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.
New Jobless Numbers Sound Alarm. Can Washington Hear It?
Distressing jobless claims numbers. W. Post: “Forecasters had expected the number of new weekly jobless claims to drop last week. Instead, claims jumped by 12,000, to 500,000, the third straight weekly increase and the first time in nine months that the half-million mark has been hit … ‘this report indicates that the pace of firings and layoffs has increased,’ Barclays Capital wrote…”
President presses GOP on small biz lending bill. Politico: “Obama urged the Senate GOP to drop its opposition to the bill after the Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims rose last week to 500,000, a nine-month high. That report ‘compels us to act,’ Obama said.”
Big Oil tries to sink small biz bill. Reuters’ Felix Salmon: “…the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, which would create a $30 billion fund to be used to encourage small banks to lend to small businesses. … A significant chunk of it would come from five big oil companies … Big Oil, of course, isn’t happy about this. And so one of its hired representatives sent me some talking points saying that repealing Section 199 would actually cost jobs … The report doesn’t even make an attempt to work through the effects of higher corporate taxes on oil-industry employment…”
After the latest jobless claims numbers, Steven Benen suggests “Maybe Someone Should Do Something:: “The president knows, of course, that the Senate can’t vote on the small-business bill during a recess, but he made the remarks anyway, as if to say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re working on it.’ But as much I often appreciate Obama’s remarks for their morale-boosting qualities, this wasn’t making me feel better. By any reasonable measure, the bill with small-business incentives is a good proposal, which deserves to pass. Republican opposition to it really is ridiculous. But it’s not the kind of sweeping measure that’s going to turn around a growing jobs crisis.”
“The 12 Democratic (And 41 GOP) Senators Stifling The Economy” from OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher
Moneywatch’s Mark Thoma pessimistic the new numbers will spur action: “It’s too easy for policymakers to make excuses to keep waiting, e.g. to say that unemployment is mostly a structural problem and hence out of their hands … the economy needs more help from both monetary and fiscal policymakers, but they are letting unfounded fears about deficits and inflation get in the way of a more activist stance.”
Too late to affect economy before Election Day, notes Bloomberg.
Yes, the auto industry is rebounding, notes The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman: “Back in 2008, when Chrysler and GM were facing bankruptcy, conservatives started a campaign against a government bailout. In order to convince people it was a bad idea, they went around telling everyone that autoworkers were lazy and overpaid [with] the fabricated claim that these workers were paid an average of $72 an hour … GM was profitable in the first two quarters of this year, after losing billions the year before. Given that people on the right were recommending that we just let them go out of business, with hundreds of thousands of jobs (maybe millions, when you count all the suppliers and affiliated businesses that depend on the auto industry) lost, this would seem to be a pretty remarkable success story.”
NYT edit board criticizes WH and banks for weak foreclosure program: “Banks have complained of frequent rule changes from the government … [Lenders] have been reluctant to aggressively rework bad loans … Fearing that banks will drop out of the program altogether, the Treasury has not pushed them hard enough.”
Are The Economists To Blame?
Joseph Stiglitz blames faulty economic models for the recession: “…the economics profession bears more than a little culpability. It provided the models that gave comfort to regulators that markets could be self-regulated; that they were efficient and self-correcting … But a new paradigm, I believe, is within our grasp.”
Truthdig’s Steven Hill asks “Why have economists been so wrong so often?”: “…they aren’t even sure what to measure. BusinessWeek’s Michael Mandel, a humbled economist, admitted recently that methodological defects lead us to incorrectly measure certain parts of the economy … then how come so many economists sound so damn sure of themselves? Lacking any shred of humility, most economists are obsessed with a narrow selection of overused indicators and ideologically preferred measuring sticks, like ‘economic growth’ and ‘gross domestic product’…”
Dean Baker incredulous at Boston Fed report discounting a housing bubble: “The highlight of the story from the deniers and agnostics is that if we construct a model that has house prices depending heavily on the interest rate, then the prices of the period 2002-2006 don’t appear so out of line. This is especially true if we slip in as part of the equation an expectation that house prices will rise in the future by more than the rate of inflation. Serious economists cannot take this sort of story seriously. If there is an expectation that house prices will rise more rapidly than inflation, then we are saying that the expectations of rising house prices will justify rising house prices.”
Lobbyists v. Public In Tax Cut Fight
Majority wants Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. New CNN poll: “…three in ten believe that the Bush-era tax cuts should be continued for all Americans, according to the new poll released Friday. Just over 50 percent say those tax cuts should be continued only for families who make less than $250,000 a year, as Obama has proposed. Nearly 1 in 5 meanwhile say the tax cuts should expire for all Americans.”
“Lobbying blitz” to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest. Bloomberg: “…Dirk Van Dongen [is] managing a 1,000-member coalition of companies and trade groups opposing President Barack Obama’s proposal to discontinue tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans … Lawmakers ‘can’t ignore these groups because their members blanket congressional districts, are easily mobilized and could play a significant role in the midterm elections,’ said David Primo, a political science professor…
CBO report on Bush tax cuts offers crude hypotheticals. Christian Science Monitor: “[CBO] estimated that maintaining the Bush tax cuts and avoiding cutbacks in government spending would have some positive effects on the economy in the short run … But, because it would increase the nation’s public debt, the boost would come at a price … a smaller economy later … Douglas Elmendorf, director of the CBO, discussed the quandary – that it might be desirable to maintain a relatively stimulative fiscal stance for now while also achieving greater fiscal discipline later this decade … In the report, the CBO presented two scenarios that were not subtle at all, as Mr. Elmendorf acknowledged.”
Both Sides On Health Care Debate Struggle
Health care advocates tweak messaging to solidify support for health care law. Time’s Kate Pickert: “…pro-reform advocates are advised to ‘avoid overheated rhetoric,’ keep it simple and talk about the law as something that can be improved upon … ‘Straightforward “policy” defenses fail to be moving voters’ opinion about the law’ … the Democrats’ messaging strategy on health care so far has been basically a waste of time and there’s a sizable effort underway among advocacy groups to salvage that effort…”
CNN poll finds majority either support health care law or say it’s not “liberal enough.”: “Overall, 56 percent oppose the new law, but not all of that opposition is likely to turn into votes against Democrats in November. Among those who oppose the legislation, 41 percent oppose the health care law because it is too liberal. But another 13 percent oppose the law because it was not liberal enough.”
Time’s Michael Crowley says health care not the political wedge the GOP was expecting: “Voters are far more concerned about the stalled economy or soaring budget deficits than they are about health care reform … raising the issue also creates tricky questions for GOP candidates about their own precise views … Republicans now face a strategic divide about whether to call for total repeal of the law, period — or whether to campaign on a more nuanced repeal-and-replace message…”
Still A Lot Of Oil In The Gulf
Another scientific study raises concern about remaining oil in the Gulf. McClatchy: “…a new independent study, published in the journal Science, reported that a vast fog of oil — 22 miles long and more than a mile wide — is floating far below the Gulf’s surface, where low water temperatures are slowing its natural breakdown. It was the most conclusive evidence yet of a subsea oil ‘plume’ that could linger for years … [Scientists testifying to Congress] urged the Obama administration not to make it seem that the worst of the spill is over.”
“China to Invest Billions in Electric and Hybrid Cars” reports NYT: “The plan aims to put more than a million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road over the next few years in what is already the world’s biggest and fastest growing auto market. The announcement, analysts say, is another example of how China seeks to marshal resources and tackle industries and new markets.”
What’s Up, Dodd?
Mike Lux wonders what’s going on with Chris Dodd: “I am told by extremely good sources that he remains extremely angry with Warren for daring to push back against the compromises gutting the consumer protection bureau … the DC rumor mills have been ablaze for months that Dodd is looking at a lobbying career when he retires … Whatever the reasons, this is a very disappointing way for someone with an honorable career like Dodd to go out on.”
The American Prospect’s Devin Fergus writes of a little known aspect of financial reform, which could ensure regulators look more like America: “Buried in the financial-reform bill President Barack Obama signed in July is an innocuous-sounding provision, Section 342. It establishes Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) in each federal financial regulatory agency … Underlying the OMWI is the idea that greater racial and gender equity among regulators will produce an informal institutional check against predatory financial practices. These practices disproportionately target the women and communities of color for whom the housing crisis wiped out a generation’s worth of wealth-building assets.”
Matt Yglesias debunks CATO attack on efficient — yes, efficient — government : “[CATO's Tad] DeHaven even winds up advancing the odd assertion that ‘[m]aking government “more efficient” is all well and good, but if the “savings” just get plowed into other programs – as has been the case in Indiana – then taxpayers aren’t any better off.’ That’s nuts … There’s a huge difference between dollars spent on useful infrastructure and dollars spent on pointless boondoggles.”
NYT edit board expresses concern over Tea Party-affiliated Senate nominees: “Until recently, [Colorado's Ken Buck] supported repealing the 17th Amendment, which provides for direct election of senators … [Kentucky's Rand Paul] has criticized the minimum-wage law and the civil rights and fair housing laws … [Nevada's Sharron Angle] believes that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children … [Utah's Mike Lee] favors repealing the progressive income tax…”
Another Senate nominee backs Social Security privatization. Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo: “During an interview with Real Clear Politics, [Pennsylvania's Pat] Toomey touted his plan for Social Security privatization, conveniently leaving out the word ‘privatization’…”
Daniel DeGroot at Open Left notes that e. coli conservatism lives on: “What does it take to get shut down in America? 380 million eggs have been recalled due to salmonella contamination. The contamination has been traced to a factory farm in Galt, Iowa called ‘Wright County Egg.’ Poking around, it turns out the farm is owned by the DeCoster family, a father-son industrial farm duo with a lengthy track record of environmental, labour, cruelty, safety and immigration violations with plenty of lawsuits from Maine to Iowa.”