By Bill Scher
December 2, 2011 - 10:35am ET
Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: Take Back The Capitol
OurFuture.org's Isaiah Poole: "Some critics of the Occupy movement on the right have started saying, 'Instead of occupying Wall Street, you ought to be occupying Washington.' The week of December 5, we will. But it will not be the kind of occupation conservative critics have in mind. 'Take Back the Capitol' is a week of actions intended to expose and challenge the dysfunction in Washington fostered by the intransigence of conservative ideologues, the rapaciousness of corporate lobbyists and the cowardice of those we would expect to stand against them. As a flier promoting the week explains, the aim is to 'show Congress what democracy looks like, shine a light on corporate greed and the human suffering it has caused, and demand justice for the 99 percent.'"
Payroll Tax Cuts Extensions Blocked
Republicans block both parties' versions of payroll tax cut extension. USA Today: "More than two dozen of the Senate's 47 Republicans also voted to kill an alternative plan backed by GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a vote that exposed a wide split among the party over whether renewing an existing 2 percentage point payroll tax cut makes sense ... The White House issued a statement by Obama that accused Republicans of voting to raise taxes on 160 million people because they 'refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.'"
Politico suggests GOP ready to crack: "The question that some in the Capitol are asking is: How did we get here? Republicans started off the year passing an ambitious government funding measure, a scorched-earth plan that left no slice of government programs untouched. Now they’ll simply be happy to extract their pound of flesh on the payroll tax by offsetting the cost with cuts elsewhere."
Some Republicans looking to make changes with unemployment insurance program. The Hill: "The 'goal' of the yet-to-be-released Republican measure will be to fully offset the benefits, and is likely to bar people making more than $100,000 a year from receiving benefits. This means-test strategy is seen as a counter to Democrats’ criticism that the GOP tax policy protects millionaires and billionaires."
Jobs Report Shows "Economy Is Stuck"
"Mediocre" job growth in November. NYT: "The Labor Department said Friday that the nation’s employers added 120,000 jobs last month, after adding 100,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent ... The rate fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force ..."
OurFuture.org's Robert Borosage says "the economy is stuck in first gear": "New jobs are barely at the level of new workers coming into the workforce. Workers aren’t sharing in the rewards of growth, with stagnant incomes not keeping up with costs. Cuts in public employment – such as layoffs of teachers and janitors –remain a drag on the economy ... We need Congress and the Federal Reserve to act now to put people back to work. Use the opportunity posed by record low interest rates to rebuild our decrepit infrastructure. Provide young workers with jobs in urban corps and green corps and the non-profit sector. Provide aid to states and localities to avoid more devastating layoffs of teachers and cops."
Even newly hired are falling behind. NYT: "...just 7 percent of those who lost jobs after the financial crisis have returned to or exceeded their previous financial position and maintained their lifestyles."
President to announce green jobs initiative as part of "we can't wait" agenda. W. Post: "President Obama will announce on Friday a partnership with private companies to invest $4 billion toward making federal government and commercial office buildings more energy-efficient, a program the administration predicted could create tens of thousands of jobs ... White House aides are unveiling the first major round of investments as part of the administration’s 'we can’t wait' initiatives aimed at taking actions to spur the economy that do not require congressional approval."
House Republicans delay introduction on transportation bill. W. Post: "Still searching for the money to pay for it , the House leadership has put the brakes on a long-term transportation spending plan, but Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica says he’s confident that the legislation will pass before the current funding extension expires March 31 ... Mica on Wednesday reiterated his belief that there is a lucrative middle ground by keeping existing interstate highway lanes toll-free but encouraging public-private partnerships to develop lucrative high-occupancy toll lanes ..."
Newt's "Ideas" Get Scrutiny
W. Post sifts through all the "ideas" Gingrich has proposed on the campaign trail: "If he followed through on his plans to defy the high court, Gingrich could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis by putting it on shaky legal ground ... Some of those 70-plus ideas are standard conservative fare, such as repealing President Obama’s health-care law and abolishing the Energy Department ... he would offer another choice [for Social Security that] would allow people to put their money into personal accounts, to be invested in the private market ..."
Newt Gingrich's food stamp claims deemed "Pants on Fire" by Politifact: "Can food stamps be used for anything? No. ... 'We have people who take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii.' No. ... 'They give food stamps now to millionaires.' Only those with incomes of no more than 130 percent of the poverty line qualify. That leaves out millionaires."
"Newt Gingrich expands on his support for child labor" reports LAT: "'I believe the kids could mop the floor and clean up the bathroom and get paid for it, and it would be OK,' he said to applause."
MA Sues Big Banks
Mass AG sues big banks over foreclosure fraud. Boston Globe: "Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is suing five major US banks for allegedly seizing properties unlawfully and failing to help struggling borrowers keep their homes by lowering mortgage payments. The civil lawsuit ... targets Bank of America Corp.,Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and GMAC, a subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc. Also named are Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc., a widely used mortgagerecording firm, and its parent company ... It is the first major legal action taken against the nation’s biggest banks since they started foreclosure-settlement negotiations with the 50 state attorneys general ..."
US arrests hedge fund manager. WSJ: "U.S. prosecutors arrested and charged a London asset manager with overstating the value of sovereign debt held by his former hedge fund near the height of the global financial crisis."
WH renews push for CFPB chief without conditions. CNN: "At an October Senate hearing, Republicans pressed Geithner to respond to their requests. At the time, Geithner made it clear that the Administration wouldn't consider changes to the consumer bureau. Geithner reiterated that position Thursday, saying 'we don't see a case' for changing the checks and balances Congress put in place when they passed Wall Street reforms in 2010."
The European crisis is about austerity, says NYT's Paul Krugman: "Although Europe’s leaders continue to insist that the problem is too much spending in debtor nations, the real problem is too little spending in Europe as a whole. And their efforts to fix matters by demanding ever harsher austerity have played a major role in making the situation worse."
W. Post's Harold Meyerson explains the GOP's plan to hobble the NLRB next year: "The term of NLRB member Craig Becker expires this month, which will winnow board membership down to a powerless two. GOP legislators won’t confirm more members as long as Obama is president, nor will they permit a congressional recess during which Obama could make recess appointments. Throughout 2012, then, the organization that governs labor relations in the United States will govern no more: Lower-level labor-board judges can issue rulings, but the board to which such rulings can be appealed will be MIA. Labor disputes will enter a terra incognita: Can they be heard by a court absent a board ruling? Can employers or unions willfully violate labor law with the assurance that the referees are no longer on the field? Conundrums loom."
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