No Immediate Vote Shifts After New Drilling Plan
Grist’s Jonathan Hiskes assess GOP and Big Oil reaction: “The question is whether Obama’s move is getting him any Republican votes for the Senate bill, which hasn’t even been introduced yet. Nothing’s come to light yet, and environmental groups aren’t happy about the apparent pre-emptive compromise … Responses from the energy industry are fairly temperate … Says American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard, ‘We look forward to reviewing the details of the proposal, and we stand ready to work with [the administration] to make this a reality.’”
The Hill explores how drilling announcement creates points of leverage in Senate climate talks: “‘One obvious implication of today’s announcement: delaying and canceling OCS [outer continental shelf] sales gives lawmakers the opportunity to ‘”sweeten” a climate bill by restoring or accelerating sales,’ ClearView [Energy Partners] states … Something else to watch: several lawmakers that support wider offshore drilling want the Senate energy and climate bill to give coastal states a nice cut of what could be billions of dollars in leasing and royalty revenue …
Kerry, Graham and Lieberman plan to include ‘revenue sharing’ in their bill, according to Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).”
Former Bush White House official Dan Bartlett says offshore drilling won’t result in GOP support. HuffPost quotes: “I think, [Republicans] in the Congress have made a calculation that cooperating with this administration at this time is not necessary for them to pick up seats during the midterm elections. So if this is more of a legislative maneuever in order to get a broader bill on climate change, unfortunately this is going to come up short.”
Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard review mostly negative reaction from enviros: “Environmentalists are not just angry that Obama is giving away the store on oil and gas drilling, they also feel that he’s basing his decision on a dubious premise—that more drilling will enhance the nation’s energy security.”
WSJ deems Big Oil reaction cautiously optimistic: “…industry officials pointed out that Mr. Obama’s plan didn’t definitively promise new areas for drilling, but did place some areas off limits for seven years. Still, the industry was heartened by the president’s rhetorical embrace of fossil fuels, which they viewed as a change from an earlier more dismissive stance.”
Largely positive reaction from coastal Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) notes Green Energy Reporter.
NYT suggests plan details crafted with Senate climate votes in mind: “[The plan] carved out a large coastal buffer zone in the eastern gulf to mollify Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida … It also included continued access to the oil fields off the North Slope of Alaska to win the support of Alaska Senators Mark Begich, a Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican … Maine’s two Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins … strongly oppose offshore drilling, and the North Atlantic was exempted … But by opening the mid-Atlantic region, from Delaware south to Central Florida, for oil exploration, Mr. Obama angered New Jersey’s two Democratic senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez…”
NYT editorial board argues plan details crafted for sound policy reasons: “Bristol Bay will once again be completely protected, which is wonderful news. Further north in Arctic waters, the plan would allow drilling on existing leases in relatively small areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to proceed — which seemed inevitable, given legal and economic obstacles to reversing them. It would, however, postpone any further development pending the outcome of detailed scientific and environmental studies … exploratory drilling  will be allowed along the central and southern Atlantic Coast from Delaware to Florida, but, again, no new leases will be granted until the scoping process and the environmental reviews are finished.”
Washington Independent’s Mike Lillis checks in on House Dem reaction: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is … applauding President Obama’s move to expand offshore oil drilling … That’s a more forceful endorsement than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave this afternoon, though even she appears to be supportive of the drilling expansion — if only to put Republicans in the uncomfortable position of opposing a practice they’d supported so adamantly in 2008.”
Chris Bowers suggests anti-drilling groups outmatched by Obama: “…progressive groups can get as mad as they like when the Obama administration abandons them with policy moves like these. However, since President Obama is more popular among the membership of those groups then even the leaders of those groups, it is difficult for them to effectively fight back.”
New auto emission standards finalized today. The Hill: “The Transportation Department and EPA will roll out final rules Thursday that boost car and light truck fuel efficiency and create first-time auto emissions standards for carbon dioxide. Thursday’s completion of the rules has long been expected. But it will provide the White House and environmentalists a chance to sing off the same song sheet…”
Kerry-Lieberman-Graham climate bill to be introduced on Earth Day, 4/22 reports Climate Progress.
Heat On Treasury To Brand China A Currency Manipulator
Geithner highlights manufacturing base in Pittsburgh, before critical decision on China currency. W. Post:“U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner used a trip to a Pittsburgh metals factory on Wednesday to buff the image of American manufacturing ahead of a key decision on China’s currency policy, showcasing the type of heavy industry that can succeed in the United States despite stiff — and some argue unfair — competition from abroad … The loss of manufacturing jobs is central to a debate Geithner is going to have to referee April 15, when he is to rule on whether China’s policy of pegging the value of its renminbi to the dollar amounts to currency manipulation … pressure has built among members of Congress and manufacturing and business groups for Geithner to cite China for its currency policies.”
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard hopeful Geithner will act, at HuffPost: “…every day America remains in denial costs the U.S. additional manufacturing bankruptcies and unemployment. Secretary Geithner raised hopes that Treasury would end the denial when he said of China during his visit to Pittsburgh, ‘It is important that they take the steps they said they would to take their currency to a more flexible system.’”
OurFuture.org’s Natasha Chart challenges Morgan Stanley Chief Economist Stephen Roach’s defense of China: “…the worst thing Roach does here isn’t to skip right over the fact that contractionary spending practices would make the recession worse, throw more people out of work, and further depress wages. It’s that he doesn’t care, and doesn’t want his readers to care, that stagnating wages hidden by a credit bubble that covered the resulting insolvency are the whole reason we’re in this mess right now.”
Tell the White House and Treasury to brand China a currency manipulator in new Campaign for America’s Future grassroots effort.
Insurers Won’t Stop Trying To Duck Health Reform
WellPoint trying to circumvent new law limiting profiteering by insurance companies. Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky: “Consumer Reports is calling for an investigation into WellPoint in light of an electronic message the company sent ‘to investors describing how it would simply re-label administrative costs as “medical care” in response to the new health reform law.’ … regulators are going to have to be careful in how they define medical expenses…”
Chamber of Commerce pledges to help insurers wriggle out of regulations, reports HCAN’s Jason Rosenbaum: “It then jumped on board with the insurance industry’s game plan: Attempt to duck new responsibilities, which it has so far tried and failed to do surrounding the issue of covering children with pre-existing conditions. The Chamber signaled its cooperation in a letter dated March 29th from Chamber President Thomas Donohue to the Chamber Board of Directors [laying] out the insurance industry’s strategy: Work against implementation of health reform by creating as many holes in regulations as possible.”
States can begin move towards expanding Medicaid today, under new law. McClatchy: “As of April 1, states can apply for federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs to cover low-income people earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or $14,404 for an individual and $29,326.50 for a family of four. If implemented nationwide, this vast increase would bring 15 million more people into the safety-net program…”
GOP Sen. Bob Corker admits repeal won’t happen reports Matthew Yglesias.
USA Today looks at competing efforts to explain health reform benefits, and further spread lies: “[Dem Rep. Steve] Driehaus begins his event by ticking off a dozen statistics: The new law, he says, will improve coverage for 394,000 residents in his district who already have insurance. As many as 13,800 small businesses will receive a tax credit … The confusion and suspicion left in the wake of the 2,409-page law’s messy passage was apparent at [GOP Rep. Marsha] Blackburn’s event. Ken Chrestman, the owner of a security firm, says he can’t afford health insurance for his 30 employees and fears the new law will require him to do so. But it doesn’t.”
Obama to tout small biz benefits from health reform in Maine today, reports AP: “Under the plan, businesses with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000 will receive tax credits this year if they provide health care coverage to their workers. Those credits are expected to increase by 2014, with 4 million small businesses benefiting, according to the White House.”
Did Job Growth Happen In March?
March jobs report may be weaker than previously expected: “Private-sector employers shed 23,000 jobs in March, surprising economists who expected job growth last month and raising doubts that Friday’s government report on March unemployment will be as positive as hoped … The ADP [Employer Services] number does not always correlate to the government’s unemployment figures… ”
End of deadlock at National Labor Relations Board may boost union organizing. NYT: ” Since January 2008, the board has had just one Democratic member, its chairwoman, Wilma B. Liebman, and one Republican, Peter C. Schaumber. Now there will be three Democrats and one Republican. About 220 cases are pending at the board, half on important, controversial issues … For the last decade, many unions have avoided the labor board and its elections when seeking to unionize workers … This could lead them to turn more to board-supervised union elections.”
Financial Reform Roundup
Simon johnson culls quotes to suggest that Paul Volcker wants more out of financial reform: “The message yesterday and from other statements made by Mr. Volcker is clear. Our biggest banks are out of control and will not be reined in by the measures currently on the table. We need a much stronger approach to big banks – an approach that will strip government-backed banks of their ability to take crazy risks and, most likely, an approach that significantly constrains (and hopefully even reduces) their size.”
Conservative Sen. Jim Demint lambastes any attempt at a consumer financial protection agency in Politico oped: “…it should be called the ‘Anti-Consumer Bureau.’ This office will have sweeping authority to regulate most anything considered to be financial activity … This is another big-government power grab masked as ‘reform.’”
JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon whines about big banked being demonized. Naked Capitalism: ” [Dimon's] idea is 1. Big companies are key to productivity growth, ergo growth and 2. Those big companies need banks with really big balance sheets. Let’s debunk them in order…”
NY Fed releases some info about AIG deal. AP: “The New York Fed on Wednesday said what investments are held by three companies it created to buy them from Bear Stearns, AIG and AIG’s business partners. The New York Fed also revealed their current values. Wednesday’s disclosure marks a sharp reversal for the Fed … The disclosures omit all whole residential mortgages held by the Maiden Lane companies because describing them would violate borrowers’ privacy.”‘
Hedge fund managers still rolling in dough. NYT: “…top hedge fund managers rode the 2009 stock market rally to record gains, with the highest-paid 25 earning a collective $25.3 billion, according to the survey, beating the old 2007 high by a wide margin.”
WH looking at corporate pay incentives. W. Post: “…it is becoming clear that companies across a wide range of industries are paying executives in ways that officials worry will not discourage the kind of excessive short-term risk-taking that led to the financial crisis … Kenneth R. Feinberg, President Obama’s special master for compensation, wants to change pay incentives, giving executives a greater stake in the long-term performance of their firms.”
Tea Party Spills
Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert slams Fox News for trivializing violent threats against lawmakers and wonders if Fox News actually wants mob violence: “Doesn’t this kind of harassment and intimidation come with the territory, and hasn’t it always been pushed out and legitimized by mainstream media outlets? Um, not in America. But that may be changing as Fox News fuels the hate and does its best to provide cover and refuge for those supporting the intimidation campaign…”
Daily Kos’ Jed Lewsion catches the next American institution the Tea Party wants to destroy: “…[CNN's Larry] King pressed [St. Louis tea party leader Dana] Loesch, asking her if she would abolish Social Security. Loesch said she ‘absolutely’ would. [Wayne Allyn] Root echoed her, saying he ‘certainly would like to…do away with’ Social Security.”