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.
OurFuture.org's Terrance Heath:  "'So be it,' said Speaker John Boehner to news that Republican budget cuts would slash over 200,000 jobs. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's response to Moody's analyst Mark Zandi's report that the GOP's budget cuts would kill 700,000 jobs can be summed up as, 'So what?' ... 'What kind of jobs is he talking about?' Cantor asked, 'Government jobs?' ... To progressives, a job where you perform a task or provide a service to earn a paycheck that enables you to take care of your house, raise your family, feed your children, and invest in your family's future is a 'real' job."
New Tea Party-affiliated GOP congressman quite willing to shut down government. NYT:  "They feel that their credibility is on the line. 'This is not just some academic exercise for me,' said Representative Todd Rokita, a freshman from Indiana. ... 'If Harry Reid comes back and says no spending cuts, no nothing, at that point I feel I have no choice ... I have to shut down the government.' ... As Republican lawmakers returned this week to Washington after a week in their districts, they had perhaps even more determination than when they left."
WH pushes for month-long stopgap measure instead of two weeks. Politico:  "The House is slated to vote Tuesday on a two week extension of the current continuing resolution due to expire this Friday, Mar. 4. The administration would instead like that to run a full 30 days, and this triggered a meeting Monday evening between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the senator’s offices. Neither man shed much light on the talks."
Still no progress on year-long deal to keep government open. LAT:  "The White House signaled Monday that it is open to a proposal to avert a government shutdown for two weeks, but congressional negotiators have yet to come up with a way to prevent the threat of a disruption in services later in the year."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi breaks with Senate Dems on stopgap measure. The Hill:  "The split in the Democratic Party was seen as a blow to the conventional wisdom that a government shutdown would be averted this week. Many political observers still anticipate that a two-week spending bill will clear the House and Senate by this weekend..."
Government shutdown will shutdown the parks. Grist's Jess Zimmerman:  "Never mind the 16,000 parks employees who'd be sitting at home and the 267,000 private-sector employees who depend on the parks for their business. [Greenwire reports the last] shutdown caused local communities near national parks to lose an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism revenues."
Public not yet blaming one party for possibility of a shutdown. W. Post:  "Thirty-six percent say Republicans would be at fault if the two sides cannot reach a budget deal ... 35 percent, say primary responsibility would rest with the Obama administration."
Newt Gingrich is misrepresenting what happened in the last government shutdown, finds Stan Collender:  "... it absolutely isn't true that, as Gingrich now wants us to believe, spending cuts were the reason ... The big issue then was tax cuts ... Gingrich is also wrong that the ultimate result of the shutdowns 'was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s.' ... the surpluses were the result of a perfect storm of positive economic news that included a huge increase in revenues from the tech bubble and the big run up in the stock markets along with low inflation ..."
David Brooks argues for a wealth transfer based on age, argues Dean Baker:  "It is impressive that Brooks could only think of redistribution by generation after the United States has just gone through the most massive upward redistribution in the history of the world over the last three decades ... Brooks never considers any measures that could reverse the upward redistribution of the past three decades. He is only interested in taking away Social Security and Medicare benefits and reducing the pay of public sector workers."
"Parties hold fire on Social Security" reports Politico:  "...even Republican fiscal hawks who have been planning to reshape Social Security for years are holding their fire for now, with an approach that can be summed up like this: You first, Mr. President ... top White House aides and congressional Democratic leaders have pursued a joint strategy: block the retirement program from being swept into the broader deficit reduction debate ... "
America sides with Wisconsin workers and civil servants everywhere. NYT:  "Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent ... they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits ... [61 percent] said they thought the salaries and benefits of most public employees were either 'about right' or 'too low' for the work they do."
Wisconsin Republican voters start to abandon Gov. Walker. W. Post's Greg Sargent quotes Public Policy Polling:  "Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for [the Democratic candidate for governor] last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again."
President backs increased state flexibility in health reform law. Conservative governors put fingers in ears. USA Today:  "President Obama's willingness to let states design their own health care systems while meeting key federal goals as early as 2014 represents a challenge to Republican governors and lawmakers opposed to the federal law ... [The announcement] was panned by Republicans more interested in repealing the entire law ... On the other hand, the president's move was applauded by lawmakers in Vermont who want to go even further than the federal law ... toward a single-payer system..."
With flexibility would come responsibility. W. Post:  "To win that freedom, though, Obama reminded the governors at a White House meeting that states would have to prove to federal officials that they could still achieve the law's objectives ... that insurance benefits would be as affordable and as comprehensive, that the same number of residents would gain coverage, and that the alternate approach would not deepen the federal deficit."
"'The president is serving it up to the governors on a plate,'  said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who co-wrote the waiver proposal with Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown," reports LAT.
Head of Republican Governors Association doesn't seem to know what "flexibility" means. ABC:  "'The waiver really doesn’t address the major structural flaw that all of us are facing right now,' Texas Gov. Rick Perry told reporters in Washington on Monday. 'I have great concern that the administration is not going to go forward with the flexibility that we’re asking for.' Perry, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, added 'governors just want freedom to manage their states as they and their citizens see fit.'"
"Obama Puts Single Payer and Public Option Back on the Table" notes HuffPost's Jamie Court:  "It gives progressive reformers in California and elsewhere the ability to move forward on ambitious reform plans that can pass at the ballot box in 24 states but would never get the time of day in Washington."
House GOPers want more trade agreements, less assistance for displaced workers. NYT:  "...House Republican leaders have refused to allow the [Korea trade] deal to move forward [without] progress first on similar accords with Colombia and Panama that face stiff opposition from labor unions and liberal Democrats ... House Republicans in February blocked [renewal of] a big expansion of trade adjustment assistance ... Another program, which gives duty-free preferences to 4,800 products from poor countries that are allies of the United States, expired in December after a Republican senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, blocked a vote to extend it ... unless changes were made to protect Exxel Outdoors, a sleeping-bag manufacturer with a plant in Haleyville, Ala., from competition in Bangladesh ... [But Exxel Outdoors also] controls a sleeping-bag plant [in China.]"
The American Prospect's Jeff Faux calls for ending "America's Trade Policy of the Absurd":  "Give the Chinese 30 days to stop artificially suppressing the value of their currency ... Commit to a 10-year comprehensive development policy of adequate investments in infrastructure, human resources, and green technologies ... Reorganize government to make the goal of trade policy national redevelopment, rather than more trade agreements ... anything less comprehensive will not solve the problem."
Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown pushes carbon tariff to cut emissions without losing jobs. The Hill:  "He wrote to President Obama Monday urging a reevaluation of greenhouse gas permitting rules, noting his concerns about losing jobs to overseas competition. But in comments to reporters Monday in the Capitol, Brown ... kept his distance from legislative proposals to postpone action on climate. 'I am not looking for a delay ... I am looking for them to find a way that we can do this [so] when products come into the United States from abroad that they do in fact reflect the cost of production with good climate rules,' he told reporters..."
Bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers may sue Gov. Rick Scott for illegally blocking high-speed rail project. WESH-TV  "...several lawmakers in the State Capitol who say a legal challenge to Scott's rejection of rail is imminent ... Sources told WESH 2 News the lawsuit could point to the bill authorizing high-speed rail and Sunrail in December 2009 and signed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist and make the claim no governor has the authority to reject portions of that bill."
First deepwater drilling permit since BP gusher issued. Big Oil still unhappy. NYT:  "...there was no indication that drilling in the gulf would return anytime soon to levels preceding the BP well blowout ... It is not clear how quickly federal regulators will move to on the six pending deepwater drilling permits or how soon the normal flow of applications will resume after a nearly yearlong halt to deepwater activity ... Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, sounded a less magnanimous note. 'This slow-moving process continues to stifle domestic production and puts thousands of jobs at risk in the gulf and around the country,' he said."