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: Trade and Austerity Is No Royal Wedding
OurFuture.org’s Dave Johnson: “We watch as England, Greece, Ireland and other countries try cutbacks – austerity – to get out of slow growth and their growth gets slower as a result. The US tries it, too, and our growth gets slower, too … As the economy recovered a bit and people started to buy a few more things, the things came from elsewhere, and the money and jobs just left the economy. Without government policies to deal with it, our trade deficit will continue to get even worse, costing us even more jobs and growth and draining even more money out of the country.”
The Plea For Jobs
Austerity push hurting president’s electoral coalition. National Journal’s Ron Brownstein: “…many liberal strategists fear that Obama could win this battle and lose the war in 2012. These critics argue that the tactical benefits of embracing greater deficit reduction come at a high cost … ‘You are really conceding whatever the growth we have is the growth you are going to run with—and maybe even a little less, because you are going to start cutting spending,’ says veteran liberal activist Robert Borosage, codirector of the Campaign for America’s Future … that means Obama is consigning himself to relatively high levels of unemployment in 2012. The risk is especially great among the groups that Obama most needs to mobilize. In the latest federal figures, unemployment stood at 15.5 percent among African–Americans, 13.4 percent among young people, and 11.9 percent among Latinos.”
British austerity is a “huge gamble” writes FT’s Martin Wolf: “The conventional view, that the optimal response to the post-crisis inheritance of huge fiscal deficits and ultra-low interest rates is to shrink the former before raising the latter, could even be the wrong way round. Low interest rates penalise savers, slow restructuring of balance sheets and encourage yet more short-term borrowing; fiscal deficits merely add to the stock of debt owed by the most creditworthy entity in the economy. In a world of bad choices, huge fiscal deficits may be less damaging than the monetary ease.”
NYT’s Paul Krugman slams Fed chief for giving up on fighting unemployment: “The only way to make sense of Mr. Bernanke’s aversion to further action is to say that he’s deathly afraid of overshooting the inflation target, while being far less worried about undershooting … My interpretation is that Mr. Bernanke is allowing himself to be bullied by the inflationistas: the people who keep seeing runaway inflation just around the corner and are undeterred by the fact that they keep on being wrong.”
CBPP’s Chad Stone calls for renewed debate over stimulus after weak GDP number: “Is this really the time for Congress to be debating how fast it can cut government spending, rather than how to keep the economic recovery from losing momentum? Is this really the time for Fed Chairman Bernanke to act as though inflation concerns preclude any further monetary stimulus…”
Some Dems Waver On Debt Limit
Some Dems won’t commit to raising the debt limit. W. Post: “The push-back has come in recent days from Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) … and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) … Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told constituents during the Easter recess that he would not vote to lift the debt limit without a ‘real and meaningful commitment to debt reduction.’ … Even Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), generally a stalwart White House ally, is undecided on the issue and is ‘hopeful’ that a debt-ceiling bill can be attached to a measure to cut the federal deficit…”
GOP Sen. Bob Corker wooing some Dems to support severe spending cap as part of debt limit deal. Politico: “More and more Republicans are calling for hard caps on spending and moderate Democrats — desperate for a palatable way to vote to increase the debt limit — are starting to buck White House officials who are lobbying Democratic senators to oppose Corker’s bill … some Republican officials worry he’s giving bipartisan cover to vulnerable [Democratic] incumbents … said one senior GOP aide. ‘McCaskill, Manchin and others can vote for it, and campaign on it, knowing full well that Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer have enough votes to kill it.’”
WH solicits business help for debt limit vote. LAT: “White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley … urged Chicago business leaders in meetings Wednesday and Thursday to convey their own worries about the threat of default to Republican leaders in Congress … Although many business leaders want to see the issue of the debt ceiling resolved before the government hits its borrowing limit in mid-May, they’re wary of other parts of Obama’s plan for cutting the debt and deficit … that, for some, means tax hikes.”
Congressional recess winds down as town hall anger heats up. HuffPost: “[Some] GOP lawmakers have dismissed the backlash as a staged assault by liberal advocacy group Moveon.org, which, [Rep.] Barletta spokesman Shawn Kelly has charged, emailed its list of supporters asking them to ‘disrupt’ the lawmakers’ meetings. Justin Ruben, executive director of Moveon.org, said members did circulate notices about planned town hall meetings to alert local supporters. But, he added, Republicans ‘ignore the backlash at their peril.’ ‘Go ahead and minimize it. Ignore it. Pretend it’s a few people,’ he told Time magazine’s Alex Altman.”
GOP Rep. Allen West equates Medicare with the final demise of America. ThinkProgress quotes: “If you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye.”
Speaker Rejects Vote To End Oil Subsidies
Speaker Boehner rejects call for up-or-down vote on ending oil subsidies reports The Hill.
House Budget Chair Paul Ryan wants to end tax breaks for Big Oil … and upstart clean energy companies. The Hill: “Ryan’s possible support for the proposal indicates there is a divide among top House Republicans on the cutting the oil subsidies. Boehner indicated in an interview with ABC News earlier this week that he would support eliminating some subsidies. But his office quickly walked back his statements.”
Fed funds for nuclear plants going unclaimed. NYT: “…Congress voted in 2005 to authorize $17.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors … nearly half of the fund remains unclaimed. And yet Congress, at the request of the Obama administration, is preparing to add $36 billion in nuclear loan guarantees to next year’s budget … In addition to low prices for natural gas, the demand for electricity is down, and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could bring new rules.”
Battle For Worker Rights Enters Prez Race
Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty attacks President for NLRB action against alleged union-busting by Boeing. ABC: “‘President Obama says he wants to “win the future,” but his labor policies are losing new jobs,’ Pawlenty wrote. ‘Instead of prioritizing jobs and growing the American economy for all hard-working Americans, the Obama administration is now dictating where companies are allowed to create new jobs.’ Pawlenty’s jabs came a week after the National Labor Relations Board filed a lawsuit aiming to stop Boeing from opening an airplane production plant in South Carolina, a non-union state. The NLRB argued Boeing is opening a plant in South Carolina in retaliation to a unionized workers’ strike in Washington state.”
Ohio workers attempt to overturn anti-union law by referendum. LAT: “Statewide polls show that voters would roll back the new law if the election were held today. But even those who think Republicans face an uphill fight expect it to be close.”
Foreclosure fraud persists despite bank claims. WSJ: “Some judges are skeptical of claims by lenders that they have substantially improved their foreclosure procedures since controversy over the practices exploded last fall. F. Dana Winslow, a N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice … said there has been only ‘a marginal improvement in what is being submitted to the court … But I’m not seeing any additional clarity on who has control over the actual mortgage note signed by the borrower and lender and where the note is.’”
“Insurers Dumping Sick Patients, Increasing Profits Ahead Of 2014 Regulations” reports Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky.