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 Robert Borosage:  "As Wednesday’s presidential debate approaches, the pundits are starting to handicap the event. There’s much talk about the horse race: Romney needs a knockout; Obama has to avoid a big mistake. Much talk about styling: Romney is practicing zingers; Obama is too professorial. Will both men turn to face each other when they are making a point? Or there’s much talk about forcing the two candidates to be clear about arithmetic. How would they deal with deficits? ... Please. How about a debate that asks questions the voters want answered? Every poll shows that voters are most concerned about jobs and the economy ... Federal Reserve Governors are talking about a 'jobs trigger,' suggesting that they should commit publicly to sustain extraordinary measures until unemployment comes down to 5.5%. Does either Romney or Obama agree with a jobs trigger – that efforts to slash spending or hike taxes should be deferred until the economy recovers and people go back to work?"
The latest edition of the "Smart Talk" economic messaging project from the Institute for America's Future: "Defeat The Austerity Threat."  "With mass unemployment, declining wages and a sinking middle class, consumers are tightening their belts. Companies won’t create jobs without customers. We need the U.S. government to act. We have work to be done and people in need of work. And we can pay for it by insisting that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes, bringing the soldiers home and investing the savings here at home, ending obscene subsidies to entrenched corporate lobbies like Big Oil, and borrowing at historically low interest rates."
Senate leaders moving towards bipartisan deal to avoid sequester. NYT:  "...lawmakers and aides say that a bipartisan group of senators is coalescing around an ambitious three-step process ... senators would come to an agreement on a deficit reduction target — likely to be around $4 trillion over 10 years — to be reached through revenue raised by an overhaul of the tax code, savings from changes to social programs like Medicare and Social Security, and cuts to federal programs. Once the framework is approved, lawmakers would vote on expedited instructions to relevant Congressional committees to draft the details over six months to a year. If those efforts failed, another plan would take effect, probably a close derivative of [Simpson-Bowles] ... Finally, they would vote to put off the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, and tax increases scheduled to hit all at once in January — but with some deficit reduction down payment to signal how serious Congress is."
Tax Policy Center details how much taxes will rise if no budget before end of the year. LAT:  "Wealthier households would see an overall increase of $120,000, on average ... Households at the lowest end of the income scale would pay about $400 a year more ... middle-income Americans would see an average $2,000 tax hike..."
Hysterics are overhyping sequester's impact on military budget, argues Time's Winslow Wheeler:  "Currently, we are spending in the non-war, 'base' Pentagon budget about $100 billion more than the Cold War average—which includes the costs of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts ... The 'sequester' ... would lower Pentagon spending to about its 2006 level and would increase marginally in the years thereafter ... The abrupt drop in the Pentagon budget in the first year of sequestration (2013) is less steep than under Eisenhower toward the end of the Korean war ..."
Greek government proposes massive spending cuts. European lenders demand more. NYT:  "The draft budget spells out about $10 billion in spending cuts and savings for 2013. About one-quarter of that would come through reductions in civil servants’ salaries and social welfare benefits, and about 15 percent through cuts in spending on health, defense and local authorities ... the country’s troika of foreign lenders — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — ... is insisting on further cuts in the public sector including laying off public servants ... Labor unions said Monday that they would plan new protests as a follow-up to a 24-hour general strike last Wednesday..."
Romney shifting away from focus on the economy. NYT:  "Polls show voters growing somewhat more optimistic, and increasingly willing to trust the president as much as they do Mr. Romney on jobs and the economy ... Mr. Romney’s campaign appears to be shifting course, abandoning its hope of making the election a simple referendum on Mr. Obama’s jobs record ... Instead, Mr. Romney intends to hit the White House with a series of arguments — on energy, health care, taxes, spending and a more direct attack on Mr. Obama’s foreign policy record."
Opposition to auto bailout fatal for Romney in OH. McClatchy:  "The auto industry employs one in every eight workers in the state, second only to neighboring Michigan ... Nationally, Romney leads among white voters without college degrees. Not in Ohio."
Latest Obama ad hits Romney as an outsourcer. WSJ:  "The ad targets Mr. Romney’s links to Global-Tech Appliances, a China-based appliance company that a firm once controlled by Mr. Romney invested in. 'These appliances could have been made here in America,' the narrator says before showing a picture of an Asian man making a washing machine. 'But a company called Global Tech maximized profits by paying its workers next to nothing under sweatshop conditions in China. When Mitt Romney led Bain, they saw Global Tech as a good investment.'"
NYT dives deep into Romney's tax avoidance strategies:  "Some of the offshore entities enabled Bain-owned companies to sidestep certain taxes, increasing returns for Mr. Romney and other investors. Others helped Bain attract foreign investors and nonprofit institutions by insulating them from taxes, again augmenting Mr. Romney’s bottom line, since he shared in management fees based on the size of each Bain fund. The documents — which include confidential Bain prospectuses and foreign regulatory filings, many previously unreported — illustrate how these tax-avoidance strategies are woven into the fabric of Bain’s deal making. While hardly a novel concept and not unique to Bain, the inevitable result is that elite investors like Mr. Romney are able to increase their fortunes in ways unavailable to most taxpayers."
Federal mortgage task force sues JP Morgan. NYT:  "The complaint contends that Bear Stearns and its lending unit, EMC Mortgage, defrauded investors who purchased mortgage securities packaged by the companies from 2005 through 2007 ... the suit contends that the improper practices were institutionwide and affected numerous deals during the period ... The suit was brought under New York’s Martin Act, the state law that gives the attorney general wide latitude to bring fraud cases without demonstrating a defendant intended to defraud. "
CFPB wins settlement from American Express. McClatchy:  "American Express has agreed to refund $85 million to 250,000 customers after an investigation uncovered numerous violations of consumer protection laws, ranging from illegal late fees to age discrimination against credit card applicants ... American Express must pay an additional $27.5 million in civil penalties, halt the practices and submit to independent audits as part of a settlement ... It’s the second time in the span of a week – and the third time since July – that a major credit card company has reached a settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
4.5M million more eligible Latino voters this year than in 2008. LAT:  "[But] Latinos rarely turn out to vote in numbers close to their potential. Four years ago, a record 50% of eligible Latinos voted in the presidential election, compared with 65% of eligible African Americans and 66% of whites ... half of the voters are in California and Texas, two states that haven’t been in play for the presidential election ... Latino voter groups expect that the estimated number of Latino voters who will turn in ballots in November — 10 million to 12 million — will break a record...."
Chinese-owned company sues after Obama blocks wind farm project. Bloomberg:  "'The physical and regulatory takings of Ralls’s property interests constitute unconstitutional takings in violation of the U.S. Constitution, deprive Ralls of its property interests absent due process, and violate Ralls’s constitutional right to equal protection,' according to the amended complaint. ... Obama’s order blocking Ralls from acquiring the wind- farm assets was the first time in 22 years a president has blocked a transaction on national security grounds ... The assets consist of four locations, all of which are near or within restricted Navy airspace ..."
Wealthy conservatives push CA ballot initiative to suffocate union participation in democracy. NYT:  "The measure, Proposition 32 on the November ballot, would prohibit both unions and corporations from making contributions, but the corporate provision is far less stringent than the one aimed at unions, analysts said. If passed, it would also bar unions from using automatic payroll deductions to raise money for political campaigns, a major source of labor’s political funding ... 'This is intended not to hobble us, this is intended to eviscerate us,' said Art Pulaski, the head of the California Labor Federation. 'If they can do it in California, they can do it everywhere and anywhere.'"
HHS leans on states to expand Medicaid, after Supreme Court ruling limited federal power. NYT:  "The Obama administration is putting pressure on states to expand Medicaid, telling them they may lose federal money if they delay. But at the same time, federal health officials have also told states that if they choose to expand Medicaid, they are free to reverse the decision at any time ... Matt D. Salo, the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, which represents state officials, said the biggest [unanswered] question was 'whether the expansion of Medicaid is all or nothing.' Some states, he said, may want to expand Medicaid to cover people up to 100 percent of the poverty level, rather than 133 percent."
Sen. Scott Brown praises Justice Scalia in debate with Elizabeth Warren. HuffPost:  "... Brown was asked by NBC's David Gregory to name his model Supreme Court justice ... 'Let me see here, that's a great question. I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge,' Brown said ... Warren's campaign manager, Mindy Myers, said in a statement later that Scalia's opposition to the court's Roe v Wade ruling, women's constitutional rights and birth control 'speak loudly about Scott Brown's values.'"