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.
"Smoking Gun" Bank Lobby Memo
Elizabeth Warren catches a major flip-flop by the chief banker lobby ABA, demolishing its credibility, in Politico oped: "...the ABA in 2006 said that policymakers should separate safety-and-soundness and consumer protection—exactly the opposite of its position today. This 2006 memo illustrates the ABA’s real consistency— consistent opposition to meaningful reform. If there is a smoking gun in the battle over financial regulatory reform, the 2006 ABA memo is it."
Rortybomb rejects flawed premise of Dodd bill, that regulators just need "a bit more power": "I don’t like the idea of the Saving the World Forever approach to financial reform for three reasons: (1) I don’t think it’ll work. The biggest banks are all bigger now, and I worry they may even be emboldened ... (2) We are in a lot of trouble if this goes bad and we have another financial crisis in 6-8 years. (3) There are alternatives ... that involve stricter rules, better regulation of derivatives, smarter resolution authority, etc"
No one in Washington will say how much money banks should be required to have on hand, reports NYT's Andrew Sorkin: "Conspicuously absent from any regulatory legislation floating around Capitol Hill is the precise level of capital that banks should hold for every dollar they lend, called a capital ratio ... when the fight over financial re-regulation is complete, the next big battle between Wall Street and Washington will be over capital ratios and liquidity ... try pinning down Mr. Geithner, or anyone else in the Beltway, on how much capital banks should be required to keep ... and certainties disappear."
Slate's Christopher Beam offers a brief primer on the major debates of financial regulatory reform: "Although the bill offered by Dodd's House counterpart, Barney Frank, is in many ways tougher, the Dodd bill is probably a better road map for what the final policy will look like. But it's likely to be further tweaked—i.e., watered down—before it has enough votes to pass the Senate. Here are the most important components and how they're likely to change."
Insurers Surrender, Will Insure Sick Children
Insurance industry backs down from challenging law ending discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, after stern rebuke from President's HHS Secretary. AP: "In a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the industry's top lobbyist says insurers will accept new regulations to dispel uncertainty over a much publicized guarantee that children with pre-existing medical problems can get coverage starting this year."
Wonk Room's Igor Volsky pushes back on "unfunded mandate" conservative talking point: "If States Are Against Health Reform, Why Haven’t They All Left Medicaid? ... they’re saving dollars by insuring Americans that would otherwise end up in emergency rooms and receive far more expensive uncompensated treatment. ... Remember, Medicaid is a voluntary program. States do not have to participate at all."
Dr. Bruce Chernof details how the health reform law will benefit seniors, in LAT oped: "First is the creation of a public, voluntary long-term care insurance program known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program ... Enrolled individuals who have substantial daily needs would be eligible to receive at least $50 a day ... to defray the costs of services such as home care, family caregiver support, adult day-care or residential care ... Second are programs that will help states expand home and community services so that seniors can avoid placement in a nursing home ... Third are impoverishment protections that prevent a healthy husband or wife from being forced to spend all of a couple's shared assets in order to get his or her partner access to community-based services care."
Sen. Sanders Moves To Prevent Weak Climate Bill
Sen. Bernie Sanders fires warning shot to colleagues negotiating climate compromise. Wonk Room's Brad Johnson: " In a letter to Kerry ... Sanders has 'serious concerns about provisions that could harm our environment and provide new federal government support for polluters' ... State Preemption ... Support for New Nuclear Power ... Offshore Drilling ... Coal Plant Emissions..."
Treehugger's Daniel Kessler praises Sanders: "Sanders is doing what many on the left are afraid to do, framing climate change in scientific realities. There may be room for political compromise, but mother nature does not negotiate. "
OpenLeft's Chris Bowers says Sanders may mean it: "Given recent history, there is good reason to suspect that left-wing Democratic members of Congress will simply fold and support a bill that is a marginal improvement on the status quo. Then again, there are some members of the Senate, most notably Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold, who have frequently proven themselves unwilling to fold without at least receiving some sort of important concession."
Sierra Club's Michael Brune, in LAT interview, draws line on EPA authority in climate bill: "We will go to the mat and we will fight for the retention of EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases ... You would oppose a bill that took that power from the EPA? Yes ... I wouldn't rule out Sierra Club opposition [to the climate bill], and at the same time, I'm not willing to guarantee [opposition] over drilling."
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham sells climate compromise to home-state biz leaders as an improvement over (hysterical depictions of) pending EPA regs. McClatchy: "'Anybody that produces carbon, from a small farmer to a church, is potentially affected,' Graham said. 'And I believe the way to regulate carbon - and it should be regulated by the way - is through Congress, not through the EPA'"
EPA won't start phase-in of greenhouse gas regulations until January. NYT: "The statement formally affirms an agency announcement last month that it would phase in the regulation of climate-altering gases over several years, starting with the largest sources ... the administration is moving forward with a regulatory plan in case Congress continues to be deadlocked on the issue."
Climate Progress rips NYT for elevating weathermen spreading lies about climate science: "...the former paper of record has once again equated people who don’t know about climate science with people who do..."
NYT Scapegoats Public Pensions To Push Debt Hysteria
NYT scapegoats state public pensions for possible debt crises: "California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink [including] armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay."
EARLIER on OurFuture.org: Roger Tauss debunks attack on pensions: "... 75 percent of all states meet the federal standard applied to corporate pensions (at least 80 percent funded). And the others are an indictment not of the benefit, but of the extent to which these 13 states used money promised to the pension funds for other purposes."
Treasury To Sell Citigroup
Treasury prepares to unload Citigroup. Bloomberg: "The sale would finish the recovery of $45 billion given to Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program and bring the Treasury closer to President Barack Obama’s goal of recouping 'every single dime' of taxpayer money put into the bank-rescue fund ... The Treasury hasn’t made any projections about profits from the sale..."
Reuters' Jeffrey Goldfarb and Edward Hadas argue the Citigroup sale will reap taxpayers a profit: "At Monday’s price of about $4.20 a share, the government would reap a profit of about $7 billion on its $25 billion investment ... [But even] though Citi is performing better, the bank remains unwieldy and still looks a long way from earning enough to offset its cost of capital."
Dean Baker isn't buying it: "By making capital available to Citigroup at below market rates, the government effectively subsidized the income of Citigroup's shareholders. It also allowed its top executives to make millions of dollars because they were smart enough to be able to get taxpayers to subsidize the bank. The current market value of Citigroup is $123 billion, with only $33 billion belonging to the government. This means that the government has effectively given $90 billion ... to Citigroup's shareholders and billions more to its executives by not demanding a market price for its support."
After the firing of David Frum by AEI, The American Prospect's Mark Schmitt calculates the high cost of conservative intellectual bankruptcy: "... we all benefit from a fully engaged debate ... I want to see my own ideas tested and challenged, in a vigorous debate with people like Frum, and while I'm confident my ideas will 'win,' so is he. I'm confident that both ideas will be improved by the interaction."
Stateline checks in on GOP Gov. Jan Brewer's break with conservatives to raise the Arizona sales tax and maintain social services: "If the tax fails, more than $900 million more would be cut, two-thirds of which currently funds elementary and secondary education. The governor says that’s the reality that finally convinced lawmakers in February to put the tax hike on the ballot. 'If you give anybody the information and the facts, you can do the math,' Brewer says."
Blue Texas at FDL catalogs conservative blog support for the Michigan militia members arrested for plotting to kill a Michigan law enforcement official: "Glenn Reynolds smells a politically-motivated conspiracy. So does American Power. Dan Riehl finds something about the terrorists to praise. Classical Values sees nothing illegal going on..."
Digby is fascinated that the militia-types truly believe the majority is with them, or would be converted by a successful mission: "...the mainstream media have also been saying for years that this is a conservative country and that these salt-o-the-earth Red State Republicans are the Real Americans etc. If that's what you've been told all your life, the idea that a liberal (ish) black president and a party of women and non-whites could legitimately win an election wouldn't seem possible."