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: Job Bleeding: Voters Must Apply Pressure
OurFuture.org’s Dave Johnson: “It seems that I begin a post every month by writing, “Another terrible jobs report.” And it seems I end that post each month asking why our leaders are ignoring the problem. Our country is in a jobs emergency, and our government is not doing its part to fill the gap and create jobs. In fact, now they are talking about cuts that will just make it worse. The instructions for treating a wound are: apply pressure to stop the bleeding. That’s the lesson We, the People need to learn from this crisis. ”
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Obama’s biggest problem isn’t the federal deficit, but the jobs deficit: “Obama ties deficit reduction to jobs, on the basis that trying to balance the nation’s books will promote economic stability and give businesses more confidence to hire. But that’s a tough sell to the millions of Americans out of work right now. And the communications problem just got harder. The latest snapshot of the economy, out Friday, was a body blow that showed employers added a meager 18,000 jobs in June. The leaders of the country, meanwhile, are consumed with negotiating a major debt-reduction deal built upon cutting spending and raising taxes. It is not directly aimed at boosting jobs. Obama’s challenge is to link all this in meaningful terms and to get faster results. At stake are the country’s economic recovery and his re-election chances.”
Paul Krugman asks if “Yes, We Can,” has morphed into “No, We Can’t,” or “No, We Won’t”: “The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half. Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. Turn on your TV and you’ll see some self-satisfied pundit declaring that nothing much can be done about the economy’s short-run problems… This gets things exactly wrong. The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action… But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality. Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity — a choice rationalized by an ever-shifting set of excuses.
Robert Kutter says Obama should address the jobs crisis first: "Does anyone care about the American middle class? The working middle class — especially its younger members — now faces a prolonged period of high unemployment, declining wages, and diminished public services. …As unemployment keeps rising and the economy faces a period of prolonged stagnation, political elites of both parties can only yammer about debts and deficits. But reducing the deficit before we get a recovery going will only worsen joblessness, cut back essential public services, and deny government the needed tools to produce an economic recovery. What’s needed is a mass movement to shake the dominance of the austerity lobby. Here’s a start: the Change to Win labor federation has begun a 12-city organizing tour, working with the House Progressive Caucus, to throw a spotlight on continuing joblessness combined with the failure of government to clean up banking abuses."
Time for a new plan, says Sarah Jaffe; the jobs numbers reveal flaws in the GOP austerity agenda: “Republicans say government cannot create jobs. It certainly seems capable, however, of eliminating them. The jobs numbers for June are out and to call them “bad” would be an understatement. …To put it in perspective, the economy added only 18,000 jobs—and 14.1 million people are unemployed. Those numbers will barely keep up with population growth. Workers are currently more likely to drop out of the labor force than find a job. And the cause of much of the drop? Public sector layoffs, caused in part by ideological cuts in state and local budgets.”
The economy faces another jolt as unemployment benefits run out: "Close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government. By the end of this year, however, many of those dollars are going to disappear, with the expiration of extended benefits intended to help people cope with the lingering effects of the recession. Moody’s Analytics estimates $37 billion will be drained from the nation’s pocketbooks this year. …Unless hiring picks up sharply to compensate, economists fear that the lost income will further crimp consumer spending and act as a drag on a recovery that is still quite fragile. Among the other supports that are slipping away are federal aid to the states, the Federal Reserve’s program to pump money into the economy and the payroll tax cut, scheduled to expire at the end of the year."
Debt Deal Delayed
Obama antes up on debt deal, sends GOP away with homework: "President Obama told congressional leaders tonight that he is prepared to make the tough decisions on entitlement spending to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling and cutting the deficit, a Democrat familiar with the negotiating process told ABC News. But if Republicans are not willing to do the same regarding taxes, the president asked them during a meeting at the White House, what is their alternative? …The president also told congressional leaders to come back Monday with a view on what could pass both the House and the Senate."
Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner says the White House wants “the biggest deal possible” on debt reduction: “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the Obama administration wants to seek “the biggest deal possible” on debt reduction.His comments Sunday follow word from GOP congressional leaders that the White House’s $4 trillion package was off the table. Geithner said during an appearance on NBCs’ “Meet the Press” that reaching a deal requires compromise on both sides. The president is set to hold debt talks at the White House Sunday evening with leaders from both parties.”
John Beohner can’t “go big” on debt deal: “On the eve of a critical White House summit on the debt issue, Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama that their plan to ‘go big,’ in the speaker’s words, and forge a compromise that would save more than $4 trillion over the next decade, was crumbling under Obama’s insistence on significant new tax revenue….Boehner’s decision leaves negotiators reexamining a less-ambitious framework — aimed at saving roughly $2.4 trillion over the next decade — that had been under discussion between Vice President Biden and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. But that framework is hardly complete; the group broke up last month when Republicans walked out over the tax issue.”
Steven Benen says Beohner’s backtracking is a tactical victory for the White House: “All things being equal, this certainly looks like a tactical win for the White House, at least at this point. From the perspective of the political establishment, the president was willing to do something ambitious, even risking the ire of his party’s base. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have now said they don’t want a massive debt-reduction package if it means asking the rich to sacrifice even a little. Put it this way: as of this morning, which side of the political divide appears more concerned with fiscal responsibility? ”
Progressives care about reducing the national debt, says Eugene Robinson, no matter what the White House says: “Do progressives care about reducing the national debt? Of course they do, no matter what the White House might believe. …There’s no dispute about where we need to go. The question is what path to take. …The way to avoid this dystopian future is to bring spending and revenues more into balance. Yes, there will be some pain and sacrifice. But it is not necessary — nor is it wise — to heap a disproportionate share of the burden onto the backs of the poor, the elderly and the battered middle class.”
Carl Gibson explains puts the debt deal negotiations in to clarifying perspective: “What if there was a group of terrorists holding your family hostage with a gun pointed at themselves, demanding the account number to your pension fund? Would you negotiate with the terrorists by allowing them access to your savings, or would you let them shoot themselves and keep your retirement money intact? Congressional Republicans are threatening to default on the debt unless President Obama caves to their demands to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending.”
Follow The Leaders?
Michael Tomasky writes that Obama has proven an “untransformational president”: “Remember back when Barack Obama talked about being a transformational president? You know, how Reagan was one, Clinton wasn’t, and Obama himself would be? Whatever happens in the ongoing debt negotiations, whatever happens in the next election, we already know that this is a fantasy. The news that Obama is willing to place Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid on the poker table reveals yet again, and more starkly than ever before, what’s most important to him. It’s not to lead. It’s not to fight. It’s not even to win. It’s to be the most reasonable and unflappable person in the room. Obama will not be a transformational president unless the transformation starts in his own DNA.”
Digby ponders who’s leading and who’s following in the “kabuki square dance” that is the debt deal negotiations: “It’s hard to know where the negotiations on the debt ceiling really stand, but from what we can gather today, Boehner has said that he can’t “Go Big” but they might be able to “compromise” by going back to the prior 2-trillion-in-cuts-in-exchange-for-air “medium” deal. Apparently, the bluff was in asking for the moon (massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security on the table) but really expecting a smaller deal with only a couple trillion. …So, at the moment, one could see a deal being spun as the White House “compromising” by giving up its Grand Bargain in exchange for only a couple trillion or so in cuts. And one can only presume this means the President believes he will be able to run in 2012 as the fellow who tried to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but the Republicans wouldn’t let him. If he’s very clever he can also blame the jobs crisis on their unwillingness to slash spending enough to get this economy rolling.”
Steve Benen dubs Boenher “the incredible shrinking speaker”: “As a substantive matter, the anti-tax extremism that dominates Republican politics is well past the point of being farcical. Given a chance to cut the debt by $4 trillion, GOP leaders who claim to be frantic about a non-existent debt crisis have been exposed as frauds. But the political issue that stands out for me is realizing just how weak a Speaker Boehner really is. …The Speaker of the House is arguably one of the most powerful offices in the government, at least in theory. It’s supposed to be within Boehner’s power to simply tell his caucus what they have a responsibility to do, and demand their fealty. But a leader with no followers is, by definition, weak. Boehner may be the Speaker, but as he’s quickly realizing, he’s taking the orders, not giving them. In the asylum known as the House of Representatives, is there any doubt as to the inmates’ power?”
The GOP’s honeymoon is over, and David Elliot says voters want an annulment: “Republicans swept last year’s elections. The GOP captured more than 675 state legislative seats, flipped 10 governor’s mansions, gained control of over 20 state legislative chambers, and won more than 60 seats in Congress previously occupied by Democrats. Elections this lopsided have consequences for the victors and vanquished alike. Usually these consequences come in the form of a honeymoon, with the winning party able to pursue its ideological agenda. But now, almost before it started, the honeymoon is over. Voters — Democrats, independents, and yes, growing numbers of Republicans — are concerned about tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans while working and middle-income Americans struggle to make ends meet.”