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: Will Dems Embrace A “Foul Deal”?
OurFuture.org’s Robert Borosage: “We now have sorry news of the foul deal that the White House is pushing in the debt ceiling talks. About $1.5 trillion in spending cuts — including $200-300 billion from Medicare and Medicaid — in exchange for $130 billion in loophole closings — corporate jets, race horses and the like. Forget about one-to-one spending cuts to top end tax hikes. This is worse than 10 to 1. Programs vital to Americans get cut — Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants, education, public health. Tax breaks not needed for the wealthy get extended. This is, in a word, pathetic.”
Another Day Of Stalemate
Debt talks stall as Republicans fight to protect tax breaks for the wealthy. CNN: “White House negotiators had put on the table proposals to bring in more than $400 billion in revenue over the next decade by limiting itemized deductions for those above the 28% bracket, eliminating subsidies for the oil and gas industry and for corporate jets and for interest on investments … a White House official familiar with the talks told CNN: ‘Republicans want to get something done, and they don’t know how to do it. If there is a mega-deal, it has to have a tax component. Otherwise, what we get will be much smaller.’ But Republicans insisted that will not fly. ‘Almost none of what the White House is talking about on the tax side can pass the Congress because House Republicans won’t vote for it,’ a Republican source familiar with the talks said.”
GOP leaders actually agree with President, but fear their caucus members. LAT: “GOP leaders have indicated in private meetings that they are willing to close some tax loopholes to raise revenue, but also have acknowledged that such a position would be difficult to sell to rank-and-file Republican lawmakers, said a senior administration official…”
President reiterates shared sacrifice message at Philly fundraiser. CNN quotes: “‘I am prepared to bring our deficit down by trillions of dollars. That’s with a T, trillions. But I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing our kids’ education… by eliminating medical research being done by our scientists … I won’t sacrifice rebuilding our roads, and our bridges, and our railways and our airports.’”
“Republican Senators Defend Corporate Jet Tax Loophole” reports ThinkProgress.
Former GOP Senate Budget Chair Pete Domenici sounding alarm to fellow Republicans to raise the debt limit. Bloomberg: “‘The debt’s coming due, and they say it isn’t coming due,’ Domenici said in a recent interview. ‘They’re wrong.’ … He said Republicans, particularly in the U.S. House, ‘have got to listen to another radio because it’s not the way they’re telling them.’ … Domenici says his party needs to compromise and accept ending some tax breaks.”
July 22 seen as drop dead date for deal. NYT: “The July 22 date looms large, the officials said, because it will take lawmakers at least a week to draft a bill and get it through two houses before Aug. 2. That is the day when, officials say, the government will reach its debt ceiling…”
GOP pursuing the most ridiculous version of a balanced budget amendment possible. Politico: “[The amendment] contains hard spending caps and a two-thirds supermajority vote for any tax increases. … Another option would drop those provisions, have roughly a dozen Democratic co-sponsors and stick to a straight majority rule for tax increases. This one actually would have a shot at getting the two-thirds vote needed to clear the House … But Republicans have decided to go with the version that’s almost certain to fail but is beloved by the conservative base.”
TNR’s Jonathan Chait argues the 14th Amendment may prevent GOP from forcing default on the debt: “…it’s in the 14th Amendment to guard against exactly what Congressional Republicans are doing right now. [Yale Law's Jack] Balkin does not suggest, nor do I, that the legal merits are open and shut … But if we do reach h-hour, we’re probably better off if the Treasury simply announces it’s going to continue to pay the bills and dares Republicans to take them to court than repudiating the debt, right?”
MN government shuts down over similar tax dispute. AP: “Talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans fell apart well before a midnight deadline. Dayton demanded tax increases on top earners, but the GOP refused.”
Boeing Loses Attempt To Dismiss Case
Union leaders propose settlement that would allow Boeing plant to remain in South Carolina. NYT: “In its settlement negotiations with Boeing, the union has suggested that the company keep the plant operating by moving some outsourced parts production from other countries to South Carolina — an idea that Boeing and industry analysts consider unrealistic.”
GOP boycotts hearing to advance trade deals. W. Post: “Republicans object to a worker assistance program the administration wants to include as part of a free-trade agreement with South Korea. The Trade Adjustment Assistance program costs about $1 billion and has drawn bipartisan support in the past … The standoff led to the odd spectacle of Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee gathered on their side of a half-empty committee table … They extolled the benefits of free trade, talked of the need to generate jobs at a time of high unemployment and wondered about the GOP no-show.”
Setback For State Public Worker Retirees
Two state court rulings set precedent for ripping up pension contracts with retired public workers. NYT: “In their court filings, retirees in Colorado and Minnesota had argued that their benefits were contractual in nature, and therefore protected by state and federal constitutional language barring the impairment of contracts. However, in his ruling dismissing the Minnesota case, Judge Gregg E. Johnson of the state’s Second Judicial District Court wrote that the retirees in that state ‘have not met their burden to show unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Judge Robert S. Hyatt, a district judge in Denver, offered a different line of thinking, [making] a distinction between a base pension and a cost-of-living adjustment, often called a COLA. He suggested that the inflation adjustment could be reduced, but the base pension could not.”
CT may layoff public workers as contract talks fail. NYT: “The looming question was whether the unions would reconsider the package they turned down last week, which would save the state $1.6 billion over two years and eliminate the need to cut up to 7,500 state jobs.”
Jared Bernstein argues against using a tax break for multinational corporations to fund an infrastructure bank: “… this is the wrong way to go about funding it. There is no ‘money that comes back from abroad.’ … The Treasury collects some money up front and then starts losing big time … if companies with ‘overseas earnings’ … learn that they can depend on a big tax break every few years, they’ll shift more and more earnings and jobs and investments abroad.”
Concerns over wasted infrastructure spending in Afghanistan that no one is responsible for. McClatchy: “Inefficient and unsustainable construction projects in Afghanistan have swallowed billions in American taxpayer dollars, and may contribute little to defeating the Taliban, but no one’s certain who’s to blame. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., questioned representatives from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development and contracting companies at a subcommittee hearing Thursday about who makes decisions about infrastructure projects and spending. No one knew.”
Push for nationwide clean energy standard stalls in Senate cmte. The Hill: “..McKie Campbell, [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s staff director, said Thursday that [Sen. Jeff] Bingaman and Murkowski are at odds over Murkowski’s view that a CES should replace federal greenhouse gas regulations, and said he does not see a path forward.”
Bush-appointed judge sets stage for Supreme Court to uphold Affordable Care Act. Politico: “… a conservative federal appeals judge has gift-wrapped that argument — and legal experts say his decision to uphold the constitutionality of the health care overhaul could make it easier for one of the conservative Supreme Court justices to do the same … he’s a jurist cut from the same cloth as Chief Justice John Roberts: Both favor deferring to legal precedents and not making drastic moves unless absolutely necessary.”
Recovery unusually good for corporations, bad for workers. NYT: “…between the second quarter of 2009, when the recovery began, and the fourth quarter of 2010, national income rose by $528 billion, with $464 billion of that growth going to pretax corporate profits, while just $7 billion went to aggregate wages and salaries, after accounting for inflation.”