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 Isaiah Poole:  "On Monday, some Senate Republicans will repeat their claims that America is overtaxed and that the federal government spends too much. Both claims are false. America pays a lower share of its gross domestic product in taxes (about 27 percent) than most of the developed world. And federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows ... What is true is that conservatives have signed onto a tax plan that goes in the opposite direction of the Buffett Rule. It would give even larger tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while imposing higher health care costs onto seniors, burdening college students with more debt, erecting higher barriers between struggling families and the economic support they need, and crippling the resources that support our common well-being. As President Obama said Sunday, this argument over the Buffett Rule ultimately 'is not an argument about redistribution. That is an argument about growth'—specifically, a broad-based growth supported by a government that is able to lay the foundation for shared prosperity."
Republicans ready to filibuster Buffett Rule, back more tax cuts for the wealthy. TPM:  "The Republican-led House is set to take up legislation, spearheaded by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, that lets businesses with fewer than 500 employees deduct as much as 20 percent of their 2012 business income. The bill is projected to cost $46 billion, and the tax benefits are tilted toward high earners ... Across the Capitol, the Democratic-led Senate is poised to vote Monday on 'Buffett Rule' ... Neither bill is expected to become law, nor is meaningful tax reform expected to pass this year. The upshot, instead, is essentially to frame the 2012 election."
GOP tries to shift attention away from "Buffett Rule" to gas prices. W. Post:  "... the House GOP will try to push a temporary highway funding bill that includes mandatory approval of construction of the Keystone energy pipeline, setting up a negotiation showdown with the Senate. In addition, committees are moving bills that would freeze regulations on refineries and also forbid Obama from releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep costs down, a move that Republicans say would only be done for political expediency as the November election draws near."
House Republicans look to pressure Romney to stick with right-wing agenda. NYT:  "...House Republicans said Mr. Romney could go his own way on smaller issues that may help define him as separate from his Congressional Republican counterparts. But, they said, he must understand that they are driving the policy agenda for the party now ... Freshmen as well as veteran members of the Republican Study Committee, led by Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, have shown no hesitation to buck the leadership. And Mr. Romney has even less leverage with them."
Romney again tells conservatives he won't tell voters which government departments he will eliminate. HuffPost:  "In a closed-door speech to donors at a private home in Florida on Sunday, Mitt Romney was unusually candid about his policy plans ... 'I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,' Romney said. 'Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later.'"
Mitt Romney thinks being a stay-at-home mom is work ... unless you're poor. NY Mag's Caroline Bankoff:  "[In January, Romney] argued that stay-at-home mothers receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits should receive federal assistance for childcare so they can 'have the dignity of work.'"
Europe refusing to abandon austerity. NYT's Paul Krugman:  "This is, not to mince words, just insane. Europe has had several years of experience with harsh austerity programs, and the results are exactly what students of history told you would happen: such programs push depressed economies even deeper into depression. And because investors look at the state of a nation’s economy when assessing its ability to repay debt, austerity programs haven’t even worked as a way to reduce borrowing costs."
Instead of ending "too-big-to-fail," banks are growing. Bloomberg:  "The Big Five today are about twice as large as they were a decade ago relative to the economy, sparking concern that trouble at a major bank would rock the financial system and force the government to step in as it did during the 2008 crunch ... Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, blames a 'lack of leadership at Treasury and the White House' ... The Obama administration rejects the criticism, citing new safeguards to head off further turmoil in the banking system."
Politico finds many "deficit hawks" in Congress beg for government to fund local energy projects:  "[Sen. Rand Paul] has championed the cause of USEC, a company that runs a uranium enrichment plant in Paducah that threatens to close in May ... Some of the administration’s most prominent critics on Solyndra — including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — had urged DOE to approve loan guarantees for local renewable-energy companies ... Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune is carving out a spot as a deficit hawk, but he was at the center of a Midwestern effort earlier this session to defend funding for corn ethanol..."
Obama advances trade pact with Colombia. AP:  "Obama announced that the trade pact can be fully enforced next month, now that Colombia has enacted a series of protections for workers and labor unions ... Obama officials insisted they moved ahead only after Colombia took steps to halt deadly violence against labor unionists. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the announcement was 'deeply disappointing and troubling' and accused the administration of placing 'commercial interests above the interests of workers and their trade unions.' Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers, said the announcement was 'premature in light of the continued violence against unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia.'"