Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to affect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: Economists Say Jobs First; Reject The Grand Swindle
OurFuture.org’s Isaiah J. Poole: “The fight to head off a so-called ‘grand bargain’ that would end up being a grand swindle of economic recovery and opportunity for working-class Americans gets kicked up another notch today when a group of 350 prominent economists and experts release a statement warning President Obama and Congress to turn away from the ‘obsessive concern with cutting deficits’ and focus on ‘jobs first.’ These economic experts join a growing chorus of politicians, labor officials and community leaders who have been sending the same basic message to political leaders: Cutting programs that provides economic support to ordinary Americans to make room for more tax cuts for the wealthiest will rob America of a broad-based economic recovery.”
Obama’s Opening Bid: $1.6T In New Taxes On Rich
Obama’s opening bid: $1.6T in new taxes over 10 years on wealthy and corporations. W. Post: “That’s double the sum that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) offered Obama during secret debt negotiations in 2011 … Treasury Secretary Timothy J. Geithner and other senior Democrats on Tuesday said Obama would not be willing to maintain the Bush tax rates in exchange for a cap on deductions for households earning more than $250,000 a year … Fresh off a resounding electoral victory in which they kept the White House and picked up seats in the House and Senate, Democrats said there is no reason to compromise now on a central plank of the president’s platform.”
“Labor bullish after talks with Obama” reports Yahoo! News: “Labor union leaders emerged from talks with President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowing a side-by-side battle against Republicans to bring about higher taxes on the wealthy … ‘It was a very, very positive meeting,’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters … ‘The president, like we are, [is] committed to preserving the tax breaks for the middle class and making sure that rich people pay their fair share. He’s very, very committed to that, we are committed to that,’ Trumka continued … When asked if the president would consider raising the eligibility age for Medicare, Trumka, whose union opposes such changes, said to reporters, ‘If I knew that, why would I talk about it here?’”
Little talk about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Hill: “Obama and the participants largely focused on areas on which they agree: in particular, the need to extend low tax rates for the middle class while letting them expire for wealthier households … There was much less talk about possible areas of disagreement between Obama and his progressive partners, such as on cuts to entitlement spending …”
President suggests he plans a grassroots campaign for deficit deal. Politico: “President Barack Obama and the 11 leaders of progressive and labor groups he met with Tuesday laid the groundwork for continuing a campaign approach through the fiscal cliff battle. Obama raised the possibility of a barnstorming tour to promote his position, while others in the room pledged to keep organizational pressure on Republicans to back Obama’s agenda.”
President meets with CEOs today. Roll Call: “If Obama is fortunate, influential business leaders he has worked with in the past, including Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey R. Immelt, will give him some cover on the tax issue. Business associations, however, strongly oppose the president’s push to raise tax rates and are far closer to the position of congressional Republicans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and National Association of Manufacturers are urging Congress to continue current tax policy well past the new year and then turn to overhauling the tax code and entitlement programs to stabilize the growing national debt.”
Corporations in “Fix The Debt” campaign lobby for massive tax breaks. ThinkProgress: “…this campaign calls for additional corporate tax cuts by switching the U.S. to what’s known as a ‘territorial’ corporate tax system, along the lines of that proposed by Mitt Romney.
According to a report by Institute for Policy Studies, the corporations involved could gain up to $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves such a system, which exempts foreign earnings from the U.S. corporate income tax.”
Losing VP candidate says winner doesn’t have a mandate on taxes reports Politico.
Unemployment insurance future uncertain in deficit deal. ThinkProgress: “The expanded federal unemployment insurance program that provides benefits to millions of long-term unemployed Americans is set to expire at the end of December. If Congress fails to extend it, roughly two million Americans could lose their monthly unemployment checks.”
“Anti-austerity strikes sweep Europe,” reports Reuters: “Hundreds of flights were cancelled, car factories and ports were at a standstill and trains barely ran in Spain and Portugal where unions held their first ever coordinated general strike. Riot police arrested at least two protesters in Madrid and hit others with batons, witnesses said, and in Rome students pelted police with rocks in a protest over money-saving plans for the school system. International rail services were disrupted by strikes in Belgium and workers in Greece, Italy and France planned work stoppages or demonstrations as part of a ‘European Day of Action and Solidarity’.”
Carbon Tax Momentum
Grover Norquist says carbon tax wouldn’t necessarily violate his anti-tax pledge. National Journal: “One group, the Energy and Enterprise Initiative headed by former Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., has been working for months to persuade the GOP to take up a carbon-tax swap as part of a broad tax-reform package next year … The new carbon tax would be paired with a cut in the income tax—something Republicans have long sought … ‘It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge,’ Norquist told National Journal.”
Key House Republican indicates opposition. The Hill: “House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) threw cold water Tuesday on supporting a carbon tax … Gilbert E. Metcalf, Treasury’s deputy assistant secretary for energy and environment … opened the door to discussing carbon taxes in fiscal talks if Republicans initiated the push … Asked if he would accept a carbon tax along with a tax cut elsewhere, Upton said, ‘I don’t like the idea.’ But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said a carbon tax has the potential to win wider support.”
CA launches cap-and-trade program. NYT: “More than six years in the making, the state’s so-called cap-and-trade program sets limits on carbon dioxide emissions for virtually all sectors of California’s economy, the ninth-largest in the world. Emissions allowances are allotted to polluters, and companies whose emissions exceed their allocations must either obtain extra allowances or buy credits from projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
Wind industry looks to maintain tax break in deficit deal. McClatchy: “Wind energy advocates have just weeks to save a multibillion-dollar tax break, arguing half the jobs in the industry will be lost if Congress allows it to expire as scheduled at the end of the year. But opponents are boosting their efforts to kill the tax credit as Congress resumes work this week to grapple with the nation’s huge deficit problem. A group tied to the oil industry is circulating a study saying it’s time for wind to stand on its own without the help.”
New projection of US dominance of the oil market not a game-changer. NYT: “…burning American oil rather than Saudi oil brings few environmental advantages … it will not necessarily ease the tight global oil market … oil production is now falling in the North Sea, Mexico and Venezuela. And mounting consumption of oil in Saudi Arabia and other producing countries that subsidize energy to keep domestic tranquillity is leaving less oil for export … the United States would still need to worry about the Middle East since oil prices are set globally and much of the oil traded on world markets is produced by countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.”
President Signals Action On Immigration
President wants quick action on immigration reform. HuffPost: “President Barack Obama lifted the spirits of a room full of progressive leaders on Tuesday when he pledged to tackle immigration reform early in his second term … Obama brought up immigration reform, unprompted, in his opening remarks — a stark difference from tense previous talks in which he’s been prodded by reform advocates to address the topic.”
Clear majority supports path to citizenship for undocumented in new ABC/W. Post poll: “Fifty-seven percent of Americans in this survey … support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 39 percent opposed. That’s virtually identical to results of a similar question last asked in mid-2010, with support up from its earlier levels, as low as 49 percent in late 2007.”