It was a week of transitions on both the political ad economic fronts. First, the money matters.
Inflationary pressures dropped sharply in October, thanks mostly to huge declines in prices at the gas pump. At the retail level, consumer prices dropped for a second straight month ... and prices at the wholesale level fell by 1.6 percent, tying a record set five years ago. Despite the declines, it's likely the Federal Reserve will hold the line on interest rates.
Meanwhile in Washington, newly elected members of Congress got their first glimpse of the workplace. But they won't move in until January ... and many of the people they'll replace were busy this week debating spending bills. That included a controversial emergency farm aid plan that may not reach resolution until the Democrats take full control.
But this week, the debate in the Senate was over revived emergency disaster aid for fiscal year 2007. Farm state lawmakers, led by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, tried to attach nearly $5 billion in emergency farm aid to a funding measure for veterans programs.
That triggered complaints from Republicans that Democrats were trying to bust the budget.
The impasse was resolved when GOP leaders pledged to move up debate on a farm appropriations bill and allow Conrad to offer his amendment there. The debate now is scheduled for December 5th.
SLUG: Gavel or something
As for 2007 legislation, the incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees say they favor a new five-year farm bill passed next year, rather than an extension of the 2002 farm law. Even so, the lawmakers say the next farm bill likely will look very similar to existing law, with only some slight "tinkering."