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.
MORNING MESSAGE: “Gut Or Shut” — Is America Ready?
OurFuture.org’s Dave Johnson: “Republicans maintain they are not going to pass a budget that does not gut the government, and if the Senate and President do not go along with this they will just let the government default … Wall Street is supporting the Republicans because they want a weaker, more controllable government — and a piece of that Social Security money. They are convinced that President Obama will cave and agree to gut government and Social Security. But, as [Dean] Baker points out, this game of default threats puts Wall Street at greater risk than the rest of us. President Obama should use that to draw a line in the sand: He won’t sign anything other than a clean debt ceiling bill.”
Health Reform Repeal Vote Next Wed.
House GOP sets health reform repeal vote for Jan. 12. W. Post: “The repeal legislation will be a brief document that simply revokes the law … A day after Republicans won control of the House in November, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) … signaled a slow approach to the repeal by saying that Republicans must ‘lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity.’ Instead, they will pass their repeal legislation a week after the start of the new Congress.”
House GOP to create additional loophole to new “CutGo” rule, so massive cost of repeal won’t be offset. Politico: “The Congressional Budget Office said last year that the health care reform law and its accompanying reconciliation law would reduce the deficit by $143 billion through 2019 … since Republicans’ new rules to govern the House require that nearly all proposed legislation is fully paid for, the new House leaders have exempted repeal of the health care overhaul from such requirements.”
House Dems seizing health care opportunity. W. Post’s Greg Sargent: “…Dem Rep. Peter Welch … is circulating a letter among Dems vowing to introduce amendments to the GOP’s repeal bill forcing votes directly on the Affordable Care Act’s most popular provisions … [Rep. Anthony] Weiner told me this afternoon that he’s urging fellow Democrats to see the GOP’s repeal push as a chance to do what they failed to do last year in the runup to the midterms: Aggressively make the case for the individual provisions in health reform that the public likes.”
W. Post Eugene Robinson encourages Dems to take individual mandate debate head-on: “It takes nothing more than simple arithmetic, however, to calculate that in order to make possible the other parts of the reform package – prohibiting denial of coverage because of preexisting conditions, keeping kids on their parents’ policies, all those goodies – it’s necessary to bring as many people as possible into the insurance pool. Otherwise, only sick people would buy coverage. Rates would inevitably skyrocket.”
House GOP Preparing Massive Cuts In Popular Services
House GOP preparing draconian budget cuts. Senate GOP not on board. NYT: ” The incoming Republican majority in the House is moving to make good on its promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending this year … House Republican leaders are so far not specifying which programs would bear the brunt … The reductions that would be required in the remaining federal programs, including education and transportation, would be so deep — roughly 20 percent on average — that Senate Republicans have not joined the $100 billion pledge … it could give House Republicans increased leverage in budget negotiations with the White House this winter and spring … [But] it would give Democrats political ammunition to use against them in swing districts.”
Top GOPer pledges to starve funding for bipartisan food safety bill hours before it is signed into law. Bloomberg: “President Barack Obama will sign a $1.4 billion food-safety bill today that marks the biggest change to oversight of the food industry since 1938 … The House subcommittee that monitors the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s budget may be unwilling to spend that much on the legislation, said Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who is in line to become chairman … ‘While it’s a great re-election tool to terrify people into thinking that the food they’re eating is unsafe and unsanitary, and if not for the wonderful nanny-state politicians we’d be getting sick after every meal, the system we have is doing a darn good job.’”
Overwhelming support for deficit reduction by taxing the rich. The Hill: “…according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll. Sixty-one percent of Americans said that increasing taxes to the wealthy should be the first step toward balancing the budget. By contrast, 20 percent of respondents preferred cuts to defense spending as the first option, while 4 percent said that cutting Medicare would be the best way to start cutting the deficit. Three percent said they preferred cutting Social Security.”
TNR’s Jonathan Chait adds: “The constituency for entitlement cuts … is 7% of the population. Which is to say, actual small government conservatism — as opposed to opposition to unspecified waste or a misunderstanding of the size of the foreign aid budget — is essentially nonexistent at the popular level.”
Ezra Klein is concerned about America’s other deficit — public investment: “Infrastructure is the easiest place to start. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the nation needs about $2.2 trillion in infrastructure repairs and upgrades merely to bring the existing infrastructure up to ‘good condition.’ … We don’t have a national system of pre-kindergarten … We either innovate our way out of climate change, or we’re not getting out of it …”
Robert Reich exposes the “big lie” — that “big government” is the problem:: “The truth is our economic problems stem from the biggest concentration of income and wealth at the top since 1928, combined with stagnant incomes for most of the rest of us. The result: Americans no longer have the purchasing power to keep the economy going at full capacity … Will Obama stand up to the Big Lie? Will he use his State of the Union address to rebut it and tell the truth? Maybe, but so far there’s no evidence.”
Bad Year For Coal CEOs In 2010, And Perhaps 2011 Too
“For 2nd Year in a Row, No New Coal Plants Built in US” reports Treehugger’s Brian Merchant: “…20 new coal plants began construction from 2000-2008. Plans to build 38 more were scrapped by power companies across the nation in 2009, and some 48 old polluting factories were marked for retirement … mountaintop removal is deeply unpopular, the signs of global warming (for which coal-burning is a primary cause) are becoming clearer to the global (if not American) public, and cleaner forms of energy are becoming cheaper and more readily available. It’s no surprise that investors are turning away.”
Labor Dept. stepping up mine safety enforcement this year. W. Post: “Last month, the [mine safety] agency listed 13 mines in danger of shutdown under the ["pattern of violation"] provision.”
Coal industry seeking new NW ports to ship coal to China. Grist’s KC Golden: “Proponents say we need the 20 additional jobs this proposal would create. But it’s hard to imagine a weaker jobs strategy. What kind of economic future awaits us if we become an energy resource colony for Asia?”
New Interior rules would allow some deepwater drilling to resume. The Hill: “The Interior Department may allow some deepwater oil-and-gas drilling projects halted after last year’s BP spill to resume without requiring companies to submit revised exploration and development plans for environmental review … But the regulators stressed that the companies must be in compliance with beefed-up safety rules issued in recent months … Senior Republicans … have signaled that they plan to attack Interior Department policies that they argue have needlessly stifled development.”
Renewable energy industry exercising quiet influence over some GOPers. Stateline: “Toward the end of September last yea … Republican [gubernatorial] candidate John Kasich gave an interview … in which he raised the possibility that as governor he might try to axe the state’s mandate that electric utilities expand their renewable-energy portfolios … [Then] Kasich himself heard from entrepreneurs and others, many of them Republicans, alarmed by his statement …
Within days, Kasich’s campaign was letting it be known that he actually had no intention of repealing the state’s renewable energy standard … New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, under pressure from conservatives, began saying in November that he was ‘skeptical’ about climate change — yet has shown no inclination to withdraw his state from the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative …”
What’s hot in state government: scapegoating unions. NYT: “…mostly in states with Republican governors and Republican statehouse majorities — officials are seeking more far-reaching, structural changes that would weaken the bargaining power and political influence of unions, including private sector ones … Republican lawmakers in Indiana, Maine, Missouri and seven other states plan to introduce legislation that would bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees … In Ohio, the new Republican governor, following the precedent of many other states, wants to ban strikes by public school teachers. Some new governors, most notably Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are even threatening to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain contracts.”
The new jobs aren’t as good as the old jobs, notes DailyKos’ MeteorBlades: “Lower-paying jobs are what large numbers of people are getting when they do find something new. … When the year-end tally is announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this Friday, it’s likely that the total new job creation in 2010 will have come in at around 1.2 million. … how will these jobs measure up to those that have been lost? This isn’t your father’s labor market, just like it isn’t his Oldsmobile. But then, nobody makes Oldmobiles anymore.”
Elizabeth Warren to tap Holly Petraeus for post in consumer protection agency. HuffPost: “Petraeus’s appointment is aimed at empowering the agency to target abusive lenders without running afoul of Republicans in Congress … Holly Petraeus has spoken passionately about the often-ruthless lending operations that have proliferated outside military bases.”
Gallup tracking poll has President at 50% approval, up 9 points since late October.