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:  The president wants to show that he’s sensitive to business complaints about a tax code with the highest nominal corporate tax rates in the industrial world, outraged at the loopholes and scams built into the code, committed to providing incentives for business to create jobs here at home, and stout in opposing more corporate tax cuts unlike his Republican opponents. But a brief look at the framework shows how truly limited and conservative our debate has become. The corporation lobby has won the fight before it has begun by defining the terms of the debate.
President Obama's corporate tax reform proposal gets mixed reviews [AP]:  "Economists note that Obama's plan would upturn the very playing field the administration says it wants to level. It would give manufacturers preferential treatment: Tax breaks would effectively cap their rate at 25 percent. Other companies would pay up to 28 percent. ... Some say such varying rates can distort the economy by diverting investment into some industries and away from others that might pack a bigger economic punch."
Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center's TaxVox says Obama correctly diagnoses the problem with corporate taxes. But:  "After doing a great job explaining the problem, Obama often flops when it comes to a cure. Sure, he proposes cutting the corporate rate. These days, who doesn’t? But when it comes to which tax preferences he’d dump, Obama often ducks the tough choices. More troubling, some of his proposed cures may make the disease worse."
Pat Garofalo offers some praise for the proposal at Think Progress:  "The proposal also includes some important smaller changes that will make the tax code fairer and more equitable ... They would certainly help by ending some of the more abusive practices that have made the U.S. tax code the mess that it is."
Robert Reich asks, why should corporations get a tax cut from President Obama?  "It’s not as if corporations are hurting. Quite the contrary. American companies are booking higher profits than ever. They’re sitting on $2 trillion of cash they don’t know what to do with. And it’s not as if corporate taxes are high. In fact, corporate tax receipts as a share of profits is now at its lowest level in at least 40 years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, corporate federal taxes paid last year dropped to 12.1 percent of profits earned from activities within the United States. That’s a gigantic drop from the 25.6 percent, on average, that corporations paid from 1987 to 2008. And it’s not that corporations are paying an inordinate share of federal tax revenues. Here again, the reality is just the opposite."
Lowering corporate taxes won't create more jobs, says Time columnist Rana Foroohar:  "Fundamentally, lower taxes aren’t the reason that businesses choose to invest, or not, in a certain country. ... Consider the recently released Harvard Business School study looking at insourcing and outsourcing decisions among 10,000 alumnae who are running American businesses. The key reason for outsourcing wasn’t labor cost, but a combination of cost, proximity to market, and (most importantly) better worker skill sets abroad. In order for America to create jobs at home, we need to do the heavy lifting to reform education and develop workers who can do the sort of jobs businesses need them to do."
The winner of the Wednesday GOP debate: Barack Obama, says The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie:  "This wasn’t apparent at the beginning; during the first forty minutes, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul argued about earmarks, and made the usual promise to cut taxes, cut spending, and magically balance the budget. But by the end of the event, the candidates had revealed their hostility toward women and Latinos, and further ensured that they would stay on Obama’s side into he fall. ...Even if Republicans were trying to make themselves a hard sell for women and Latinos, I’m not sure they could have done a better job. "
"The phenomenon of a party talking to itself — rather than reaching out to new voters — was on sharp display at a candidates debate here Wednesday night marked by nearly two hours of peevish and often confusing exchanges between Mitt Romney and his surging challenger, Rick Santorum. Even before the debate, an array of prominent Republicans, in interviews with POLITICO, were pleading for the candidates to pay attention to the appearance of tone-deafness and do more to show they desire — and can deliver — a more inclusive and forward-looking party."
Rick Santorum has a long history of making incendiary comments about the threat of "secularism" from the left [Washington Post]:  "Santorum has regularly argued on the campaign trail that Obama and his allies’ views on abortion, same-sex marriage and the proper role of government prove they have distinctly secular values — and that the election offers a key and perhaps final chance for religious people to fend off their intrusions. ... But even in a nominating process heavy on Christian themes, Santorum, who is Catholic, stands out for his comfort in embracing religion. His contention that government is intruding into religious liberty predates the Obama decision."
Carl Hiassen at the Miami Herald:  "Ignoring years of public-opinion polls, the GOP is boldly marching backwards into the 1960s to question whether contraception is a legitimate health-care benefit. ... As political miscalculations go, this one could be epic. If you’re looking for a sure way to galvanize female voters against your own party, attack birth control."
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones finds himself at "profound indecision" about Rick Santorum's debate performance:  "Should I root for Santorum...because he'll really and truly represent the insanity the Republican Party has descended to, and provide us with a Goldwater moment that might shock them back into sensibility? Or is that juvenile and dangerous? After all, there's always a chance he could win. I don't know. I just don't know. But it's hard not to feel that America really needs a long, hard look into the id of the Republican Party, and then needs to decide if that's where it wants to go. Santorum, even if he has no other redeeming features, at least provides us with that."
Why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is moving on debit-card overdraft fees less than two years after Federal Reserve regulations went into effect. [Bloomberg Businessweek]:  "The changes, however, only made a dent. As we reported in October, overdraft fee revenue to banks from ATM and retail purchases was still on track to top $16 billion last year, just a 16 percent drop from its peak in 2009, according to Moebs Services, a banking consultancy. The rates are still so high in part because many banks launched aggressive marketing campaigns to get customers to sign up, with letters, calls, and e-mails that at times were alarmist warnings of what would happen if you didn’t opt in."
Firedoglake's David Dayen quotes from the statement on overdraft fees from consumer bureau chief Richard Cordray:  "Overdrafts can provide consumers with needed access to funds, but the growing costs of overdraft practices have the capacity to inflict serious economic harm. We want to learn how consumers are affected and how well they are able to learn about the costs and risks of overdrafts."
The administration's foreclosure settlement opens doors for fighting fraudulent banks, writes In These Times' Roger Bybee:  It's "not an It's a Wonderful Life triumph of "organized people over organized money." ... Instead, the deal puts the foreclosure-fraud struggle on a new level, demanding continued struggle in the spirit and through strategies exemplified by the Occupy movement. It's a partial setback for the banks, forcing them to cough up a sizable (but still inadequate) chunk of money while shamefully shielding them legally on some key issues. But at the same time, it creates a federal task force, headed by the aggressive New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and more clear-cut options for victimized families and housing advocates to pursue."
The stimulus continues to deliver [The Hill]:  "The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to have a significant effect. The bill raised fourth-quarter 2011 gross domestic product by as much as 1.5 percent, it states, and lowered the unemployment rate by as much as 1.1 percentage points."
Anti-union push moves to New Hampshire, the AFL-CIO blog reports.  "At a time when the tea party-driven Republican agenda in New Hampshire’s state capitol is more unpopular than ever with voters on both sides of the aisle, Republican House Labor Committee Chairman Gary Daniels and his allies have ramped up their attacks on working people. In a work session yesterday, the House Labor Committee took another step towards dismantling New Hampshire’s collective bargaining rights law by voting no fewer than five anti-worker bills ‘ought to pass.’"