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: Ignorance Index III – The Revenue Problem
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Obama On Debt Talks: "Enough Is Enough"
President gets firm in face of continuing House Republican intransigence. AP: "The president, declaring "enough is enough," is demanding that budget negotiators find common ground by week’s end even as the Senate’s top Republican gained followers for his own last-ditch scheme to avoid a government default. … Obama and top lawmakers bargained for nearly two hours Wednesday on spending cuts. Obama curtly ended the session when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., urged Obama to accept a short, months-long increase in debt instead of one that would last through next year’s presidential election. "Enough is enough. … I’ll see you all tomorrow," Obama said, rising from the negotiating table and leaving the room, according to several officials familiar with the session."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor "was playing the role he’s been playing throughout this whole thing — being not productive.” The Hill: "House and Senate Democrats have ripped Cantor for days, and a House Democratic leadership aide described the majority leader’s account of Wednesday’s meeting as “Cantor’s Gingrich back-of-the-plane moment” — referencing a moment in 1995 when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) complained about being seated near the back of Air Force One and was quickly depicted in the media as a crybaby."
"Lost in the rush to frame the dramatic conclusion of Wednesday meetings was word of the actual substance of the talks," writes HuffPo’s Sam Stein. "According to several attendees, negotiations stalled from the onset over the same issues that have proved irresolvable. Working off of talks that had been spearheaded by Vice President Joseph Biden, the president said he would be comfortable signing off on northward of $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending and mandatory spending cuts. With additional negotiations, he added, he could move that figure up to $1.7 trillion, and with a willingness to consider revenue increases and tax loophole closures, lawmakers could get to over $2 trillion. His preference, he said, was to continue to push for the biggest package possible, so long as it was balanced."
Political gambit by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell "gaining credence" as way to avert default, reports New York Times. "Despite resistance from conservatives and the initial unease many lawmakers expressed at such a slippery approach, the McConnell gambit was gaining credence as the best escape hatch. Senate Democrats went virtually silent on the idea for fear of jinxing it. While the White House said it was not the preferable option, it was viewed inside the West Wing as a real option nonetheless, even if it would transfer to Mr. Obama and his party all the political responsibility for a debt limit increase."
Public Opposes House GOP Debt Stance
American Majority rejects Republican’s debt line, support principle of shared sacrifice, notes Steve Benen at Political Animal: "It’s not even close. Only a fifth (20%) support the Republican position of crafting a debt-reduction agreement based solely on spending cuts, while 30% want to see a deal made up “mostly” of spending cuts, but including some new revenue. … The most popular option? A plurality of 32% support a 50-50 split, with equal amounts of spending cuts and tax increases. This is what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recommended two weeks ago, and it was largely ignored. Flashback: Campaign for America’s Future "American Majority" project.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner associate Andrew Baumann warns "Republicans are risking significant political blowback with their position" in Politico op-ed: "A bevy of recent public polls, along with our own surveys, demonstrates that the public convincingly rejects the Republicans’ approach. … Real progress on the long-term deficit will require reductions in spending — something the White House and congressional Democrats have already agreed to. But voters do not see this as an either/or situation. They believe we need to do both — change our spending habits and raise taxes on top earners.
Reuters/Ipsos poll shows voters are getting more pressimistic about the economy, but "voters do not appear to be holding President Barack Obama responsible for the problems so far. Obama’s approval rating held relatively steady at 49 percent, down 1 percentage point from June. His approval rating among independents — a group Obama needs to win re-election — fell to 39 percent from 44 percent."
Right-Wing Attack Dog Bitten by Conservatives’ Ethics Violation
House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa backs off financial commission attack after facts fail to fit his "narrative." TPM reports: "Peter Kadzick, an attorney for FCIC Chairman Phil Angelides, told TPM that Angelides arrived in D.C. on Sunday night for the Wednesday morning hearing but was told by an Issa staffer on Monday evening that "they had found some documents at the last minute that didn’t fit the narrative.""
Issa is "covering investigations up" into improprieties of Republican members of the FCIC, David Dayen at Firedoglake reports. "The report alleges that Peter Wallison leaked information about the Commission’s work to one of his colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, Edward Pinto, who has been a leading advocate of the discredited theory that poor people and the Community Reinvestment Act caused the financial crisis. The same kind of leaking cropped up between Bill Thomas, the ranking Republican, and a former staffer, who is now a lobbyist."
Mother Jones highlights that even fellow Republicans thought Peter Wallison was going too far to hammer discredited conservative talking point that Fannie Mae precipitated financial crash. "A special assistant to GOP commissioner [Billl] Thomas, who called Wallison "intractable," wrote of Wallison and AEI’s Pinto, "I can’t tell re: who is the leader and who is the follower. If Peter is really a parrot for Pinto, he’s putting a lot of faith in the guy." Other commissioners also questioned Wallison’s Fannie-Freddie theory. "I continue to think that Peter overplays the mortgage issue," wrote Republican commissioner Holtz-Eakin.
Conservatives Attack Clean Water Rules
House voted 239-184 Wednesday to limit EPA authority over state water quality rules. Politico reports: "The bill is one of several recent House efforts to limit the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, including a series of riders attached to the fiscal 2012 Interior-EPA spending bill. … [S]aid Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), “This bill is designed to benefit mountaintop coal mining companies and large factory farms.”
AP notes what evoked conservative ire: "The EPA has placed the first-ever limits on nutrient-rich runoff in Florida, where phosphorus and nitrogen have led to harmful algal blooms. More recently, in January, the EPA revoked a crucial water permit for West Virginia’s largest mountaintop removal mine.
Teachers are organizing a summer march on Washington, The Huffington Post reports: "After months of planning the "Save Our Schools March And National Call to Action," educators will take to the streets in Washington D.C. in two weeks to protest what they call the generally misguided direction of education policy. … "We’re protesting the thrust of any kind of policymaking that is top down and punitive in nature," said Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a former Denver teacher and march organizer. "There are elements of this in Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, but mostly we’re fighting for fair funding of schools, for curricular development, things that support students."
Progressive mobilize against balanced budget amendment. Mother Jones: "On Wednesday, 247 national progressive and good government organizations, including the AFL-CIO, Democracy 21, National Coalition for LGBT Health, and OMB Watch, co-signed a letter opposing House Judiciary Committee Resolution 1—better known as the balanced budget amendment. Both the House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure next week."
Amazon’s war against state taxes is highlighted in this morning’s New York Times. "Amazon said this week that it would push a voter initiative in California that could eliminate sales tax for virtual sellers with only a modest physical presence in the state. Its move instantly escalated the company’s long-running battle with many states over collecting sales tax … [Nancy F. Koehn, a retail historian at the Harvard Business School,] who opposes the idea of exempting online retailers from sales tax, said the stakes were amplified by the fact that state budgets, already under duress, needed the hundreds of millions of dollars in potential tax generated by online retailers. “Do we really want online retailers big and small to walk through a gaping door that says ‘You don’t have to pay sales tax’?” she said. “I don’t think we want to send the message that companies can fund a political campaign for a referendum and maybe your customers won’t be subject to sales tax.”
Bush administration’s toxic toy protector Nancy Nord among ‘no’ votes for stricter lead standard for toys. "The amount of lead allowed in toys and other children’s products sold in the U.S. will soon be reduced to one of the lowest limits in the world. … The Republicans on the commission, Nancy Nord and Anne Northup, criticized the decision — saying the amount of allowable lead is already very low, essentially trace levels. They said the commission failed to undertake a solid review of whether all manufacturers, especially smaller domestic businesses, can make their products with the lower-lead level plastics, steel and other materials required as part of the new standard. Those materials are often more expensive, and the Republicans argued they may not be commercially available to all manufacturers." Flashback: Our 2007 call for Nancy Nord’s resignation.
One unemployed woman’s view: "I am not one of fourteen-plus million. I am me." Via The New York Times’ Catherine Rampell: "I want to be thought of by columnists and law makers as me. And I believe that there are fourteen-plus million more just like me. Because of that, we – you – need to think about unemployment one person at a time. Me, Mike, Bruce, Pam, Audrey, Arlene, Bob, and the others. And then I need a job and so do they."