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: Today’s Visionary: 10 Things Martin Luther King, Jr. Taught Us About Today’s Struggles
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “A lot of people in the media are so afraid of offending anyone that they can’t even tell the truth about the man whose memorial is being unveiled this weekend in Washington. Their coverage could give you the impression that the purpose of Martin Luther King, Jr’s life was simply to make everybody in this country feel good about themselves. So once again we’re presenting ten quotes that represent Dr. King as he truly was — the kind of brave and visionary leader we so badly need today.
Jobs and The Economy
Obama will name labor economist to White House job. [USA Today]: “President Barack Obama has chosen labor economist Alan Krueger for a top administration post as the White House scrambles for solutions to boost a fragile economy with the 2012 election looming. A White House official said Obama will nominate Krueger to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Austan Goolsbee, who left the administration earlier this month. The decision completes a wholesale shake-up of the team that Obama brought with him to the White House over three years ago. Advisers Larry Summers, Christina Romer and Goolsbee have now all departed, and Obama continues to struggle with perceptions the economy is stuck in low gear on his watch.”
Obama praises Georgia jobs training program [CNN Money]: “Instead of collecting a check while looking for work, Georgia has a program to give the unemployed on-the-job training. It has caught the eye of President Obama. The Georgia Works program allows those receiving unemployment insurance to be placed at a local company for up to eight weeks of training. Participants don’t get paid, but they do get to keep their jobless benefits and receive a stipend of up to $240 for transportation and other expenses. Obama, who is looking for ways to help the unemployed, particularly those who have been out of work for months or years, has praised the program. He is expected to unveil his job creation proposal in September. The Wall Street Journal has reported could it contain a similar initiative.”
Liz Rose says the government can and should help create jobs now: “Creating jobs isn’t cheap or easy. Not for the private sector and not for the public sector. But Americans need jobs. We need to be able to work hard all day and provide for our families. While no solutions are easy, there are important steps that the government can and should take now to create jobs and improve the economy in the long run. Lawmakers need to start making the hard decisions to get the 25 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed back to work. Here are a few steps that President Barack Obama and Congress can take to create jobs now and in to the future.”
Central bankers urge government to throw economic lifeline [Bloomberg]: Central bankers gathered at an annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this weekend had a message for political leaders: monetary policy alone can’t keep the global expansion going. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged adoption of ‘good, proactive housing policies’ to reverse the depressed U.S. real estate market and warned lawmakers to avoid steps that may hurt short-term growth. Ewald Nowotny of the European Central Bank Governing Council said euro-area governments should expand the powers of their regional bailout fund. ‘Most of the economic policies that support robust economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank,’ Bernanke said at the annual conference of policy makers and economists, sponsored by the Kansas City Fed.
Matt Yglesias says the Fed can do more, but won’t: “It’s important to distinguish this from the claim that the Fed can’t do more. They can. As Bernanke says, ‘The Federal Reserve has a range of tools that could be used to provide additional monetary stimulus.’ If he proves wrong on the downside and the economy risks slipping into deflation, he’ll pull the trigger on those tools. But he regards 9 percent unemployment and inflation ‘at or below’ a level ‘a bit less’ than 2 percent as a desirable outcome. He would of course welcome more rapid economic growth, but he’ll tolerate it if and only if it comes from supply-side reforms. Reappointing this guy should go down as President Obama’s biggest error.”
Obama and 2012
Obama Faces Trouble With Key Voters Ahead Of 2012. [Huffington Post]: “Whites and women are a re-election problem for President Barack Obama. Younger voters and liberals, too, but to a lesser extent. All are important Democratic constituencies that helped him win the White House in 2008 and whose support he’ll need to keep it next year. An analysis of Associated Press-GfK polls, including the latest survey released last week, shows that Obama has lost ground among all those groups since he took office. The review points to his vulnerabilities and probable leading targets of his campaign as he seeks to assemble a coalition diverse enough to help him win re-election in tough economic times.”
Taegan Goddard Reports that more people want Obama to challenge Republicans: “A new Pew Research survey finds a 37% plurality thinks that President Obama ‘should challenge the Republicans in Congress more often; 25% say Obama should go along with GOP leaders more frequently, while about the same percentage (26%) say he is handling the situation about right… In April, fewer (27%) said Obama should challenge GOP congressional leaders more often.’ …’Democrats, in particular, are now more likely to say Obama should challenge Republicans in Congress more often. Today, a majority of Democrats (57%) say Obama should challenge the GOP more frequently; in April, just 39% said this. And there is little difference among Democrats on this question. Liberal Democrats and their conservative and moderate counterparts are about equally likely to want to see Obama stand up more to Republicans (60%, 55% respectively).’”
David Atkins says Republicans are unpopular, but Democrats could blow their big opportunity: “Democrats have a lot to celebrate in this poll, to be fair. Like the Pew poll, the AP poll proves that the public is not so easily hoodwinked as many pessimists like myself often believe. Republicans are suffering somewhat in the arena of public opinion due to their tactics (though those tactics remain beneficial for them in the long run), and the public still remembers that George W. Bush and Republicans drove up the deficit and were primarily responsible for the economic crash. And these numbers suggest that Barack Obama will likely survive and win re-election despite the bad economy by simply being a superior choice to the alternative. But unless the White House and Congressional Democrats show more of a fighting spirit, this sort of approach will do lasting damage to the Party’s reputation of fighting for the average American, and cause much of the Party’s base to move to issue advocacy at best, or quit the Democratic Party entirely at worst. When 1 in 4 Democrats don’t approve of the President’s leadership, that’s a pretty big revolt brewing.”
Come On, Irene
Irene less than expected. [USA Today]: “Armageddon it wasn’t. After dire warnings by weather forecasters and anxious local, state and federal officials who ordered massive coastal evacuations and told 65 million people in the storm’s path to prepare for the worst, many along the East Coast were left wondering what the hype was all about.”
Millions still grappling with Irene’s devastation [CNN iReport]: “The torment from Irene isn’t over as parts of the East Coast grappled Monday with still-dangerous flood waters, widespread power outages and stranded residents.
At least 21 deaths in nine states were blamed on Irene, which fizzled to a post-tropical cyclone and headed over eastern Canada on Monday. About 3 million customers were without power across the path traveled by Irene.”
FEMA Praised By Governors For Storm Response Huffington Post: “Governors of both parties are praising the federal response to Hurricane Irene, giving a much-needed vote of confidence to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has been struggling to regain its good name after its response to Hurricane Katrina.”
Ron Paul Addresses Hurricane Irene, Says ‘There’s No Magic About’ FEMA. [Huffington Post]: “Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told NBC News on Friday that ‘there’s no magic about’ the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He said that he doesn’t see the need for a federal response to Hurricane Irene as the powerful storm makes its way up the east cost. ‘We should be like 1900, we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960,’ said the Texas congressman in weighing in on the matter during a stop in New Hampshire. He regarded FEMA as a ‘great contribution to deficit financing.’”
Rick Perry Update
Politico’s Jonathan Martin asks, “Is Rick Perry dumb?”: “Doubts about Perry’s intellect have hounded him since he was first elected as a state legislator nearly three decades ago. In Austin, he’s been derided as a right-place, right-time pol who looks the part but isn’t so deep – “Gov. Goodhair.” Now, with the chatter picking back up among his enemies and taking flight in elite Republican circles, the rap threatens to follow him to the national stage. ‘He’s like Bush only without the brains,’ cracked one former Republican governor who knows Perry, repeating a joke that has made the rounds. …But conversations with both Perry admirers and critics reveal a more complicated assessment about the mind of a politician who has never lost an election—and ranks as the longest-serving governor in Texas history.”
Rick Perry became a millionaire while serving in office [McClatchy]: “Since his first race for office more than a quarter-century ago, Gov. Rick Perry has emphasized his roots as a rural farmer. Yet Perry’s bank account no longer reflects those humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates’ political connections. In just about every campaign Perry has run since 1989, allegations of his using his position for financial gain have come up. It’s an issue that Perry long ago accepted would linger as long as he remains in the public eye.”
Perry calls Social Security ‘monstrous lie’ [Houston Chronicle]: “Riding high in the polls, Gov. Rick Perry rode into Iowa on Saturday with tough talk on President Obama, the economy and foreign policy and a declaration that Social Security is not only a Ponzi scheme but a ‘monstrous lie’ for younger people… Asked by a woman in the crowd about Social Security being viewed as an entitlement program, Perry reiterated the suggestion in his anti-Washington book, Fed Up!, that the program amounts to a Ponzi scheme. ‘It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie,” Perry said. “It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.’”
Bachmann says God sends message through disasters. [USA Today]: “GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann suggested to a Florida audience that God is sending a message to politicians through natural disasters like Hurricane Irene. According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the Minnesota congresswoman said: ‘I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.’”
Pat Robertson: Crack In Washington Monument A Sign From God, Earthquake Signals Coming Of Christ [Huffington Post]: “Televangelist Pat Robertson suggested Wednesday that cracks in the Washington Monument caused by the August 23 earthquake could be a sign from God, and the natural disaster ‘means that we’re closer to the coming of the Lord.’ To explain the rare east coast quake, Robertson pointed to the Biblical prophecy of the end of the world, which claims there could be potential devastation from natural disasters leading up to Jesus’ return to Earth. On his television show, ‘The 700 Club,’ Robertson said: ‘I don’t want to get weird on this, so please take it for what it’s worth, but it seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation, we look at that monument and we say this is one nation under God. Now there’s a crack in it.’”