Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to affect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
President Obama and House Minority Leader Boehner, square off in White House over Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. NYT:  "Mr. Obama vowed that Democrats would extend current income tax rates except for the wealthiest taxpayers. But Representative John A. Boehner ... said the tax cuts should be extended for everyone ... [The President] reminded Mr. Boehner ... that the tax cuts’ architects purposely left the deficit problem to a future administration ... 'I wasn’t there,' Mr. Boehner quickly countered. 'I didn’t structure that deal.' The room briefly went quiet as participants seemed to ponder that statement from a legislator first elected in 1990."
Joan McCarter of Daily Kos reports new poll showing large majorities oppose extending the Bush tax cuts : "Even 40 percent of Republicans say they should be allowed to expire--19 percent say repeal them just for the wealthy, and 21 percent for everyone. That suggests that 40 percent of Republicans, who have been hearing the deficit hysteria since Barack Obama took office, are smarter than your average congressional Republican or deficit peacock."
Matthew Yglesias looks at the Bush tax cut policies and asks "Where was the growth?" : "...the era during which Bush’s tax policies prevailed was the first in which median household income declined... the worst peak-to-peak economic performance ever, followed immediately by the worst recession since World War II."
Some House Dems consider breaking with President on permanent extension of middle-class tax cut. The Hill:  "While the White House has pushed for making the middle-class tax cuts permanent, Democrats in the House are looking at other options, including temporary extensions that would last more than a year, according to an aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) ... Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is crafting legislation that will extend the tax breaks, has backed Obama’s policy of extending the middle-class cuts permanently ... Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has also said he’s open to a temporary extension that could set the stage for [broader] tax reform..."
Sen. Dodd argues against appointing Warren without Senate confirmation. TPMDC quotes:  "Recess appointments. No, no, no ... You've heard the Republicans talking about repealing this bill ... One of the first efforts they'd need would be to repeal this agency. If it's not set up and running, the case against it becomes easier. So you want an established entity, as quickly as you can, with credible leadership. And if you don't have that then you leave it vulnerable to the attacks."
Rortybomb piles on "Megan McArdle’s Hack Post on Elizabeth Warren’s Scholarship":  "Megan opens her critique by saying that there’s a massive bias in the data sample [from a major Warren study] implied by the low response rate of 20%. A commenter politely responds that the response rate is 50% ... Megan then says she meant the interview rate ... But notice how Megan just keeps on going. This is one of the major planks of her argument, that the sample is corrupted, and when someone points out that what she stated was factually incorrect she just changing the terms and keeps on going as if she what she wrote wasn’t wrong."
President prods GOP to pass help for small biz. W. Post quotes:  "We shouldn't let America's small businesses be held hostage to partisan politics." President to meet with small biz owners at a NJ sub shop to push bill  reports The Hill.
Deal on small biz bill may come soon, allowing for consideration of GOP amendments. CQ:  "Unable to advance the legislation without at least one GOP vote, Democrats appeared ready late Tuesday to meet Republican demands, with some limitations. To force action, they released a new substitute amendment and filed cloture on the amendment and the bill. But an amendment deal looks like the only way to ensure passage and dispose of the issue this week."
W. Post Harold Meyerson's tackles the problem of profitable companies that are still killing jobs:  "Across-the-board business tax cuts make no sense when business is already sitting on oceans of cash. Targeted tax cuts and credits for strategic investment and hiring within the United States, on the other hand, make excellent sense ... Another source of jobs would be public, and public-private, investment in infrastructure ... A U.S. infrastructure investment bank ... could leverage significant private capital to begin America's rebuilding, though the idea has encountered rough sledding in (surprise) the Senate."
"Single Stimulus Program That GOP Wanted To Eliminate Has Created Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs," reports Wonk Room's Pata Garofalo:  "...House Republicans launched a gimmicky website called 'YouCut,' which allows people to vote on which item, from a pre-determined list, they would nix from the federal budget ... The very first YouCut 'winner' was the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund ... In fact, it is on pace to help 240,000 unemployed individuals find jobs by the end of September."
The Hill rounds up reactions to Senate energy bill:  "The electric car provisions drew cheers Tuesday from the Electrification Coalition, while the Alliance to Save Energy applauded the Home Star program that provides consumer rebates for efficiency overhauls, claiming it will create 168,000 jobs over two years. But giant ethanol producer Poet called the lack of ethanol incentives a 'missed opportunity' in a statement Tuesday. And the environmental group Earthworks is worried about the push for more use of natural gas ... The American Petroleum Institute ... bashed provisions that remove the cap on companies’ liability for damages from offshore spills."
Obstructionist conservatives opposing lifting liability cap on oil companies in spill bill. The Hill:  "The Senate Democrats’ bill would retroactively lift a $75 million spill liability cap for oil and gas producers — leaving no cap at all. That unlimited liability 'will be a very significant issue, not just for Republicans,' [GOP Sen. Lisa] Murkowski said."
"Surprise" push for electric cars. TNR's Brad Plumer:  "... it's a tiny bill—the total cost comes to around $15 billion. And it won't do all that much for the environment: .... the only significant surprise is the electric-car section ... It calls on the Energy Department to create a national plan for deploying electric vehicles. It allows electricity to count as an alternative vehicle fuel. It provides grants to local communities that set up their own plug-in networks."
President says new energy bill is only a step towards broader climate protection and clean energy jobs bill. AFP quotes:  " I want to emphasize it's only the first step and I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation ... We should be developing those renewable-energy resources and creating those high-wage, high-skill jobs right here in the United States of America ... That's what comprehensive energy and climate reform would do, and that's why I intend to keep pushing this issue forward."
WH leaves door open to revisiting carbon cap in House-Senate conference committee. The Hill quotes Press Sec. Robert Gibbs:  "I don’t think the bill is essentially dead for the year ... The House passed a very strong and very comprehensive energy bill last year. The Senate is going to take up a version that is more scaled down, but still has some important aspects ... Once a bill passes each house, it doesn’t close the door to having some sort of conference.”
Coal-state Dem Sen. Rockefeller may try to add temporarily block on EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. The Hill:  "...he’s mulling whether to try and add his bill that blocks EPA climate change rules as an amendment to energy and oil spill legislation heading for the Senate floor."
Coal-state House Dems that voted for carbon cap compromise not thrilled with Senate inaction, prepare to defend. Politico:  "'[VA Rep.] Rick [Boucher] took on his own party to protect coal jobs in the energy bill,' a narrator says in a new ad unveiled last week ... Freshman Rep. Thomas Perriello, who won his Charlottesville, Va.-based district in 2008 by fewer than 800 votes, said he made the right decision. 'The issue of energy independence is much more important than my reelection,' Perriello said. 'But every day the Senate doesn’t act, we get our butts kicked by China.' ... Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said his group will be airing ads as Election Day approaches, thanking House Democrats for their vote on the climate legislation while also going after its opponents..."
Reid insists there are not 60 votes for stronger renewable electricity standards. The Hill quotes:  “I know there are some people saying that, but I'd like them to give me the names, and I'll be happy to check them off."
NRDC's John Walke, in Grist, says an attack on clean air protections is brewing in the Senate : "NRDC has obtained a copy of amendments that Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) appears poised to lodge next week in the Senate Environment Committee ... The amendments repeal, delay, and significantly weaken clean air safeguards that reduce power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide (pollutants that cause smog and soot), as well as toxic mercury, arsenic, lead, hydrogen cyanide, and other acid gases. The Voinovich amendments represent a complete rewrite of bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Clean Air Act cosponsored by Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) [which] could be brought to a vote in the Senate Environment Committee next week."
State Dept. delays decision on Canadian tar sands pipeline. NYT:  "The department provided no timeline for completion of the environmental assessment, but at the least, a decision on the permit would be delayed until the end of this year."
Understanding Gulf gusher damage will take damage, no need to rush and cut off claims. McClatchy:  "Some of the economic consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may take years to identify, and BP's compensation fund should be flexible enough to account for long-term losses, a panel of experts from Alaska's Exxon Valdez tanker spill told a Senate committee Tuesday ... The collapse of the herring fishery, for example, couldn't be fully anticipated until nearly a decade after 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the sound..."
Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard casts natural gas as the invisible villain in the Gulf disaster : "...the leaked gas could dramatically change the chemistry of the Gulf. When natural gas is present, certain bacteria that digest it flourish out of control and can quickly deplete the oxygen in the surrounding waters, creating 'dead zones' where little can exist."
Expanded Gulf gusher criminal probe. W. Post:  "While it was known that investigators are examining potential violations of environmental laws, it is now clear that they are also looking into whether company officials made false statements to regulators, obstructed justice or falsified test results for devices such as the rig's failed blowout preventer ... One emerging line of inquiry, sources said, is whether inspectors for the Minerals Management Service ... went easy on the companies in exchange for money or other inducements."
HuffPo's Arthur Delaney reports that state and local governments are ready to fire 481,000 state workers : "The National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 270 local governments planned to collectively lay off 8.6 percent of their workforce from the previous fiscal year to the next one."
GOP blockage of Medicaid aid crushing state budgets. AFL-CIO's Mike Hall : "A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) ... shows that at least 25 states assumed an extension of the enhanced FMAP [Medicaid] funding for their 2011 budgets. Without it, according to the report, budget gaps could grow by more than $12 billion in the current fiscal year and as much as $72 billion next fiscal year, forcing cuts in vital services and jobs to make up for the shortfalls."
AFL-CIO's Mike Hall says that having failed to kill health care reform, insurers are now working to weaken it : "After spending tens of millions trying to kill the new health care reform law, the nation’s big health insurance companies now, says Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), are: 'sparing no expense to weaken this new law and the protection it promises to America’s consumers.' According to a new report by the coalition Health Care for America Now (HCAN), big insurers are trying to gut proposed new rules that require they spend a certain amount of premium dollars on actual medical care, not wasteful administration, marketing or executive pay and bonuses."
Health care law already sparking reforms among doctors. LAT:  "... many independent providers across the country are racing to mold themselves into the kind of coordinated teams held up as models for improving care ... Three of San Antonio's hospital systems are competing to form alliances with local doctors who are giving up their private fee-for-service practices in exchange for paid positions on a hospital's team. Healthcare experts have long argued that such a unified approach to medical care offers the best hope for improving quality and saving money."
Despite conservative demagoguery, Texas is carrying out health reform. NYT:  "Obama administration officials, while noting the incongruity, said they had been impressed that politically antagonistic states like Texas were complying with, and taking full advantage of, the new law. The Texas Department of Insurance, for instance, has applied for a planning grant to create a more muscular process for reviewing proposed premium increases, a White House priority."
Democrats vow to keep pushing campaign finance transparency legislation after GOP filibuster. The Hill:  "...Schumer promised that Democrats would hold additional cloture votes until the legislation passes ... Asked by The Hill if he is open to making changes to the bill, the New York senator replied, 'Yes.' ... Political experts have said the bill needs to be signed into law by August in order to affect the 2010 election. If the Senate passes a version with Schumer’s changes, it would need to be reconciled with the House version. And the House is scheduled to adjourn Friday for the summer recess."
King Coal ready to use Supreme Court ruling to spend big on election campaigns. Lexington Herald-Leader:  "Several major coal companies hope to use newly loosened campaign-finance laws to pool their money and defeat Democratic congressional candidates they consider 'anti-coal,' including U.S. Senate nominee Jack Conway and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler in Kentucky. The companies hope to create a politically active nonprofit under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, so they won't have to publicly disclose their activities...'With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not previously available in allowing our voices to be heard,' wrote Roger Nicholson, senior vice president and general counsel at International Coal Group..."
Ezra Klein explains how to end filibuster with 51 votes : "The so-called 'constitutional option,' which is being pushed particularly hard by Sen. Tom Udall, but is increasingly being seen as a viable path forward by his colleagues. The constitutional option gets its name from Article I, Section V of the Constitution, which states that "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings." ... Because stopping the Senate from considering its own rules would be unconstitutional, the chair can rule against the filibuster, and the Senate could then move to change its rules on a majority vote. One caveat: Many people, including Udall himself, believe this has to happen at the beginning of a new Congress, then Congress is considered to have acquiesced to the previous Congress's rules ... This is not a radical theory, or a partisan one: Both Richard Nixon, then the vice president and thus the president of the Senate, and Robert Byrd, then majority leader and considered the greatest parliamentarian to ever walk the chamber, have argued in favor of the constitutional option."
But there may not be 51 votes. The Hill:  "Five Senate Democrats have said they will not support a lowering of the 60-vote bar necessary to pass legislation. Another four lawmakers say they are wary about such a change and would be hesitant to support it. A 10th Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said he would support changing the rule on filibusters of motions to begin debate on legislation, but not necessarily the 60-vote threshold needed to bring up a final vote on bills."
Paul Krugman shreds Mort Zuckerman's claim the President hold antipathy for business:  "... the only actual example of Obama’s alleged demonization of business that Zuckerman offers [is] essentially a mini-Breitbart, a quote taken out of context to make it seem as if Obama was saying something he wasn’t. That’s typical of the whole argument."
Government intervention averted Great Depression, finds new economic report from Alan Binder and Mark Zandi. NYT:  "...the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program, the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower ... there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs ... and the economy would be experiencing deflation."
Twenty years after its passage, Alternet's Sarah Jaffe recounts how the Americans with Disabilities Act did the impossible : "Against all the odds, thousands of people with all manner of special challenges showed they were more than able to do the seemingly impossible. They forced a foot-dragging Congress to pass and a Republican President to sign the most significant civil rights legislation in 20 years. And every time we find a a step replaced by a slope — we have them to thank ... Are the rest of us ready to get over our disabled way of thinking about what’s possible?"
House subcmte backs F-35 engine over Pentagon's request. CQ:  "'I don’t know what more we can say or do to make clear that this is something we don’t want, we don’t need and we can’t afford,' said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell."
IMF softens stance on China currency. Reuters:  "The International Monetary Fund has chosen not to call the yuan 'substantially' undervalued, a move that recognizes China's efforts to free up its exchange rate and avoids friction with an increasingly influential shareholder ... [former IMFer Eswar] Prasad said IMF economists reckoned the yuan was still between 5 percent and 27 percent undervalued depending on the methodologies used.