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: Romney Backer: CEOs Have “Insufficient Influence”
OurFuture.org’s Terrance Heath: “Ken Griffin’s interview reminded me that these guys are not just donors but, as the New York Times put it, ‘donors with agendas,’ … Romney’s donors, more than half of whom are hedgies like Griffin, stand to gain a lot if Romney should win the presidential election. If their guy wins, they can look forward to lower taxes on income taxes, lower taxes on investment income, and a rollback of regulations that Griffin says places the financial sector ‘under Washington’s thumb.’ If Obama wins, they could face higher taxes on the wealthy, the tightening of the ‘carried interest loopholes’ that save them billions every year. So, their contributions — their investments — are well placed. But, they’re not so much investing as they are buying shares.”
Presidential Straight Talk On Gas Prices
Two polls suggest high gas prices dragging down presidential approval. NYT: “Mr. Obama’s drop was particularly pronounced among low-income households that may be feeling the pinch of the higher gas prices — as well as increases in prices for groceries and some retail items — more than others.”
But president has edge with independents. NYT: “…49 percent of independents said they favored Mr. Obama, compared with 41 percent for Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama leads Mr. Santorum by 10 points among independents … Independent men split closely between Mr. Obama and the leading Republican candidates. But independent women said they preferred Mr. Obama by double digits.”
And Bloomberg poll finds more Americans feel “better off” under Obama: “More Americans now say they are personally better off since President Barack Obama took office than worse off, the first favorable reading for the president on that question since Bloomberg began asking in December 2010.”
Energy experts exonerate Obama on higher gas prices. W. Post: “Today’s oil prices are the product of years and decades of exploration, automobile design and ingrained consumer habits combined with political events in places such as Sudan and Libya, anxiety about possible conflict with Iran, and the energy aftershocks of last year’s earthquake in Japan … ‘There is a substantial time lag between the adoption of energy policies [on the demand and supply sides] and their impact on the market,’ said Jay Hakes, a former administrator of the Energy Information Administration … Hakes said that ‘Obama is on a good path to ease future markets.’ He cites the president’s decisions to open new areas for exploration and development, most notably Alaska’s Arctic coasts, and to deal aggressively with oil demand by raising efficiency standards for automobiles.”
President makes case for long-term energy strategy in series of local TV interviews. The Hill: “Obama has tried to pin some of the blame on the GOP presidential candidates, who he said are adding to fears about an Iran strike … ‘The biggest driver of these high gas prices is speculation about possible war in the Middle East, which is why we have been trying to reduce some of the loose talk about war there,’ Obama said … Obama stuck to familiar themes on Monday, arguing the country can’t drill its way out of the problem. Only efforts to curb demand, Obama said, will have a lasting impact.
More from Orlando TV interview with Obama, in Politico: “Anybody who says that they’ve got some magic bullet to get oil, gas prices down to 2 bucks a gallon aren’t telling the truth.”
Job Crisis Not Over
Current job growth pace would take eight years to recover all lost jobs. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson: “It’s not just enough to make jobs for everybody seeking work this year. We also have to account for the millions of people joining the workforce over the next decade. Filling the jobs gap is like filling a bucket that gets deeper every minute.”
WH proposes consolidation of job assistance programs to ease access. Bloomberg: “The plan would combine the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides training and aid to workers who lost their jobs because of foreign competition, and the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker program, which offers some benefits to those who lose their jobs for other reasons … the plan broadened the definition of a displaced worker so that more people would get the higher benefits received for jobs lost to foreign competition.”
Senate to vote today on GOP plan to pay for transportation by cutting fed worker pay. W. Post’s Joe Davidson: “In an amendment to the highway bill now being considered by the Senate, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) wants money saved by extending the federal pay freeze to fund energy projects, an adoption tax credit, and tax deductions for college expenses and for state and local property taxes.”
US To Join Europe and Japan In China Trade Complaint
International complaint against China’s restriction on rare earth mineral exports: “Five separate issues — involving auto parts, cars, solar panels, anti-subsidy laws and rare earth metals — are all likely to see action by American officials, European officials or both, starting as soon as this week. On Tuesday, in fact, the United States, the European Union and Japan plan to file a formal ‘request for consultations’ with China at the World Trade Organization about Chinese restrictions on exports of rare earth metals. President Obama will personally announce the move … China has shown a willingness to use its near monopoly on rare earth production as a trade weapon, sharply reducing shipments to the West through export taxes and quotas that have forced many companies to move factories to China.”
Stepped up action on China comes as currency weakens anew. NYT: “Compounding the trade tensions is the prospect of revived frictions over China’s currency policies. After rising fairly consistently against the dollar for nearly two years, helping quiet Western criticism that Beijing has kept the renminbi artificially low, the currency has begun to weaken again, making Chinese exports more competitive on the global market.”
GOP divided over budget proposal. NYT: “…conservative House Republicans want to cap spending on programs under Congress’s discretion well below the $1.047 trillion cap set by the budget deal last summer. But House Appropriations Committee leaders and Republican moderates, facing tough re-election campaigns, want to stick to the agreement struck with President Obama seven months ago … The budget blueprint for the coming fiscal year — to be unveiled next week — will also reignite the fight over Medicare …
Spain agrees to austerity plan. NYT: “[European] ministers reached an accord with Spain that it would make additional efforts ‘beyond what has already been announced by the Spanish authorities so far,’ cutting its budget deficit by another further 0.5 percent of gross domestic product this year.
Justice Dept. blocks TX law that makes it harder to vote. The Hill: “The Justice Department on Monday blocked a new Texas law that requires government-issued photo identification at the polls … Attorney General Eric Holder has also challenged a voter ID law in South Carolina, and six other states have passed an ID requirement in the past year. The Voting Rights Act empowers the Justice Department to halt voting laws or redistricting actions in 16 states — including Texas and South Carolina — if the changes would have a discriminatory effect.”
“Rush Limbaugh Syndicator Suspends National Ads For Two Weeks” reports ThinkProgress: “The development suggests that Rush Limbaugh’s incessant sexist attacks on Sandra Fluke have caused severe damage to the show … Over the last several days much of the advertising time during the Rush Limbaugh show on his flagship station, WABC, has been filled with free public service announcements.”