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: “Super Committee” — Will Americans Get a Vote?
OurFuture.org’s Dave Johnson: “Congress’ ‘supercommittee’ of the 1% is preparing an austerity plan for the 99%. Will We, the People be allowed to vote on this plan, or, like Greece, will the elites just tell us how it is going to be? … Here we are a year after our first post-Citizens United election, in which corporations were allowed to use money to directly influence our elections … Here we are with the results, a year with no jobs plan from the corporate-elected House majority and a year of filibusters of jobs plans by the corporate-elected Senate Republicans. Here we are with people in the streets, like in Greece, being met with police force, like in Egypt. Meanwhile our Congress pretends it can just ignore the will of We, the People. Mubarak tried that – didn’t end so well for him.”
Ohio Workers On Verge of Major Referendum Win
“Ohio Set To Vote Big Against Kasich’s Anti-Union Law” tomorrow, reports TPM: “The poll shows only 36% of Ohioans will vote to support the law, while a decisive 59% oppose the bill and will vote to repeal it. Kasich’s own approval mirrors those numbers, with only 33% approval and 57% disapproval…”
Columbus Dispatch reporter Joe Vardon tells Salon why workers are poised to win: “The labor side has raised more than $30 million. It has momentum going for so long because it had to start by collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot to begin with. To get those signatures, it had to really amass a wide network of volunteers. Many of those volunteers stayed on once it was on the ballot and time to campaign for repeal of the bill itself. With that money and volunteer base and momentum, the labor coalition has been able to set up an expansive network of field offices and operations and has really focused on direct voter contact for months … We Are Ohio, the labor group, is sticking to public workers and not using the traditional tactic of having politicians out front. The primary pitchman for the pro-Issue 2 side is the governor, John Kasich.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in Ohio for final push reports The Hill.
Jobless Aid Extension May Pass
Jobless aid proponents concede on offsets in hopes of extension. The Hill: “A positive sign is that while talk about the issue has been subdued, discussions are escalating on reauthorizing the federal benefits … In the past, the contentious nature of passing an extension, regardless of length, has created spirited debate, mainly over whether the $44 billion yearly cost should be offset. This time around program advocates say they have no problem paying for the program, which helps millions of unemployed workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits, although they prefer that any offsets are pushed down the road at least three years.”
WSJ focuses on “Generation Jobless”: “The unemployment rate for males between 25 and 34 years old with high-school diplomas is 14.4%—up from 6.1% before the downturn four years ago and far above today’s 9% national rate … ‘We’re at risk of having a generation of young males who aren’t well-connected to the labor market and who don’t feel strong ownership of community or society because they haven’t benefited from it,’ says Ralph Catalano, a professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley.”
FT’s Ed Luce rips conservatives for blocking infrastructure bill: “At a time when US businesses prefer to hoard rather than invest their cash, and when long-term interest rates are so low the money is virtually free, the political system is unable to accomplish what ought to be a no-brainer. Until now, America has never faced an ideological divide on infrastructure: both parties accepted the need to upgrade roads, dams, bridges, energy and water systems … We need go back only to 2005 when a Republican-controlled Capitol Hill pushed through the infamous $280bn Highways Act, which was the largest transport bill in US history. Dubbed the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ because it was stuffed with boondoggles, including the notorious $223m Alaskan bridge to an island of 50 people already served by ferry, the bill won near-unanimous support. A few years later, those seem like the good old days.”
Frances Fox Piven on “The War Against The Poor.” TomDispatch: “This politically driven attack on the poor proved just the opening drama in a decades-long campaign launched by business and the organized right against workers. This was not only war against the poor, but the very ‘class war’ that Republicans now use to brand just about any action they don’t like. In fact, class war was the overarching goal of the campaign, something that would soon enough become apparent in policies that led to a massive redistribution of the burden of taxation, the cannibalization of government services through privatization, wage cuts and enfeebled unions, and the deregulation of business, banks, and financial institutions.”
Pipeline Protest Encircles White House
Thousands protest proposed tar sands pipeline at White House. W. Post: “The State Department had been expected to decide by Dec. 31 whether the proposed pipeline may proceed, but in recent weeks there has been speculation that the decision could be delayed as the administration weighs economic and political implications.”
Subsidies for dirty energy are getting in the way of solar power, notes NYT’s Paul Krugman: “Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy … we’re just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal. And if we priced coal-fired power right, taking into account the huge health and other costs it imposes, it’s likely that we would already have passed that tipping point. But will our political system delay the energy transformation now within reach?”
Privatizing state government workers not saving money. NYT: “The quality of services provided by contract workers, for example, may not be as consistent as that of experienced government employees. And taxpayers can end up paying for the cuts in more indirect ways … A study by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit Washington group, found that in 33 of 35 occupations, using contractors cost the federal government billions of dollars more than using government employees. And some municipalities have brought outsourced services back into the public fold after determining they could perform the work as cost-effectively as private companies.”
Tennessee faces backlash over badly implemented teacher evaluation system. NYT: “Because there are no student test scores with which to evaluate over half of Tennessee’s teachers … the state has created a bewildering set of assessment rules. Math specialists can be evaluated by their school’s English scores, music teachers by the school’s writing scores. ‘One of my teachers came to me six weeks ago and said, “Will, morale is in the toilet,” ‘ Mr. Shelton recalled. ‘This destroys any possibility of building a family atmosphere. It causes so much distrust.’”
Time’s Michael Crowley assesses Mitt Romney’s plan to cut the deficit by cutting retirement security: “…the former Massachusetts governor said he’d like to gradually raise the [Social Security] retirement age and ‘slow the growth in benefits for those with higher incomes’ … Romney’s [Medicare] plan borrows from [Rep. Paul] Ryan’s, which is beloved by the right but toxic with the general electorate, by offering seniors vouchers to purchase private health insurance. But it features a crucial difference: Romney would give seniors the choice to stick with Medicare in its current form … Romney left some important questions unanswered, including how much those vouchers would be worth.”
Defense Sec Panetta plays up possible spending cuts: “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is considering reductions in spending categories once thought sacrosanct, especially in medical and retirement benefits, as well as further shrinking the number of troops and reducing new weapons purchases … He said that meeting deficit-reduction targets might require another round of base closings, which could be highly contentious … Pentagon strategists were looking at additional cuts in the nuclear arsenal, with an eye toward determining how many warheads the military needed to deter attacks. Mr. Panetta also held out the possibility of cutting the number of American troops based in Europe …”