Did the 'Cliff' Deal Hurt Consumer Spending?

Did the 'Cliff' Deal Hurt Consumer Spending?

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Some economists think so. And it’s not just about the end of the payroll tax holiday.  The combination of delayed tax refunds and new tax laws, courtesy of the fiscal cliff deal, could put a serious damper on consumer spending in the first quarter. That’s according to RBC Capital Markets Chief Economist Tom Porcelli, who told CNBC the tax refund delay could shave 0.2 percent off consumer spending in the quarter. Even more pessimistic is Action Economics economist Michael Englund, who expects zero growth in the first quarter. -  Read more at CNBC

DEFENSE CONTRACTORS SEEK CUSTOMERS    With the  sequester cuts continuing tothreaten the Pentagon’s budget,  major defense contractors like Northrop Grumman are already looking for new customers in other countries, such as South Korea, Japan and Canada. The Sunlight Foundation reports that Northrop Grumman is considering selling an unmanned plane, the Global Hawk, to South Korea. Jim Palmer, Northrop’s chief financial officer, said once the State Department approves the sale (which is required by law), “it could open doors for sales in additional countries.” - Read the report at The Sunlight Foundation

WARREN GOES ON WALL STREET WAR PATH     At her first Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wall Street reform, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the financial regulator turned Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, made her presence known, to say the least.  She flatly asked Wall Street regulators  to identify the last time they brought a Wall Street bank to trial, rather than settling. - Watch the hearing here

CLIMATE CHANGE AND TAXPAYER DOLLARS    The Fiscal Times' Josh Boak reports that the newest addition to the GAO’s “Risk List,” which is updated each congressional session to highlight  the greatest government risks involving  waste and mismanagement, is climate change.  Read more at The Fiscal Times

DHS SPENDING OVERSIGHT HEARING    Since the Department of Homeland Security also made the GAO’s High-Risk List, the House Committee on Homeland Security will discuss DHS’ use of taxpayer dollars. “Today, the [DHS] has a budget of almost $60 billion, employs more than 225,000 people, operates in more than 75 countries, and is the third largest federal agency,” Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC, said in a statement. “At a time when our nation stands at over $16 trillion in debt, we cannot afford the luxury of spending on programs that do not meet core mission priorities.”

The committee hearing is now underway  in the Cannon House Building. - See the hearing advisory here

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.