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.
Vote Delayed To Provide State Aid, Save Jobs
State aid package delayed after CBO score. The Hill: “Senate Democrats’ proposal included budget numbers that were part of a CBO score of a previous House measure, but those costs had since changed, [Sen. Maj. Leader Harry] Reid said … Reid said the Senate would hold a procedural vote on Wednesday on a new amendment that had ‘technical corrections’ and was fully paid for.”
State aid struggle a preview of budget cuts to come. Politico: ” Senate Democrats are quietly conceding that Republicans have already won and big swaths of President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget will be cut when Congress returns after its summer recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled Monday that he sees the handwriting on the wall and Appropriations Committee Democrats will have to cap spending bills at about $1.108 trillion — or $20 billion below the president’s request.”
Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo tallies up the expected teacher layoffs in states represented by conservative Senators: “…here are eleven Republican senators whose states are facing at least 2,000 teacher layoffs for the 2010 school year, and therefore should be especially supportive of the funding.”
Geithner pens NYT oped, “Welcome To The Recovery,” touting success, calling for more: “While the economy has a long way to go before reaching its full potential, last week’s data on economic growth show that large parts of the private sector continue to strengthen … to reinforce the recovery … Congress should move now to help small business, to assist states in keeping teachers in the classroom, to increase investments in public infrastructure, to promote clean energy and to increase exports. And while making smart, targeted investments in our future, we must also cut the deficit over the next few years…”
Bernanke strikes optimistic note, signals no change in Fed policy next week. NYT: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said rising wages would probably spur household spending in the next few quarters…” Bloomberg adds: “‘The only thing that could push the committee to ease, or a signal that tightening is even further off, might be a worse- than-expected employment report’ [former Fed governor Larry Meyer] said.”
Economist’s View’s Tim Duy tries to sift through the Fed-speak: “The weak GDP report should, on the margin, push the Fed toward further easing. But Bernanke’s speech today, like his testimony on two weeks ago, did not indicate much of a push at all. And a credibly sized contingent of policymakers appear to be dead set against additional easing. On the other side, you see chatter, largely anonymously sourced, about additional easing policies the Fed could pursue. Is this contingent trying to manipulate expectations to push the Fed into additional action?”
NYT spotlights the plight of the “99ers” who still can’t find work after their 99 weeks of extended jobless aid expires: “In June, with long-term unemployment at record levels, about 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more … Not all of them received unemployment benefits, but for many of those who did, the modest payments were a lifeline that enabled them to maintain at least a veneer of normalcy, keeping a roof over their heads, putting gas in their cars, paying electric and phone bills. Without the checks, many … are beginning to tumble over the economic cliff.”
Big jump in unemployed from outsourced industries enrolling in career transition program. Stateline: “The number of laid-off workers covered by the program ballooned to nearly 200,000, about twice the number covered in previous years … Some critics of the trade adjustment program argue that job creation, not retraining, is the answer to the nation’s unemployment problem … The majority of participants do find work, although not everyone lands a job the day they graduate.”
Oil Spill Deal In Works
Oil spill bill still expected to be filibustered tomorrow. The Hill: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are seeking an agreement allowing debate and votes for both a Democratic proposal and a Republican alternative, Reid said Monday. Each of the two plans would require the support of at least 60 senators, a threshold neither is expected to meet.”
Right-leaning Dems working on their own oil spill bill. The Hill: “Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said Monday that it would address setting aside revenue from oil and gas production in federal waters for states with production off their coasts. It also seeks to end a stalemate over how much to increase the current $75 million liability limit oil companies face for offshore spills, and could alter the Obama administration’s temporary ban on deepwater drilling.
Energy Dept.’s Kristina M. Johnson touts 200 small businesses receiving grants “to develop clean energy technologies that have the potential to be commercialized”: “The 201 small businesses selected today, which include $73 million in Recovery Act investments, are now among many past … recipients who have successfully scaled their innovations to market … A123 Systems has grown into a leading manufacturer of cutting-edge lithium-ion batteries and is now expanding its manufacturing base in Michigan … Amonix, is growing its concentrating PV manufacturing capacity in Nevada, which is expected to employ hundreds of workers.”
New spill data raises concerns initial response was too slow. McClatchy: “…the government Monday said that 10 to 12 times the amount of oil had been flowing from the well than it originally thought … The new estimates raise questions about whether the early response ever anticipated the disaster’s actual size and scope.”
EPA defends dispersant use in the Gulf. The Hill: “…test results … show mixtures of dispersants and oil are generally no more toxic to two aquatic species than oil alone.” HuffPost’s Dan Froomkin raises questions: “… the experiment doesn’t resolve concerns about long term effects — or even medium-term effects.”
Survey of Gulf Coast residents finds financial, physical and mental toll. NYT: “One in five reported that their household income had dropped since the spill … Those who had been exposed [to oil] were more than twice as likely to report that their children had developed physical or mental health problems since the spill … It is not clear how much money is available to pay for mental health treatment for parents and children. Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the BP claims process, has said mental health claims will not be covered. BP is considering requests from Mississippi and Louisiana for $39 million to cover mental health treatment through October 2011.”
BP still delaying claims, reports ProPublica: “The frustration caused by the delays is compounded because BP is not explaining the situation to claimants. Instead, claimants describe a pattern of unreturned phone calls, frequent switches of the adjuster handling their claim, and requests for more documentation.”
Attention right-wing nuclear power lovers: no climate bill means no nukes. TNR’s Brad Plumer: “…utilities are taking risks investing in clean alternatives like nuclear or solar unless they know exactly when the carbon cap will take effect. As a result, there’s a lot of stalled investment in the power sector right now … Even federal loan guarantees for nuclear projects … might not be enough to salvage the [Maryland][ Calvert Cliffs project. Government subsidies just don't pack the same punch as a market price on carbon pollution."
Obama reassures international community US will meet greenhouse gas targets. AP: "U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing told a climate conference in Bonn, Germany, that Washington is not backing away from President Obama's pledge to cut emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels. Pershing said that legislation is the preferred way to control greenhouse gases but that the administration 'will use all the tools available' to reach its target."
Change.org's Jess Leber sets Rush Limbaugh straight on the Chevy Volt: "About 10,000 Volts will be for sale this fall, but unfortunately the wait list is already long … With these huge cash incentives from Obama (not to mention the whole bailout deal), it looks like Detroit has actually come around. Rush Limbaugh -- being the proud owner of a German luxury car -- can't be expected to understand any of that, can he?"
TNR's Jonathan Cohn adds: "Of course, the $41,000 sticker price is still high … But that figure is misleading in a few respects. GM is offering three year leases of the vehicle at $350. That's the same as the lease rate on Leaf and it is competitive with many other cars. Also, this is merely the first generation Volt … Consumer Reports gave the Volt a test drive last month and liked what it saw …"
Warren on Short List, Bair Out
FDIC's Sheila Bair not interested in running consumer protection agency, Warren on short-list. Bloomberg: "Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair has taken herself out of the running … after her name was put forward by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said. President Barack Obama probably will choose Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren or Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr to run the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection…"
Geithner sells Wall Street reform to Wall Street. W. Post: "His central message: Far-reaching financial regulations signed into law by President Obama last month aren't something to fear. Rather, they are the foundation of a stronger economy for the months and years ahead."
Health Insurers Plan Massive Election Push
Health insurers plan to funnel cash into political campaigns. Bloomberg: "Senior government-relations staff from UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Humana Inc., Aetna Inc. and Cigna Corp. have been meeting for at least two months to discuss the plan, which may include creation of a $20 million war chest … The strategy sessions mark the first major public split from within the [insurance industry] trade group, known as AHIP, over how to address the overhaul … The election push will be bipartisan, aimed at giving the industry cover from critics who might otherwise say insurers are favoring Republicans, said one of the people. The Democrats it supports will be those who backed provisions favored by insurers during the health debate…”
Health care reform will immediate save Medicare $8B this year, $575B over 10 years. AP: “The new health overhaul law will start producing savings for Medicare right away and, over time, will add 12 years of solvency to the program’s giant trust fund for inpatient care…”
Bush-appointed judge allows right-wing constitutional challenge to health care law to proceed. W. Post: “Supporters downplayed [Judge Henry] Hudson’s opinion Monday as merely a preliminary and procedural step in a case that will probably last several years and ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.”
MO primary ballot today includes non-binding anti-health care law referendum. Time: “Opponents of Prop C — those who support the insurance mandate — have been frustrated by the lack of a vigorous campaign to defeat it. Apart from a mass mailing by the Missouri Hospital Association, no organized effort existed until a few weeks ago when three 19-year-olds started a Facebook campaign.”
Obama administration in delicate dance with health insurers to implement law with minimal bumps. NYT: “Administration officials are eager to demonstrate and deliver what they see as the benefits of the new law. But… they do not want to destabilize or disrupt the existing market in a way that makes insurance less available or more expensive to consumers.”
Conservative Fiscal Nonsense
“Digby urges Dems to aggressively challenge GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal nonsense: “…wacky GOP ideas have a way of becoming mainstream in a fairly short period of time, particularly when they are pushed by the so-called ‘intellectuals’ of the conservative movement who are embraced by the establishment as Very Serious People … The bigger question is why the Democratic party is so completely useless in dealing with this kind of nonsense.”
OurFuture.org’s Zach Carter sees Rep. Ryan as “clueless” on jobs and the economy: “Ryan makes an aggressive push to claim that the U.S. budget deficit is a terrible, terrible problem that puts the economy in grave danger. The only way to deal with this, he says, is through drastic cuts in government spending. But it’s impossible for the budget deficit to be a dire problem when Treasury securities to carry ‘no-risk.’ If the budget deficit was a big deal, Treasury securities would be extremely risky.”
Ezra Klein simplifies the fiscal fantasies of the right: “The issue isn’t that conservatives don’t care about the deficit. … The issue is that they care about tax cuts and defense spending more … When Democrats get into power and want to do things that aren’t cutting taxes or invading other countries, Republicans tend to prefer reducing the deficit to doing whatever it is that Democrats want to do … the best way to ensure they remain concerned about deficits is to keep them from holding power.”
W. Post’s Anne Applebaum challenges Republicans to admit they’ve been reckless spenders:: “You cannot pretend that the Republican Party has not supported big and wasteful spending programs — energy subsidies, farm subsidies, unnecessary homeland security projects, profligate defense contracts, you name it — for the past decade. Before the GOP can have credibility on any spending issues whatsoever, Republican leaders need to speak frankly about the mistakes of the past.”
Robert Reich explores our tax history to prove we can’t keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy if we want economic growth: “During almost three decades spanning 1951 to 1980, when America’s top marginal tax rate was between 70 and 92 percent, the nation’s average annual growth was 3.7 percent. But between 1983 and start of the Great Recession, when the top rate was far lower — ranging between 35 and 39 percent — the economy grew an average of just 3 percent per year. Supply-siders are fond of claiming that Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cuts caused the 1980s economic boom. In fact, that boom followed Reagan’s 1982 tax increase. The 1990s boom likewise was not the result of a tax cut; it came in the wake of Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increase.”
Will Far Right Blow It For Republicans In November?
Prof. Alan Abramowitz, in The American Prospect, finds conservative incumbents fare worse than liberals:: “…Republican incumbents, conservatism had a significant negative influence on electoral support. A 10 percent increase in conservatism was associated with a decline of about 1 percentage point in the incumbent’s vote. … Having a strongly liberal voting record neither helped nor hurt Democratic incumbents … the evidence from two decades worth of Senate races involving Republican incumbents does raise serious doubts about the ‘move right and win’ theory.”
Consortium News’ Don Monkerud catalogs the deep pockets funding the faux populist tea party movement: “Current attempts to revive that Boston Tea Party of 1773 are marketing gimmicks to masquerade conservative forces bent on defeating Obama and destroying any attempt to reform the present gridlock political system.”
Goldman Sachs promises not to fund campaign ads. NYT: “[NYC Public Advocate Bill] de Blasio hailed Goldman’s pledge as game-changing and, given the firm’s stature, he said, it could prompt other companies to follow suit.”
The 14th Amendment says “All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States.” GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t agree. The Hill: “[McConnell said] Congress ‘ought to take a look at’ changing the 14th Amendment … in light of the country’s immigration problem.”
Conservative Gov. in NJ scraps mandatory car safety inspections to save money: “… it is now up to New Jersey residents themselves to identify and repair bad brakes, cracked windshields, broken turn signals, steering problems and a range of other mechanical failures…”