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ANR: Congress Gets Coal in Their Stocking; Deloitte Gets More Work Despite Being on California’s Naughty List; New FAF Trustees | 12.26.12

Programming note: We're posting on a light schedule this week — morning roundups, any significant breaking news and the occasional year-end list to remind you how fun 2012 was. We still want to hear from you, so email us if you get a last-minute inventory count assignment in Fargo or if you're having trouble mentally preparing for the upcoming busy season.

Budget Talks Cloud Outlook [WSJ]
Washington's budget gridlock is unsettling consumers and businesses, raising the risks that economic growth would be hurt next year no matter what Congress does in the coming days. Lawmakers returning to town this week will see whether they can agree on a plan to avoid the full brunt of the fiscal cliff, the combined $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin next week. Little if any progress was made in the talks before Congress and President Barack Obama left town last Friday for Christmas. The president plans to leave his vacation in Hawaii late Wednesday night, returning to Washington on Thursday, the White House said. Aides in both parties say they expect a potential solution to start taking shape by the end of the week. But with so little time, hopes are dimming for anything other than a partial agreement, which would prolong the uncertainty and leave in place some tax or spending measures that act as a serious drag on the weak recovery. This could even trigger another recession, exacerbating the global economic slowdown. "We're all sitting on the sidelines right now wondering what's going to happen to us," said John Odland, chief financial officer at MacMillan-Piper Inc., a freight-transport firm in Seattle. "A lot of my contemporaries are feeling the same way, saying, 'Let's just wait and see what these knuckleheads do.' "

Grand Bargain Shrinks as Congress Nears U.S. Budget Deadline [Bloomberg]

Five days before a deadline that would trigger more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that could cause a U.S. recession, Congress will return Dec. 27 amid calls for action in the Senate. The politics of progress there are easier than in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which balked last week at Speaker John Boehner’s plan for tax increases on income above $1 million. Still, the House would have to sign off next. Boehner and President Barack Obama have been unable to agree on the tax-rate increase on top earners Obama wants or the cuts to entitlement programs that Boehner sought, complicating the chances of getting a package done. “At this point, all they’re looking for is a fig leaf,” said Stan Collender, a former staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House and Senate Budget committees who is now at Qorvis Communications in Washington. “There’s no grand bargain. There never was.”
Starbucks to use cups to send 'fiscal cliff' message to lawmakers [Reuters]
Starbucks Corp will use its ubiquitous coffee cups to tell U.S. lawmakers to come up with a deal to avoid going over the "fiscal cliff" and triggering automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Chief Executive Howard Schultz is urging workers in Starbucks' roughly 120 Washington-area shops to write "come together" on customers' cups on Thursday and Friday, as U.S. President Barack Obama and lawmakers return to work and attempt to revive fiscal cliff negotiations that collapsed before the Christmas holiday.

Despite string of problem projects, firm continues to win state work [LAT]
Deloitte Consulting and affiliated groups spend heavily on lobbying, and the firm has won more than $540 million in state contracts. Many projects have been plagued by cost overruns and defects. […] The company, its affiliated firms, employees and a political action committee they formed have spent nearly $2.2 million on lobbying, campaign contributions and gifts to officials in the last 10 years. Over the last two years, the company has spent more on influencing legislators than any other competing firm in its field. Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal said problems on projects were often the result of costly design changes by state agencies. "Because of the quality of Deloitte's work, the expertise of our people and the value of our services," he said, the company is asked "to provide additional features and services beyond the scope of our original contract." He said the firm has met the requirements of its various contracts and helped California "deliver higher-quality services at lower cost to taxpayers."

Q&A: KPMG’s New India Head Dreams Big [IRL/WSJ]
WSJ: Where is KPMG’s future business going to come from? Mr. Rekhy: The future will be consulting. In India 50% of the revenue comes from advisory work and I expect that to grow.

PricewaterhouseCoopers names market managing partner [Crain's]
Ray Telang replaces Dave Breen the firm's newest exercise facility.

GOP: We'll Accept Higher Taxes If President Obama Gives Us His Dog [The Onion]
Not entirely unbelievable.

Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Tough Mudder [ATL]
A former tax lawyer is now the Chief Creative Officer of Tough Mudder. 

Not a Good Year for IFRS Adoption in the US [AWEB]
Understatement of the day.

FAF names 3 new trustees [JofA]
Hopefully, Charles Cox, John Dugan, and Teri List-Stoll don't have any recent skeletons.

Boiling Water Turns Into Snow In Siberia [YouTube]

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