Washington Daybook: The Art of Lobbying

On April 5, Aug. 1, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner hosted economists and what his office termed “thought leaders” for glittering dinners at the Treasury Department. Amid some of the department’s more than 5,000 pieces of art, John Paulson, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Paulson & Co., and others had low-key discussions that helped the administration garner and gauge support for the president’s budget policies.

President Barack Obama takes his lobbying of executives public today when he meets at the White House with the heads of General Electric, Ford, Honeywell and American Express to ask them to back his plan to impose higher taxes on the wealthy to cut the deficit and avert going over the so-called fiscal cliff. He’ll also hold his first press conference since his re-election.

It’s decision day in Congress, with House and Senate Republicans and Democrats choosing their leaders for the 113th Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announces whether she plans to relinquish her post, while independent Senator-elect Angus King of Maine decides which party he’ll caucus with.

Senior FBI officials are expected to brief the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on their handling of the Petraeus investigation, ABC News reported. Officials are expected to lay out how the case was developed and argue that there were no politics involved. The case is so critical that FBI Director Robert Mueller may attend to defend the bureau, according to the report.

Also today, a House panel holds a hearing on meningitis deaths while Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials discuss Basel III rules before the Senate Banking Committee. And the Bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission issues its annual report, calling China ‘‘the most threatening actor in cyberspace’’ as the country’s intelligence agencies and hackers use increasingly sophisticated techniques to gain access to U.S. military and defense contractor computers, according to a draft. The report, mandated by Congress, will probably recommend specific penalties to blunt China’s encroachment.

With assistance from Jim O’Connell

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