Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: Sen. Conrad Unifies Dems Against Ryan. Yes, Conrad!
OurFuture.org’s Roger Hickey: “The famous gang of three (Senators Conrad, Durbin and Warner), have been negotiating a deficit reduction “compromise” that might take the Democrats over to the dark side. That’s why a new statement by Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad is surprisingly encouraging: ‘Representative Ryan’s proposal is partisan and ideological. He provides dramatic tax cuts for the wealthiest, financed by draconian reductions in Medicare and Medicaid. His proposals are unreasonable and unsustainable.’ … the basic gift that Conrad may be giving Democrats is the opportunity for unity against draconian austerity and for a rousing defense of Medicare and Medicaid.”
House GOP Budget Slammed For Cruel Policies, Cooked Numbers
Rep. Ryan’s economic projections come from laughable source. National Journal: “Ryan’s commissioned forecasters say the … plan would result in the creation of nearly 1 million more jobs next year [then] 1.3 million jobs above business as usual for each of the next 10 years … The assumptions come from an economic model developed at Ryan’s request by analysts at the Heritage Foundation … But Heritage modelers have made similar predictions before—and they didn’t pan out. In 2001, they incorrectly projected that tax cuts pushed by President George W. Bush would create millions of new jobs…”
Deficit reduction figures also make no sense. W. Post’s Jonathan Bernstein: “I see at least two obvious causes for skepticism. The first is that Ryan is counting on considerable budget savings — $1.4 trillion over the decade — by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Of course, the CBO has said that ACA will be a net budget winner over the next decade … The second clue is that Ryan refers (on page 59 of the proposal) to ‘dynamic’ scoring of taxes. This, of course, is the same supply-side nonsense that Republicans have been peddling since 1981.”
All that cruelty wouldn’t even balance the budget. W. Post’s Dana Milbank: “…for all these cuts, the Republicans’ plan increases the federal debt by more than $8 trillion over the next 10 years [because] Ryan’s proposal isn’t a budget. It’s a manifesto for the anti-tax cause. The GOP plan reduces the government’s revenues by $4 trillion over 10 years because of tax cuts…”
Seniors would pay more, get less. USA Today: “[Medicare] would be run by private insurers and would cost beneficiaries more, or offer them less. Medicaid, the federal-state program covering more than 50 million low-income Americans, would be turned over to the states and cut by $750 billion over 10 years, forcing lesser benefits or higher co-payments. Social Security eventually would be cut, too.”
Massive Medicare cuts would follow GOP attacks accusing Dems of massive Medicare cuts. NYT: “After Republicans successfully campaigned in last year’s midterm elections partly by criticizing Democrats for cutting Medicare as part of Mr. Obama’s health-care overhaul, they now propose to eventually privatize Medicare and turn Medicaid into a sharply limited block grant to states.” Ryan repeatedly attacked Dems for Medicare cuts reminds ThinkProgress.
Ryan oversold support of former Clinton aide Alice Rivlin. Politico: “Rivlin said she told the Republican she doesn’t support the final version of the measure he wrote into his budget — a provision Ryan referred to generally as the ‘Ryan-Rivlin’ plan when rolling out his sweeping economic blueprint. ‘We talked fairly recently and I said, “You know, I can’t support the version that you have in the budget…”‘”
Budget would also repeal Wall St. reform reports Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo.
Ryan corporate tax cuts would likely require ending home mortgage interest deduction. Bloomberg: “Lowering rates that much while reaching the revenue targets in Ryan’s budget would require lawmakers to consider eliminating so-called tax expenditures, including the mortgage interest break and the deduction for charitable contributions…”
Dems plan to pound Republicans with Ryan budget. Politico: “…Democrats with close ties to the White House believe Ryan has handed Obama a powerful political weapon for 2012 — an issue that starkly defines the GOP as a party bent on attacking the vulnerable with the potential to cause the same kind of damage as George W. Bush’s ill-fated plan to privatize Social Security. Senior Democratic strategists told POLITICO that the Ryan plan is almost certain to be a centerpiece of their advertising and fundraising efforts.”
House vote expected next week reports The Hill.
New House GOPers may not unanimously support Ryan budget. Politico: “…some Republicans wonder why the House GOP would make members take a yes-or-no position on a controversial plan with no apparent path to becoming law. ‘They’re hanging the 20 vulnerable members out to dry for the sake of placating the 220 safe members who want to save the world and don’t have any other concerns beyond that,’ said an adviser to one first-term House member. ‘You have a couple dozen members who are going to pay a pretty serious price for this vote if they end up in a tough race.’”
GOP prez candidates withhold full support. AP: “Several, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, praised the budget’s sponsor, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, but stopped short of fully endorsing the blueprint and didn’t indicate whether they backed the massive changes in Medicare and Medicaid. Others were silent on the plan, including two Republicans who rarely pass up opportunities to inject themselves into the latest national debate: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.”
No Progress Towards Avoiding Shutdown
President won’t sign another stopgap measure without a deal in hand. Politico: “The president argued that he has already met the speaker halfway, and more than ever, Obama’s impatience came through when he appeared in the White House press room to discuss the ongoing talks.”
Boehner suggests he won’t back a deal without complete support of GOP caucus. Daily Kos’ Jed Lewison: “…unless Boehner backs down, he’s basically given tea party Republicans veto power over any proposal that would prevent a government shutdown. The problem is obvious: tea party Republicans want a government shutdown…”
What would shutdown look like? NYT: “The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers would get fed; Yellowstone and other national parks would shut down. The Internal Revenue Service could stop issuing refund checks. Customs and Border Patrol agents training officials in Afghanistan might have to come home. And thousands of government-issued BlackBerrys would go silent … During the shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, cleanup work on toxic waste sites was halted because contractors could not be paid…”
State budgets would be hit hard. NYT: “… the federal money that helps states pay the administrative costs of their stretched unemployment programs could dry up, forcing states to advance the money … Federal grants for a variety of programs — including research, higher education and training local law enforcement officers — could be delayed … if national parks were closed, some states could lose tourism business, and the local tax revenues they generate.”
Pell grants in trouble no matter what happens, argues TNR’s Eric Andrew-Gee: “…even if Obama wins and manages to preserve most Pell funding, students will lose: With cash-strapped states dramatically reducing the amount of support they provide for higher education, the total pool of funds looks to be shrinking precipitously, and anything short of a serious increase in federal support to fill the gap will curtail the dreams of thousands upon thousands of young Americans.”
Feds, State AGs Split Over Foreclosure Fraud Settlement
“Banks Get Edge in Talks on Foreclosure Penalties as Feds Settle” reports Bloomberg: “Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and fellow mortgage servicers are more likely to dodge a threatened $20 billion in penalties for faulty foreclosures after U.S. agencies cut ahead of the states by signing deals without fines. A task force of 50 state attorneys general already was arguing internally over proposed sanctions when people familiar with the talks said the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. began making the deals. While the U.S. watchdogs may yet seek fines, the pacts ease pressure on the banks and erode states’ leverage, said Gilbert Schwartz, a former Fed attorney … Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for [Iowa AG Tom] Miller, said yesterday that the actions of U.S. regulators won’t affect the efforts of the attorneys general.”
Fed member, former Gov. top list, reports Reuters: “The White House is considering Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Raskin and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to head a new agency … Raskin, a former state regulator and former staffer on the Senate Banking Committee, is also seen by the White House as a candidate that would be acceptable to the financial services industry …”
Anti-EPA Vote Expected Today
Senate may vote on anti-EPA amendments today, reports The Hill: ” The Senate will vote on a GOP-backed plan to kill Environmental Protection Agency climate change rules Wednesday afternoon … The Senate Democratic alternatives would limit or delay EPA rules without stripping the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions … A caveat: The votes have appeared imminent several times in recent weeks without materializing.”
WH pledge veto reports NYT.
Colombia Trade Agreement May Be Announced Today
WH expected to announce trade deal with Colombia as early as today. NYT: “The United States trade representative, Ron Kirk, told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that negotiators have made substantial progress in narrowing differences over labor rules in Colombia … Even though President Bush reached the trade deal with Colombia back in 2007, Democrats [said] that the deal needed stronger protections for American workers hurt by trade as well as guarantees of an end to suspected human-rights abuses of Colombian labor leaders.”
AP adds: “With the Colombia deal complete, and U.S. officials claiming progress in talks with Panama, the administration appears to be hoping it can push Republicans to drop their blockade of the South Korea agreement …”