Progressive Breakfast: Oh, What a Reeling
By Bill Scher
December 23, 2008 - 9:44am ET
Progressive Breakfast is the morning roundup of what progressive movement members need to know to start the day.
Toyota Losing Money Too
Emptywheel: "Richard Shelby and Bob Corker like to squawk about how the [US automakers] have a failed business model as compared to the wonderful Japanese automakers. Funny. I thought successful business models were profitable ... Toyota's woes demonstrate how ill-informed the debates over the auto relief have been."
Progressive Blue: "can the Corporate Republicans in the Senate finally admit that it was not the evil, godless, pinko union workers that have caused so many problems in our economy, but the Corporate Republicans and Democrats that rubber-stamped every failed economic policy of a completely failed and disgraced President??"
CNN: "A new national poll suggests that a majority of Americans approve of recent loans to the big U.S. automakers, but fewer than three in ten would support any additional assistance if the domestic auto industry asked for such help. Sixty-three percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey support the roughly $13 billion loan package the White House is extending to American automakers to prevent them from going into bankruptcy, with 37 percent opposing the move."
Support The Workers
Bob Herbert: "The economic downturn, however severe, should not be used as an excuse to send American workers on a race to the bottom, where previously middle-class occupations take a sweatshop’s approach to pay and benefits."
KC Star's Mary Sanchez worries the successful worker sit-in in Chicago won't reverberate: "The danger is that the Republic settlement gained concessions for a few - to silence a protest that had gained too much embarrassing attention - while keeping in place the labor practices, business incentives and myriad of loopholes that allow companies to operate at the expense of their own employees."
Conservative RedState expresses hope that "Democrats Going Wobbly" on easier unionization with the Employee Free Choice Act.
Economic Recovery Plan Update
Media Matters pushes back on conservatives citing Japan to argue against infrastructure spending.
States Getting Whacked
LA Times on how cash-strapped states are scrimping on the justice system: "Justice is being delayed or disrupted in state courtrooms across the country." (via Crooks and Liars' Susie Madrak.)
Sac Bee: "State worker unions filed legal challenges Monday against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's mandate of twice-monthly unpaid furloughs and potential layoffs next year ... Schwarzenegger said in a Los Angeles news conference. "But we are running out of cash by February, so I have no other choice."
W. Times' Donald Lambro sees states -- which are obligated to balanced budgets each year -- responding with regressive tax hikes on the poor and middle-class. CAF's David Sirota warned earlier against regressive state tax hikes and advocated progressive tax hikes on those who can still afford it.
Note: Federal aid to states is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy.
AP reports Rep. Barney Frank has reforms in mind for the next phase of the financial industry bailout:
Lawmakers have criticized Treasury for not using any of the initial $350 billion to prevent additional home foreclosures. Up to 2.25 million Americans could lose their homes to foreclosure this year, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has warned.
Frank said his legislation would include a version of a plan, supported by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, to spend $24 billion to give lenders financial incentives to modify more loans and help more borrowers keep their homes. Bair has estimated it could prevent 1.5 million foreclosures.
His proposal also would include a measure, under consideration by Treasury, to use government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce mortgage rates to 4.5 percent or lower to stimulate more home buying.
Frank also wants to revamp the Hope for Homeowners program, which was launched Oct. 1. It was intended to let 400,000 troubled homeowners swap risky loans for conventional 30-year fixed-rate loans with lower rates. The early results have been disappointing, with only 312 applications so far, and officials are looking at ways to expand the program's use.
John Holdren, The Science Guy
Politico's Ben Smith: "...among scientists who worry about climate change, Holdren's in the group who see it as a more urgent, and dangerous, matter. A memorable expression of that view: He published an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled, 'The Sky Is Falling.'"
Wonk Room's Brad John says NYT's John Tierney "appear[s] to go off the deep end" in criticizing's Obama new science adviser John Holdren for supporting strong measures to avert a climate crisis.
Public Plan Option Picks Up Grassroots Steam
NYT drops in on an Obama supporter house party and gets on earful on healthcare: "Dr. Lawrence M. Nelson, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health who emphasized that he was speaking as a private citizen, said: 'The incentives in the current health insurance system are upside down. The less care you provide, the bigger your profits.' Dr. Nelson said he liked Mr. Obama’s proposal to create a new public plan, similar to Medicare, that would compete with private insurance companies." (More on such a plan from the IAF report, "The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform.")
The Nation's Ari Berman showers credit on DNC Chair Howard Dean for the 50-state strategy.
La Vida Locavore: Last day to comment on proposed USDA rules that would mean "half of legitimate organic dairy farmers will no longer qualify as organic."
The Pump Handle: "President-elect Obama’s news release on Sunday, Dec 21 said that VP-elect Joe Biden will be chairing a new White House Taskforce on Working Families. I was surprised, but thrilled to see that workplace safety standards are part of this group’s charge. "
Progressive Breakfast will take a vacation for the rest of the holiday season. Happy Holidays!
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