MORNING MESSAGE: The Wrecking Crew Is Winning
OurFuture.org’s Robert Borosage: “…the Republican Congress is holding the economy hostage as ‘leverage’ to extort deep and unpopular cuts in the core pillars of family security – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid … [And] the wrecking crew is winning by defining what the national debate is about … Senate Democrats provided a classic example on their way out of town last week. They agreed upon a package of tax hikes and spending cuts over the next 10 years designed to spread the cost of delaying the sequester until December. The package featured eminently sensible reforms … But the money raised and saved would be devoted not to rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure and putting people to work … we are victims of a classic example of shock doctrine – the right using an economic calamity to roll back social protections. CLICK HERE to tell Washington: Repeal the Sequester.
GOP Hugs Austerity Bomb
“GOP lawmakers don’t fear political impact of sequester taking effect” reports The Hill: “Rank-and-file Republicans … see the sequester as the best way possible to actually reduce government spending, which they see as the biggest threat to the nation. They are also ready to note the spending cuts will also affect their own offices … Republicans are also getting ready to battle by reminding voters it was the White House that conceived of the sequester …”
They should, says W. Post’s Jonathan Bernstein: “…most voters — most consumers of government services — are going to be a lot more interested in disrupted government services than in the past. And for that, Obama can argue that he wants to restore what’s been cut; Republicans can only offer … more cuts …”
Besides, they voted for it, reminds Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky: “…even if administration officials proposed it, it would have remained just a proposal if those 218 Republicans hadn’t supported it (no House Democrats backed it). Most Republicans agreed at the time that the sequestration trigger was a good thing—that it would force everyone to get together and agree to a path forward and a long-term budget deal.”
France backs off austerity. NYT: “Citing a Europe-wide recession, France’s Socialist government is moving away from its promise to bring its budget deficit down to 3 percent of gross domestic product this year, arguing that the recession creates an exceptional circumstance requiring less austerity … At the same time, the economic squeeze combined with an already high rate of taxation will make it easier for the government to focus on spending cuts, senior ministry officials said.”
Immigrant Movement Revs Up
Immigrant advance plan major rallies next month. LAT: “Over the next few months, hundreds of illegal immigrants are planning to come to Washington to push for an overhaul of immigration laws … Dozens of organizations that represent illegal immigrants have come together to declare March ‘National Coming Out of the Shadows Month.’ Protests are planned for next month in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and Atlanta.”
Concern that increased immigration for workers may reduce opportunities for family members. AP: “About two-thirds of permanent legal immigration to the U.S. is family-based, compared with about 15 percent that is employment-based … Several senators involved in the talks said employment-based immigration must increase to help American competitiveness and the U.S. economy … contentious decisions will surround whether any of the current family categories — such as sibling — is reduced or eliminated.”
WH backs off immigration proposal. Atlantic Wire: “… an unnamed administration official told NBC News that the White House was not ‘floating anything’ and framed the leaked legislation as a backup plan … Former Obama chief-of-staff David Axelrod did say that it was a ‘mistake … to disseminate [the draft] so widely in the administration that it got leaked.’ So maybe the Obama administration wanted it to be leaked? There’s no way to know.”
Minimum Wage Falls Far Far Behind
Indexing minimum wage to inflation is not enough, argues Dean Baker: “…if we hold the purchasing power of the minimum wage fixed through time, as the country as a whole gets richer, minimum wage workers will fall ever further behind … If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50 an hour today … We have structured our economy so that we can get cheap restaurant meals because of low-paid workers. Hotel stays cost less because we ensure a plentiful supply of workers at near the minimum wage. And convenience stores stay open 24 hours because the people working the midnight shift get paid almost nothing. There is no economic reason why those at the bottom should not share in the gains from economic growth.”
Huffington Post compiles 11 people who have spoken out against raising the minimum wage.