fresh voices from the front lines of change







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.

Attempt To Silence Populist Amendments Threatens Passage

Filibusters threatened as populist amendments blocked by conservatives, Dodd from reaching Senate floor. Politico: "...said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), whose amendment banning proprietary trading at commercial banks was blocked. 'I’m not inclined to vote for cloture if we can’t get a vote on this.' ... In a tense exchange on the floor, Dorgan accused Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) of failing to go to bat for controversial amendments ..." Rortybomb: Why Merkley-Levin Is Necessary.

Dodd proposal undermines Lincoln derivatives firewall. W. Post: "His amendment preserves the tough language -- but it postpones any action for two years so it can be studied [by] new council of regulators, headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, whose members have serious reservations about such a dramatic measure ... 'I remain fully committed to my provision and will fight efforts to weaken it,' [Lincoln] said ... Nor did the banks cheer Dodd's compromise ... said one banking lobbyist ... 'All this does is introduce a comic amount of uncertainty.'"

Dodd suggests more changes possible. Politico: "Dodd described his new derivatives language ... as just a proposal and added that no agreement had been reached on either that or the [final] manager's amendment."

Banks win amendment vote allowing feds to pre-empt tough state rules. USA Today: "Under the compromise, federal bank regulators could more easily pre-empt states that pass new laws governing a financial product offered by national banks and thrifts. Dodd's original bill would have permitted states to pass such laws if a new consumer watchdog agency has not established similar rules."

Republican leaders step up attacks on overall bill. NYT: "Republicans accused Senate Democrats and the Obama White House of orchestrating a 'government takeover' of the financial industry...

Washington leaders owe a debt to the populists for fueling Wall St. reform. Baseline Scenario's James Kwak: "The background to this political story is the return of what can only be called populist, anti-Wall Street sentiment ... We will still end up with a relatively moderate piece of legislation (and maybe some people are hoping that the anti-Wall Street wave will subside before conference committee); but without it, we might have ended up with nothing."

NYT explores Goldman's myriad of conflicts of interest: "'Now it’s all about the score. Just make the score, do the deal. Move on to the next one. That’s the trader culture' said Cornelius Hurley, director of the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law at Boston University and former counsel to the Federal Reserve Board. 'Their business model has completely blurred the difference between executing trades on behalf of customers versus executing trades for themselves. It’s a huge problem.'"

Will Hedge Fund Managers Finally Pay Their Fair Share?

Bloomberg suggests hedge fund "carried interest" income tax loophole will be closed this month, while lobbyists angle for exceptions: "Four Senate Democrats and Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown sought a waiver for venture capital funds from the tax increase. Real estate and venture capital groups are holding meetings on Capitol Hill in an effort to persuade lawmakers that they create jobs and that penalizing fund executives would impede growth in their industries."

Grassley Embraces Estate Tax Cut That Could Conveniently Benefit His Own Estate reports Wonk Room's Pat Garofalo.

President Gets Optimistic On Jobs

President talks up economy, stimulus at Ohio factory. NYT: "Mr. Obama’s expressions of confidence in the economy and his political swipes at the opposition have both become more pronounced lately ... His visit on Tuesday was to V&M Star [which] recently announced plans to invest $650 million to expand by a million square feet ... V&M’s decision came about in part because the state is using $20 million from last year’s $787 billion stimulus act to prepare the site for the plant’s expansion and to rebuild a nearby rail yard so the company can move freight to the main rail line."

Educ. Sec. sounds alarm about teacher layoffs, in interview with The Hill: "...we need to keep teachers in the classroom. We don’t want to see class size go to 40 to 45. We don’t want to see summer school being eliminated, particularly for disadvantaged children. We have school districts going to four-day weeks rather than five-day weeks, and I’m arguing that we need a lot more time for children, not less time…"

Accoring to a new Rutgers study, many Americans are wondering where's the recovery they've heard so much about. Truthdig's Bill Boyarsky:: "Debbie Borie-Holtz, Carl Van Horn and Cliff Zukin surveyed 1,202 men and women who were unemployed in August 2009, and the three researchers were able to reconnect with 908 of these people in March 2010. They wrote, 'It is remarkable that fully two-thirds (67%) of those jobless last August were still jobless this March, and 12% had given up looking for jobs. Since August, the number of job seekers searching for more than seven months rose from 48% to 70%. Over half do not think they will find a new job in the near future even though 73% are willing to take a pay cut and 77% are willing to change careers in order to get a job.' For a substantial number, there is no safety net. Almost 50 percent are not receiving unemployment insurance."

Will WH Fight For American Power Act or Oil Spill Liability?

Senate Dems to focus on energy/climate strategy next month. The Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that the Senate Democratic caucus will huddle in mid-June to discuss how to proceed on energy and climate change legislation ... [Reid] will meet with the heads of the committees with jurisdiction over the issue. A broader gathering will follow."

Grist's David Roberts on "Why the American Power Act is worth fighting for": "Does the [Kerry-Lieberman] American Power Act get us started? Yes: it's got mandatory targets. In my mind, that alone gives it an overwhelming presumption of support. It would have to contain a lot of extremely bad stuff to overcome that presumption, and while there's certainly some lamentable provisions, I don't think any of them are bad enough to meet that threshold."

Harvard's Robert Stavins rebuts claim that the American Power Act is a corporate giveaway: "...82% of the value of allowances accrue to consumers and public purposes, and some 18% accrue to covered, private industry. This split is roughly consistent with the recommendations of independent economic research ... the much-lamented deal-making for shares of the allowances for various purposes that took place in the deliberations leading up the announcement by Senators Kerry and Lieberman was a good example of the useful, important, and fundamentally benign mechanism through which a cap-and-trade system provides the means for a political constituency of support and action to be assembled, without reducing the policy’s effectiveness or driving up its cost."

"Rainforests Lose Out in Senate's New Climate Bill" reports Time: "Under the House bill, private companies that invest in rainforest offsets — paying to keep trees standing in tropical countries — could generally claim credits against their carbon cap. Under the Senate bill, they won't be able to do so ... At least some of the money that would have been allocated to deforestation under the House bill will be going back to consumers under the Senate bill ... '[Kerry] has made the argument to us and other advocates that anything international is going to be heavy lifting until there's a global climate deal,' says Nathaniel Keohane, the director of economic policy and analysis at the Environmental Defense Fund..."

NYT's Thomas Friedman chastises Obama's response to the Gulf oil disaster: "Why is Obama playing defense? Just how much oil has to spill into the gulf, how much wildlife has to die, how many radical mosques need to be built with our gasoline purchases to produce more Times Square bombers, before it becomes politically 'safe' for the president to say he is going to end our oil addiction?"

Mixed messages from WH on oil spill liability cap. Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard: "At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar essentially agreed with Republican opponents of a bill to raise the liability cap for oil spills to $10 billion, arguing that it would keep smaller companies out of the drilling business. But on Tuesday afternoon, after two failed attempts to pass the measure, President Barack Obama issued a statement calling on the Senate to approve the $10 billion cap—leaving some of us (or at least, me) wondering what the administration actually thinks about the issue."

WH may be angling for a oil spill liability compromise. The Hill: "[Sen. Robert] Menendez held back from criticizing Salazar but questioned the wisdom of lowering the liability level to protect smaller companies, a position the administration seems headed toward."

Federal prosecutors assessing oil spill charges. Miami Herald: "U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said Tuesday that lawyers in his office's civil and criminal sections are monitoring the potential disaster along Florida's coast and sharing that information with Justice Department officials."

WH considering Canadian company proposal for a 2,000 underground pipeline tapping Canadian tar sands: "...the oil extracted from Canada’s oil sands poses other environmental challenges, like toxic sludge ponds, greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of boreal forests."

The Meaning Of Election Night

Howard Dean tells TPMDC last night's primaries bode well for "progressives": ""My belief is that progressive Dems are a lot more appealing to mainstream voters than tea party advocates ... This is a big night for people who really want Washington to be a change agent... New progressives are the old centrists..."

AZ voters approve sales tax increase by whopping margin to prevent loss of services. NYT: "The one-cent increase in the sales tax, to 6.6 cents per dollar for the next three years, is expected to raise nearly more than $900 million in the first year ... Had the tax failed, a contingency budget approved by the legislature would have cut money for schools, health care, state police officers and other services."

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