Treasury seeks comment on federal cyber insurance
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month — not that every month shouldn’t be — and the Department of the Treasury is worried about the adequacy of cyber insurance. The annual report of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), called cyber insurance “an increasingly significant risk-transfer mechanism,” but noted that: 1) cyber insurance is still less than one percent of the total property and casualty market, 2) cyber insurance premiums increased by an average of 96 percent from 2020 to 2021, and 3) the cyber insurance market is highly concentrated, with the top 25 underwriters holding nearly 85 percent of the cyber insurance market. Should the federal government play a role in insuring against cyberattacks, and if so, what should that role be? The GAO called for a full evaluation of this question in a June 2022 report, and last week Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) published a Request for Information on the issue. The FIO, with the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), wants public comments on whether a federal insurance response to “catastrophic” cyber incidents is warranted, and how that response should be structured. Comments are due on November 14.
White House marks progress on Housing Supply Action Plan
The Biden administration announced regulatory and program changes that should make it easier to build affordable housing, particularly mixed-income housing and rental housing, and should encourage more housing options near transit. Treasury and the IRS finalized the income averaging rules for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), and the IRS extended the deadlines for the LIHTC’s placed-in-service rules. The Federal Housing Finance Agency approved the expansion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Forward Commitment programs, which allow developers to secure financing to pay off construction loans once a project is approved for occupancy. The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced TIFIA 49, which allows sponsors creating transit-oriented development projects, including housing, to borrow up to 49 percent of total eligible costs.
HUD reports limited supply of small mortgages, asks for feedback on barriers
Even when lower-income homebuyers find houses they can afford, they may have trouble finding lenders willing to make mortgages that small, according to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report found that mortgage loans of $70,000 or less made up only 3.5% of home purchases in 2020. Of those loans, a disproportionate percentage are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which sets no minimum amount on mortgage loans. The fixed costs of origination and servicing make smaller mortgages less profitable for lenders, who may require additional incentives to make those loans. With the report, HUD issued a Request for Information asking for suggestions on ways to facilitate smaller mortgages through its Single Family mortgage insurance programs.
Sixth Circuit rebuffs Fannie, Freddie investors on conservatorship suit
Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against shareholders in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who had challenged the 2012 agreement giving the federal government almost all of the GSEs’ profits in exchange for government funding. The shareholders had argued that the agreement was invalid because Edward DeMarco, Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency at the time, had been serving in violation of the Constitution’s appointments clause. The Court found that DeMarco’s appointment had not been unconstitutional, but did not rule on the plaintiffs’ other argument, that FHFA’s enabling statute had unconstitutionally prohibited removal of the FHFA Director without cause, and that this prohibition caused the plaintiffs harm. The Supreme Court separately overturned that provision of the law in another case (Collins v. Yellen) last year.
McHenry announces Republicans’ capital formation agenda
Preparing for a new Congress in which Republicans might hold the majority, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) released Committee Republicans’ . The agenda summarizes seven pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening public markets, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs, and increasing opportunities for investors. The bills would reduce regulatory limits on new and small businesses, create regulatory exemptions for intermediaries, and expand investment opportunities for retail investors. McHenry and his colleagues also called for expanding the accredited investor definition and extending exemptions for emerging growth companies (EGCs).
House Republicans ask DOJ for evaluation of CBDC authority
Rep. McHenry also led ten colleagues in a , asking for a copy of the Justice Department’s “assessment of whether legislative changes would be necessary” to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The White House’s had asked DOJ to make this assessment, but the Republicans’ letter noted that this isn’t up to the executive branch: “the appropriate place for the discussion on whether authorizing legislation is necessary is in the legislative branch.” McHenry noted that Committee Republicans had emphasized, in their CBDC principles, that the Federal Reserve did not have the legal authority to issue a CBDC without Congressional authorization, and that both Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Vice Chair Lael Brainard have agreed with that assessment.
Toomey, Scott propose legislation to diversify investment savings
Under the , introduced by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), retirement plan sponsors would be able to offer employees access to a wider range of investments, as long as those investments are prudently managed and diversified. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) has introduced the bill’s House companion.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
(R-NE) will leave the Senate at the end of this year, as the leading candidate to become president of the University of Florida. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) can appoint a successor to serve until a special election in 2024, which would fill the remainder of Sasse’s term.
The Week Ahead in Washington
The federal government and GrayRobinson’s Washington office will be closed today in observation of and . Washington hosts the this week, always a welcome boost to the local limousine industry. Barring unforeseen major events, the Golden Apple will go on hiatus until Thursday, November 10, when we’ll offer an early perspective on election results.
October 11-12 offers two days of speeches and panel discussions on the state of financial technology. Speakers include Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA), and more.
October 12 at 10:00 am The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) holds an to consider changes to the rules on electronic recordkeeping requirements for broker-dealers, securities-based swap dealers, and major market participants.
October 13 at 8:30 am The White House holds a virtual Accelerating Infrastructure Summit, featuring announcements to accelerate the benefits of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Panel discussions will include White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and leaders from state and local governments, academia, industry, and trade associations.
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis on Political News
Alaska: The new Alaska Survey Research firm tested the Alaska Senate race, and we again see Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) having trouble distancing herself from challenger and fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka.
The ASR poll (9/25-27; 1,282 AK likely general election voters; online) finds Sen. Murkowski leading Ms. Tshibaka only 41-39% on the ballot test question, with Democrat Pat Chesboro attracting 17% support, and Republican Buzz Kelley garnering a 4% preference factor. Mr. Kelley has already withdrawn as an active candidate and endorsed Ms. Tshibaka, but his name remains on the ballot as one of the four finalists from the August 16th primary vote.
The Ranked Choice system then kicks in to put Sen. Murkowski well ahead in the final round. After Ms. Chesbro and Mr. Kelley are officially eliminated, Sen. Murkowski would top Ms. Tshibaka, 57-43%, once the second and third choice votes are added to the tabulation.
Arizona: A new CBS News/YouGov survey (9/30-10/4; 1,164 AZ registered voters; online) sees GOP challenger Blake Masters pulling to within three percentage points of Sen. Mark Kelly (D), 51-48%. With Masters finally running ads from his own campaign committee, and outside organizations coming into the state to further target Sen. Kelly, we can expect this race to continue its competitive pace all the way through November 8th.
Georgia: Just as the negative stories about GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s personal and family life began to appear in the media, along with his son coming forward to further the attacks, two conflicting surveys were released. The first, from Insider Advantage, a frequent Georgia pollster (10/4; 550 GA likely voters), finds Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) holding only a 47-44% lead over Mr. Walker.
Survey USA (9/30-10/4; 1,076 GA likely voters; online) has a much different take, and actually produces one of the best polls from Sen. Warnock’s perspective since late July. The S-USA ballot test gives the Senator a much larger 50-38% advantage.
With the negative publicity surrounding Walker, we can expect the Republican prospects to take a dip here during at least the next few days. Since the Georgia Senate race has trended close for most of the campaign year, and this type of story has been previously publicized about Walker, it would not be surprising to see a GOP bounce-back before election day.
Indiana: Back in August, Change Research released a survey that found Sen. Todd Young (R) ahead of Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott (D) by only a slim 45-42% margin. Most believed this survey to be an anomaly. Now, the ARW Strategies polling entity, surveying for the Indy Politics blog (9/25-26; 600 IN likely general election voters), has arrived at a similar conclusion more than a month later.
The ARW results find Sen. Young’s advantage to be only 39-37% opposite Mayor McDermott. Libertarian candidate James Sceniak accounts for 6% of the preference total with the remainder saying they are undecided.
These again are puzzling numbers since Sen. Young is not exhibiting any signs of political trouble in a state where his party consistently wins elections and is favored across the board in 2022. Chances are good we will see more attention from both sides being paid to this race as we move toward the campaign’s closing weeks.
Nebraska: Sen. Ben Sasse (R), who was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2020, announced that, once the organization’s Board of Trustees approve, he will resign his seat before the end of the year to become the University of Florida’s new president.
His leaving the Senate will mean that either outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) or presumed incoming Governor Jim Pillen (R), the University of Nebraska Regent who is heavily favored to win the gubernatorial election, will appoint a replacement. Since the current term for this seat does not expire until the beginning of 2027, the seat will go to special election in 2024 to fill the balance of the term. The seat next comes in-cycle in 2026.
Nevada: OH Predictive Insights, a frequent pollster in the southwest, released their new Nevada numbers. The survey (9/20-29; 741 NV likely general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) leading Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by a 45-43% margin. This is the sixth consecutive poll, from six individual research firms during a long September 8-29 time frame, that forecasts Mr. Laxalt with a small lead — an average of just over two percentage points.
Pennsylvania: We reported upon a trio of surveys finding Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) coming within close range of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) on the various ballot test questions. Fox News, Franklin & Marshall, and Insider Advantage found the Fetterman lead dropping to three and four percentage points.
Now, Emerson College has released their Pennsylvania statewide survey, the fourth coming to a similar conclusion within a constant time realm. The new Emerson study (9/23-26; 1,000 PA likely voters; multiple sampling techniques) sees Dr. Oz coming within the polling margin of error, trailing Mr. Fetterman by only a 45-43% count.
Redistricting: In one of the first cases on the US Supreme Court’s new term docket, oral arguments were heard for the Alabama racial gerrymandering redistricting case, which could result in a landmark ruling relating to future interpretation of the Voting Rights Act.
The state of Alabama is arguing its reasons for keeping the state’s congressional map that features one strong majority minority district. The US Government is arguing that a second minority seat can be drawn. The presentations consumed more time than usual for Supreme Court oral arguments, and now it is up to the nine Justices to craft a definitive ruling, which will be released sometime before June of next year.
In November, the high court will hear oral arguments on the North Carolina redistricting case that will lead to a definitive ruling pertaining to judicial power over the constitutional authority of state legislatures.
AK-AL: The aforementioned Alaska Survey Research poll (see Alaska Senate above) also tested the state’s at-large US House District campaign and it discovered two significant data points. First, in the ballot test of the four candidates who advanced into the general election, businessman Nick Begich III now moves ahead of former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin by two and three percentage points on the initial vote and first Ranked Choice Voting round.
The second finding is that newly elected Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) would defeat either Mr. Begich or Ms. Palin even before getting to the second Ranked Choice round. According to the ASR poll, Rep. Peltola would achieve majority support, thus winning the election, once Libertarian Chris Bye, the fourth-place finisher, is eliminated from further competition.
CO-3: Despite representing a relatively safely Republican western slope 3rd Congressional District, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) looks to have a competitive race on her hands as we begin the campaign cycle’s final weeks. Colorado-based Keating Research conducted a poll for the Adam Frisch (D) campaign (9/28-10/2; 500 CO-3 likely voters; live interview & text). The ballot test results found Rep. Boebert’s lead shrinking to 47-45%, down from Keating’s 49-42% spread detected in its July survey.
MI-8: A just released internal Cygnal poll for the Paul Junge (pronounced “Young”) campaign (9/27-30; 335 MI-8 likely voters) sees the GOP challenger, a former news anchor and 2020 congressional nominee in the former 8th District against Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing), pulling into a one-point 45-44% lead against five-term Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint).
This campaign has not gotten much national play, but the two candidates have been very active, and the party organizations are spending large amounts in eastern Michigan to deliver negative messages. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates this seat a R+1, while the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean sees a 50.8 – 46.0% spread in favor of the Democrats. This is a national under-the-radar race destined to attract more attention.
NJ-7: The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research organization conducted a congressional poll for two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill), who is again in a tight battle with former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R). In 2020, Mr. Kean held Rep. Malinowski to a 51-49% re-election win in a district that was more Democratic than the new 7th.
GQR survey (9/20-26; 500 NJ-7 likely general election voters) sees both candidates now attracting 48% of the vote. The Democratic pollster, however, also detects a partisan generic party label split of 50-45% favoring the Republicans. NJ-7 is a key Republican conversion opportunity seat.
NM-2: The Global Strategy Group, polling for the Gabe Vasquez (D) campaign, tested the NM-2 electorate to determine the state of the race featuring freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) and Mr. Vasquez, a Las Cruces City Councilman. The GSG survey (9/20-26; 500 likely NM-2 voters; live interview) sees Mr. Vasquez pulling ahead of Rep. Herrell, 45-43%.
The result is not particularly surprising in that the Democratic legislature and Governor crafted the new 2nd CD to flip. Before redistricting, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated the seat, R+14. Post-redistricting, we see a D+4 categorization. This district will still yield a close finish, and voter turnout will tell the ultimate tale.
NY-22: The Syracuse anchored 22nd District is open in the 2022 election cycle because Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, is not seeking a fifth term. Ironically, the court-drawn map actually makes this district two points more Republican than the seat the Rep. Katko consistently won.
Siena College conducted an independent poll for the Spectrum News Service (9/25-28; 453 NY-22 likely general election voters) and sees Republican technology company executive Brandon Williams jumping out to a five point, 45-40%, advantage over former Intelligence Agency analyst Francis Conole (D).
PA-17: A just released brilliant corners firm survey (polling for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; 9/18-20; 400 PA-17 likely general election voters) containing a high error rate of 4.9%, posts Democratic election law attorney and college professor Chris Deluzio to a six-point, 49-43%, lead over GOP engineer and former local elected official Jeremy Shaffer.
The open 17th District, located in the western Pittsburgh suburbs and encompasses the territory all the way to the Ohio border, is a swing district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+1. Detecting a Republican resurgence around the country after September 20th, it will be interesting to see what more recent data might show for this campaign. This region’s voting history suggests the 17th District remains a toss-up race.
Arizona: The aforementioned CBS/YouGov poll (see Arizona Senate above) also tested the Arizona Governor’s race. Here, as other pollsters routinely find, the race between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and news anchor Kari Lake (R) is extremely close. In the CBS/YouGov survey that posted Sen. Kelly to a three-point edge, the gubernatorial ballot test finds both candidates deadlocked at 49% apiece.
Nevada: OH Predictive Insights also released their new Nevada gubernatorial results. The survey (see Nevada Senate above) projects Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) running ahead of Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) by three percentage points, 45-42%, and this is the third consecutive poll that finds the GOP challenger topping the Democratic incumbent. It is clear that the closing campaign weeks will be hot ones in the Silver State.
New Mexico: After several weeks of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) developing comfortable polling leads over Republican former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, a Cygnal poll conducted for GOP Attorney General candidate Jeremy Gay (9/27-29; 400 NM likely modeled general election voters; interactive voice response system & text) sees the pair of gubernatorial candidates falling within a two-point margin, 46-44%, but still in the Governor’s favor.
The sample size for this statewide poll is low, so the error factor is relatively high. Both candidates are very active, so we can expect that the New Mexico gubernatorial contest will draw further national attention before the election cycle concludes.