The president’s nominee for Treasury secretary and former chief of staff, Jack Lew, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee at his confirmation hearing today. From the budget to investment funds in the Cayman Islands, we’ll keep you up to date at The Fiscal Times… in the meantime visit the Committee’s site for testimony and more information here
EXPECT THINGS TO GET PERSONAL FOR LEW Though he’s likely to be confirmed, Lew is expected to get hammered over his time spent at Citigroup, where he received a $940,000 bonus in January of 2009, right before the bank was bailed out by taxpayers. He’ll also likely face scrutiny over a reported $56,000 offshore investment in the Cayman Islands, which could get awkward, since the White House and Senate Democrats are pushing hard to close offshore tax loopholes. - Read more at The Hill
LEW WILL DENOUNCE SEQUESTER Remember that package of across-the-board cuts the White House signed off on during the Budget Control Act of 2011? Well, the former White House chief of staff is about to denounce the cuts as harmful and damaging to the slowly recovering economy while testifying before the Senate Finance Committee today, Politico reports. "We ... have to avoid doing anything to degrade our national security or derail the economic recovery through abrupt moves in the short term. That is why we cannot allow the series of harmful automatic spending cuts known as the sequester to go into effect on March 1." - See Lew’s testimony here
TROOPS GONE, U.S. DOLLARS STAY IN AFGHANISTAN? Last night during his State of the Union address, the president vowed to withdraw half of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2014, as the drawdown begins, but if President Obama doesn’t want to completely undo the progress that was made during the past 12 years in Afghanistan, it’s going to cost the United States billions of dollars.
The Fiscal Times’ David Francis reports that Afghanistan is set to completely collapse without significant U.S. funding… “International donors are responsible for $33.7 billion, or 95 percent of all of the Afghan military’s funding, with the United States providing $32.4 billion or 91 percent of that total. Without that money, Afghanistan is in danger of returning to the lawless state it was before the 2001 war began.” The question—is this an endless supply of Benjamins? Read more at The Fiscal Times
OBAMA’S SURPRISE MINIMUM WAGE PUSH President Obama's call last night to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour was the most popular moment in the Twittosphere last night during President Obama’s State of the Union address, with 24,000 tweets sent per minute, according to Twitter Government.
The push to raise the minimum wage was one of the few surprises packed in the president’s speech and will likely spur another partisan battle in Washington. The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin reports “the federal minimum wage… is currently $7.25 an hour and hasn't been raised since July 2009. While Democrats, organized labor and liberal advocacy groups have long argued that a higher minimum wage is essential to keeping America’s workers out of poverty and increasing consumer purchasing power, business groups and their Republican allies in Congress insist that a higher minimum wage would discourage employers from expanding and hiring more workers.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
THE SIP THAT LAUNCHED A MILLION TWEETS Sen. Marco Rubio obeyed his thirst when giving the official Republican response to the president’s address last night. And the Internet won’t let us forget it. When the Florida senator awkwardly interrupted his speech and lunged to take a sip from a tiny bottle of water, Tweeters, pundits and bloggers wasted no time in launching easily the most notable gif of the evening and sent a record setting 9,200 Tweets per minute during the GOP response, according to Twitter Government. The response was so great, even Rubio had to join in on the fun.