News Column

OC/DC: Will Fed chair tip her hand?

August 17, 2014

By Cathy Taylor, The Orange County Register

Aug. 17--WASHINGTON -- Those who watch interest rates, the stock market and the economy will want to keep an eye on the Federal Reserve Board's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming -- amid views of the Grand Tetons -- Thursday through Saturday.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will speak on Friday. Yellen may offer a tip-off as to whether or when the Fed plans to raise short-term interest rates, given a strengthening job market and other economic factors. So far she has favored keeping them close to zero, at least into next year. The symposium's theme is "Re-evaluating Labor Market Dynamics."

Separately, the president continues his vacation, but will be in Washington today for meetings before returning to Martha's Vineyard. The Senate and House are out until Sept. 8. Some members have been traveling during recess with congressional delegations -- Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Los Angeles, went to Israel and Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, visited Japan and will travel to the Middle East at the end of this month.

Among other upcoming events of note:

Vets' hospitals town halls

Local veterans hospitals announced a schedule for town hall meetings, which were ordered by the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald in the aftermath of passage of the veterans hospital reform law, signed by President Barack Obama this month. The law addresses excessive delays experienced by new patients and other poor management practices identified.

McDonald is requiring all VA health systems to hold the meetings before the end of September to improve communication and hear the concerns of veterans, their support organizations and others in the community.

In the L.A. area:

--VA Long Beach: Sept. 9, 5-7 p.m., 5901 E. 7th St.Long Beach, Building 165 auditorium.

--VA Greater Los Angeles: Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, Sept. 8, 12-2 p.m., 16111 Plummer St., North Hills. West Los Angeles Medical Center, Sept. 29, 12-2 p.m., 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Building 500, room 1281. Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center, Sept. 25, 12-2 p.m., 351 E. Temple St., L.A., patio, second floor.

--VA Loma Linda: Sept. 18, 2 p.m., Medical Center Auditorium, 11201 Benton St., Loma Linda.

Sen. Feinstein at Lake Tahoe

Sen. Dianne Feinstein will speak at the 18th annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Aug. 19. The summit's theme is "Drought, Wildfire and Invasive Species: Confronting the Effects of Climate Change on Lake Tahoe." The event is open to the public and begins at 10 a.m. at Tallac Historic Site, Valhalla, South Lake Tahoe.

Rep. Brad Sherman town hall

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, will host a town hall meeting for constituents on Aug. 24, 3-4:30 p.m. to discuss immigration, the Veterans Administration, foreign policy, the economy, Social Security and Medicare as well as other issues. The meeting will be held at Birmingham Community Charter High School, 17000 Haynes St., Lake Balboa, San Fernando Valley.

Job Hunters Boot Camp

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, will host her fifth annual Job Hunters Boot Camp on Aug. 29 to help jobless San Gabriel Valley residents return to the work force. The location is Metropolitan Baptist Church, 2283 North Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Signups at chu.house.gov

Export-Import Bank

The benefits of using the Export-Import Bank, an independent federal agency, were the topic of an exporter forum at Ontario City Hall last week, attended by about 90 local businesses. Three congressional representatives hosted -- Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, Mark Takano, D-Riverside, and Judy Chu.

The Ex-Im Bank is in the middle of a reauthorization battle in Washington -- its charter is set to expire September 30. Beneficiaries of the independent federal agency, which provides loans to buyers of U.S. exports and insurance to banks that finance the deals, include some of the biggest companies in the U.S., such as Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric. Critics from the business community, such as Delta Airlines, say it gives some companies an unfair advantage and would like to see reforms. Fiscal conservatives object to the agency, calling it little more than corporate welfare.

Many Democrats, meanwhile, contend the Ex-Im Bank also helps medium-size and smaller businesses, and among the most vocal defenders is Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.

The issue may or may not be addressed in September. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, has opposed Ex-Im Bank reauthorization and did not include it on a list of items House Republicans will take up in September, Reuters reported.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, just released a video on her campaign facebook page of her taking the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to help raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. She challenges other Orange County representatives to do the same.

The ALS Association reports that between July 29 and August 12, the association and its 38 chapters have received $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year.

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(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

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Source: Orange County Register (CA)


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