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: We Are Wisconsin, And We’re Already Winners
OurFuture.org’s Isaiah Poole: “Though it may take several hours to determine if any of the challenged Republican legislators have been unseated, it is not too early to declare one important victory for progressive politics: No longer can conservative extremists riding the coattails of a tea party political insurgency assume that they can steamroll over the interests of working-class people without a vigorous grassroots fight from the working class.”
Wisconsin Votes Today
Frantic turnout push for today’s recall elections in Wisconsin. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Tens of millions of dollars are being spent on the recall campaigns by candidates and independent groups. President Barack Obama’s Organizing for America was pulling together canvassing drives Monday, and the Tea Party Express was concluding a bus tour of the state with rallies in Rhinelander and De Pere. State Government Accountability Board officials are not releasing turnout projections because of the unusual, difficult-to-predict nature of the election. But people on both sides of the races were predicting healthy turnouts.”
Outcome may impact Gov. Walker. NYT: “Democrats have pledged to remove Mr. Walker, but signatures cannot be gathered for such an effort until at least next January, when he will have served a year in office. A victory by Republicans in the Senate would most likely temper such talk, while victories for the Democrats would encourage more of it.”
A warning shot to other right-wing governors. W. Post: “‘If you were a Republican governor in another state and the Democrats make a big comeback in these elections, it says you might want to slow down a little,’ said Joseph Heim, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse.”
Bond Market Does Great, Shrugs Off Downgrade
Treasury bonds, the stuff actually downgraded, do just fine. TNR’s James Galbraith: “Standard & Poor’s did not downgrade the U.S. political system. It did not downgrade the stock market. It downgraded United States Treasury bonds and bills—and did so after Congress had removed whatever tiny chance existed of even a small delay in payments. So it’s instructive that, on the next market day, investors moved massively out of stocks, and into the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds and bills. Rarely has stupidity been so quickly and massively shown up.”
Investors left stock not because the federal government isn’t cutting enough, but because it isn’t spending enough, argues Cheap Talk’s Roger Myerson: “… the investors’ movement from stocks to bonds today is very hard to reconcile with fears of default on these bonds. So to explain the stock market decline, we have to look at the other side of the story, the very real possibility that a politically constrained US government might have to cut expenses for essential government services. Broad fears of a crippled US government that is unable to enforce laws or invest in infrastructure could do very serious damage to investment and economic growth in America. Indeed the possibility of such government paralysis could be far more economically damaging than any marginal increase in taxes.”
Fed meets today, under pressure to act. NYT: “Most public attention has focused on the possibility that the Fed will renew its asset purchases, the most drastic option available to the central bank, but also the one it has said is the most unlikely. There are even reasons to think a new round of asset purchases could be more potent. Because rates already are low, a similar reduction in rates would be larger in percentage terms. Also, the first round of purchases presumably plucked Treasuries from the hands of those most willing to sell. The remaining holders are likely to demand a better deal, driving down rates more. But some members of the Federal Open Markets Committee have said that they do not support additional purchases, expressing concern that the extensive portfolio will interfere with the central bank’s ability to control inflation when the economy strengthens.”
S&P provides no transparency. NYT: “The individuals most responsible for the decision are not well known, except to finance ministers. S.& P. has declined to say whether the vote was unanimous, to identify all the members of the committee that voted for the downgrade or even say how many people are on it.”
More downgrades from S&P. NYT: “On Monday, S.& P. lowered its ratings of some of the nation’s most important financial institutions, from mortgage giants like the Federal National Mortgage Association to major trading clearinghouses that rely heavily on the government for support … S.& P. also dropped the top credit rating of five large insurers, while several states and hundreds of municipalities with strong federal ties braced for similar actions. Late Monday night, however, S.& P. said it would allow some states and cities to keep ratings higher than America’s sovereign debt.”
Daily Beast’s Paul Begala argues “Tea Party Downgrade” is going to stick: “Leaders like Speaker Boehner, prodded by Tea Party activists, openly flirted with default. Even a veteran moneyman like Mitt Romney, who should have known better, refused to speak out against the Tea Party position. And the downgrade came. Now, counter to prevailing stereotypes, it is progressives who proudly wave the flag and right-wingers who run down America.”
American Dream Movement Leads Push For Jobs
American Dream movement unveils “Contract for the American Dream.” HuffPost: “The campaign, led by Van Jones, President of Rebuild the Dream; Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org; and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), among others, is debuting a new Contract for the American Dream. They describe it as ‘a progressive economic vision crafted by 125,000 Americans … to get the economy back on track.’ Its debut will involve a nationwide day of action, as well as an ad in The New York Times to run sometime this week, organizers said. The basic premise of the campaign is that America isn’t broke, it’s merely imbalanced. In order to stabilize the economy, politicians should make substantial investments in infrastructure, energy, education and the social safety net, tax the rich, end the wars, and create a wider revenue base through job creation.”
President plans to offer deficit reduction and economic growth plan to Super Committee. NYT: “Administration officials did not say what Mr. Obama’s debt-reduction proposals might be, though he mentioned raising taxes on the rich and cuts in entitlement programs. He has not put a formal plan on the table … Spending for stimulus programs, though, is off the table, given adamant opposition to such programs by Congressional Republicans as well as some Democrats. Mr. Obama did call for an extension of the payroll tax cut … And he called for an extension of unemployment insurance for those who are out of work.”
Republicans suddenly recoil at a tax cut proposal. TNR’s Jonathan Chait: “Here’s Paul Ryan, asked about extending the payroll tax cuts: … ‘It would simply exacerbates our debt problems in my opinion’ … So now we can’t extend a temporary tax cut because it would exacerbate debt. Ryan is expounding here the extreme, anti-Keynesian viewpoint that has overtaken the Republican Party, which emphasizes the benefits of fiscal contractionary policy. Apparently this now even extends to tax cuts. The first thing you have to understand about this position is that nobody within the Republican Party advocated it during the previous recession. Here’s Ryan in 2001, arguing for stimulative tax cuts on precisely the grounds he now deplores…”
Black Caucus jobs tour kicks off in Cleveland. McClatchy: “The Cleveland event launched a monthlong, five-city jobs fair-town hall tour by the caucus that’s as much a message to congressional leaders and President Barack Obama as it is a vehicle to help unemployed African-Americans find work. More than 4,000 people attended the fair, where 100 employers had 2,500 jobs to fill.”
Super Pressure On Super Committee
Sens. Baucus and Conrad unlikely to be named, reports HuffPost: “Senate Democratic leaders are winnowing down the names on the short list and they are leaning strongly against including some of the party’s most notable budget hawks … it seems likely that members who are unlikely to operate independent of party interest will be chosen, a clear sign of how delicate the committee process has already become.”
Strengthen Social Security Coalition calls on Democratic leaders to appoint lawmakers who will protect retirement security. The Hill: “Labor unions and liberal groups are worried about the possibility of one of the six Democrats defecting.”
Leaders keeping cards “close to the vest” on Super Committee picks, says W. Post: “With an Aug. 16 deadline ahead for making the 12 picks … It’s not even clear whether the leaders will announce their selections on the same day, at the same hour, or if they will dribble out over the next week.”
The Hill further speculates on who may join Super Committee.
Sign the petition: Appoint Super Committee Members Who Will Fight For The American Majority.
CA Gov. Jerry Brown signs law potentially giving state’s electoral college votes to the popular vote winner. LAT: “The change approved by Brown will occur only if it is adopted by states with a majority of the electoral votes in the country. California is the eighth state to approve the new system.” National Popular Vote urges letters to state legislators.
Justice Dept. sues for-profit college group for fraud. NYT: “…the case is the first in which the government intervened to back whistle-blowers’ claims that a company consistently violated federal law by paying recruiters based on how many students it enrolled. The suit said that each year, Education Management falsely certified that it was complying with the law, making it eligible to receive student financial aid … Education Management, which is based in Pittsburgh and is 41 percent owned by Goldman Sachs, enrolls about 150,000 students in 105 schools … The complaint said the company had a ‘boiler-room style sales culture’ in which recruiters were instructed to use high-pressure sales techniques and inflated claims about career placement to increase student enrollment, regardless of applicants’ qualifications. Recruiters were encouraged to enroll even applicants who were unable to write coherently, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or who sought to enroll in an online program but had no computer.”
GOP Oversight Cmte Chair Darrell Issa subpoenas NLRB over Boeing case. HuffPost: “The NLRB has agreed to provide some documents to Issa, but says revealing other sensitive files would interfere with prosecution of the case and establish a dangerous precedent that could hinder future cases.”