Obama’s Third Oval Office Address Stresses Need For Gun Control
December 07, 2015
President Obama signs five-year $305 billion highway funding bill on Friday to authorize collection of 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax and provide billions for roadway improvement projects; Obama gives third Oval Office address following last week’s mass shooting in San Bernadino, CA, calling for new gun control measures; China’s foreign exchange reserves posted third largest monthly decline on record in November, falling $87 billion.
- President Obama signed a five-year $305 billion highway funding bill on Friday, the first of such long-term spending measures approved since 2005, to formally reauthorize the collection of the 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax and to provide $205 billion for roadway improvement projects. The legislation also appropriates $48 billion for mass-transit projects and reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank until 2019. The funding also includes $70 billion in “pay-fors” to close the $16 billion annual deficit that has emerged from the reduced collection of gas taxes as motor vehicles have become more fuel efficient in recent years. The bill falls short of the president’s initial six-year $478 billion proposal, however, as he both criticized Congress for not passing an even longer term measure that promotes greater infrastructure sustainability while praising legislators for their bipartisan cooperation during the signing ceremony. The Senate passed the highway funding bill on Thursday in a vote of 83-16 while the House voted on the same day to approve the legislation in a vote of 359-65. [Hill]
- President Obama gave the third Oval Office address of his administration on Sunday following last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, calling for new gun control measures and a tightened visa application process. The president suggested no new military initiatives, even though the FBI deemed Thursday’s massacre to be an act of terror and the two alleged perpetrators had links to the Islamic State. Congressional Republicans immediately condemned Mr. Obama’s remarks as being too weak in the face of the “evolving threat” of domestic terrorism that the president outlined in his speech, but agreed that visa screening should be more stringent, though they suggested that further retaliatory action be taken in the Middle East. [WSJ]
Economic Indicators & News
- China’s foreign exchange reserves posted their third-largest monthly decline on record in November, falling $87 billion, after declining nine out of the last 11 months to stand at $3.43 trillion. The People’s Bank of China is engaged in an active currency strategy in which it is selling U.S. dollars to protect the renminbi value against further depreciation as investors sell Yuan assets to hedge themselves against the slowing of the Chinese economy. The largest decline in PBoC FOREX reserves occurred in August—the month in which the government depreciated their currency by 1.9% to promote global export competitiveness—by selling $94 billion in dollars. In part, the result has been higher U.S. treasury yields as China has flooded the market with supply. Meanwhile, the Chinese State Information Center reduced the 2016 GDP growth estimate to 6.5% with fixed asset investment at 9%, down from 15% in 2015, and exports up 1.5%, significantly below the prior year’s 6.0% target. [FT]