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: The Chamber Wants Infrastructure? Prove It.
OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher: “Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a joint statement with the AFL-CIO supporting President Obama’s call for increased public investment in infrastructure. That’s great. Now it’s time for the Chamber to tell it all those Tea Partiers it helped get elected to Congress.
Mr. Speaker, Where Are The Jobs?
As House GOP pushes anti-abortion agenda this week, AP questions lack of focus on jobs: “Republicans won dozens of elections last fall after claiming Democrats had focused too little on creating jobs. Now GOP lawmakers stand accused of the same charge, using their new House majority to push to repeal the president’s health care law, restrict abortions and highlight other social issues … Heads turned when Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presented the next item on the agenda: writing into law a perennially renewed ban on federal dollars for abortion, and to specify that it applies to [private] health plans … When reporters asked why jobs weren’t the main focus, Boehner said it was vital to vote against the health law because ‘it’s destroying jobs in America.’”
Speaker Boehner concedes that failing to raise debt ceiling would be a “disaster.” Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo: “He first said that House Republicans aren’t willing to raise the debt ceiling unless doing so is accompanied by deep spending cuts, but then admitted that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be a ‘disaster’ … rendering his and his party’s threats not to do so quite irresponsible.”
NYT’s Paul Krugman urges central banks to resist calls for higher rates: “…why the demand for higher rates? Well, bankers have a long history of getting fixated on commodity prices … the prices of copper, rubber, cotton and tin have gone up, even though underlying inflation is on the decline … Yes, commodity prices are up — but that’s no reason to perpetuate mass unemployment. To paraphrase William Jennings Bryan, we must not crucify our economies upon a cross of rubber.”
Former “car czar” Steven Rattner urges patience on jobs front in W. Post oped: “Policy proposals aimed too directly at raising employment may well collaterally end up dragging on productivity … Private-sector hiring has already turned upward, albeit slowly. As business confidence grows, the pace will increase. It will take time – too much time; Obama is likely to be running for reelection against an 8 percent unemployment rate – but it will happen.”
Dean Baker rebuts Rattner: “While faster productivity growth is generally better than slower growth, this is not the case when an economy does not have full employment.”
Economist’s View’s Tim Duy sees hope in GDP report, but warns trade gap must be narrowed: “What is apparent from this report is the potential for external support to generate real improvement in the US economy. The sharp drop in imports meant that firms were forced to sharply reduce the pace of inventory growth. Will those inventories be replenished with domestic or foreign production? … If rebalancing continues to be delayed in the months ahead, US policymakers simply must accept the trade deficit will reduce the effectiveness of their efforts.”
Dog Bites Man. Right-Wing Judge To Rule Against Health Reform.
Another conservative activist judicial ruling against health reform expected today. The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen: “…it is a virtual lock, based upon his comments in court last month, that [U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson] will strike down the core of the federal health care measure as a violation of the Commerce Clause …Both sides will thus likely overreact to Judge Vinson’s ruling … [But] the most important development on this front over the past few months isn’t a stray decision here or there by a conservative trial judge. It is, instead, the pointed choice made [by] Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia … to loudly dissent in a decision by the rest of their colleagues not to hear (and thus not to overturn) Alderman v. United States [which] confirms to the world that no more than seven votes on the Supreme Court are still in play over the constitutionality of the federal health care measure.”
Enrollment for interim high-risk pools increasing. Politico: “Within the past 75 days, enrollment in the federally run high risk pools has just about doubled. Approximately 10,000 Americans are currently being covered between the state and federally run insurance plans … the House Energy & Commerce Committee launched an investigation of the program last week, citing the fact that ‘early enrollment has proven sluggish …’”
Energy Subsidies On Chopping Block
Various energy subsidies under threat of deficit reduction ax. Politico: “Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said he was upset with how Obama brought up the oil and gas industry’s tax breaks in the State of the Union … Wind and solar are fighting their own two-front battle to stay afloat … trying to get more than just a one-year extension of the Treasury Department production tax credit … some House freshmen said they’re ready to cut energy spending, even if it means going against the grain back home … Even ethanol? ‘When we discuss spending and debt that we’ll certainly look at everything to see what’s the wisest place to make sure that we’re having fiscal responsibility,’ [South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem] said.”
W. Post edit board backs compromise on “clean energy standard”: “Last year, Democrats opposed including nuclear energy or natural gas in that mix; Tuesday night, Mr. Obama included both … this is the right call … nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases and natural gas produces about half the carbon emissions of coal. A well-designed policy would take advantage of that difference while giving less credit for natural gas than for truly renewable fuels.”
Presidential Climate Action Project urging Obama to lead on climate change. William Becker: “Take the case for climate action directly to the American people and put federal climate scientists on center stage … Champion the restructuring of farm policy when it comes before Congress in 2012 … Push for reform of transportation policy when Congress considers reauthorizing it this year, advocating that federal funding give highest priority to reducing the nation’s vehicle miles traveled … Make more use of Executive Agreements to reach deals with other nations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing clean energy technologies…”
W. Post’s E.J. Dionne hopeful the President’s vision of reorganized government will bolster progressive agenda: “…citizens won’t see [government solutions] as a realistic hope unless progressive politicians work hard to make government more efficient, more effective and more responsive … Hiring reform is especially important because the retirement of baby boom-era public servants will require the federal government to bring in new talent … Jack Lew, the OMB director, insists the administration is aware that the micro matters.”
Protesters arrested at Koch brothers right-wing elite retreat. LAT: “Protest organizers said they hoped to raise awareness about the Koch brothers and what activists portray as their shadowy attempts to weaken environmental protection laws and undercut campaign contribution limits … The guest list was confidential, but attendees included House Republican leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.”
Financial crisis report sells out at Amazon.com. NYT: “… the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, the conclusion of a federal inquiry by a 10-member commission, went on sale Thursday as a 576-page book and has already begun a sprint up the online best-seller lists…”