December Unemployment 9.4%

On Friday, the Labor Department announced that the United States economy ended the year with 9.4% unemployment in December. The agency also revised estimates from October and November saying that 210,000 jobs were created in October instead of 172,000 and 71,000 in November, instead of 39,000.

Obama Appoints Daley, Sperling To Key Posts

On Thursday, President Obama announced that William Daley will serve as his new chief of staff. Daley is the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration and brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Daley replaces interim chief of staff Pete Rouse, who will become a Counselor to the President. Rouse replaced Rahm Emanuel, who stepped down to make a run for mayor of Chicago. On Friday, President Barack Obama also announced that Gene Sperling will be the new Director of the National Economic Council replacing Larry Summers. Sperling had previously served as Counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and National Economic Adviser for President Clinton.

Tax Reform Debate Gains Steam

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate Finance Committee would hold hearings on tax reform in the near future. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) followed Reid’s comment by saying that he also welcomed discussions about how to improve the country’s tax code. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also said that tax reform was one issue that he believes could garner bipartisan support and hopes the President addresses it in the State of the Union at the end of the month. While tax reform was initially thought to be a second or third tier issue, it could now become the next big issue for Congress to tackle this year after the debate on raising the national debt ceiling.

Holly Petraeus to Head Military Families Office at CFPB

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced that Holly Petraeus, the wife of General David Petraeus, will head up the creation of the Office of Servicemember Affairs within the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She most recently worked as director of the Better Business Bureau Military Line, which works alongside the Defense Department to advocate for military families and educate them on consumer issues. The new office she will help establish within the CFPB was created by the financial overhaul bill signed into law in July and will focus on educating military families about financial issues.

Geithner Warns Republicans on Looming Debt Ceiling Increase

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner sent a letter aimed at the new House Republican majority saying that the national debt could hit the legal limit on borrowing as soon as March 31, and he urged quick action to avoid a government default. Geithner said the national debt stands at $13.95 trillion – $335 billion short of the limit on borrowing that Congress set last year. Newly elected House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) said Wednesday that default must be avoided, but he said Republicans would demand deep spending cuts and budget reforms in exchange for raising the limit on borrowing.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters that he views the debate over the debt limit as “an opportunity, actually, for us to come together and make some significant strides toward beginning to reduce our spending and debt.”

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