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.
OurFuture.org's Richard Eskow:  "I feel safe in predicting that 'No Labels' will revolutionize American politics every bit as much as Unity08 did. That is, it's going to be announced with great fanfare - fanfare that's generated by the highly-paid efforts of Washington publicists. It will then be received enthusiastically by the David Broder crowd, and nobody else. Within six months it will have been forgotten by the few people who had ever even heard of it in the first place ... There's a real bipartisan consensus in the nation - to protect Social Security, tax the wealthy, preserve Medicare, improve banking regulations, and ban big bonuses at banks which were rescued by the taxpayers. The ersatz 'centrism' being peddled in Washington is on the wrong side of every single issue."
Tax cut deal expected to clear Senate today, House by end of week. LAT:  "Momentum seemed to be building for the package in the House even though many Democrats argue that it would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and should be amended."
House Dem opponents not expected to be able to alter tax cut deal. The Hill:  "House Democratic efforts to block President Obama’s tax bill have dwindled into a battle to save face ... Party leaders were debating on Tuesday whether to bring up amendments to the bill for a vote ... one liberal critic of the plan said Democrats were resigned to the fact the deal would go forward largely intact. 'The die is cast now,' said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) ... Welch and other Democratic critics are now pushing to hold separate votes on the components of the agreement so they can register their opposition ..."
Amendments may target estate tax and payroll tax. W. Post:  "After meeting for two hours with rank-and-file lawmakers late Tuesday, senior Democrats said the House is likely to stage votes to change the terms of a revived estate tax that many Democrats view as overly generous to the wealthy ... House leaders were also considering a proposal by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) to convert the payroll tax holiday into a one-time refund check..."
House Dem leader Rep. Chris Van Hollen makes the case for a higher estate tax in W. Post oped:  "The Kyl estate tax provision will not help economic growth or jobs, and it was not even necessary to the core deal. It was added in exchange for extending certain tax credits that were included in the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but it was fundamentally not a fair trade ... House Democrats think this trade-off should be debated and voted on in the light of day."
TPMDC adds:  "On Tuesday night they vented their frustrations to their harried leadership in a private caucus meeting, but emerged acknowledging that they've been boxed effectively in by the White House and GOP."
Blue Dogs push Speaker to allow no changes. HuffPost:  "hat only half (or slightly more) of the 54 members of the Blue Dog caucus signed the letter is, in a way, a reflection of how the debate over the tax deal struck by Obama has splintered all facets of the Democratic House. And yet, for proponents of the deal, it's more than promising."
Tea Party favorite Rep. Mike Pence voting "no." The Hill:  "'At the end of the day, I’ve just come to the conclusion: The American people did not vote for more stimulus,' Pence said on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s radio show."
American is the third-least taxed developed nation. W. Post:  "The economic downturn drove tax receipts in the United States to their lowest level in more than 40 years when measured as a percentage of the economy ... U.S. taxes as a percent of gross domestic product fell from 27.8 percent in 2007 to below 24 percent in 2009 ... Throughout the 34 nations, most of them developed, in the OECD, the average tax take fell from 35.4 percent of economic output in 2007 to 33.7 percent in 2009..."
President meets with CEOS today. W. Post:  "The administration's relations with companies might improve over the next two years because many of the issues the White House are advancing - tax cuts, increased funding and accountability in American's education system and attempts to grow the economy - aren't likely to find much resistance ... Obama is facing pressure from many Democrats who want to sharpen the rhetoric against Wall Street and other businesses as unemployment remains high despite large profits for companies. And the administration's plans to reform the tax code, which may include cutting certain industry tax breaks, are sure to meet resistance from lobbyists. The administration has been trying to encourage businesses to start spending the $1.9 trillion in cash they are holding on their balance sheets to stimulate the economy. And there are signs that companies may soon open their wallets."
W. Post's Harold Meyerson questions if the CEOs will stand by America:  "[President Obama] will urge his guests to create some jobs here in the United States ... Domestic production, however, is just not in the business plans of many of America's leading corporations ... I'm with those who think that Obama could use a CEO on his economic team, but he or she should be a manufacturing CEO with a track record of creating American jobs and a plan for rebuilding American industry."
GOPers on financial crisis commission will formally, and falsely, scapegoat Fannie, Freddie and low-income homeowners for financial crisis. NYT:  "Citing several government agencies, the document argues that 'the government subsidized and, in some cases, mandated the extension of credit to high-risk borrowers, propagating risks for financial firms, the mortgage market, taxpayers, and ultimately the financial system.'"
HuffPost adds:  "Frustrated in part by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's chairman, Phil Angelides, and the tenor of the panel's preliminary findings, the Republicans are choosing to ignore the five Democrats and lone independent and issue their document ahead of the commission's Jan. 15 release ... the public will receive a [majority] report that could be discredited as being partisan, and another that is expected to largely conform with a Wall Street-friendly view that blames government for the crisis."
Naked Capitalism lambastes GOP report:  "Calling that a major, let alone primary, cause of the crisis, is simply a highly coded 'blame the poor' strategy, In reality, both the runup to the crisis and its aftermath were on of the greatest wealth transfers from the citizenry at large to a comparatively small group of rentiers in the history of man ... How can you talk coherently about the crisis and NOT talk about the shadow banking system..."
GOP attacks bill to keep government functioning because less than 1% involves earmarks. USA Today:  "'This is exactly what the American people said ... they did not want us to do,' said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ... But the proposed projects included in the bill were not requested only by Democrats. McConnell, in fact, included several items for his state, such as a $1.5 million wastewater project. Asked about his own projects, McConnell said they were requested before the GOP voted to ban them. To keep the government running, Congress must pass a catchall spending bill by midnight Saturday."
W. Post's Dana Milbank tells Tea Party voters, "You've been had.":  "It was probably inevitable that the Tea Party activists would be betrayed, but the speed with which congressional Republicans have reverted to business-as-usual has been impressive ... Many Tea Party favorites ... have discovered the appeal of Washington lobbyists' cash and advice ... at least 13 incoming Republican lawmakers ... have hired lobbyists to run their offices ... dozens of freshman lawmakers have already had fundraisers to collect millions of dollars from lobbyists ... Of more consequence is the Republicans' tax compromise, which, as the Tea Party Patriots group pointed out, violates no fewer than five provisions of the Republicans' campaign 'Pledge to America.'"
Bloomberg reports Justice Kennedy could go either way on health reform law's constitutionality:  "Advocates on both sides say the Supreme Court almost certainly will be the final word on the measure, relegating a federal judge’s ruling against the law this week to a footnote ... No precedent directly controls the case’s outcome, and the justices’ opinions in other contexts only hint at how they would view the so-called individual mandate. The justice most often in the court’s middle, Anthony Kennedy, has signed opinions pointing in both directions."
NYT's David Leonhardt reminds conservative hysteria over universal health care is nothing new:  "We’ve lived through a version of this story before, and not just with Medicare. Nearly every time this country has expanded its social safety net or tried to guarantee civil rights, passionate opposition has followed ... conservatives have often viewed any expansion of government protections as a threat to capitalism ... In truth, the [new health reform] law is quite moderate. It is more conservative than President Bill Clinton’s 1993 plan or President Richard Nixon’s 1974 plan..."
GOP Sen. Tom Coburn urges repeal on individual responsibility provision so fewer poor people can get Medicaid coverage. Wonk Room's Igor Volsky:  "Coburn’s suggestion that we should lower the deficit by asking the poorest Americans to pay more for health insurance coverage is troubling, no? I would just point out that 18% of Oklahomans live in poverty and 20% rely on Medicaid for coverage."
China writing the rules for the wind power market. NYT:  "Nearly all the components that [Spanish wind company] Gamesa assembles into million-dollar turbines here, for example, are made by local suppliers — companies Gamesa trained to meet onerous local content requirements. And these same suppliers undermine Gamesa by selling parts to its Chinese competitors — wind turbine makers that barely existed in 2005, when Gamesa controlled more than a third of the Chinese market. But in the five years since, the upstarts have grabbed more than 85 percent of the wind turbine market ... Gamesa’s market share now is only 3 percent ... The story of Gamesa in China follows an industrial arc traced in other businesses, like desktop computers and solar panels. Chinese companies acquire the latest Western technology by various means and then take advantage of government policies to become the world’s dominant, low-cost suppliers."
Still not clear where international money will come from to help poor nations with climate crisis. Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard:  "Developed nations agree to 'mobilize' billions of dollars for what has been dubbed the 'Green Climate Fund.' But one of the key questions still lies in the use of that word, 'mobilize.' This doesn't just mean that developed countries are going to donate that amount through public funds; given the economic situation many governments are facing right now, few are expecting that to happen. Instead, those funds are probably going to come though more innovative mechanisms."
"Fed Signals Stronger Economy Won't Slow $600 Billion Stimulus"  reports Bloomberg.
Immigrant advocates target 10 wavering senators on DREAM Act. The Hill:  "The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) released a 'most wanted' list ... emocratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo), and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), George Voinovich (Ohio) and George LeMieux (Fla.). The lawmakers have been singled out either because they've supported the DREAM Act in the past, or because the states they represent have significant Hispanic populations."
States and cities brace for loss of federal aid. The Hill:  "... states are grappling with a total budget gap of $110 billion for fiscal 2010 and $82 billion for fiscal 2011 ...nearly $150 billion of [the Recovery Act] was aimed at helping state and local governments fill budget holes and fund new projects. There are still federal stimulus funds left, but they are dwindling. The CBPP says about $60 billion will remain for states in 2011, which will shrink to $6 billion in 2012 ... Republicans have given no indication that they plan to hand out any more once they take power in the House in January."
"Public is not yet sold on GOP," finds W. Post/ABC poll:  "...the public trusts Obama marginally more than they do congressional Republicans to deal with the country's main problems in the coming years, 43 percent to 38 percent ... The public is also divided down the middle when it comes to the top issue: About 45 percent say they trust the GOP when it comes to the economy; 44 percent side with Obama."