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: Don’t Kill The Dream
OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher: “The latest bold stroke for the growing American Dream movement is this new ad campaign from Democracy for America: Don’t Kill The Dream. The campaign targets obstructionist Republicans who are standing the way of legislation that would invest in jobs to grow the middle class and demand the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. And the campaign builds on the Contract for the American Dream, the 10-point program drafted by grassroots Americans at house parties across the country this summer and championed by a coalition led by MoveOn.org and Rebuild the Dream. The next step for the American Dream movement is to bring the Contract to the Oct. 3 to 5 ‘Take Back the American Dream’ conference…”
WH Considers Refi Plan To Boost Economy
President considering mass mortgage refi plan. NYT: “One proposal would allow millions of homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance them at today’s lower interest rates, about 4 percent … A wave of refinancing could be a strong stimulus to the economy, because it would lower consumers’ mortgage bills right away and allow them to spend elsewhere. But such a sweeping change could face opposition from the regulator who oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and from investors in government-backed mortgage bonds … The idea is appealing because it would not necessarily require Congressional action. It also would not tap any of the $45.6 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Funds that was set aside to help struggling homeowners … But the plan has some drawbacks. Some officials fear that promoting mass refinancings today could spook investors and make borrowing more expensive, for both homeowners and the federal government, in the future.”
Proposal to replace gas tax with mileage tax on trucks may be key to transportation jobs bill. Stateline: “…taxing fuel by the gallon is becoming an unreliable way to raise money. That is partially because politicians do not want to raise the taxes, even by a few pennies a gallon … That is one reason why researchers … are exploring the alternative of charging drivers by vehicle-miles traveled … Previous experiments found many problems with using that system for cars: It requires drivers to install new equipment; drivers do not like the state following their travels; and it just cost too much. But most of those problems are not an issue with trucks … [However,] Kendra Adams, executive director of the New York State Motor Truck Association, says the possibility that a per-mile tax could include congestion pricing and other variables makes it less attractive…”
30-year trend of employers “giving up on the American man” presents major challenge for jobs plan, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “The portion of men who work and their median wages have been eroding since the early 1970s … For decades the impact of this fact was softened in many families by the increasing number of women who went to work and … the housing bubble helped to mask it by boosting the male-dominated construction trades … The long-term fix is simple to spell out and tough to achieve: getting more men to attend college and improving the skills of those who don’t … Money for labor-intensive projects, such as retrofitting buildings for energy conservation or refurbishing aging schools, would be especially effective in putting men back to work in construction, though Washington is likely in no mood to pay for that either.”
Super Committee Leaders Setting Bipartisan Tone
Early signs of bipartisanship on Super Committee. The Hill: “[The Super Committee co-chairs] issued a statement Wednesday saying that they are working together to come up with a work schedule and chose a staff for their new group. In ordinary times, it might not be news that committee heads were working together on logistics, but in the aftermath of the debt ceiling fight … the announcement has significance.”
CBO sees big cut in projected budget deficit, weak economic growth, high unemployment. The Hill: “CBO projects a $1.28 trillion deficit for the fiscal year, and total deficits over the next 10 years of $3.5 trillion … about half of what was projected at the beginning of the year … 2.3 percent economic growth in 2011 and 2.7 percent growth in 2012, compared to a January forecast of 3.1 percent growth for the year … Unemployment remains above 8 percent through 2014 …”
“We cut the deficit in half and all we got in return was a lousy economy and bad poll numbers” says DailyKos’ Jed Lewison.
Republicans Flip-Flop On Payroll Tax Cut
Republicans used to be for a payroll tax cut, until President Obama supported it. TNR’s Jonathan Chait: “In 2001, as the economy slowed, Republicans endorsed temporary payroll tax cuts in order to boost demand. And again in 2008, when the economy slowed, they endorsed payroll tax cuts to boost demand … The current Republican position, when faced with far higher unemployment than in those previous situations, is to oppose temporary payroll tax cuts. Paul Ryan, the party’s new economic thought leader, now argues that demand-side stimulus merely provides a ‘sugar high.’ That didn’t stop him from voting for temporary payroll tax cuts in 2001 and 2008.”
Romney pleads dumb on climate change at NH town hall. Reuters: “Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in danger of losing his 2012 Republican primary front-runner status, on Wednesday he would not place restrictions on carbon emissions if elected … ‘Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is … I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans. What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.’”
Van Jones Sets Record Straight On Green Jobs
Van Jones slams NYT for misleading quotes in hit piece on green jobs, reports ThinkProgress’ Joe Romm: “The story in question is ‘Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.’ I debunked it here yesterday for completely ignoring the ‘explosive growth’ documented by a recent Brookings study in the clean energy jobs sector – even though the article cited the study! I thought that the quotes attributed to Van Jones didn’t sound like the passionate, optimistic green jobs guru I [know] … Jones sets the record straight … ‘…contrary to the article, I explicitly told the reporter that I stand beside my prediction that the clean energy sector will create millions of jobs. But I warned him that a majority of those jobs could end up in China soon, unless DC starts acting aggressively.’”