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 Kick College Grads In The Teeth
OurFuture.org’s Robert Borosage: “Conservatives routinely claim we need severe austerity to save the next generation from massive debt. Yet here they are, about to dump more debt on them right now. Instead of kicking students when they are down, we should end the student debt crisis. The Federal Reserve lends money to banks at rates near 0%, why not lend to students at similar rates? Unlike banks, graduates won’t use the money to blow up the economy … We need to win this fight against the loan rate increase today, and build momentum to win big progressive reforms tomorrow.”
President Steps Up Student Loan Fight
President stumps for low student loan rate in NC and CO. W. Post quotes: ““Do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, or do we want to make sure they’re paying their fair share? Do we want to keep subsidizing Big Oil, or do we want to make sure we’re investing in clean energy? Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students, or do we want to keep investing in things that will help us and help them in the long run?”
And dings Romney flip-flop. NYT: “Democrats said Mr. Romney’s position contradicted his support for the budget by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and his previously expressed skepticism about ‘taxpayers having to subsidize people who want to go to school.’ Without naming Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama mocked his statement. ‘Everybody will give lip service to this,’ he said. ‘You’ll hear a lot of folks say, “Yes, education is important — it’s important.” But it requires not just words but deeds.’”
Senate Dems to introduce student loan bill today, vote in May reports Bloomberg.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell endorses keeping low student loan rate, if cost is offset, reports ThinkProgress.
But neither Romney nor McConnell will say what is an acceptable offset. NYT edit board: “…predictably neither man said where those cuts should come from. The White House and Democrats have proposed raising the money by ending a loophole used by high-paid employees of S-corporations to avoid paying full payroll taxes. The Republican response to that idea is also predictable. This is a party that shows time and again that it wants to protect only those who have made it, not help those struggling to get started.”
Romney, GOP Try New Tacks
Romney aims to define his anti-government agenda as “fair,” in first “general election” speech: “We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”
House GOP to release its own version of the Violence Against Women Act. Politico: “A Republican aide said House GOP leaders want to have ‘an agreement in principle’ over the next few days, with legislative language by the end of the week.”
“Suddenly, No One Likes Austerity”
Britain faces double dip recession. Reuters: “Britain’s economy is in its second recession since the financial crisis, data showed on Wednesday, heaping pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government … The Office for National Statistics said Britain’s gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after contracting by 0.3 percent at the end of 2011.
“Suddenly, no one likes austerity” notes Reuters’ Ryan McCarthy: “More than two years into a sweeping austerity project, European leaders are reportedly rethinking the idea that budget cutbacks can magically fix the continent’s dreary economy … The latest Eurostat numbers, meanwhile, are troubling. Greece, Portugal and Spain significantly reduced their respective budget deficits in the last two years, without anything resembling strong economic growth.”
Declining wages threatens both parties, argues W. Post’s Harold Meyerson: “The stagnation or decrease in wages is partly due to our multinational corporations, which historically have provided about one-fifth of U.S. jobs, and disproportionately more of our high-paying jobs. More and more, however, they are hiring abroad … With private-sector unions now weakened by ineffectual labor laws and implacable employer opposition, manufacturing wages have been slashed to $14 an hour, or lower … No wonder more and more Americans can’t afford to buy houses, despite record-low mortgage rates.”
Reid Fights Keystone
Sen. Maj. Leader Reid pledges to fight to keep Keystone out of transportation jobs bill. The Hill quotes: “I think Keystone is a program that we’re not going, that I am not going to help in any way I can. The president feels that way. I do, too.”
Uncertainty around tax credit damaging wind industry. Politico: “Congress is taking the wind out of turbine sales. And that’s despite support from President Barack Obama, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a substantial roster of House Republicans who see extending the wind tax credit as an electoral imperative … Efforts to attach the credit to other potential vehicles — the initial payroll tax cut extension and transportation packages, for example — have fallen flat, blocked by Republicans or crowded out by other issues.
Even with various Republicans on board with extending the PTC, some Democrats still point their fingers squarely at GOP dogma.”
Bye Bye Blue Dogs
Blue Dog Dems lose PA primaries. HuffPost: “Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), both members of the dwindling conservative Democratic coalition, lost their primary races on Tuesday. Before the defeat of the two incumbents, there were just 25 Blue Dogs left in Congress, after the coalition’s members were wiped out in the 2010 election.”