By Bill Scher
January 20, 2012 - 10:25am 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: Stop The Sweetheart Deal
OurFuture.org's Richard Eskow: "Today a coalition of progressive groups handed in a petition with more than 360,000 signatures that demanded exactly that. It calls on the Obama administration to stop pushing a cushy fraud settlement for bankers, to pursue a fair deal for shafted homeowners, and to let criminal investigations against Wall Street crooks proceed. Yet White House officials are still aggressively pushing the very same cushy deal on foreclosure fraud that inspired the petition. And just this week the Justice Department declined to prosecute fraudulent bankers once again as it worked to settle another bank fraud case."
360K Signatures Tell Obama To Scrap Bank Settlement
Progressive coalition delivers 360K petition signatures to Obama demanding investigations, not settlements, in foreclosure fraud scandal. HuffPost: "The calls comes months after The New York Times reported that members of the Obama administration were pressuring New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to go along with the multi-billion dollar settlement. But Schneiderman and a handful of other state attorney generals have criticized the deal for being too lenient on the banks."
Naked Capitalism urges calls to state AG to reject sweetheart deal: "Leaving the AGs free to investigate and increase the pressure that is already building up in the system is the best chance we have to deal with widespread fraud. The attorneys general really need your support. It helps them to hear that their constituents appreciate them standing up to the banks and the Obama administration."
CFPB chief pledges broad investigation of payday lending. HuffPost: "Picking his first public fight with the banking industry, Washington's top consumer cop, Richard Cordray, promised on Thursday that his examiners will scrutinize a handful of big banks that make high-cost loans. Inspection of major financial institutions will be part of a broader review of payday lenders ... Cordray made no distinction between established financial institutions, including Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, and less-respectable storefront and online payday lenders with names like EZ Money and AmeriCash Advance, widely criticized for making high-cost, short-term loans to the most desperate borrowers."
Romney's Taxes Spotlight Unfair Code
Gingrich releases one tax return. W. Post: "Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, paid nearly $995,000 in federal taxes on adjusted income of $3.14 million in 2010, translating to an effective tax rate of about 31.6 percent ... the percentage is nearly double the rate that Republican rival Mitt Romney estimates paying on his earnings ..."
Romney says "maybe" he will release several years worth of tax returns in April. NYT quotes from last night's debate: "I don’t know how many years I will release. I’ll release multiple years."
NYT's Paul Krugman says Romney's taxes illuminate the fundamental debate over tax policy: "...Mr. Romney’s tax dance is doing us all a service by highlighting the unwise, unjust and expensive favors being showered on the upper-upper class. At a time when all the self-proclaimed serious people are telling us that the poor and the middle class must suffer in the name of fiscal probity, such low taxes on the very rich are indefensible."
Governors moving in different directions on taxes. Stateline: "...at least half a dozen Republican governors pressing for sweeping tax cuts and just as many Democrats pushing for tax increases ... Revenues have recovered enough that a number of states have begun predicting small surpluses — a dividend that some governors are inclined to give back to taxpayers. On the other hand, revenues remain below their pre-recession levels, and many states are projecting deficits for the year ahead. So for other governors, the priority is finding new money to fill budget gaps ..."
Protest Planned For Citizens United Anniversary
"'Occupy Courts' to hit Citizens United" reports Politico: "Demonstrators are planning to 'occupy' courthouses in cities across the country on Friday, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C ... In an effort dubbed the 'Move to Amend,' activists are also drumming up support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling by arguing that political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment."
"Two-Thirds Of Small Business Owners Say Citizens United Ruling Hurts Them, reports ThinkProgress: "'...the ruling hurts the small businesses that we need to be strong for economic recovery,' said David Levine, executive director of the American Sustainable Business Council. 'Business owners are frustrated because they have to compete with big business bank accounts to be heard, and they are fighting back.'"
President Announces Tourism Jobs Strategy
President pushes tourism jobs in Florida. McClatchy: " The White House said that more than 1 million jobs could be created over the next decade, according to industry projections, if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market ... In 2010, President Obama signed the Tourism Promotion Act, an industry-led imitative establishing a public-private partnership to promote the U.S. as a destination ... His directive to increase visitor visa processing capacity by 40 percent in Brazil by the end of 2012 and cut the time period for visa interviews could have an 'immediate and significant' impact on South Florida’s economy..."
"Overall Unemployment Rate is at African Americans’ Pre-recession Level" reminds New Deal 2.0's Mike Konczal: "... it is worth remembering that the unemployment misery all Americans are experiencing right now is equal to what it was like during the best two years of the 21st century for African Americans."
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