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: The War on Women Is a Class War
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “The upcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ talks will open up another front in this seemingly endless struggle. Here are some reasons why: 1. There are much fewer women than men at the top of the pay scale. … 2. Cuts to anti-poverty programs disproportionately hurt women. … 3. Austerity cuts are harming women worldwide. … 4. Cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be especially hard on women. … 5. Those top-earner tax breaks would primarily go to men.”
Is The GOP Cracking Enough?
President meets with congressional leaders today. The Hill: “Senior congressional aides, however, describe it as more of a photo op than a substantive bargaining session. Informal talks are already under way, behind the scenes, between White House officials and congressional staff, according to a senior Senate aide. Obama has also called the Democratic leaders of the Senate and House to organize strategy.”
Many GOPers not willing compromise, but others float concessions. W. Post: “Boehner stands atop a nearly unchanged caucus of conservatives … many House conservatives say they feel empowered by Americans’ renewed endorsement of divided government … Many Republicans in the Senate are more realistic about the parameters of a bipartisan agreement. At Wednesday’s GOP Senate policy lunch, several offered ideas for elements of a potential bargain, including Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Neither would provide details … Two people familiar with Corker’s plan said it would raise about $800 billion in the next decade by imposing a $50,000 limit on deductions … One potential wild card in the GOP caucus might be at least 29 Republicans who are retiring or lost their elections and could provide support for a deal.”
Unclear what Obama would accept in return for GOP concession on taxes. W. Post: “What remains unclear is whether Obama’s stronger position will ultimately yield what many of his allies would consider a better deal than the one the president entertained last year. It included some sacred-cow entitlement cuts such as smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients and billions in Medicare savings achieved by raising the eligibility age. Obama ‘didn’t engage’ on those questions when they were brought up during his Tuesday session with liberals, said a person familiar with the discussion. The president offered some assurances on Social Security, saying the program should be discussed only in the context of its long-term solvency and not as a source of additional short-term revenue, according to several people familiar with the meeting – yet he gave softer assurances on Medicare.”
“Republicans Best Hope For Denying Obama’s Tax Goals: Fold Immediately” concludes TPM: “If Republicans do cave, it’ll bank the government just under $1 trillion in new revenues over 10 years, all from the top two percent of earners in the country. President Obama’s goal, though, is to boost 10-year revenues by $1.6 trillion. In other words, if Republicans cut their losses before the end of the year, they’ll leave Obama over half a trillion short of his ultimate goal, and without enough leverage to force them to vote for more. Democrats will be unable to easily wrest from Republicans Obama’s other key ask: that the total value of itemized deductions should be limited to 28 percent of income for people making over $250,000 a year.”
Where Will Dems Draw The Line?
House Dems refrain from ultimatums on specific tax rates. The Hill: “Pelosi said she would prefer to see the top rate rise from 35 to 39.6 percent at the end of the year — ‘I would like that to happen,’ she said — but she was quick to add that members of her caucus have provided her with a long list of ideas for raising revenues, suggesting that even liberal Democrats might back a lower-than-Clinton-era rate for the wealthy if the larger package made up the revenue difference elsewhere.”
Curbing tax breaks can’t raise much revenue, finds Bloomberg: “‘It may prove difficult to gain more than $100 billion to $150 billion in additional tax revenues through base broadening,’ Congressional Research Service economists Jane Gravelle and Thomas Hungerford wrote in a report earlier this year … if all the breaks were eliminated the government wouldn’t raise $1.3 trillion, because taxpayers could change their behavior to avoid higher levies.”
Progressive congresspeople rally to protect Social Security. HuffPost: “A group of progressive lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday called for protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits in any deficit reduction deal. ‘We’re going to send a loud message to the leadership in the House, in the Senate and President Obama. Do not cut Social Security, do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid,’ Sanders said. ‘Deficit reduction is a serious issue but it must be done in a way that is fair.’”
Sen. Majority Leader Reid tries to keep other Dems quiet. Roll Call: “Some liberals in the caucus are urging a high bar for any agreement that includes significant spending cuts. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is crafting a letter with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, urging President Barack Obama to strike a fiscal cliff deal only if there is a 1-to-1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts … Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has discouraged the lawmakers from sending the letter because it would give the impression that Democrats were divided and would take the focus off of Republicans, who are under pressure to allow for a tax rate hike … ‘We urge you to reject changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that would cut benefits…,’ the letter says.”
No reason to raise retirement age for Social Security or Medicare, argues NYT’s Paul Krugman: “…life expectancy at age 65 has risen … But the rise has been very uneven since the 1970s, with only the relatively affluent and well-educated seeing large gains … any further rise in the retirement age would be a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who aren’t living much longer, and who, in many cases, have jobs requiring physical effort that’s difficult even for healthy seniors.”