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.
Senate Tries To Break Wall Street Reform Filibuster Again Today
Senate will try to break Wall St. reform filibuster at 2:30 PM ET today reports Bloomberg.
Sen. Scott Brown admits misleading Reid on cloture vote, but suggests he'll flip back. TPMDC: "Sen. Scott Brown acknowledged tonight that he did indeed tell Majority Leader Harry Reid he'd support financial reform legislation, before voting to filibuster at the last minute. But he says he's confident he'll ultimately side with the Democrats, and suggested he may switch his vote back to yes as early as tomorrow."
Sen. Cantwell wants one amendment heard, while Sen. Feingold appears more broadly dissatisfied. Bloomberg: "'We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by "too-big-to-fail" financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street and Wall Street firms,' Feingold said in a statement after the vote. 'These key reforms are not included in the bill.' Cantwell said her vote was contingent on consideration of an amendment that would bar swaps dealers from trading contracts that have been rejected by a clearinghouse."
GOP blocks consideration of Cantwell amendment. NYT: "... Mr. Dodd returned to the Senate floor asked for unanimous consent of the Senate to allow a vote on Ms. Cantwell’s derivatives amendment. Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking committee, objected."
Rortybomb on the importance of the Cantwell amendment: "Keeping the clearinghouses from accepting a large part of the derivatives on the back-end will create a de facto major exemption, and everyone can shrug and say 'hey well "the market" decided against taking these derivatives out of the dark into clearing, what can we do?'"
Reid may need to tweak. Politico: "Reid would need to work out some sort of agreement to allow consideration of amendments that Cantwell, Brown and others have deemed as necessary before they can support the bill. But Republicans have thwarted Democratic attempts to arrange votes on key amendments..."
OurFuture.org's Richard Eskow pins the blame on Larry Summers: "If you want to rally the troops, don't use Larry Summers as your general ... the Administration sent him to the Senate yesterday to make a patently false claim: 'If you vote for cloture right now and don't add any more amendments, we will have solved the issues that led to (the last) crisis.' The bill improves upon the status quo, but Summers is making a much broader claim ... Nobody really believes that..."
Simon Johnson argues White House is ignoring the populist center, in Politico oped: "It becomes increasingly clear that the divide is not left-right within the Democratic Party, or even across the aisle but, rather, between people who want to rein in the power of our largest banks vs. those broadly comfortable with the status quo."
With Sen. Blanche Lincoln's political future still uncertain, Dodd retracts plan to scrap her derivatives amendment: "...An outspoken Lincoln revolt, fueled by primary insecurity, would have threatened to sink the Senate bill at the 11th hour. There's still time left before the Senate legislation is finalized, plus the likelihood of a conference report to go through and House and Senate votes after that, but the survival of Lincoln's fully intact derivatives plan is surprising to say the least."
Robert Reich chastises Bernanke and Geithner as "Axis of See No Evil" for opposing Lincoln on derivatives: "Bernanke also says Lincoln's measure would force derivatives activities 'into foreign firms that operate outside the boundaries of our Federal regulatory system,' giving foreign banks 'a competitive advantage over U.S. banking firms in the global derivatives marketplace.' Even if Bernanke is right, since when is it the business of American taxpayers to guarantee the profitability of America's largest banks relative to foreign ones?"
Credit card companies win vote killing plan to cap interest rates. The News Journal (Delaware): "The amendment to the financial reform bill would have allowed all 50 states to impose individual interest rate caps on out-of-state lenders ... States such as Delaware and South Dakota attracted credit card firms in droves 20 years ago when they removed credit card interest rate caps ... Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said the amendment posed a 'real and palpable' economic threat to the state."
Focus on Jobs Fueled Western PA Win
Newsweek's Tim Fernholz credits Dem win in western PA to focus on jobs: "No matter what's going on nationally, you can count on the Democratic candidate to focus on local economic issues, and Critz was no exception, talking about off-shoring, investing in coal, fairer trade deals, and tax breaks for firms that hire workers."
OurFuture.org's Mike Elk notes trade was key: "...no Democrat running on the national Democratic jobs platform could have won. Instead, Democrat Mark Critz ran on a much more progressive platform of job creation through trade reform."
W. Post observes that western PA voters embrace active government, rejected Tea Party broadsides: "People here remember the government's role in rebuilding the town after a devastating flood in 1977. Many are thankful for the influx of government contractors, who have helped fill in the gaps left by the shuttered factories whose shells are scattered across the region."
House GOP continues to thwart job-creating science research bill, despite concessions. CQ: "House Republicans on Wednesday stymied legislation to authorize science research programs ... The House did not muster the required two-thirds majority to pass the bill under suspension of the rules ... Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said he planned to bring the bill back to the floor under a rule, which would require only a simple majority for passage ... The trimmed-down version would authorize an estimated $48 billion from fiscal 2011 through 2013 for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and certain research programs at the Energy Department. Gordon’s earlier measure would have authorized $85.6 billion over five years."
Demands to offset cost of doctor reimbursements holding up latest jobs bill. CQ: "...Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine — both said Wednesday that they want to see the cost of keeping the reimbursement rates as they are now ... offset by an equivalent amount of new revenue or reduction in spending ... Democratic leaders are still holding out hope for a vote as early as Friday on the measure, which they are branding a jobs bill. But as of Wednesday night, they still did not have a draft to show to their members..."
$30B small business lending bill clears House cmte. CQ: "...the bill would decrease the loan interest rates for participants that increase their lending activities ... Panel Republicans likened the bill to the law that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program..."
Grist's Steve Cowell urges Senate action on House "cash for caulkers" plan to create jobs: "Home Star will benefit unemployed blue-collar laborers and experienced workers who have lost jobs in construction and manufacturing because their skills can be easily adapted. Beyond retrofitting, Home Star will have a ripple effect, creating jobs in other areas such as retailing, trucking, and manufacturing. In fact, U.S. factories will crank out 92 percent of the products needed to support the program, from insulation to replacement windows."
New Reports Amplify Climate Bill Urgency, Low Cost
National Academy of Sciences report further confirms climate crisis, calls for price on carbon such as what's in Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act. USA Today: "...researchers in the new reports expressed confidence that average global atmosphere temperatures were about 1.4 degrees warmer in this decade compared with a century ago and that [greenhouse gas emissions would increase temperatures anywhere from 2 to 11 additional degrees by 2100."
Little change to gas prices under APA. The Hill: "The price of a pollution allowance under Senate climate change legislation should average around $26 during the first years of the emissions trading program, a cost that would add less than a quarter to the price of a gallon of gasoline, according to a new estimate by a market analysis firm."
Coalition threatens opposition to APA without more Highway Trust Fund revenue. CQ: "The coalition — which includes trade groups for state transportation departments, road builders, contractors, engineers, transit and other interests — wants the Highway Trust Fund to get all of the estimated $19.5 billion in revenue that would be raised from selling pollution credits to refined-petroleum producers and fuel sellers."
Deal near for additional investments in nuclear and renewable energy. Politico: "The White House is expected to soon announce a multi-billion dollar package of new loan guarantees for nuclear and renewable energy projects to be supported by adding $180 million to a pending war funding bill ... Speaker Nancy Pelosi ... used her leverage to ensure solar would share in the funding together with the nuclear industry ...
Oceanographers step up criticism of Obama administration for spill response. NYT: "The scientists point out that in the month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the government has failed to make public a single test result on water from the deep ocean. And the scientists say the administration has been too reluctant to demand an accurate analysis of how many gallons of oil are flowing into the sea from the gushing oil well."
NYT uncovers another MMS scandal involving Arctic project: "A proposal to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean as early as this summer received initial permits from the Minerals Management Service office in Alaska at the same time federal auditors were questioning the office about its environmental review process. The approvals also came after many of the agency’s most experienced scientists had left, frustrated that their concerns over environmental threats from drilling had been ignored ... Shortly after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposed reconfiguring the agency, John Goll, the head of the Alaska region, called an 'all hands' meeting ... Afterward, people lingered to eat a cake decorated with the words, 'Drill, Baby, Drill.'"
Sens. Casey and Sanders speak out against Lincoln-Kyl estate tax cut for multimillionaire heirs. Wonk Room's Pat Garofalo: "It’s about time that some lawmakers began to say that spending $80 billion to provide a tax cut to the richest 0.2 percent of households is an absurd waste of money." Lincoln-Kyl deal won't reach Senate floor reports The Hill.
Proposed commission would manage rate of immigration. Bloomberg: "Senate Democratic leaders are drafting a measure that would let a commission recommend levels of employment-based visas and green cards -- and require Congress in certain cases to vote if immigrant labor is deemed out of line with demand. While the commission would have limited influence over the skilled- immigrant market for technology and other industries, it would have a major role in regulating low-skilled foreign labor ... Business groups, though, are concerned the commission would make more cumbersome the use of foreign labor ... Labor unions say the approach can be flexible enough to satisfy business..."
TNR's Jonathan Cohn debuts 5-part series on how health care reform became law.