By Bill Scher
April 12, 2012 - 7:48am ET
MORNING MESSAGE: Make Mitt Pay His Fair Share
OurFuture.org's Robert Borosage: "We saw the need for the Buffett Rule when Mitt Romney revealed his taxes. Worth over $250 million, Romney paid a tax rate of 13.9% on income of millions. The police who protect him pay a higher rate than that. This is a rich nation. We can afford the services we need without borrowing from the Chinese or other nations. But we can’t afford a tax code riddled with loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to dodge paying their fair share. The Buffett Rule is only a first step, but it at least puts a limit to the tax dodging. We cannot let the Senate continue to be hijacked by this sliver of the 1%. Senators will hear from their lobbyists. Click here to make certain that they hear from the 99% as well."
Buffett Rule = Reagan Rule
President Obama suggests remaning Buffett Rule with "Reagan Rule." WSJ quotes: "Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan … And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan rule instead of the Buffett rule.”
Buffett Rule debate highlights party differences on "fairness." W. Post: "The basic argument is this: 'Who’s not paying their fair share?' ... Democrats have pointed the finger at millionaires ... Republicans have turned to people who use Medicare and Medicaid ... People who use them would have to pay a greater share, to keep the programs solvent."
President to do local TV interviews to pressure key senators. Politico: "Obama will sit down with anchors from WCMH in Columbus, OH; KCRG in Cedar Rapids, IA; KMOV in St. Louis, MO; and KOLO in Reno, NV."
Romney Falls Deeper Into The Gender Gap
Romney campaign "stumbled" trying to address weakness with women. NYT: "...top Romney policy aides, questioned on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by Mr. Obama, which makes it easier for women to sue in equal pay cases, seemed uncertain of how to respond when a reporter asked about Mr. Romney’s position on it during a campaign conference call.While the campaign later released a statement saying Mr. Romney supports pay equity, the law is opposed by conservatives whom Mr. Romney is trying to rally for the general election. The Democrats, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to e-mail news releases citing Ms. Ledbetter’s 'shocked and disappointed' reaction."
Romney's top women surrogates voted against Fair Pay Act. HuffPost: "...the campaign sent out statements from Republican Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, blaming women's jobs losses on Obama's policies. But both women voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act as well as the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act. A March 29 Wisconsin Women for Romney call with reporters featured Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and conservative activist Bay Buchanan. Darling was a cosponsor of legislation repealing her state's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which was designed to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by granting workers more avenues for pressing charges. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill into law last week."
Many of the women who lost jobs, highlighted by Romney, were fired from government jobs by Republican governors. The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman: "About two-thirds of them were laid off from government jobs. And a lot of them lived in states governed by Republicans ... For a Republican who preaches the virtues of smaller government, it might seem a bit hypocritical to bemoan the loss of women's jobs that are mostly the result of ... smaller government ... 40.5 percent of all state and local government job losses have occurred in places where Republicans won control of the legislature in 2010."
Obama tried to prevent more state government layoffs, GOP blocked it, reminds Slate's Matt Yglesias: "...the Obama administration twice—once in the Spring of 2010 and a second time in the fall of 2012—pushed hard for legislation to prevent layoffs of teachers. These efforts were roundly denounced by conservatives as wasteful and costly 'bailouts' and so they didn't happen."
Romney down in swing states CO and NC reports W. Monthly.
US Beats China In Clean Energy ... For Now
US surpasses China to lead world in clean energy investment. AFP: "The US surge in private investment was a 42 percent increase over 2010 and saw Washington maintain its lead worldwide in both venture capital and research and development cash ... However, the US boom was largely driven by expiring tax incentives ..."
Energy Sec Chu makes case to continued investment. The Hill: "... Chu said Wednesday that scientific evidence of climate change is getting more and more powerful ... But climate aside, Chu said there’s a powerful economic case for the United States supporting the development of renewable energy sources and industries, noting that 'the world is going in this direction.' 'Don’t you want to be selling rather than buying?' ... He noted that the loan guarantee program was designed with some risk in mind, and that Congress appropriated billions of dollars to cover potential losses ... but that many of the loans and loan guarantees are performing well."
Wells Fargo Faces Investigation
Well Fargo investigated for discriminatory lending. Bloomberg: "The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is examining allegations that the San Francisco-based bank violated fair-lending laws ... If the agency finds violations and can’t reach an agreement to have the bank remedy them, the matter may be transferred to the Department of Justice ... [The bank is accused of] allowing homes it owns in minority neighborhoods to remain in a state of disrepair."
TARP funds designed to reach hard hit homeowners sitting idle. HuffPost: "The Hardest Hit Fund, a $7.6 billion initiative established by the federal government in February 2010 to help families in states most crippled by the collapsed housing market, has distributed just 3 percent of its money ... According to the [inspector general] report, Treasury initially dragged its heels in getting the largest mortgage servicers to participate in the initiative, instead relying on the individual states to broker arrangements with the servicers."
Former Fannie CEO fights charges from the SEC. Bloomberg: "Losing the case could cost Mudd some of the millions he earned during his four years as Fannie Mae’s CEO and make him a symbol of the excesses that blew up the housing market. For the SEC, a failed lawsuit would heighten criticism from lawmakers and others that the agency hasn’t held enough top executives accountable for taking risks that led to the worst recession since the 1930s."
EPI's Lawrence Mishel debunks the naysayers opposing a focus on manufacturing: "...sure, manufacturing employment will not return to 25 percent of employment. Nevertheless, we can gain a lot of manufacturing jobs by strengthening the recovery and through appropriate trade and currency policy. This would provide millions of good jobs, aid many communities, and be good for the nation. No head-fakes about household consumption shares should distract us from these facts."
There's plenty of money to be saved at the Pentagon, says W. Post's Walter Pincus: "The GAO report shows the Pentagon ran up $74.4 billion in added costs last year for its 96 major defense acquisition programs. Although that number covers the entire, multiyear expenses for those programs, 'it puts a different light on the $55 billion-a-year the Defense Department would have to swallow under sequester, which they say would be "doomsday,"' said Winslow T. Wheeler, who directs the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information."
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