisis of this magnitude,' Mr. Bernanke acknowledged in an occasionally contentious hearing on his nomination for a second term as Fed chairman. Mr. Bernanke volunteered that the Fed had been 'slow' in protecting consumers from high-risk mortgages during the housing bubble and that it should have forced banks to hold more capital for all the risks they were taking on. 'In the area where we had responsibility, the bank holding companies, we should have done more,' he told lawmakers. 'That is a mistake we won’t make again.'"

Wonk Room's Pat Garofalo criticized Bernanke for not committing to tackle unemployment: "Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) actually asked Bernanke about unemployment during the hearing, and while Bernanke agreed that joblessness is 'the most difficult problem that we face right now' ... he decided to not advocate more steps on the part of the Fed or to reassure Congress that he wouldn’t act to reel in fiscal expansion."

Debate over whether TARP will break even for taxpayers. LAT: "The TARP fund may break even ... on its first and biggest use of taxpayer money: investing billions -- $205 billion as of Monday -- directly in banks. Including Bank of America's expected repayment, $116 billion -- more than half -- of that amount has already come back to the government, along with about $10 billion in dividends and interest. One expert, however, predicts the TARP fund will end up as much as $150 billion in the red because of losses on additional uses that the Bush and Obama administrations found for the program's money. Totaling $270 billion so far, with commitments to spend about $160 billion more, those add-on uses include higher-risk investments in American International Group Inc., General Motors Co. and Chrysler. Little of that money has come back. The add-ons also include expenditures on incentives to boost small-business and consumer lending and to encourage mortgage firms to modify home loans."

Pelosi gets behind international financial transaction tax, WH may be coming around. Politico: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave her strongest endorsement yet of a global financial transaction fee Thursday after raising the issue directly with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a conversation this week ... Pelosi told colleagues that the secretary indicated he was more open to some such fee than had been reported."

Compromise Talks on Public Option

Senators still working on public option compromise. AP: "Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., along with Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Warner of Va., are taking the lead in crafting a compromise. The idea remains a work in progress, but the three presented the outlines Thursday evening in a private meeting with about a half-dozen other moderates ... the compromise would put a nonprofit insurance option in place only in states that didn't meet certain criteria for affordability and access. Instead of being controlled by the government, the plan could be run by a nonprofit board, and any initial government startup money would be repaid ... [Sen. Lieberman] left the meeting early and said his position hadn't altered ... Others were more optimistic ... After their meeting, some of the centrists met with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other liberals who support a government option."

FireDogLake's Jon Walker rips Sen. Landrieu's attempt at a public option compromise: "It appears Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has created the unholy grail of terrible gimmicks meant to cripple the public option. It is a several-year-delayed, triggered, state-based, non-public co-op limited to the exchange option."

Sen. Reid shrugs off Sen. Nelson abortion threat: "By noon Thursday, [Reid] had spoken three times to Nelson about the abortion issue and the public option. 'I've always found him to be a reasonable person,' Reid said. 'He's trying to build coalitions on both of those, and we'll see what happens.'"

Dems beat back bill-killing McCain amendment. W. Post: "On a vote of 58 to 42, the Senate defeated an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would have sent the bill back to committee with orders to remove the spending cuts. The amendment effectively would have forced Democrats back to the drawing board after months of negotiations to craft a measure that would extend coverage to 30 million additional Americans without increasing budget deficits ... Two Democrats, Ben Nelson of (Neb.) and James Webb (Va.), voted with all 40 Republicans to approve the amendment."

Snowe-Landrieu-Lincoln amendment would weaken state regulations. Wonk Room's Igor Volsky: "Progressives maintain that the policy would allow health insurers to circumvent critical consumer regulations and further fragment risk pools."

The Treatment's Jonathan Cohn worries about cost controls being weakened, notes WH wants to strengthen: "The president has indicated (through his advisers) that he wants to fix this. So has Senator Jay Rockefeller, who sponsored this idea in the Senate and has said he will be on the House-Senate Conference Committee hammering out a final deal. (Senate leadership has refused to comment on that.) Those are two powerful voices. But given the powerful lobbying muscle against meaningful cost control, they may not be powerful enough."

India Shifts, Graham Praises Obama on Climate

India offers emissions bid. W. Post: "...Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said India's decision to cut by 20 to 25 percent its carbon intensity -- emissions relative to the size of the economy -- will not be legally binding or subject to international verification. But he added that if India were given international aid or technology, it would be prepared to offer more at the global climate negotiations set to begin next week in Copenhagen ... The offer is a marked shift for India, which has argued that the international onus to curtail carbon dioxide emissions should be on rich, industrialized countries because their development was at the root of global warming and because they can more easily afford to act."

Senate Dem "Brown Dogs" tell Obama conditions for backing climate bill. NYT: "The senators who signed the letter are Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Begich of Alaska. All are fence-sitters on the legislation and their votes will be needed when the Senate bill comes up for debate early next year. The signers of the letter say they will support climate legislation and international efforts to combat global warming if all nations — industrialized as well as developing — are held to stringent limits on climate-altering emissions. They say that tough verification and enforcement mechanisms are necessary. They want to see trade penalties levied against nations that do not comply with any international agreement. They say that any program to transfer technology to emerging nations must contain copyright protections for intellectual property. And any treaty or bill must protect American jobs and promote low-cost solutions to environmental problems." Greenwire notes: "White House mostly agrees"

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks of common ground with President on climate. E&E PM (via Climate Progress): "...the Republican got a personal assurance from President Obama yesterday that the White House is supporting his efforts to craft a sweeping Senate energy and global warming bill. 'The president told me personally he was very open, that nuclear power would be part of the mix, that clean coal would be part of the mix, that he’s for offshore drilling in a responsible way,' Graham said today in describing his Oval Office meeting with Obama. 'But we have to have a price on carbon, an emissions standard that’s real, that’s good for the environment and good for business. And I was very pleased.'"

Sen. Kerry assures bipartisan support. Treehugger quotes: "There are definite Republican votes for this legislation right now, and we hope to grow that over the next weeks and months."

Sen. Byrd stands up to home-state coal industry. Coal Tattoo quotes dramatic statement: "...the time has come to have an open and honest dialogue about coal’s future in West Virginia ... To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say 'deal me out.' West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table ... The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy because most American voters want a healthier environment ... West Virginians can choose to anticipate change and adapt to it, or resist and be overrun by it." Climate Progress reacts: "Byrd’s vote isn’t a certainty, but I now think it likely he’ll vote to end a conservative filibuster."

ClimateWire looks at financial reform impact on cap-and-trade: "Supporters of cap and trade say work on financial reform will assure policymakers that regulation will be in place for a trillion-dollar carbon market. But as lawmakers delve into the uncertain details of how far new regulations should go and the balance between systemic risk and market innovation, questions surrounding the effectiveness of the market to regulate carbon emissions may swing momentum in the opposite direction, critics of the current climate measure say."

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