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.

Dems Scale Back Jobs Bill To Appease Deficit Hysterics

Politico on the revised jobs bill: "More than $50 billion in multi-year spending appears to have been trimmed from the package, chiefly at the expense of physicians serving Medicare patients. Oil fees will grow even higher, playing off the political anger over the BP spill in the Gulf. And extended jobless and health benefits for the unemployed would sunset Nov. 30, a month earlier than previously planned..."

"Right now, jobs matter more than deficits" warns AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee reports NYT.

Education Secretary says WH support for $23B to prevent teacher layoffs is "unequivocal." Politico: "Nonetheless, the White House has frustrated Democrats by never submitting a formal presidential request for the funds, making it harder for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to include the money in a pending $58.8 billion supplemental spending bill."

Conservative response to teacher layoffs, "So what?!" W. Post: "Skeptics of a new education jobs fund point out that the teaching force in recent years has grown faster than enrollment, with schools adding instructional coaches and reducing class sizes. 'Giving states another $23 billion in federal education money simply throws more money into taxpayer-funded bailouts when we should be discussing why we aren't seeing the results we need from the billions in federal dollars that are already being spent,' said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)."

Dem leaders lean on chairs to cut spending. The Hill: "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said ... he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) intended to hold them to a Friday deadline to submit detailed lists of duplicative and wasteful programs that can be eliminated from the $3 trillion budget ... Democratic aides said Hoyer’s demand for proposals was met with a mixed reaction."

As they cut subsidized child care and Head Start funding, states are "sacrificing women to the budget gods." Alternet's Laura Flanders: "The bottom line: remember that line about poor women being the canaries in society's coal mine. That sound you hear is them choking."

No WH Love For Derivatives Firewall

Senate derivatives firewall not a "core objective" of the President. Politico: "'The key for us is what are the president’s core set of reforms, and are those in the bill?' [Asst. Treas. Sec. Michael] Barr said, citing the need to require transparency of all derivatives transactions, central clearing and exchange trading of derivatives, prudential oversight and strong enforcement ... 'There are other provisions like the Lincoln provision that are not part of the core set of questions, and I think those are going to be worked through in Congress.'"

JPMorganChase's Jamie Dimon personally lobbying Congress. Bloomberg: "Dimon, who maintains regular contact with lawmakers, raised concerns over a rule that would restrict banks’ proprietary trading -- the so-called Volcker rule named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, according to the aides. He also raised concerns about the 'swipe' fees charged to retailers on debit-card transactions and a derivatives provision that would bar commercial banks from having swaps-trading desks."

Payday lenders beat back several regulatory amendments, but couldn't stop a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Washington Independent's Annie Lowrey: "Payday lenders in both bills still come entirely under the rule-making authority and oversight of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which consumer advocates are confident will consider tamping down on annualized percentage rates of interest and establishing rollover limits ... the House language, simply having the CFPA have total authority over all payday businesses, as supported by the White House and Treasury, is likely to win out."

AIG may not pay us back. NYT: " The American International Group is likely to repay the $83.2 billion it owes the Federal Reserve, but whether an additional $49.1 billion in taxpayer investments in the company will ever be recovered remains uncertain ..."

Democrats appear to be waiving the white flag on class warfare. HuffPost's Arthur Delaney and Ryan Grim: "The notion that a Democrat can still defend Wall Street and remain true to the party's principles may no longer have currency with the base but Democrats in Congress still cling stubbornly to it, even as it blunts the sharpest political weapon they have to carve up the GOP."

Obama To Take Press Questions On Oil Spill

President Obama holds East Room presser at 12:45 ET to address oil spill questions. USA Today: "...Obama is expected to announce he's extending a moratorium on new deep-water oil drilling while a presidentrial commission investigates what caused the BP explosion. He'll also discuss tough new requirements and inspections for oil companies."

Interior to suspend Shell Oil Arctic drilling project. LAT: "The Interior Department will announce Thursday that is it postponing oil drilling in the Arctic until at least 2011 ... The decision directly affects Shell Oil Co., which had all-but-final authorization to drill five new exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, three of which it had planned to begin this summer."

Wonk Room's Brad Johnson and Tom Kentworthy lists what Obama could do differently: "... if government has little choice but to keep the perpetrator on the job at the immediate crime scene, it does have a choice when it comes to operations beyond the urgent task of quelling the erupting well. In addition to the efforts to stop the leaks, BP now controls claims processing, environmental contractors on land and sea, volunteer assistance, access to the disaster site, and data collection. Federal and state governments in the gulf must take greater charge of containing the ecological impacts and coordinating the response..."

USA Today details complaints from Gulf coast locals about fed response: "In Louisiana, officials say the response has been bogged down in bureaucracy, hobbled by rules and procedures that hamper decision-making. Responders also have lacked equipment, they say, even as oil has invaded marshes and beaches."

An oil industry worker defends spill response in letter to Talking Points Memo:: "At BP's West Houston complex, there's a command center filled with personnel from around the industry working with BP engineers. Several drill ships are in place. Tons of workboats are on site. There are 5 or more ROVs roaming the wellhead monitoring and cleaning things up. They're already bumping into each other because they normally work solo while tied to a ship by a mile long umbilical cable. They don't need more ROVs down there adding to the traffic. All these efforts are reported heavily in the Houston Chronicle and, but doesn't seem to get much for national coverage. If you only monitor the national coverage, you'd think BP is going it alone while we all sit by, but the reality is this is an industry-wide effort because we all know what's at stake. ... Everybody seems to be calling for more fire in [Obama's] belly and scary, threatening speeches. What does that accomplish? ... The government does not have the expertise to do more to stop this gusher."

Green Energy Reporter sees President citing oil spill as reason to back Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act: "Sen. John Kerry’s press people have been pushing the message that President Obama is finally getting serious about the American Power Act. Today, we saw definitive proof at a campaign event for Sen. Barbara Boxer in San Francisco."

Big boost in Gallup poll for protecting environment, curtailing dirty energy use. Daily Kos' Jed Lewison:: "...we can move towards a new energy economy. There is probably no single more urgent priority for our nation than doing just that and this poll offers yet more evidence that the time for action is now."

Conservative opponents of climate protection try to dismiss national security implications. Sen. Kerry pushes back in HuffPost: "He conveniently ignores that I base my argument on the words and findings of the Pentagon, the CIA, analysts in the Bush Administration, generals like Anthony Zinni, Admirals like William Fallon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and, oh, gee, literally hundreds of other national security experts. Against that, we have someone from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization bankrolled by those trying to hold onto the status quo that has Americans sending $100 million a day to Iran for oil."

Documents show BP cut corners before blast. NYT: "Several days before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP officials chose, partly for financial reasons, to use a type of casing for the well that the company knew was the riskier of two options..."

"BP worker takes 5th, making prosecution a possibility," reports McClatchy.

Deficit Commission Seeks To Set Target

WH debt commission debating where to set long-term budget goal. CQ: "...Bowles laid out different options for debt and deficit targets in fiscal 2020. His chart showed that if the goal is to have a deficit of 3 percent of GDP, the deficit would have to be reduced by $580 billion in that year alone, and it would result in an overall level of debt held by the public of 78 percent of GDP. Balancing the budget in fiscal 2020 would require the total amount of deficit savings in that year alone to $1.3 trillion, which would result in a debt level of 69 percent. Panel members agreed that a goal would be wise but did not reach consensus on what it should be."

A member of Obama's deficit commission has called for an audit of ... the Penatgon. HuffPost: "In a detailed, wonkish and occasionally fascinating 10-page letter sent to commission Chairmen Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on Wednesday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) laid out a host of areas where the Pentagon's fat could be trimmed. 'The single most important step,' however, he concluded, 'is to better understand how the Pentagon spends its money.'"

Open Left's Mike Lux asks: "Who will be hurt by deficit reductions?": "So just to summarize here: the deficit is caused by
tax cuts for the rich, an economic collapse caused by wealthy bankers which resulted in bailouts for those wealthy bankers plus massive pain for middle income and poor people, tax loopholes and corporate subsidies designed to help the wealthy, plus two wars and wasteful defense spending (much of which goes into the pockets of wealthy
defense contractors). And the solution for the deficit hawks: target middle class and lower seniors for social security cuts, and put in a regressive tax that is a burden to low and middle income people."

New Deal 2.0's Marshall Auerback also notes the deficit hysterics are the ones that caused the deficit: "The real issue is that those who are better off don’t want to have government intervention in economic affairs unless it benefits them. With typical ingratitude, Wall Street is now threatening to cut campaign donations for Obama and the Democrats because of their proposals to impose more regulation on the financial sector. However, when the government intervenes with bailouts, Wall Street stands first in the queue, cap in hand."

Health Care Implementation Update

New study debunks state government complaints over Medicaid expansion. W. Post: "The federal government will bear virtually the entire cost of expanding Medicaid under the new health-care law, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that rebuts governors' protests about the impact on strapped states."

Not enough funds set aside for interim high-risk pools. NYT: "The new health care law does not allocate nearly enough money to cover the estimated 5.6 million to 7 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions who will qualify for temporary high-risk insurance pools, according to a report scheduled for release on Thursday ... an analysis by the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group, concluded that the $5 billion earmarked for the pools might cover as few as 200,000 people a year."

Breakfast Sides

Immigration reformers disapprove of White House's "border security first" approach. NYT: "The White House says it is sending the troops solely to combat drug smuggling, a problem highlighted by the recent killing of an Arizona rancher. But any move toward border security invariably raises passions in the immigration debate, and on Wednesday advocates for overhauling the system were questioning the president’s intentions." "Bush on steroids" criticizes one activist reports Mother Jones.

Sen. Kyl is holding up small biz lending measure to push estate tax cut for the superwealthy. Wonk Room's Pat Garofalo: "Republicans spend lots of time professing their love for small businesses — and falsely claiming that progressive policies will adversely cripple such businesses — but when push comes to shove, Kyl is making it clear where his priorities lie: with the ultra-wealthy."

Previewing the upcoming "Great Debate" at America's Future Now! over the role of progressives in the Obama Era, Open Left's Chris Bowers says the answers in our own messaging: "...unless your goal is actually to prove that Obama is teh awesome or teh suck — which is a very generalized discussion withdrawn from direct advocacy — then this is an argument over which means will best achieve progressive political ends."

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