The markets perked up a little Wednesday morning as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that the central bank’s monetary stimulus may stay in place a little longer than expected.
In remarks to the House Financial Services Committee, Bernanke said the Fed's timetable for reducing its bond purchases is not on a "preset course" and that they could actually increase if economic data proves disappointing. Specifically, he said the Fed wants to see substantial progress in the job market before scaling back the bond purchases.
In line with his remarks last month, Bernanke said that if new economic data confirms a strengthening economy, “it would be appropriate to begin to moderate the monthly pace of purchases later this year." He added, “With unemployment still high and declining only gradually, and with inflation running below the Committee's longer-run objective, a highly accommodative monetary policy will remain appropriate for the foreseeable future." - Read Bernanke’s testimony here
IRS AUDITOR IN THE HOT SEAT Democrats on the House Committee for Government Oversight are summoning Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George back to the witness stand Thursday to question whether his audit showing that the IRS had targeted Tea Party groups left out important findings that led to weeks of controversy and GOP attacks on the White House. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, released a memo on Tuesday highlighting 15 interviews with IRS staffers and thousands of documents indicating that the agency’s targeting was not politically motivated and that the White House was not involved, The Hill reported.
Cummings accused George of not disclosing that his staff had sifted through thousands of emails and found no evidence that partisanship played a role in the IRS’ targeting of groups that were seeking tax exemptions. George, and two other IRS officials--Michael McCarthy, chief counsel for TIGTA, and Gregory Kutz, the assistant inspector general for management services and exempt organizations -- will also testify. - See the hearing advisory here
SENATE APPROVES CORDRAY, CLEARS WAY FOR OTHER CONFIRMATIONS Senate Democratic and Republican leaders struck a deal Tuesday morning that immediately led to the confirmation of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and promises the confirmation of five other Obama executive branch appointments. Cordray had been waiting nearly two years to be confirmed, and has been heading the bureau as a recess appointee. The other executive branch nominees --including Labor Secretary, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Export-Import Bank chairman, and three slots at the NLRB-- are expected to be confirmed before the August recess.
As part of the deal to avert Majority Leader Harry Reid’s threat to strip Republicans of filibuster power over executive branch nominations, President Obama was required to withdraw two of his three nominees to the NLRB--Sharon Block and Richard Griffin Jr.—who received recess appointments to the agency in January 2012. . Republicans have agreed to hold votes on two replacement nominees-- Nancy Schiffer, former associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO and Kent Hirozawa, chief counsel to the NLRB chairman—this summer - Read more at The Fiscal Times
IRS CANCELS FURLOUGHS The Internal Revenue Service’s 90,000 employees will no longer be forced to take an unpaid leave on July 22, Danny Werfel, IRS acting chief, announced Tuesday. The agency has already imposed three furlough days because of the sequester and has scheduled two more before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Werfel and officials of the National Treasury Employees Union have discussed the possibility of eliminating performance bonuses for employees in exchange for eliminating two furlough days. - Read more at GovExec