Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to affect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
…But Will Dems Play Hardball?
TNR’s Noam Scheiber reports GOP-Wall St. playing defense, looking to trade semi-independent consumer agency for weaker reforms in other areas: “… Republicans seem to be settling on a strategy: Give the Democrats much of what they want on the consumer agency and bet that Democrats won’t be too picky about the rest … a chance to scale back a number of highly consequential but below-the-radar reforms … The staff of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin recently met with a variety of pro-reform groups and … encouraged them to expand their focus beyond the consumer agency to include such issues as derivatives … the administration doesn’t expect to have trouble finding one or two Republican senators to break a filibuster, even for a hawkish bill … Which means Democrats have the ability to force Wall Street to move their way … The only question is whether they use it.”
Politico paints different picture, Dems divided over strategy, GOP ready to oppose strong reform: “There’s no clear agreement between the White House and top Democrats on Capitol Hill over whether to push an aggressive, sweeping Wall Street reform bill and effectively dare the Republicans to filibuster it, or whether to push for a more modest bipartisan compromise bill … some senior Republicans are preparing for the possibility of another big battle on the floor, arguing that Dodd’s bill is nothing more than just another government takeover that would lead to more bailouts of big banks.”
NYT’s Paul Krugman argues Dodd bill fall short on regulating financial markets: “…what the legislation needs are explicit rules, rules that would force action even by regulators who don’t especially want to do their jobs. There should, for example, be a preset maximum level of allowable leverage … There should be hard rules determining when regulators have to seize a troubled financial firm. There should be no-exception rules requiring that complex financial derivatives be traded transparently.”
Baseline Scenario’s Simon Johnson challenges Larry Summers’ assertions on Dodd bill: “Larry Summers is incorrect on three important dimensions of the Dodd legislation: it doesn’t ‘insist institutions have much more’ capital requirements, it doesn’t ‘restrict proprietary trading activities in any meaningful fashion,’ and it doesn’t ‘eliminate the prospect’ of a bailout.”
Krugman rips Alan Greenspan for failing to take any responsibility in latest economic paper: “…Greenspan’s whole defense now is that nobody saw it. But there were an awful lot of nobodies — Dean Baker, Bob Shiller, Calculated Risk, and yes, yours truly. What’s probably true is that nobody Greenspan talked to regularly saw i Greenspan insulated himself from people who told him what he didn’t want to hear. And here he is, still lecturing us on responsible policy.”
Robert Reich also calls out Greenspan: ” In the [ABC's 'This Week'] interview he just completed he avoiding saying anything about the failure of the Fed under his watch to adequately oversee the banks, and the absence of sufficient financial regulation to begin with …
Resistance to Obama plan for TARP money to aid small business lending. W. Post: “… the administration in January proposed taking $30 billion from the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program and offering that money to banks that lend to small businesses … Some Democrats prefer to expand SBA programs rather than use bailout money … Republicans … say that any money leftover in the TARP should go toward the reduction of the nation’s deficit … bank lobbyists are pressing the administration to open the aid program to weak banks. But administration officials do not want to turn it into a bailout.”
Will China Move After Treasury Delays Currency Report?
After delaying currency report, Treasury turns to international diplomacy to rein in China. Bloomberg: “[Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner]said a series of meetings over the next three months will be ‘critical’ to bringing policy changes that lead to a stronger, ‘more balanced’ global economy … The move will give China space to relax currency controls ‘without looking like they’re kowtowing to U.S. pressure,’ said David Gilmore, a partner at Foreign Exchange Analytics … Gilmore said China may allow the yuan to appreciate in a ‘moderate’ way within weeks. He said the options probably include widening the current peg’s trading band or returning to the July 2008 policy of a ‘crawling peg’ that allowed for 5 percent annual appreciation.”
Naked Capitalism pessimistic China will make significant moves without international pressure: “…the US has made a tactical error: China’s cheap currency is a problem for not just the US, but for the EU, India, and other countries. This should be a multi-lateral, not a bi-lateral discussion….are we going to see a timetable on remnimbi appreciation (and I mean more than a token two or three percent, or maybe a further widening of the ‘dirty float’ band)? … I would not hold my breath here.”
Schumer-Graham legislation to pressure China still on the table. Bloomberg: “…’we have lost faith in bilateral negotiations on this issue.’ [said Sen. Chuck Schumer, who] last month introduced legislation to require the Treasury to determine if a nation had a currency misaligned with the dollar and make it easier to respond by imposing import duties … [He said] he intended to push forward with his legislation.”
Bloomberg’s Al Hunt crudely attacks unions, argues for no more changes to pending trade deals: “Mr. Obama says he wants to push ahead with the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian trade accords as soon as a few ‘glitches’ or ‘kinks’ are resolved. The real ‘glitches’ are U.S. unions, which are major Obama political supporters … The ‘kinks’ are congressional Democrats…”
Climate Bill By July 4?
NYT’s John Harwood checks in on prospects for Senate climate bill: “…some White House strategists have long assumed that ‘cap and trade’ could not clear Congress before the 2010 elections. Yet the idea has proved surprisingly resilient … Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham hope for passage by July 4 … ‘There’s a path to five or six Republicans,’ said [WH climate aide] Carol M. Browner … Among the prospects: moderate Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine; Mr. Kerry’s Massachusetts colleague, Scott Brown; and George LeMieux of Florida, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.”
W. Post edit board demands a price on carbon in any bill: “There is pressure in the Senate to forget about pricing carbon and just pass a bill filled with clean-energy subsidies. That would be both wasteful and inadequate given the scale of reductions needed … the question legislators should be asking is not whether to put a price on carbon. It’s how to do it best.”
EPA soliciting public comment on whether Clean Water Act’s mandate to protect oceans can be used to fight climate change. McClatchy: “[Deputy Director Suzanne] Schwartz said the agency was looking to see whether there were more efficient ways to deal with ocean acidification than using the Clean Water Act. She also said the cleanup mechanism used in the act — controlling total daily maximum loads of pollutants — was aimed more at single sources of pollution than at a broader swath … The public comment period lasts 60 days. Schwartz said the EPA should reach some conclusions by November.”
Bloomberg explores how health reform law will quickly benefit young and uninsured: “Fourteen million Americans ages 19 to 29 were uninsured in 2008, the largest group among the 46 million without coverage … The expanded benefits, effective next year, will help people seeking their first jobs, those working for firms that don’t offer insurance and risk-takers starting their own business … The legislation leaves it to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to define what ‘dependent’ means, as well as whether and how employers can charge extra for the benefit…”
HuffPost’s Robert Kuttner slams upcoming Peterson Foundation “fiscal summit” for shutting out alternate views: “This is billed as a ‘national dialogue on solving America’s fiscal challenges,’ but spare me. This is a propaganda event. For the most part, the featured speakers follow the Peterson line. John Podesta, the closest thing to a liberal playing a headliner role, accepts that there is a serious deficit problem, but would entertain a value-added tax as part of the remedy. But the speakers’ list is clearly stacked and there is no one to Podesta’s left.”
Arkansas Democratic primary may be test of progressive populism in South. W. Post: “[Lt. Gov. Bill] Halter is criticizing Lincoln’s record. He points to her vote for the bank bailout and her opposition to … cap-and-trade … [Sen. Blanche] Lincoln has run television advertisements embracing her experience in Washington … She cited wasted tax dollars as the reason she voted against ‘more money for Wall Street,’ the public option, and cap-and-trade.”
The American Prospect’s Peter Dreier reviews lessons progressives can learn from the health care battle to better pressure Washington: “We do not yet have a comprehensive, federated progressive movement with the capacity to be effective, flexible, and agile in forging coalitions, prioritizing issues, allocating staff, and winning victories in different issue areas that build on each other rather than compete with one another for the attention of the public and elected officials. This is what distinguishes ‘issue campaigns’ from ‘social movements.’ But the experience of HCAN suggests that we have a good beginning.”