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: How Obama Can Prevent Another Debt Limit Crisis
American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie: “…the most important political news of the year came a few weeks ago when House Speaker John Boehner promised a repeat of last summer’s debt ceiling showdown … for three-and-a-half years, Republicans … opposed the stimulus, pushed for spending cuts, blocked further measures to improve the economic picture, and then blamed Obama for the results. With that in mind, causing another debt ceiling crisis would be par for the course. The smart thing for Obama to do would be to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and direct the Treasury to ignore it. In the short-term, there would be a firestorm of controversy. But in the long-term, he will have taken a potent weapon off the table, and potentially saved his reelection bid.” Click here to see Jamelle Bouie at the June 18-20 Take Back the American Dream conference.
Big Money Drowning Election
GOPers prepare to spend $1B on election. Politico: “Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress … Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit …”
Conservative super PACs swamping Senate Dems. Bloomberg: “Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who is seeking a Senate seat, are being outspent by at least a 3-to-1 ratio on television advertising … The disparity could take a greater toll on House and Senate Democrats than on Obama because his re-election committee, which entered May with $115 million in cash on hand, is expected to have enough money to get its message out to voters and counter attacks.”
Big money steps in for Gov. Walker. NYT: “Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican of Wisconsin who faces a recall election next week, raised more than $5 million in the last month alone … That brings Mr. Walker’s total fund-raising since the start of 2011 to more than $30 million … While [Mayor Tom] Barrett has raised far less than Mr. Walker overall, Mr. Barrett’s campaign said it had almost $1.5 million on hand for the final week of campaigning, nearly even with what Mr. Walker’s campaign says it has left — $1.6 million.”
Romney Looks To Bust Up CFPB
Romney campaign previews policy proposals to ease up on Wall Street. WSJ: “Glenn Hubbard, a top economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said the former Massachusetts governor will soon detail proposals for health care and financial regulation … he said Mr. Romney would propose … replacing the new system for dismantling failing financial companies … a new system of consumer financial regulation that either moves the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outside of the Federal Reserve or breaks up the new agency … wind down the mortgages and securities in the portfolios at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … One of Mr. Romney’s chief budget goals is to reduce government spending to 20% of gross domestic product by the end of his first term – 2016. Such a move would require large spending cuts…”
Bloomberg analyzes the Obama and Romney capital gains tax plans: “Romney proposes keeping the current 15 percent capital gains rate for the estimated 2 percent of households making more than $200,000 a year and eliminating investment taxes for everyone else. Obama wants the rate to rise to 23.8 percent as scheduled in 2013 … The current 15 percent top capital gains rate compares with a 35 percent top tax rate for ordinary income … Eliminating preferential rates on capital gains and dividends would reduce by 5.8 percent the after-tax income of households making more than $1 million a year, compared with a drop of 0.9 percent for all U.S. households, according to the Tax Policy Center…”
Romney “upstaged” by Trump. NYT: “… during campaign events on Tuesday, Mr. Romney showed little willingness to distance himself from Mr. Trump or address further questions. He broke from his recent practice of making himself available to reporters on his plane or on the rope line. He also canceled some interviews with local news media. Mr. Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, seized upon Mr. Trump’s comments, releasing a Web video on Tuesday morning that accused Mr. Romney of being unwilling to stand up to ‘voices of extremism.’”
Romney Flip-Flops On Coal in Colorado
Romney used to back coal regulation. Salon.com: “…Romney was not always so pro-coal. In 2006, after he pulled out of a regional greenhouse gas emission agreement, Romney released an alternative plan that called for coal-burning power plants to ‘pay to plant a forest in Brazil if those trees absorb the amount of carbon dioxide the plant must reduce from its smokestacks,’ according to a Boston Globe article from September … in 2003, Romney made a big show of taking on a polluting coal-fired power plant. He held a press conference in front of the PG&E facility and yelled, ‘I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant kills people.’”
Coal takes a big hit in KY. NYT: “…when the operator of the Big Sandy plant announced last year that it would be switching from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas, people here took it as the worst betrayal imaginable … More than 100 of the 500 or so coal-burning power plants in the United States are expected to be shut down in the next few years. … The decline is largely because new pollution rules have made coal plants more costly, while a surge in production of natural gas through the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has sent gas prices plummeting.”
Recovery Act Still Creating Jobs
“Hundreds of Thousands of People Still Owe Their Jobs to the Recovery Act” notes CBPP: “A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that … between 200,000 and 1.5 million people employed in March owed their jobs to the Recovery Act … three years after its enactment, it is still saving and creating jobs.”
The Recovery Act helped turn around the manufacturing industry, finds Center for American Progress’ Christian Weller.
Yet older workers still struggle to re-enter workforce. W. Post: “The percentage of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 who have jobs now stands at 75.7 percent … Before the recession the proportion hovered at 80 percent … this measure of prime-age workers captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects ‘missing workers’ who have stopped looking for work and aren’t included in the unemployment rate.”
More state waivers for No Child Left Behind. NYT: “The Obama administration freed eight states from core provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law on Tuesday, bringing to 19 the number of states granted waivers this year, and officials said that even more states would soon qualify for them.”
GOP preparing health care shift. TPM: “Senate Republicans are echoing the House GOP’s shift in favor of some of the more popular ‘Obamacare’ provisions … Whether coverage of pre-existing conditions is economically viable for insurers without an individual mandate is a dubious proposition, but practical realities are taking a back seat to election year imperatives.”
Some Senate GOPers open to tax increases as part of “grand bargain.” Politico: “Interviews with more than a dozen Senate Republicans show a growing openness to higher tax revenues to reach a so-called grand bargain on overhauling Medicare, other entitlements, discretionary spending and the Tax Code. On top of that, a small group of House GOP freshmen are balking at conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, while six Republican senators recently declined to sign a GOP letter calling for the immediate extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.”
USA Today edit board knocks Dem shift on Bush tax cuts: “Until recently, Democrats have been determined to end the Bush tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 — a poor compromise, but better than leaving all the cuts in place. In an election-year ploy, though, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has upped the ante, calling on Republicans to hold an immediate vote on making the tax cuts permanent for anyone making less than $1 million a year, while ending the cuts for everyone who makes more … At a time when any fair deficit-reduction plan requires a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases, Democrats have foolishly given Republicans their de facto endorsement for ruling out tax hikes for anyone but the super-wealthy.”