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: England’s Ashes. Our Future?
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “Hopefully the worst of the violence is over in Great Britain. London’s fires are cooling into ashes, and with any luck they won’t be rekindled. But even though the British economy is still a tinderbox, nothing that’s happened has dampened some people’s enthusiasm for doing the same thing over here. The radical right, which is now in full command of the Republican Party, is exploiting the crisis for all its worth. And even though the self-described ‘sensible center’ (which is neither) will condemn the violence, ‘centrist’ Democrats and media cheerleaders like Tom Friedman will keep pushing the same policies that have brought Great Britain to its knees. When your ideology demands a ‘great bargain’ that savages the social safety net, you can’t let experience get in the way.”
Austerity Leads To Anarchy
Austerity is what brought insecurity to London neighborhoods, warns Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen in NYT oped: “In attempting to carry out reform, the government appears incompetent; it has lost legitimacy. This has prompted some people living on Kingsland Road to become vigilantes … In many ways, Mr. Cameron’s austerity program is the Tea Party’s dream come true. But Britain is now grappling with the consequences of those cuts, which have led to the neglect and exclusion of many vulnerable, disaffected young people who are acting out violently and irresponsibly — driven by rage rather than an explicit political agenda.”
London “Won’t Be the Last City to Burn” says the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson: “The theft and violence and street crime and lawlessness in London is shocking. But it’s not unique. Around the world, the burden of unemployment falls hardest on the young, who often respond with violence … The connection between joblessness and violence comes to life in a timely August research paper Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009, which found ‘a clear positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability.’”
GOP Names Super Committee Members
GOP names its members to the Super Committee. NYT: “Two of the Republican appointees have a history of working with Democrats. All oppose tax increases, but at least one supports eliminating tax breaks like the subsidies for ethanol.”
Grover Norquist blesses GOP picks. USA Today: “All the Republican appointees are ‘taxpayer friendly,’ said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. They’ve all signed his pledge not to raise taxes — which was a key obstacle in the various failed plans to raise the debt ceiling.”
But GOP panelist Sen. Rob Portman could be open to compromise involving revenue increases. New York’s Dan Amira: “…it’s very likely that the only way the committee can approve a plan is if one of the GOP members is willing to support some kind of tax increase — likely through the elimination of various exemptions in the tax code. That Republican could very well be Portman. According to the Columbus Dispatch yesterday: “Portman said tax increases, particularly while the economy is ailing, should not be part of the deficit fix, but he did not oppose raising revenue by getting rid of tax ‘preferences,’…”.
Leading austerity advocate pessimistic that Super Committee would strike Grand Bargain. Bloomberg: “The choices from both parties include some ‘land mines,’ increasing the likelihood of deadlock, said Robert Bixby, head of the Concord Coalition … Murray, of Washington state, will cause ‘certain alarm bells to go off’ because she is in charge of her party’s principal fundraising committee for senators seeking re- election, Bixby said. Toomey, of Pennsylvania, and Hensarling, of Texas, are vocal anti-tax advocates, and all six Republican appointees have signed a pledge against voting to raise taxes. Upton’s panel has taken the lead on investigating President Barack Obama’s agenda, including the new health-care law.”
But Politico suggests panelists indicate possibility of “breakthrough deal”: “‘These are serious legislators. You go right down the line,’ Jack Howard, a lobbyist at Wexler & Walker [said.] ‘These are serious people who have been through the wars in the past and are credible, well-respected people within their conferences…’ … There’s also a sense developing on Capitol Hill that rather than a bare majority — say, six Republicans and a Democrat or six Democrats and a Republican — a deal will need approval from at least eight of the supercommittee members to give it any serious momentum, likely two from each party in each chamber, to break through the partisanship.”
Salon’s Steve Kornacki argues GOP picks intended to look reasonable, not be reasonable: “The Fred Upton that John Boehner just appointed to the deficit reduction super committee probably isn’t the ‘individual thinker’ who defined himself as a middle-of-the-road pragmatist for his first two decades in Congress. More likely, it’s the Fred Upton who watched as that reputation nearly cost him his House seat and a powerful committee gavel last year — and who doesn’t want to go through anything like that again. In a way, picking Upton was a brilliant move by Boehner. It looks like he appointed an independent voice, but there’s little chance Upton will act like one.”
Liberal leaders worry about Kerry’s desire to deal. The Hill: “Kerry alarmed liberals by repeating the standard argument of Washington’s deficit hawks … ‘Like President Obama, Kerry is fatally attracted to the notion of a grand bargain, sacrificing cuts in Medicare and Social Security in exchange for increased revenues to reduce long term deficits…’ said Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future…”
New docs reveal Mitt Romney bragged about tax increases as Governor. WSJ: “Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal Wednesday through the Freedom of Information Act show the Romney administration’s pitch to S&P in late 2004 included the boast that ‘The Commonwealth acted decisively to address the fiscal crisis’ that ensued after the terrorist attacks of 2001. Bulleted PowerPoint slides laid out the actions taken, including legislation in July 2002 to increase tax revenue by $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion in fiscal 2003 and $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in fiscal 2004; tax ‘loophole’ legislation that added $269 million in ‘additional recurring revenue,’ and tax amnesty legislation that added $174 million. The final bullet: ‘FY04 budget increased fees to raise $271 million yearly.’”
Call For Obama To Go Bold On Jobs
Democrats press President to champion bolder jobs agenda, even if it can’t pass the GOP House. W. Post: “Added Neera Tanden, a former Obama and Clinton administration official who is now chief operating officer at the liberal Center for American Progress: ‘He can take his ideas to the Republicans and use the House Republicans’ intransigence on his ideas as a foil. And by having a fight on jobs, he will communicate to the American people that he understands their challenges and he’s on their side.’ Peter Fenn, a longtime Democratic strategist, said the even-keeled president has ‘got to be a lot less keep-it-cool Calvin Coolidge and a lot more give-’em-hell Harry Truman.’”
Dem Rep. John Larson proposes Super Committee for jobs. Politico quotes: “I plan to introduce legislation that would establish a Joint Select Committee on Job Creation that would be tasked, under the exact same terms as the Deficit Committee, with developing a plan to return the nation to full employment by 2021. This would allow the Congress to simultaneously consider both our near-term (high unemployment) and our long-term (growing debt) challenges later this year…”
Republicans Face Unruly Voters At Town Halls
McCain jeered at town hall. ThinkProgress’ Marie Diamond: “As McCain entered, he was greeted by sustained chanting of ‘Where are the jobs?’ … At one point McCain tried to defend his support for slashing the corporate tax rate, prompting boos and cat calls from the crowd … The senator was also jeered for his position on entitlements — he believes cuts to Social Security and raising the retirement age should be on the table.”
GOP Rep. Frank Guinta faces criticism in NH town hall: “Questions for the freshman Republican ranged from Medicare reform to immigration, but two topics that raised contention were tax cuts for the wealthy and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Libya. Citing corporate tax loopholes, the national debt and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one man asked: ‘How can you stand there in front of all of us and take a pledge not to raise taxes?’ During his campaign Guinta promised to oppose any tax increases while in Congress.”
Treasury Moves To Rent Foreclosed Homes
Treasury formally solicits ideas to turn foreclosed homes into rentals. W. Post: “Officials said they are hoping to identify private-sector partners that could purchase pools of foreclosed properties and turn them into rental units. If successful, the effort could help the government clear the backlog on its books, meet increasing rental demands and help relieve pressure on local housing prices … they aren’t searching for a single, monolithic approach for the entire country, but rather solutions that make sense for individual regions with different housing challenges. The deadline to submit ideas is Sept. 15.”
Rental program could help create jobs as well. NYT: “John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said in an interview that an added benefit of such a program would be the creation of construction jobs for rehabilitation of the properties … Among the strategies on which the administration is seeking comment are rent-to-own programs, in which previous homeowners or current renters could lease properties as a path to ownership, and ways in which the properties can be used to support affordable housing.”