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 Dave Johnson:  "The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) held a press conference to announce a campaign to hold elected officials and procurement decision-makers accountable when they buy supplies and steel for taxpayer-funded infrastructure from outside the country. They are also calling for 'Buy American' rules in state procurement policies, and a strengthening of Buy America rules in federal procurement. The new national 'Should Be Made In America' campaign will begin placing billboards wherever politicians are willing to outsource projects to China and other countries. This campaign will also use online activism to urge the use of American-made components for infrastructure projects financed with U.S. tax dollars."
Chief Justice Roberts may have "tipped his hand," observes TPM's Brian Beutler:  "In an exchange with a plaintiffs attorney, Roberts suggested he’s skeptical that the mandate and its penalties can be treated separately and may have opened the door to finding that Congress’ power to impose the mandate springs from its broad taxing power ... if the two measures are linked, then the court could easily conclude they both stem from the same power, and give them the green light."
Original conservative architect of individual mandate still backs it. W. Post:  "There is at least one remaining conservative defender: the man who helped start it all, Mark Pauly. He is no fan of the other provisions in 2010 health-care law. Still, he said, when it comes to the mandate, 'personally, I think it’s wise public policy.'"
Robert Reich argues a Supreme Court loss could be single-payer's win:  "If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the new health law, private insurers will swarm Capitol Hill demanding that the law be amended to remove the requirement that they cover people with pre-existing conditions When this happens, Obama and the Democrats should say they’re willing to remove that requirement – but only if Medicare is available to all, financed by payroll taxes."
GOP budget goes after disaster funds. Politico:  "In the current 2012 budget ... total discretionary spending is capped at $1.043 trillion but up to $11.4 billion in additional spending is allowed in the event of disasters ... [In the House GOP 2013 budget} no such special exemption for disaster aid will be recognized..."
House Dem leadership releases alternative budget. W. Post:  "[House Budget Ranking Member Chris] Van Hollen proposes to fund elements of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, designed to help stimulate the still lagging economy. Those proposals include $80 billion for education, $5 billion for police and firefighters and $50 billion for new highway projects. Van Hollen proposes to make permanent Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class but to generate $1 trillion in new revenue by ending tax cuts for millionaires, closing tax loopholes and establishing what Obama has dubbed 'the Buffett Rule,' designed to ensure millionaires do not pay lower tax rates than the middle class."
Progressive Caucus releases the "Budget For All." Common Dreams:  "In contrast to the GOP budget the CPC budget has no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits. The proposal states that it can achieve a deficit reduction 'by focusing on the true drivers of our deficit – unsustainable tax policies, the wars overseas, and policies that helped cause the recent recession – rather than putting the middle class’s social safety net on the chopping block.'"
Senate Dems propose small biz tax cut. Roll Call:  "Senate Democrats today unveiled proposals to give small businesses a 10 percent payroll tax credit for new hires added in 2012 and encourage the purchase of equipment ... Reid drew a distinction between the Democrats’ bill and a proposal unveiled last week by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Cantor’s bill would give a 20 percent tax cut to businesses with fewer than 500 employees ... ''Our tax cut is targeted to help small businesses while Republican efforts are just camouflaged handouts to the wealthiest in America.'"
Republicans skip filibuster on bill to end oil subsidies, happy to defeat it with up-or-down vote. Politico:  "...Republicans essentially called the Democrats’ bluff and voted for Monday's initial cloture vote, saying they welcome the opportunity to spend time on the Senate floor talking about gas prices ... Majority Leader Harry Reid called tax incentives for profitable big oil companies 'careless corporate welfare' and said Republicans were siding with the companies over consumers."
EPA to propose greenhouse gas standards for new power plants today. The Hill:  "...it will give future coal plants years to meet the standard, and eventually require capture and storage of carbon emissions ... new natural gas-fired plants – which have lower emissions than coal plants – would meet the standards without installing additional controls. Joseph Stanko, who represents industry clients for the firm Hunton & Williams, told The Washington Post that the standard 'effectively bans new coal plants.'"
Scientists warn global warming is becoming "close to irreversible," reports Reuters:  "'This is the critical decade. If we don't get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines,' said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University's climate change institute ... For ice sheets - huge refrigerators that slow down the warming of the planet - the tipping point has probably already been passed, Steffen said..."
House GOP leadership struggling to get caucus to back a 3-month transportation bill. Politico:  "GOP leaders had set up a vote Monday requiring two-thirds of voting members to approve the extension. But Democratic leaders had urged their members to oppose the bill ... Likely leadership will regroup and instead use a rule to bring the bill to the floor, which requires a simple majority to pass. But bringing it up later in the week isn’t a sure thing either. The conservative Heritage Action for America warned members against voting for an extension... "
WH-Dem rift over JOBS Act dereg bill. W. Post:  "The Senate voted on the legislation, although half of the chamber’s Democrats voted against passage. Congressional aides said the White House’s enthusiastic support for the bill left some Democratic senators feeling boxed in ... Since the fall, the White House has worked hard to reconcile with liberal groups, adopting tougher rhetoric toward Republicans and advancing a series of policy proposals embraced by allies. But when liberals revolted over this recent legislation, the White House responded with what critics complain was only a token acknowledgment of their concerns. The bill has raised objections from prominent union, consumer and regulatory groups."
Accelerating foreclosures may harm President's re-election campaign. W. Post's Suzy Khimm:  "Since the beginning of 2012, foreclosures have already risen in 21 states. That’s largely because of February’s mortgage fraud settlement that clarified which foreclosure procedures by banks are unacceptable, allowing backlogged foreclosures to move forward ... it may be challenging for the Obama campaign to explain that it’s because of the mortgage settlement, not a rapid downturn in the economy or the president’s own housing policies..."
CFPB sparking passion for public service again, finds NYT's Joe Nocera:  "[Richard Cordray] has been trying to instill a culture that can best take advantage of the young talent flocking to its door ... To judge by the people I spent the day talking to, he’s done it well. "
Proposal for states to take lead on strengthening pensions. NYT:  "...the idea would be to give companies an easy way to offer a firm pension without having to run the plan themselves. On Monday, the labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci, who developed the proposal, held a public forum at the New School for Social Research with New York City’s comptroller, John Liu. The forum explored whether companies might want to start offering pensions through a pooled system run by the Bureau of Asset Management, a unit of the comptroller’s office."