Democratic lawmakers and shareholder activists are pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission to require publicly traded corporations to reveal their political contributions to shareholders.
“SEC officials indicated that they could propose a new disclosure rule by the end of April, setting up a major battle with business groups that oppose the proposal and are preparing for a fierce counterattack if the agency's staff moves ahead,” The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore reports. "Earlier this month, the leaders of three of Washington's most powerful trade associations - the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable - issued a rare joint letter to the chief executives of Fortune 200 companies, encouraging them to stand against proxy resolutions and other proposals from shareholder activists demanding more disclosure of political spending." - Read more at The New York Times
FEDS TO STOP PAYDAY LOANS WITH HUGE INTEREST CHARGES The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are expected to start cracking down on short-term loans offered by banks such as Wells Fargo that are tied to checking accounts. These loans carry interest rates that can soar above 300 percent —which has caused a debt spiral of borrowers, who take out fresh loans to cover their outstanding debt. The regulators are expected to impose more stringent requirements. For example, banks will have to assess a consumer’s ability to repay the money before awarding the loan. They will also be expected to institute a mandatory cooling-off period of 30 days between loans, and they will not be able to extend a new loan until a borrower has paid off any previous ones. - Read more at The New York Times
LATEST SEQUESTER FEAR: ARMY LAYS OFF 100,000 TROOPS Military officials warned the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday that if the full 10-year sequester takes effect, the Army would be forced to shed at least 100,000 soldiers over the next decade, which would “severely and negatively impact readiness and modernization.” Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said in a prepared testimony, adding that the sequester, paired with previously planned cuts from the drawdown in Afghanistan, could cost the Army as many as 200,000 soldiers over the next 10 years. - Read more at GovExec
LOCKHEED MARTIN BLAMES WEAK SALES ON SEQUESTER Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. blamed the across-the-board sequester cuts on Tuesday for disrupting its 2013 sales forecast, and potentially costing the company $825 million. Because of sequestration, the company expects that net sales in 2013 will be at the “low end” of the range presented in January, which was between $44.5 billion and $46 billion. However, the defense contracting behemoth did pretty well in the first quarter, and reported higher earnings than Q1 2012. It made $761 million on $11.1 billion in 2013 first quarter revenue, compared with $668 million on $11.3 billion in the first quarter of last year. - Read more at GovExec
WILL TAX REFORM GET JUMPSTARTED BY BAUCUS’ RETIREMENT? That seems to be what the retiring Democratic senator and chairman of the Finance Committee thinks (and hopes). Montana Sen. Max Baucus said Tuesday that his unexpected decision to retire would allow him to focus his efforts on overhauling the tax code — a goal he shares with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-MI. However, Baucus’ goal may be an ambitious one, as Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart on taxes. Moreover, North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad tried the same strategy of retirement to focus on a budget grand bargain, only to leave office this year empty-handed.
Baucus, who has a reputation for going the opposite way of his party, most recently, voting against the Senate Democrats’ budget, has said that he wants to reach a compromise between the House GOP budget that doesn’t raise revenue. - Read more at The Hill
WALL STREET FREAKS OUT OVER FALSE TWEET When the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked yesterday, a false tweet was sent out claimingthat the president had been injured in a White House explosion sent. Wall Street erupted into a mad panic. In just minutes, $200 billion of value was erased from U.S. stock markets while the Dow Industrial Average fell 145 points, The Wall Street Journal reports. "It's frustrating and scary that a tweet can erase hundreds of billions from the market in a short time, but that's the world we live in," said R.J. Grant, associate director of equity trading at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. - Read more at The Wall Street Journal
GOP ACCUSES OBAMA OF PLAYING POLITICS WITH FURLOUGHS “Seizing on the public’s frustrations with sudden delays in the nation’s major airports, Senate Republicans on Tuesday charged the Obama administration with “manufacturing” a slowdown of airline flights by furloughing FAA traffic controllers rather than finding other savings under the sequester,” The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin writes. “Their accusation is on the heels of a lawsuit filed against the FAA by Airlines for America, the Regional Airline Association, and the Air Lines Pilot Administration International that claims furloughs were avoided during a similar sequestration in 1986.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times