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: Austerity Bites
OurFuture.org’s Robert Borosage: “Austerity bites. According to the BLS, 163,000 new jobs were produced in July, up from the last month but still barely at the level needed to keep up with new workers coming into the jobs market. Government employment was down by 9,000 jobs, at a time when the government should be boosting the private economy, not burdening it. In Great Britain, austerity has produced recession. In Europe, it has increased misery and increased debt burdens. In the US, the failure to sustain our traditional policy of increased government spending in a recession is crippling the recovery. And now, with growth slowing in Europe, China, India and most of the world, it is time for coordinated global agreement for government action to boost their economies, not drain them.”
“Long Slog Upward”
July jobs reports depicts “long slog upward” says NYT: “July’s job growth was higher than economists had been expecting, but still signifies the economy is just barely treading water. For context, the economy now produces as many goods and services — more, in fact — than it did before the downturn officially began in December 2007. But it does so with almost five million fewer jobs.”
Federal govt funds innovative program to accelerate transportation job creation in LA. W. Post’s Harold Meyerson: “The rail construction funded by Measure R would take 30 years. Since the half-cent sales-tax revenue from a county of 10 million people was about as assured a stream of revenue as anyone could devise, why not borrow against that stream and accelerate the construction to just 10 years? Building all the rail lines in one decade … would create close to 400,000 construction jobs … The bipartisan transportation bill that Congress passed and President Obama signed last month included funding for just such a program … [The] Building Trades Council has set aside half of its apprenticeships on the project for veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars and residents of low-income Zip codes … this kind of set-aside — much like the vast construction project in which it is situated — is exactly what America needs.”
Romney Will Raise Your Taxes While Hiding His
Obama drills Romney’s reverse Robin Hood tax plan. NYT quotes: “He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can pay less.”
While Romney falsely claims his tax plan is like Simpson-Bowles. NYT: “…in an interview with conservative Fox host Sean Hannity, Mr. Romney said ‘my plan is very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.’ The Romney proposal, however, has little in common with that bipartisan deficit-reduction proposal from a majority on the fiscal commission that Mr. Obama created in 2010. The Simpson-Bowles plan called for reduced income tax rates, but it would have raised about $2 trillion more in tax revenues over 10 years, mostly from high-income taxpayers, and cut spending to reduce the federal debt.”
President today plans to rally public behind middle class tax cuts with 11:45 AM ET online address at www.whitehouse.gov/we-need-you.
Team Romney tries, fails, to debunk study proving he would raise taxes on middle class. W. Post: “…Romney wants to close corporate tax breaks … to pay for lowering rates to 25 percent. The problem … is that even closing corporate loopholes can only get you part of the way there, according to Congress’s own nonpartisan tax office … For the entire tax plan to remain revenue-neutral, even more tax breaks would have to be eliminated for American households.”
Romney oddly tells Sen. Harry Reid to “put up or shut up” about his own tax returns. Reid responds in kind. Politico quotes: “When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it’s his obligation to put up…”
Bipartisan Senate Panel Rebuffs Romney On Wind Power
Senate cmte stands up to Romney, backs wind power tax credit. NYT: “The Senate Finance Committee voted to renew a tax credit for wind power that is set to expire at the end of this year, with several Republicans joining Democrats to support extending the credit for one more year at a cost of $3.3 billion … More than 81 percent of the installed wind capacity in the United States is in Congressional districts represented by Republicans … ‘This is still an infant industry even after 20 years, and probably for three or four more years it’s going to need a tax incentive to become a mature industry,’ said [GOP Sen. Chuck] Grassley, a longtime champion of the wind subsidy. ‘Do you want alternatives to fossil fuel or don’t you? If you want alternatives, they’re not going to get started if they can’t compete.’”
Coal baron Robert Murray is back, blaming Obama for his layoffs. CNN: “‘There will be additional layoffs, not only at Murray Energy, but also throughout the United States coal industry due to Mr. Obama’s “war on coal”…’ Murray said. Yet White House spokesman Clark Stevens rebutted that view, pointing to ‘flexibilities for clean coal standards over the last three years’ and the fact U.S. coal production is on the upswing. There were more U.S. coal miners working this year, for instance, than any year since 1997 and U.S. coal exports rose 31% over the previous year, he said.” 2007 FLASHBACK – Murray rants about global warming while six of his miners are trapped underground, from Raw Story.
No Drought Relief From Congress
Congress breaks for summer without passing farm bill or emergency drought aid. CNN: “Most farmers devastated by the drought are getting help from federally assisted insurance policies. But a number of livestock producers are in serious trouble. Why? A decision by Congress four years ago to pass a five-year farm bill that eliminated key federal livestock support programs in 2012 instead of 2013 … In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive new five-year farm bill renewing the livestock programs in question while cutting the deficit by roughly $23 billion … The House GOP, however, remains sharply split … Some tea party conservatives want to cut spending more deeply …”
The “fiscal cliff” was created by Bush. Bloomberg: “…Republicans were concerned that they couldn’t bring on enough Democrats to pass it. So they resorted to reconciliation, the same parliamentary maneuver Democrats would use in 2010 to pass a health-care law.
While that allowed Republicans to get around a threatened filibuster, Senate rules don’t allow bills passed by reconciliation to create deficits more than 10 years in the future. Thus, the 10-year expiration date. ‘Everyone understood that it was 10 years with a wink,’ says Democrat Tom Daschle, then-Senate minority leader.”
Krugman v. DeMarco
NYT’s Paul Krugman slams FHFA’s Ed DeMacro: “Reducing the [debt] burden on Americans in financial trouble would mean more jobs and improved opportunities for everyone … the obvious place to provide debt relief is on mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … But Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie, refuses to move on refinancing … He claimed that the plan, while improving his agency’s financial position thanks to subsidies from the Treasury Department, would be a net loss to taxpayers — a conclusion not supported by his own staff’s analysis…”
CAP’s John Griffith proposes solution for Treasury to overcome DeMarco’s opposition: “…the Treasury Department should bite the bullet and pay the full cost of principal reductions at Fannie and Freddie through the Home Affordable Modification Program. There are two ways Treasury can accomplish this. Based on current program rules, Treasury covers between 18 cents and 63 cents on each dollar of forgiven through the program’s Principal Reduction Alternative. If the Federal Housing Finance Agency were to ratchet that number up to 100 cents on the dollar for certain Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans, then its cost concerns would no longer be an issue. Alternatively, Treasury could just use funds from the standard Home Affordable Modification Program to pay off in full any amount that would otherwise be set aside as forbearance in Fannie and Freddie’s existing standard for this program.”
Fraudulent mortgage robo-signing firm settles in MO. AP: “Missouri has reached a settlement with a mortgage-services company over criminal accusations that the company had used fake signatures on documents to speed the processing of home foreclosures … Lender Processing Services, the parent company of DocX, will pay Missouri $1.5 million and reimburse the attorney general’s office $500,000 for the cost of the investigation … Lender Processing Services also agreed to cooperate with [AG Chris] Koster’s continuing criminal investigation of the former DocX president, Lorraine O. Brown.”
Bank of America subpoenaed in Libor investigation: “Bank of America said it’s cooperating with regulators and that it has been named as a defendant, along with other Libor- setting banks, in lawsuits from investors who may have incurred losses on assets tied to the benchmark.”