Before we get to the president’s Treasury appointment, continuing Obamacare problems, and a presidential poll du jour, let’s turn our thoughts to the people of the typhoon-devastated Philippines.
My colleague, Mark Memmott, provides an update here, which includes a description of the hard-hit city of Tacloban as looking as if a “50-mile tornado” flattened everything.
Anguish caused by the deadly storm was apparent outside the country, too.
At United Nations climate talks in Poland, Philippines representative Yeb Sano, in an emotional speech that the BBC said “brought tears to the eyes of other delegates and a standing ovation,” linked the staggering devastation to a changing climate.
Sano said he would fast during the two-week conference “until progress is made.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Britain are sending warships to help with the relief effort in a country where 10,000 may be dead, and 660,000 displaced.
On the domestic front, President Obama today is expected to nominate Timothy Massad to head the commission that oversees the “complex derivatives industry.”
Massad has been in charge of the $800 billion financial bailout fund, and will succeed Gary Gensler, whose four-year term expires at the end of the year.
The Los Angeles Times reports: “The White House praised Massad for overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP, which is close to breaking even after most banks have repaid their bailouts and the Treasury has sold most of the stock it acquired in firms such as American International Group and General Motors Co. Of the $424 billion distributed in bailout funds, all but $21 billion has been repaid, according to the latest Treasury figures.”
From the Treasury to the Fed
Bloomberg’s Phil Mattingly and Robert Schmidt have a terrific look at how the White House is preparing for Senate nomination hearings of Janet Yellen, the president’s choice to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chair.
The Yellen confirmation effort, they tell us, will have all the trappings of contentious Supreme Court nomination battle. Why? Because Bernanke’s 2010 re-nomination came so close to failing.
Here’s their take:
“Voter anger and lawmaker distrust stirred by the Fed’s role in bailing out Wall Street banks less than two years earlier combined to nearly sink [Bernanke’s] bid, which required a last-minute rescue operation that involved the president himself.
“That episode helped shape the strategy now guiding the team managing Yellen’s nomination, which has adopted the playbook once reserved for contentious Supreme Court or top-level Cabinet posts, according to a dozen people involved in one or both efforts. No longer seen as a technocrat or oracle, the job of Fed chairman has been pulled into the fray of Washington’s polarized politics.”
From Confirmation Battles to Tribal Law
President Obama this morning is also scheduled to meet with Native American tribal leaders in advance of his speech Wednesday at the fifth annual Tribal Nations Conference.
In anticipation of the meeting, the AP’s Felicia Fonseca reports that a national public safety panel assessing issues on American Indian reservations has called for giving tribes more control over crime and justice on their land — including expanding their authority to prosecute non-Indians.
From Fonseca’s report: “In Palm Springs, Calif., the Law and Order Commission heard about the patchwork of legal systems imposed on tribal members. In Alaska, commissioners talked with a leader who told them each of the dozens of Native women they had met that day had been raped. In Phoenix, they heard from Navajo police who said drunken drivers often travel onto the vast reservation.
“What the commission came up with is a 324-page report that seeks to close gaps in public safety in tribal communities. The report, “Strengthening Justice for Native America: A roadmap,” will be released Tuesday, a day ahead of the White House Tribal Nations Conference. The recommendations then go to Congress and the president.”
Obamacare Problem Du Jour
The ongoing difficulties with online signup for the national health insurance exchanges have been, and continue to be, well-documented. But Reuters tells us this morning that an analysis has found that 12 state-run online exchanges that appear to be working rather well have only reached “about 3 percent” of their 2014 enrollment targets.
Reuters reports: “States with functioning exchanges have signed up 49,100 people compared with the 1.4 million people expected to be enrolled for 2014, according to the report by health care research and consultancy firm Avalere Health.
“With enrollment in the federal HealthCare.gov website serving 36 states stalled by technical failures, the weak sign-ups for functioning insurance exchanges could be due to the administration’s difficulty to promote the program as a success, Avalere said.”
And, according to the New York Times, problems with the health care website have so alarmed major health insurers, that they are pushing for a workaround that would allow them to “enroll people entitled to subsidies directly rather than through the federal system.”
The Times tells us that the White House isn’t keen on the notion: “So far, the administration has resisted the idea, partly because of concerns about giving insurance companies access to personal data. People familiar with the matter said no such modifications are planned, and even some insurers are not holding out much hope.”
And, Finally, The Poll We Know You’ve Been Waiting For
Democrat Hillary Clinton leads New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, 44 percent to 34 percent, NBC News tells us, in a national head to head matchup (hypothetical) for president (in 2016).
NBC’s Mark Murray writes that Christie runs strong with Republicans in the Northeast, but is far less popular in the rest of the country. Murray: “… pluralities of Republicans in other parts of the country prefer another GOP candidate – in the Midwest (by 35 percent to 30 percent), the South (29 percent to 27 percent) and the West (40 percent to 22 percent).”
After Christie’s “resounding re-election victory last week, 32 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents say they would vote for Christie in a GOP presidential primary, while 31 percent prefer another Republican candidate.”