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: More GOP Layoff Notices
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “…in what appears to be a coordinated plan, Lockheed Martin threatened to send out fraudulent “layoff notices” to over one hundred thousand employees, while its minions in Congress simultaneously demand that the Pentagon do the same. … Since you were so eager to have the Pentagon send layoff notices in battleground political states, I’m sure you’ll agree that other government agencies should start sending out notices too – especially if your radical changes to the already reckless sequestration plan are passed. Here are a few suggestions … 3,700,000 Teacher Layoff Notices … Several Hundred Thousand Latchkey Kid Notices … 21,800,000 Million No Care For Veterans Notices … 311 Million ‘Gut-Bombs, New Diseases, and Deadly Foods’ Notices…”
Bogus Layoff Notices Timed For Election
“Fiscal cliff” layoff notices under fire. W. Post: “…warnings may start going out at a particularly sensitive time: Days before the presidential election. By law, all but the smallest companies must notify their workforce at least 60 days in advance when they know of specific job cuts that are likely to happen. Obama administration officials say that the threat of layoffs is overblown and that Republicans are playing up the possibility rather than trying to head it off. The Labor Department said Monday that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for contractors to send out large-scale dismissal notices, because it is unclear whether the federal cuts will occur and how they would be carried out.”
No government shutdown expected this year. W. Post: “It is a sign that Republicans, in particular, understand the political peril of risking a budget fight in late September and would prefer a strategic retreat now, denying Democrats a chance to use a possible shutdown as a political cudgel … Under the deal, agency spending for the first half of the year would rise at a pace that would not exceed a $1.047 trillion limit that both parties agreed to in last summer’s debt deal … That level represents a significant concession by conservatives, who had wanted to cut spending much more deeply.”
CBPP tallies up the Bush tax cuts: “The average tax cut that people making over $1 million received exceeded $110,000 in each of the last nine years — for a total of more than $1 million over this period … In each of the nine years from 2004 through 2012, the tax cuts increased the after-tax income of the highest-income taxpayers by a far larger percentage than they did for middle- and low-income taxpayers.”
House conservatives holding up drought aid to farmers by insisting on massive cuts to food aid for the poor. NYT: “… the House has been stymied, in large part by conservatives who have pressed for deep cuts to the expanded food stamp program. Without movement, a bipartisan drought relief package has had no vehicle to get out of Congress on … House Republican leaders indicated they would back a one-year extension of existing farm programs, crop insurance and subsidies, with a drought package attached. But on Monday, it became clear that will be no easy task this week.”
What’s Romney Hiding?
Did Romney avoid paying taxes on his children’s trust fund? Tax law Prof. Michael J. Graetz explores in NYT oped: “…we have no clue whether Mr. Romney paid any gift tax on transfers, now valued at $100 million, to a trust he set up in 1995 for the benefit of his five sons … A gift of $100 million to one’s children could, therefore, require paying a tax of as much as $29 million to $44 million. But every good tax professional knows that gift tax returns are rarely audited … Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts…”
Romney’s penchant for secrecy comes from his private equity background. Politico: “…most private equity firms operate in a black box world where they can take publicly traded companies private so that they won’t have to face public demands of shareholders.”
Romney risks Iowa by opposing wind power tax credit. Des Moines Register: “Top GOP leaders in Iowa — including Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and the entire congressional delegation — champion the tax break as a vital economic development tool. Monday evening, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham said the position Team Romney laid out ‘shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation. It’s the wrong decision.’”
Moderate GOPer Squeezed Out
No room for a worker-friendly congressperson in the GOP? Roll Call on the sudden retirement of Rep. Steven LaTourette: “Rep. Steven LaTourette’s sudden decision not to run for re-election in November centers around a reported dispute over future committee assignments … the senior GOP post at the Labor-HHS [appropriations] panel will be open after this year’s elections … LaTourette, who is one of labor’s closest allies in the Republican Conference … might have viewed himself as an ideal chairman at Labor-HHS … LaTourette’s reconfigured 14th district leans slightly Republican, and the seat could be in play this fall …”
LaTourette also reportedly blocked from becoming Transportation chair reports Politico.
Dean Baker exposes “The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare”: “In a column last week, [Steven] Pearlstein told readers that the top executives of some of the country’s largest companies are getting together to craft a budget package … At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare … the effect of [the Social Security cost-of-living] cut accumulates into a much bigger deal over time. After 10 years it is roughly 3 percent, after 20 years it would be close to 6 percent, and after 30 years it would be close to 9 percent … if President Obama’s proposal to increase taxes [by 3%] on the richest 2 percent is a big deal, then the plan to cut the Social Security COLA is also a big deal.”
Some at Fed pushing for “pre-emptive stimulus.” NYT: “On the eve of the Fed’s policy-making committee meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, members who favor additional action argued that the likely path of the economy was itself sufficient reason for action … But officials, including the Fed’s vice chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, have sought to reinforce the case for action by arguing that the Fed also should seek to offset the looming risk that a European turndown will set off a global financial crisis … Proponents of new action continue to face resistance from officials who remain uncertain that the economy has lost momentum and would prefer to wait at least until the Fed’s next meeting in September.”
Obama suggests more specifics concerning second-term agenda coming soon. ABC quotes: “There is going to be, though, as the summer winds down and we get into the fall, the need for voters in these swing states to know not just what they’re voting against but also what they’re voting for. And so we’ll be spending a lot of time talking about the specific agenda that I intend to pursue in the second term, which I think will make sure that this economy is going full guns.”