MORNING MESSAGE: Will The Media Cover The “Back To Work” Budget?
OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher: “For the past 24 hours, the media has dutifully reported on the budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, even though everyone knows it is extremely unlikely to become law. That’s fine; it’s not the media’s job to short-circuit debate. It’s the media’s job to report factually on the ideas proposed in Congress, so the public can weigh in before Congress votes. Today, another budget will be proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the ‘Back to Work’ budget. It probably won’t become law either. But it deserves every bit of media attention that Ryan’s budget gets.”
President Talks “Grand Bargain” On Capitol Hill
Friction between President and Senate liberals over “grand bargain” at private meeting. Roll Call: “Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he and Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., urged the president not to trim benefits. Harkin also pushed against raising the Medicare or Social Security ages. But the president did not waver from a proposal to change the way inflation is calculated, known as chained CPI, which would have the effect of lowering entitlement payment increases over the years. On retirement and the Medicare eligibility age, while the president said there are other ways to find savings, he did not give an express commitment to oppose the idea, Harkin said.”
Two parties still far apart. AP: “Democrats have long insisted that higher taxes — chiefly on the wealthy — must accompany any reductions in those entitlement programs. There must be a ‘balanced approach’ to reducing the deficit, they say. But Republicans say Obama used his only bit of tax leverage in December, in the ‘fiscal cliff’ resolution. Now they are pushing Democrats to confront Medicare’s and Social Security’s long-term funding problems without the political sweetener that liberals have always demanded and that Obama called for in his re-election campaign.”
Many Republicans “very, very, very skeptical” of Obama outreach. Roll Call: “Some senators emerged from the [dinner] gathering impressed and hopeful. But others have privately groused that Obama is less interested in establishing relationships to foster a grand bargain on fiscal issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling and is more concerned with scoring a public relations victory and ensuring the upper hand when most Republicans inevitably decline to raise income and other taxes in order to consummate a deal.”
Obama’s outreach comes “with an edge” says W. Post: “…Wednesday when Obama meets first with House Republicans … hours later, he will address leaders of Organizing for Action (OFA), his potent campaign organization now retooled to help secure his domestic agenda by battling Republicans … Some of the same House Republicans the president will address are already feeling the sharper edge of OFA.”
President slams Ryan budget on ABC: “If you look at what Paul Ryan does to balance the budget, it means that you have to ‘voucherize’ Medicare, you have to slash deeply into programs like Medicaid, you’ve essentially got to either tax middle class families a lot higher than you currently are, or you can’t lower rates the way he’s promised.”
Evidence shows lower taxes don’t fuel growth, finds NYT’s Eduardo Porter: “… there is little evidence that tax cutting has worked as advertised. Thomas L. Hungerford, an economist with the Congressional Research Service, got into trouble with Republicans last year when he published a study suggesting that the sharp drop in top tax rates since 1945 did little to lift economic growth but probably did contribute to soaring income inequality. And there’s no clear evidence that lower tax burdens have helped the United States grow faster than other advanced industrial nations with higher tax rates and much heavier tax burdens.”
White Sails, Cordray Stalls
SEC nominee Mary Jo White expected to be confirmed after Senate hearing. NYT: “While she received a friendly reception during two hours of testimony, the Senate Banking Committee grilled Ms. White, the nominee for S.E.C. chairwoman, on her regulatory agenda, demanding that Ms. White complete new rules for Wall Street and take aim at financial fraud … Ms. White promised to tackle enforcement actions and unfinished regulation, but offered scant details on her plans. She did, however, signal a flexible approach to reforming money market funds, an approach that could draw scrutiny from investor advocates and liberal lawmakers.”
“A Low Bar Set For Mary Jo White At SEC Confirmation Hearing” reports OurFuture.org’s Isaiah J. Poole.
Richard Cordray hits GOP stonewall in Senate hearing. McClatchy: “…Republicans have vowed to block any nominee President Barack Obama chooses to lead the consumer bureau until the agency changes its leadership structure and submits to more congressional oversight … Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., complained that Republicans were withholding approval of Cordray in an effort to hobble a fledgling watchdog agency that they never wanted to exist in the first place …”