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.
Bipartisanship Takes Backseat To Curbing Wall Street
WH puts tough Wall Street reform over bipartisanship. LAT: "...Obama told congressional leaders that he would not accept a weakened bill simply in the name of a bipartisan accomplishment, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. Unlike the healthcare legislation, Democrats have more hope that Republicans such as Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee will break ranks after spending months working on the complex intricacies of the legislation."
Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid may simply dare GOP to vote against Dodd bill: "Democrats are so emboldened that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to bring the Banking Committee bill to the floor with no major concessions to Republicans and essentially dare them to vote against the measure, senior leadership aides said."
Sen. Dodd, on the Senate floor, lambastes conservative Republicans for falsely claiming the bill would create more bailouts: "...they turned to Frank Luntz, their political strategist. Here's what Mr. Luntz came up with, and I quote: 'The single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout.' ... It's a naked political strategy, and if it succeeds ... and another crisis sinks the American economy, then the next recession and all of the damage it will bring to middle class families will have happened for the sake of that false talking point."
Sen. Min. Leader Mitch McConnell can't answer direct questions about GOP fundraising on Wall Street. ThinkProgress: "McConnell repeatedly refused to discuss the matter and claimed that he based his opposition to financial reform not on fundraising from Wall Street but rather on concerns from community banks in Kentucky ... McConnell takes more money from the finance industry than any other sector."
Key Senate Republicans distancing themselves from McConnell's broadside. TPMDC's Brian Beutler: "Over the last two days I've asked three different Republicans about the Senate Minority Leader's remarks yesterday ... 'I did not hear Senator McConnell's speech on the floor,' said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) ... 'I didn't hear his characterization,' said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) ... 'I haven't read the comments,' said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) yesterday..."
Baseline Scenario's Simon Johnson says "Senator McConnell Is Wrong, Senator Kaufman Is Right" on the Dodd bill's "too-big-to-fail" approach: "[McConnell's] remarks today and yesterday go far beyond any reasonable level of partisanship ... passing a resolution authority, as proposed in the Dodd bill, would be a step in the right direction for purely domestic financial entities. But Senator Kaufman is exactly right to press for more."
GOP Sen. Judd Gregg pretends bipartisan plan to end "too-big-to-fail" isn't in Dodd bill. Tapped's Tim Fernholz: "The language in Sen. Chris Dodd's bill, as I've previously reported, not only came from Corker and Warner's negotiations, but it also does all of the things that Gregg says it doesn't do."
HuffPost's Jason Linkins slaps media for not bothering to report who is right: "It sure sounds like the first thing (the bill prevents future bailouts) is the exact opposite of the second thing (the bill encourages future bailouts), doesn't it? So, you'd probably want to know which one is, you know, correct ... there are actual points of clarity to be had here."
BooMan says Republicans are making the same mistake they made in 1995 when they shut down the government: "They think they are armed with solid Frank Luntz-created talking points, but they cannot compete with the voice of the president ... If they cave, they'll alienate a base that they've needlessly worked up into a froth, and if they stay united in opposition, they'll be painted as radical protectors of the banksters.."
Banks Still Need To Get Broken Up
NYT's Paul Krugman notes banks have been to recapitalize, but sees underside: "...I was skeptical about the ability of major banks to recapitalize themselves out of profits. I was wrong ... banks that can borrow money cheaply — because they have an implicit guarantee from the feds — are more or less guaranteed money machines unless they do something stupid; and gross stupidity has been placed temporarily on hold ... [But we] got into this mess because we had an over-financialized economy ... And now it’s baaaack."
Fed official calls for breaking up the banks, reports HuffPost's Shahien Nasiripour: "Richard W. Fisher, president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told a gathering of economists and financial experts Wednesday that 'a truly effective restructuring of our regulatory system will have to neutralize what I consider to be the greatest threat to our financial system's stability... "too big to fail".' ... U.S. policymakers, along with their international counterparts, should come up with a system that will break them down into a manageable, less-risky size."
Massachusetts quits megabanks with high credit card rates. W. Post: "State Treasurer Timothy Cahill said the state has removed Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo from a list of institutions approved for new state investments. Massachusetts, which is the only state to make such a move, is also beginning to divest $243 million in funds held at those banks, though the process could take up to six months."
Danny Schecter hones in on the missing narrative in the fight to curb Wall Street: "Missing is a hardnosed look at the financial crisis as a crime story—an approach that allows for morality as well as indignation, and resonates with public anger. It touches the nerve that most people feel."
President's foreclosure plan continues to struggle. NYT: "The number of homeowners who defaulted on their mortgages even after securing cheaper terms through the government’s modification program nearly doubled in March, continuing a trend that could undermine the entire program ... New elements [of the Treasury program] focus on allowing distressed homeowners to sell their properties for less than they owe and on shaving the principal owed by borrowers. The notion of cutting principal, however, has already run into some resistance from the big banks..."
Tax Fight On The Horizon
Expiration of Bush tax cuts could lead to major tax fight this year. NYT: "Representative Sander M. Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Democrats would be united in extending the tax cuts but not for the top earners ... As for the Republicans, “we want to extend them all. That’s our position,” said Senator Judd Gregg ... Democrats say the debate is not likely to begin before summer in the House ... Under the [new "PAYGO"] law, an extension of the middle-class tax cuts does not require offsetting savings. But an extension of tax cuts for the rich would."
The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz says progressives shouldn't celebrate if Larry Summers leaves the White House: "...Summers' views have shifted to the left, even if he won't admit it."
King Coal Rejects Climate Bill That Helps King Coal
"Coal execs pressured to support climate legislation," reports The Hill: "... Michael Carey, the president of the Ohio Coal Association ... said the Obama administration had declared a 'war on coal’ through its regulatory efforts to reduce pollution. That comment particularly agitated Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who described the climate bill as a lifeline for the industry. The bill would give an estimated $60 billion in subsidies to the sector over the next two decades to develop cleaner technologies through a new fee on transmission lines and also from the sale of pollution allowances in a market the bill creates."
Business Roundtable's Marian Hopkins optimistic for bipartisan climate bill, in Treehugger: "While the Cantwell-Collins bill is awaiting CBO analysis, and we're not likely to see a bill from Kerry, Graham and Lieberman until Earth Day, it's really encouraging to see so much bipartisan work taking place on the Hill."
Obama's currency deal with China may be oversold, says the Guardian's Mark Weisbrot: "So while it is good that the Obama administration has discovered that public pressure will not move China to revalue its currency, it is also unlikely that there is much pressure coming from Washington behind the scenes. More likely, the Obama administration will use the public demands around the currency as a bargaining chip for things that it really cares about, such as getting China — a permanent member of the UN security council, with a veto — to agree to stronger sanctions against Iran."
Daily Kos' McJoan sees new in-depth polling showing the "popularity" of repealing health care reform is a mirage: "It suggests that the message of 'this is a start for health reform' is a good one for Democrats, and that the 'repeal' message is resonating because people aren't necessarily satisfied with what passed, and don't want outright repeal, but want to see the law built upon and think it should go further. What does a majority want to see in that continued reform? The public option."
GOP leaders can't decide what to put in a new "Contract For America." Politico: "House Minority Whip Eric Cantor wants a document, akin to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract With America, that identifies specific pieces of legislation Republicans could pass if they win back the House ... But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is leading the effort to craft the document, says that including specific legislation in the contract would smack of the backroom deals the GOP accuses Democrats of making ... If the Republicans include too many specifics, especially on hot-button social issues important to their base, they risk turning off moderates and independents. And that’s assuming that they can get the entire House Republican Conference to agree on specific bills in the first place..."