December 23, 2011 - 10:05am 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: The Next Fight For The 99%
OurFuture.Org's Isaiah J. Poole: "Consider House Speaker John Boehner's U-turn on a temporary extension of a payroll tax holiday a temporary retreat. The tea-party Republicans who lead Boehner show no signs of actually moderating their agenda, and that will make next year's fight to continue the payroll tax for a full year no less intense than this week's nail-biter. We're going to have to keep the pressure on congressional Republicans. When it comes to anything related to the economy, they are still in the hostage-taking business. They will still make unacceptable demands on behalf of their conservative and corporate overlords in exchange for the ability of ordinary Americans to have the wherewithal to make it from week to week."
The Sound of Republicans Caving
House to take up payroll tax cut extension [CNN]: "The House is expected to pass as early as Friday a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut, a day after Speaker John Boehner caved under enormous public and political pressure to drop his opposition to the measure. Both the House and Senate will be asked to give unanimous consent, a procedural move that would allow the measure to pass even though most members will be home for the holidays. If no one shows up to object in person, the plan originally worked out by the Senate and modified slightly Thursday to get the support of Boehner and House Republicans would go to President Barack Obama's desk."
Payroll tax deal: Will House frosh comply? [Politico]: "At least two House freshmen left open the possibility that they would object to the unanimous consent to extend the tax holiday by two months while congressional conferees work out a year-long deal. Alabama freshman Rep. Mo Brooks, who voted against the initial year-long deal passed by House Republicans, said he was 'not yet sure,' whether he'd protest the deal. Protesting would require the House to reconvene for a roll call vote. ...Pennsylvania freshman Rep. Mike Kelly told CNN's John King Thursday night,'I'm not so sure I'm not going to do that,' when asked if he might drive to Washington to protest the unanimous consent agreement."
Obama, GOP to resume payroll tax cut battle soon [USA Today]: "The House and Senate are expected to approve the two-month deal this morning, and Obama is expected to sign it later today. Moving forward, Democrats may well revive their idea to finance the tax cut with a new tax surcharge on millionaires; Republicans are likely to push for more spending cuts to offset the reduced revenue through the tax cut. ...Obama and aides may be looking forward to resuming the debate over the payroll tax cut -- polls show the president's approval ratings rising, especially on the tax issue."
Obama's Early Holiday Present
Republicans got a lump of coal in the their stockings, and Bob Moser says Christmas came early for President Obama: "House Republicans finally waved a white flag over the payroll tax cut extension this afternoon—but not before they'd given President Obama what The New Yorker's John Cassidy aptly called an 'early Christmas present.' And just the one he wanted and needed: a nice big boost to his re-election prospects. The White House's crafty handling of the Tea Party's latest hissy fit, along with Obama's recent turn toward a more populist economic message, has boosted his approval ratings to 49 percent and given him a seven-point edge over his closest Republican rivals, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, in one recent national poll."
Robert Kuttner unwraps the GOP's early Christmas present to the president: "First, they look weak (because they are weak); and second, the same drama will be replayed next year with the same outcome. Raising taxes on millionaires rather than cutting Social Security or Medicare, or hiking payroll taxes, wins every time. As Republicans keep re-fighting this losing battle, the message will be reinforced over and over again that Democrats are for the working person while Republicans defend the richest. The fact that key Republicans in the Senate and House can't get their act together is frosting on the cake. Likewise, the sheer extremism of Tea Party caucus members who'd rather lose their seats than compromise. They are likely to get their wish."
At Climate Progress, Joe Romm says the GOP's cave on the payroll tax paves the way for Obama to nix the Keystone pipeline: "House Speaker John Boehner conceded to the inevitable and agreed to approve the Senate compromise that extends the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance two months. That bill also includes, at the GOP's insistence, a requirement that Obama make a decision within 60 days on the tar sands pipeline, which is likely fatal to Keystone XL."
The GOP's Lump of Coal
Crisis averted, says Ezra Klein, but only for now : "So, crisis averted ... for two months. At which point, Democrats and Republicans are back in essentially the same position they're in now: Democrats support extending the payroll tax cut, and Republicans don't. And, once again, that will leave the Republican leadership caught in the middle, trying to negotiate a set of non-payroll tax cut policy concessions that they can use to convince their members to support the payroll tax cut itself."
WaPo's Eugene Robinson says the Republicans' slip was showing this week: "This glimpse of honest debate among Republicans won't last long, I predict. They'll try their best to resume the practice of absolute anti-Obama unity, which has worked quite well for them. But no one can erase what voters have seen this week, and it wasn't pretty. There are only two possible reasons for House Republicans to behave the way they did. Maybe they are so blinded by ideology that they no longer care about the impact their actions might have on struggling American families. Or maybe their only guiding principle is that anything Obama supports, they oppose. The week's events offer a lesson for Obama, too. One reason for all the Republican angst was that public opinion has become more sensitive to issues of economic justice. This may be partly due to the Occupy protests. But I'm convinced that Obama's fiery barnstorming in favor of his American Jobs Act has played a big role. People are hearing his message."
PolitiFact Doubles Down on PolitiFiction
PolitiFact doubles down on PolitiFiction, says Slate's David Weigel: "After this week, plenty of pundits are well and done with the national version of PolitiFact. The local versions? They're great. I was actually pretty fond of how one of them debunked an ad that misued one of my quotes, attributing it to a candidate, in 2010. Alas, PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair has committed the main site to a factually dubious 'Lie of the Year' claim. PolitiFact claims that it's a 'lie' to say that the Path to Prosperity ends Medicare. ActualFacts tell us that this is not a lie. In reality, it is an end to Medicare as we know it. Let's be fair — as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out the other day, any substantive change to a program 'ends the program as we know it.' When you're fundamentally changing a program from the way it was designed 45 years ago, you're ending it as people know it."
OurFuture.Org's Richard Eskow says Bill Adair's bitter editorial "ends PolitiFact as we know it": "Today Politifact Editor Bill Adair probably ruined his outlet's chances of ever being taken seriously again as an objective debunker of political spin. What a shame. There's a glaring need for somebody to play that role, and Politifact was in a unique position to fill it. Its parent newspaper is owned by a foundation, which should relieve them of some of the pressures that for-profit publishers place on editors. Unfortunately, Bill Adair has made it impossible for Politifact to fill that role by committing a series of errors in judgment that culminated with today's intemperate rant. There are good and bad ways to respond when a media outlet's criticized harshly. Today Adair chose the worst way — arrogance, distortion, and ad hominem attacks. There's very little chance Politifact will ever regain its credibility."
Hunter sez PolitiFact sez we're all partisan whiners: "The (only) theme here is that the current criticisms of PolitiFact are because people are whiners who only want to hear news that affirms their own world view; ergo, PolitiFact is right, so there. If this requires lumping people like Paul Krugman in as someone who can't be bothered to read news that's not forwarded on from Facebook friends, so be it: A premise is a premise. We can't possibly be wrong on this because we're the fact checkers, damn it—it says so in our name—so the only other explanation is that the entire rest of the nation sucks."
Elder Bush gives his blessing to Romney [FT]: "George H.W. Bush, former US president, gave an unofficial endorsement of Mitt Romney ahead of the Iowa caucuses on January 3. 'I think Romney is the best choice for us,' Mr Bush, who served as president from 1988 to 1992, told the Houston Chronicle. 'I like [Rick] Perry, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. He's not surging forward.' As the oldest living former Republican president, Mr Bush's views carry some weight within the party's establishment. That wing of the party has grown concerned in recent weeks as Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, rose in the polls."
Chris Christie opens door to VP job [Politico]: "Chris Christie says that while he and Mitt Romney have never discussed a potential vice presidential role for the New Jersey governor, it would still be 'presumptuous' for him to turn his back on the possibility. In an interview with Fox News that aired on Thursday, Christie said the topic of being Romney's 2012 running mate has 'never come up.' ...The outspoken governor, who himself declined to make a bid for the White House and threw his support behind Romney last month, noted that for him to reject a vice presidential spot at this point in the campaign would also be 'presumptuous.'"
Iowa Republicans say yes to 'Dr No' [FT]: "Ron Paul is an unlikely rock star. Stooping and gaunt, the 76-year-old Texas congressman walks gingerly on the stage at a conference centre in Bettendorf, a town of 33,000 in eastern Iowa. ...Mr Paul may lack charisma but he does not lack support. Indeed, the libertarian has risen in the polls this week to lead the first battleground in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012: the Iowa caucuses on January 3."
Laura Clawson says why Mitt doesn't want us to know what's in his tax returns: "John McCain couldn't remember how many houses he had, but he released his tax returns. Barack Obama released his. But Mitt Romney really doesn't want us to know exactly how wealthy he is, and most of all, though he's campaigning for a deciding role in what tax rates the rest of us will pay, he doesn't want us to know his. It's no mystery why that might be: Since he's still making millions from his retirement deal with Bain Capital, he's likely paying the low low rate available to hedge fund and private equity managers. Warren Buffett thinks it's not fair for people like him to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Mitt Romney's concern is just to keep secretaries from knowing how much lower his rate is than theirs when he's asking for their votes."
Ed. Note: Progressive Breakfast will not be served during the holiday period. We'll return to your inbox on January 4, 2012.
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