It was a busy week in Washington, highlighted of course by the President’s annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. President Obama took this opportunity to speak broadly about the challenges facing America and his hope and belief that we can rise to those challenges. Mainstream pundits from both the political right and political left hailed the speech for its lofty goals, but both were also critical that the President failed to provide details on how to accomplish the many tasks he outlined.
Sen. Mark Pryor co-sponsored legislation that will streamline the Affordable Care Act, eliminating a reporting requirement for small businesses.
Sen. John Boozman received his committee assignments. Most notably to child advocates, Sen. Boozman was placed on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. His predecessor, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chaired this committee in 2010–leading to swift passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The news was mixed this week on America’s economic recovery. Friday revealed good news with the nation’s GDP growing 3.2 percent in the final quarter of 2010 (Oct – Dec). While the number did not quite meet the expectations of many analysts, it is indeed a strong indicator because the growth was driven largely by consumer spending (up more than 4 percent–the biggest jump since 2006).
The bad news came from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). They estimate the U.S. budget deficit could reach $1.5 trillion this year, yet another ignominious record thanks to the Great Recession. James Horney with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns that these numbers should not spur deep cuts in domestic spending. Horney says such cuts could only make matters worse, especially during these early phases of economic recovery.
The Week Ahead
The House is in recess from January 31 through February 7.
Senate committees and subcommittees plan to hold their first full week of meetings this year starting Monday. You can check out the full schedule here.