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: Bachmann/Ryan Overdrive
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “Now we’re in Bachmann/Ryan Overdrive time. These Representatives and other members of the Right are in a high-speed race to see who can outbid the other to win the extreme vote. That means that the Ryans and Bachmanns are going to keep upping the ante as long as they can. It’s like the game of chicken in Rebel Without a Cause where neither driver will take his foot off the accelerator until somebody goes over the cliff.”
House Expected To Approve Radical Budget Today
House expected today to pass radical 2012 budget, smashing Medicare and eviscerating most of government. Bloomberg: “Democrats are banking that what they dubbed the ‘Ryan-Tea Party’ budget will be seen by voters as going too far. Obama has zeroed in on the plan’s proposal to replace the traditional Medicare program with subsidies for those under 55 years of age that would be used for the purchase of private insurance…”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “‘I don’t necessarily think that just by voting for the budget, you’re signing on’ to his proposals, said Missouri Representative Jo Ann Emerson, who co-chairs a group of Republican moderates…”
AP describes the House Republican budget: “… more than $6 billion in spending cuts from the budget that President Barack Obama offered in February, relying on stiff cuts to domestic agency accounts, food stamps and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled … the measure calls for transforming Medicare from a program in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. People 55 and over would remain in the current system, but younger workers would receive subsidies that would steadily lose value over time.”
NYT edit board zeroes in on the cost of House Budget’s Medicare cuts: “Calculations derived from the C.B.O. analysis show that in 2022, when the Ryan plan would kick in, the typical 65-year-old would pay $6,400 to $7,000 more per year than would be paid for comparable coverage under traditional Medicare.”
House GOP budget would “disinvest” in America, finds CAP’s Adam Hersh and Sarah Ayres: “…the Republican budget disinvests in America by cutting: Education and training investment per capita by 53 percent. Transportation infrastructure investment per capita by 37 percent. Science and technology R&D investment per capita by 28 percent … the Ryan-Republican budget will mean a slower pace of job creation, higher costs for businesses, and the risk that U.S. economic competitiveness will fall behind global competitors.”
No Imminent Deal On 2012 Budget, Debt Limit Increase
Senate “Gang Of Six” risking irrelevance in deficit reduction debate. The Hill: “The group’s discussions have already dragged on for five months, holding up the Senate Democratic budget plan … Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would begin meeting regularly with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders in early May to craft a package with the goal of reducing long-term deficit spending by the end of June. ‘There comes a point, and we’re getting close to it, when our relevance will be judged by our timeliness,’ [Sen. Dick] Durbin said.”
Republican leaders resist selecting lawmakers to negotiate with Vice-President Biden. NYT: “Mr. Obama on Wednesday asked the House and Senate leaders of both parties to name four members each … The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told Mr. Obama at the White House on Wednesday that a 17-member group would be too large to be constructive, and he is considering naming just one Senate Republican instead of four, Republicans say. One said that he is considering naming Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona [who] adamantly refuses to consider raising taxes for high-income Americans … [Speaker] John A. Boehner of Ohio, indicated to reporters … that he might not name anyone to the negotiating group.”
Republicans say Obama hurt their feelings. W. Post: “They expected a peace offering, a gesture of goodwill aimed at smoothing a path toward compromise. But soon after taking their seats at George Washington University on Wednesday, they found themselves under fire for plotting ‘a fundamentally different America’ from the one most Americans know and love … Republicans said, did Obama have to attack the men to their faces? ‘Reagan had the decency to insult his enemies when he was out of town,’ grumbled one GOP aide.”
W. Post Steven Pearlstein tells GOP to suck it up: “…Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, his voice dripping with moral indignation, declared that by bringing up the issue of fairness in his budget speech this week, President Obama had stooped to ‘political demagoguery.’ … News flash for Ryan: In deciding what to spend and whom to tax, lawmakers’ fights over budgets are always fights about values and priorities in which fairness has as rightful a place as fiscal rectitude and economic efficiency.”
NYT’s Paul Krugman sums up the competing visions from the President and the House Budget chairman: “On one side you had a combination of mean-spiritedness and fantasy; on the other you had a reaffirmation of American compassion and community, coupled with fairly realistic numbers. Which would you choose?”
President’s proposed Pentagon cuts not as harsh as Pentagon says. NYT: “…some civilian budget analysts argued that while the president’s directive sounded sweeping, the Pentagon could save that much money just by limiting its future spending increases to the rate of inflation projected by the White House.”
Some conservatives willing to accept tax increases as part of deficit deal. W. Post: “The rift in the Republican ranks has surfaced in a bitter back-and-forth between two heroes of the conservative movement: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has been working with a bipartisan group of senators on a compromise to reduce government borrowing, and Grover Norquist, author of the no-tax-increase pledge that has become a rite of passage for GOP candidates.”
Conservatives said very different things about raising the debt limit when Bush was President. Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo: “Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said on Sunday that, ‘I will not support an increase in the debt ceiling without real and meaningful changes in spending in the short-term and in the long-term.’ However, back in 2002 … Pence said that the debt ceiling needs to be increased because failure to do so could threaten Social Security benefits. ‘I truly believe if you owe debts, pay debts’…”
Sen. Maj. Leader calls for no conditions attached to debt limit increase reports Politico.
Conservatives may threaten EPA again during debt limit debate notes Blog for Clean Air.
Britain’s austerity plan still not working. NYT: “Retail sales plunged 3.5 percent in March, the sharpest monthly downturn in Britain in 15 years … real household income [is expected to] fall by 2 percent this year. That would make Britain’s income squeeze the worst for two consecutive years since the 1930s … the fear is that … cuts in social spending — which aim to achieve an approximate budget surplus by 2015 and are likely to result in the loss of more than 300,000 government jobs — might tip the economy back into recession.”
Compromise 2011 budget deal weakens Speaker Boehner’s standing among conservatives. NYT: “… even harsh critics of Mr. Boehner said that his position was in no immediate jeopardy. But they said that his inability to unify the rank and file was a significant issue, and that some lawmakers had their confidence in him shaken when they saw analyses that showed the immediate impact of the cuts was modest this year though an estimated $315 billion would be saved over 10 years.”
No Dem defections as Senate rejects bid to defund health reform law reports AP.
Senate Report Details Goldman Sachs Scam
New Senate report shows how Goldman Sachs profited off of financial crisis. McClatchy: “It provides another close-up glimpse of how Goldman deftly scaled back its risks as the housing market crested in late 2006 and then, at the expense of its investor clients, earned billions of dollars from a full-scale blitz of secret bets that the value of home mortgage securities would crash. Goldman was the only major Wall Street firm to escape relatively unscathed from the nation’s economic meltdown. The subcommittee reported that Goldman packaged at least four offshore deals with total value of $4.5 billion that were rife with conflicts of interest…”
Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum disappointed with much of the media coverage: “It’s something of a minor miracle in this day and age that a scorching document like this about Wall Street could come out of Congress, much less with Republican support. You’d expect the bipartisanship-worshipping Serious Washington Journalists to devote columns of praise to this coming-together moment. Something tells me, though, that they won’t. Let’s hope the business press, at least, picks this one apart for some time to come.”