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. Bill Scher returns Wednesday.
OurFuture.org's Isaiah J. Poole:  While the rest of Congress is arguing over how to continue a payroll tax cut that will not dramatically improve the economy over the next year, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus planned to introduce legislation today that its leaders assert would create more than 4 million jobs and reduce the deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. ... "The Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act" is the most serious effort to bring together the tools needed to address today's economic crisis. It is a direct answer to the economic anger at the heart of the Occupy movement.
Cutting unemployed millionaires out of food stamps and unemployment compensation is likely to be part of payroll tax holiday extension expected to come before House today.  But, as the New York Times reports, "millionaires on food stamps are about as rare as petunias in January, even if you count a lottery winner in Michigan who managed to collect the benefit until chagrined officials in the state put an end to it." Millionaires collecting unemployment checks are slightly easier to find: "The Internal Revenue Service reported that 2,362 millionaires collected a total of $20,799,000 in unemployment benefits in 2009."
The Hill reports:  "Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) warned his GOP colleagues that Democrats were furious about provisions in the must-pass measure to extend the current payroll tax rate holiday and extend and reform unemployment benefits ... calling the provisions related to phasing back the current 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits a 'heartless, and I think mindless and reckless way to proceed.'"
GOP would have some working-class families pay for their own payroll tax relief through cuts in health-care aid.  Politico: "[I]t’s the third time Congress has considered tapping into this portion of the health law funds — the subsidies that will help low and some middle-class families buy health insurance in the new state exchanges starting in 2014. ... someone who makes between 150 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level would have to repay $300 of the subsidy under existing law. Under the proposal that House Republicans released Friday, the repayments would be $500."
We'd pay with our health in another way, Sen. Barbara Boxer writes in The Huffington Post:  "Republicans are supporting a provision that will block clean air standards for the largest boilers -- a rule that is designed to protect the American people from toxic mercury, lead, and arsenic pollution. If they succeed, objective scientific data show there will be up to 8,100 more premature deaths per year, 52,000 more asthma cases per year, 5,100 more heart attacks per year, and 400,000 more lost work days per year."
Washington Post reminds that bill laden with such GOP priorities as the Keystone TX pipeline  "will be the highest-stakes vote for [House Speaker John] Boehner (Ohio) and his leadership team since September, when a stopgap government funding measure unexpectedly fell short of passage amid opposition from nearly all Democrats as well as 48 Republicans." But The Hill reports  that "several [Democratic] aides said it was unclear how many Democrats would break away and vote with Republicans."
State Department warns GOP: Force fast decision on a Keystone XL pipeline permit and the answer could be no.  Climate Progress quotes State Department official: "The State Department has led a rigorous, thorough, and transparent process that must run its course to obtain the necessary information to make an informed decision on behalf of the national interest. Should Congress impose an arbitrary deadline for the permit decision, its actions would not only compromise the process, it would prohibit the Department from acting consistently with National Environmental Policy Act requirements by not allowing sufficient time for the development of this information. In the absence of properly completing the process, the Department would be unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project."
Reuters: "Retail sales rose less than expected in November  as a drop in receipts for food and beverages weighed against stronger sales of motor vehicles, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday."
Child homelessness is up 33 percent, says USA Today:  "One in 45 children in the USA — 1.6 million children — were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. ... Says Ellen Bassuk, president of the center: 'What we have new in 2010 is the effects of a man-made disaster caused by the economic recession. … We are seeing extreme budget cuts, foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing."'"
WaPo's Suzy Khimm cites Tax Policy Center numbers on candidate Newt Gingrich's tax plan:  "Gingrich’s plan does more for wealthy American households than any plan released by the other 2012 candidates — and increases the deficit by trillions. Gingrich would give the top 1 percent of U.S. households an average $430,000 tax cut, with their tax rate dropping 22 percentage points under the assumption that the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. ... By contrast, the bottom 20 percent would save only an average of $649 under the Gingrich plan — with their tax rate dropping just 1.5 percentage points — and more than half of that group wouldn’t see any benefit at all."
Markos Moulitsas takes down the revisionist history around his infamous divorce tale:  "GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich (oh how I love typing that!) is fighting hard to negate much of the baggage that will bedevil him over the coming year. Like the story of how he accosted his first wife with divorce matters while she was recovering from surgery at a hospital. To try and rewrite that bit of his sordid history, Newt enlisted his daughter Jackie, who was 13 at the time of the incident, and apparently claims no talk of divorce occurred at that hospital visit. ... The reality is a lot harsher than the new sanitized version Newt and his daughter are peddling."
The Huffington Post has assembled some of the attack lines conservatives are using against Gingrich. 
The Washington Post:"The Obama administration on Tuesday will wade into the increasingly divisive national debate over new voting laws in several states  that could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect the president in 2008. ... Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will deliver a speech Tuesday expressing concerns about the voter-identification laws, along with a Texas redistricting plan before the Supreme Court that fails to take into account the state’s burgeoning Hispanic population, he said in an interview Monday."
AFL-CIO Blog: "Tens of thousands of labor and civil rights activists on Saturday marched from the New York offices of Koch Industries,  whose owners have supported restrictive voting legislation modeled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing think tank funded by brothers David and Charles Koch. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who took part in the event, put it this way: 'You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not prepared to fight.'"
Police clear occupy encampment in Baltimore.  "Baltimore police in riot gear moved in full force but peacefully evicted protesters with the Occupy Baltimore movement from the Inner Harbor's McKeldin Square during the early morning hours Tuesday."
Laura Clawson on port workers during Monday's Occupy the Ports action:  "They detail both their pride in their hard work and the abuses they face stemming from lack of environmental and safety regulations, from misclassification and more—the many ingredients that force truck drivers to pee into bottles and work for a pittance. And they ask for help in and attention to their struggle, which they have been fighting and continue to fight, struggling to get a fraction of the attention today's Occupy protests will get."
Big banks appear headed toward a $19 billion settlement with state and federal officials over illegal foreclosures, says Wall Street Journal.  "Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and state officials hope to reach a deal as soon as this week ... The settlement would end months-long negotiations among federal officials, state attorneys general and the nation's five largest mortgage servicers: Ally Financial Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co."
Europe Austerity Watch: Shrinking luxury car market in Spain is a bellwether of deeper economic woes.  In Bloomberg Businessweek: "The end of the property and construction boom, fueled by a speculative bubble and low interest rates during the previous decade, caused Spain’s unemployment rate to more than double to 22.8 percent. The economy, which stagnated in the third quarter, may contract in the final three months. The Cayenne, Porsche SE’s best-selling model, has become a symbol of the excess ... It’s not just luxury brands that are suffering. Its local auto industry, a rare source of manufacturing jobs in an economy dominated by services and tourism, has also been hard hit."