Progressive Breakfast is the morning roundup of what progressive movement members need to know to start the day.
Blizzard of Bad Econ News
AP ledes are relentless, deepening the need for a massive economic recovery plan.
“…the number of people continuing to receive government aid reached a 26-year high and large companies announced more job cuts Thursday” including AT&T and DuPont.
Retailers see sales drop in dreary November. “Sales data from the Thanksgiving weekend showed a buying binge on Black Friday … but shoppers retreated the rest of the weekend.” (George Will’s delusions notwithstanding.)
Service sector shrinks as new orders fall in Nov. “The U.S. service sector contracted dramatically in November, as employment, new orders and prices fell precipitously, hurting retailers, hotels and other industries.”
Dreaming Of A Green Stimulus
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Armando Carbonnell, in Boston Globe, expressed concern about lack of green in upcoming economic recovery plan: “A $61 billion stimulus package approved by the House of Representatives in September, but not acted on by the Senate, included $37 billion for infrastructure, with a preference for contract-ready projects – but no consideration for energy, climate, or other long-range national priorities … Instead of new highways, which often enable unsustainable land development patterns, the policy should be “fix it first” – keeping existing roads and bridges in a state of good repair. The major infrastructure projects in any stimulus package should emphasize transit – bus systems, streetcars, light rail, and inter-city rail – and moving more freight capacity to rail as well.”
NYT reports Obama may do just that: “The … green-jobs program … would probably include the weatherizing of hundreds of thousands of homes, the installation of “smart meters” to monitor and reduce home energy use, and billions of dollars in grants to state and local governments for mass transit and infrastructure projects … Congressional officials working with the Obama administration said the stimulus program was also likely to involve tax breaks or direct government subsidies for a variety of clean energy projects, including solar arrays, wind farms, advanced biofuels and technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.”
NYT indicates the green-jobs program will come before comprehensive global warming legislation to cap carbon emissions. Grist’s David Roberts worries: “right now, tackling climate change is negotiable.”
As Big 3 Return To Congress, Unions Step Up
AP: A “chilly reception” may be in store for the Big 3 automakers in Congress today.
Though the UAW took a bullet for the bosses in advance. NYT reports the “surprising move” that “members were willing to sacrifice job security provisions and financing for retiree health care”.
Jonathan Tasini at Working Life draws the line: “This IS NOT about conceding the idea that autoworkers live some ‘gold-plated’ lifestyle. If we don’t make that clear, then, the path to Wal-Mart jobs is pretty obvious. Every company will now use the rap ‘well, even auto workers are agreeing to cut their wages and benefits’…and we can’t let them do that.”
UAW Prez Ron Gettelfinger takes to the Boston Globe oped page to debunk myths, including: “The main reason our competitors in the United States have lower costs for retiree benefits is not because they don’t have union contracts; it’s because they have very few US retirees. They only started operating in this country in the early 1980s. The overwhelming majority of retirees from Toyota, Nissan, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes live in countries where universal, national health systems provide quality, affordable healthcare.”
Union-Bashing Never Goes Out Of Style…
Media Matters tries to kill the zombie lie that won’t die. Union autoworkers do not make $70/hour.
Beat The Press’ Dean Baker debunks one more anti-union myth: “The U.S. auto industry is on life-support and the [Washington] Post knows who the culprits are: the unions. It told readers that: ‘over the past three decades, they have lost ground to more agile foreign rivals that favored smaller cars built by non-unionized labor at lower wages.’ Actually, many of these cars were built in unionized factories in Japan, South Korea, and Germany. Unions didn’t keep foreign manufacturers from producing high-quality popular cars in these countries.
Yet another conservative anti-union talking point from The Next Right: Ford’s Brazil plant is more innovative than union shops in the U.S, pointing to 2007 Detroit News series.
Sorry kids. Ford’s Brazil plant is unionized too.. See Ford’s Human Rights Code of Basic Working Conditions and the companion Detroit News piece, “Labor leader’s spirit of cooperation gets job done.”
…But Next White House May Go Retro
HuffPost reports: “Obama Team Restates Strong Support” for Employee Free Choice Act, which would strengthen workers ability to choose unionization and minimize management ability to meddle.
Blog react: Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen: “sounds encouraging to me.” Down with Tyranny: “question is how hard will Obama, who was a co-sponsor of the bill, fight for it.” Tapped’s A. Serwer: “probably reassuring to labor advocates.” CTW Connect: “Obama Reaffirms Commitment.”
Earlier this week: “Why We Need EFCA,” from American Prospect’s Peter Dreier and Kelly Candaele.
Health Insurers On The Run
The private health insurance lobby, fearing real reform, score a wet-kiss headline from the Boston Globe: “Health insurers lay out a path to universal care.” Similar from WSJ.
But Health Care for America Now! smokes out the smoke and mirrors. “Step 1: Sell health insurance to healthy people. Step 2: Deny them when they get sick. Step 3: Profit!”
OurFuture.org ‘s Monica Sanchez dissects, point by point, the insurers’ scam in great detail.
W. Post previews how Obama will engage the grassroots on health care.
NYT oped from Jonathan Gruber on the economic urgency: “Given the present need to address the economic crisis, many people say the government cannot afford a big investment in health care, that these plans are going nowhere fast. But this represents a false choice, because health care reform is good for our economy.”
TNR’s Jonathan Cohn adds to Gruber: “Health care reform would help the economy in the short term–by increasing spending on medical care. It would also help the economy in the long term–by reducing spending on medical care. Pretty neat, huh?”
Joe Paduda frets about cost controls, noting we can’t rely on private insurers: “As an example, I give you Medicare Part D. After Part D … went into effect drug manufacturers raised prices by an average of 7.4%. Why? Because they knew there was a large new customer base, eager to get drugs, that was not very concerned about cost.”
WSJ’s Thomas Frank on the politics: “‘Blocking Obama’s Health Plan Is Key to the GOP’s Survival,’ proclaims the headline of a November blog post by Michael F. Cannon, the libertarian Cato Institute’s director of Health Policy Studies. His argument[:] Any kind of national medical program would be so powerfully attractive to working-class voters that it would shift the tectonic plates of the nation’s politics. Therefore, such a program must be stopped.”