As the America's Future Now! conference convenes from today through Wednesday, Progressive Breakfast will preview key events for attendees and for those who want to watch the live video stream of selected sessions at www.ourfuture.org/now, in addition to the Breakfast's usual overview of the day's news and commentary that matter most to the progressive movement's domestic agenda. Also, our afternoon "PM Update" email will offer daily roundups of conference developments. If you do not already receive these emails, click "Sign Me Up" at OurFuture.org.
America's Future Now! 2010 Launches at 11 AM ET
11 AM: "We Are The Change" opening plenary with Robert Borosage, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Arianna Huffington and Andy Stern
12:20 PM: "The Great Debate: Progressive Strategy in the Obama Era" -- Darcy Burner and Deepak Bhargava discuss whether progressives should fully back the Obama agenda, or if we should we be an independent force. A conference-wide group discussion follows. What do attendees think? Check out reaction on Twitter, follow hashtag #afn10.
1:30 PM: Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas and MoveOn's Ilyse Hogue discuss how we can defeat resistance to progressive reform.
2:30 PM: "The Political Brain" author Drew Westen, pollster Celinda Lake and others discuss "Working Class Anger: Does it go Right or Left?"
3:30 PM: Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Scott Wallace discuss "Challenging Money Politics."
For the rest of the day's agenda, go to www.OurFuture.org/now.
Will Congress Save Teachers From Layoffs?
Scaled-back House jobs and tax changes bill faces competing demands from right-leaning Senate Dems. CQ: "Only two things are clear: The Senate won’t act quickly, and it won’t allow the $113 billion House bill to stand without changes ... two different camps of Senate Democrats want changes to the bill ... One group, which includes Mark Warner of Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Maria Cantwell of Washington, is seeking changes to the 'carried interest' tax provision affecting venture capitalists, private equity managers and real estate investors — changes that would increase the deficit or require cuts elsewhere in the bill. The second group, including Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, want changes that would reduce the deficit, perhaps by scaling back some of the benefits."
Unclear whether House will take up $23B plan to prevent mass teacher layoffs by struggling states. CQ: "...House leaders have yet to announce whether they will allow Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., the teachers’ champion on this issue, to proceed with his plan to add $23 billion to a pending fiscal 2010 supplemental [war and disaster relief] spending bill ... Obey canceled a May 27 markup of his $84 billion measure, citing schedule conflicts, and has not rescheduled it..." On MSNBC's Morning Joe this AM, Educ Sec. Arne Duncan calls $23B plan "hugely important," but Sen. Evan Bayh puts chance of passage below "50-50," calls for tying it unspecified school reforms.
The Hill reports teachers making one last major push: "The letter [of support] was signed by 104 other House Democrats, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association unions, and other public education groups ... The measure is likely to run into resistance from Democratic freshman and fiscally conservative Blue Dogs..."
Politico on the rising attacks against public service workers: "Republicans around the nation have cheered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose shouting match over budget cuts with an outraged teacher—'You don’t have to' teach, he told her without sympathy—became a YouTube sensation on the right last week. And even Democrats, like the nominee for governor in New York, Andrew Cuomo, have echoed the attacks on unions. Christie is merely the most florid voice for a calculated, national effort to fundamentally reshape the debate on the labor costs that account for the bulk of government spending at every level ... the immediate cause of the new spotlight on public sector unions is the collapse in tax revenues that came with the 2008 Wall Street crash, something that union leaders bitterly note is not their fault."
Robert Reich proposes having BP pay for creating cleanup jobs: "The President should order BP to establish a $5 billion clean-up fund, and immediately put America’s army of unemployed young people to work saving the Gulf coast. Call it the new Civilian Conservation Corps." Economist's View's Mark Thoma: "I don't see any reason to cap the bill at $5 billion."
W. Post plays up conservative attack on Build America infrastructure bonds: "New federally subsidized bonds that have proven wildly popular in helping cash-strapped state and local governments fund roads, schools and other construction projects also offer a windfall to a less obvious beneficiary: Wall Street banks ... Sen. Charles E. Grassley ... has blasted the Build America program as another de facto bailout package for major banks ... Among the customers is the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which has conducted two bond issues under the program to fund the planned 25-mile Metro extension along the Dulles Toll Road. E. Lynn Hampton, the authority's interim president and chief executive, said the bank fees were not out of line considering the complexity and newness of the project."
Wall St. Reform House-Senate Conf Begins This Week
HuffPost's Robert Kuttner previews the fights ahead: "Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has promised that debates will be open and televised, and that key votes will be recorded. That's a good start, but invariably a lot of the deals will be struck in private after consultation with administration officials and industry lobbyists ... Banks want to continue their gambling games, and [derivatives reform] is the number one target of the big banks to kill ... a surprise amendment by Sen. Al Franken requiring random assignment of agency ratings rather than payment of the agencies by clients narrowly passed the Senate ... industry is gunning for this one ... There is still a decent chance that [the "Volcker Rule"] could make it into the final bill." Kuttner addresses AFN10 Tuesday on progressive deficit reduction.
WH wants agreement before President attends G-20 meeting later this month. Rep. Frank suggests contours of final bill. NYT: "He predicted that much of the negotiating time would be spent on three areas: Mrs. Lincoln’s derivatives provision, the Volcker Rule and the interchange fees that retailers pay issuers of credit and debit cards. He said that the Senate version was better at tightening restrictions on derivatives trading and that he favored 'some very tough form of the Volcker Rule,' but he stopped short of endorsing the Lincoln provision."
Bank lobbyists trying to change the bill quietly. Politico: "...it won’t be the kind of scorched-earth lobbying blitz that traditionally accompanies final negotiations. Instead the approach will be lower profile, less likely to draw attention to its politically damaged beneficiaries and ideally carried out by lawmakers who can influence members of the House-Senate conference committee crafting the final bill ..."
PRWatch's Mary Bottari warns against swapping derivatives reform for Volcker Rule: "...opponents of strong derivatives reform ... want to convince everyone that a strengthened Volcker Rule takes care of all the issues raised by [Sen. Blanche] Lincoln ... [But] 'There is zero overlap between the prohibitions in the Volcker Rule and the Lincoln derivative desk push-out proposal. They are separate reforms designed to do very different things,' says [former congressional aide Jane] D'Arista."
Baseline Scenario's Simon Johnson highlights warning from Dallas Fed president that reforms bills are too weak: "..., his speech on June 3 to the SW Graduate School of Banking was both a carefully calibrated assault on the administration’s general “softly, softly” approach to the big banks and a direct refutation of arguments put forward by Larry Summers in particular ... if the legislation is not real financial reform (and it is not, according to him), then our current policy trajectory amounts to facilitating further rounds of financial dementia." Simon Johnson addresses AFN10 Tuesday on Wall St. reform.
Reid Takes Reins Of Climate Bill
Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid meets with cmte chairs Thursday to chart path of climate protection and clean energy jobs bill. CQ: "In asking committee chairmen for ideas to include in an energy bill, and in setting a deadline, Reid’s approach is reminiscent of how he put together a Senate health care bill by pulling provisions from competing bills to shape and reshape a package that could navigate the chamber’s political and procedural obstacles. To pass an energy bill, Reid will need some Republican votes. Amid public anger at Wall Street, Democrats were able to attract four GOP votes last month to pass financial services legislation, and Reid may be betting that outrage at the gulf oil spill will force some moderate Republicans to support an energy bill."
Bloomberg plays up concerns from Dems running for re-election about taking on comprehensive climate legislation: "...Pennsylvania Representative Paul Kanjorski said congressional Democrats have privately told Obama’s advisers that lawmakers must start selling the benefits of bills they have enacted instead of working on further goals."
Thursday vote planned in Senate on whether to strip EPA from authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The Hill: "Although the resolution is not expected to pass, Murkowski is bringing the resolution forward under the Congressional Review Act, which prevents any filibusters and only requires 51 votes for passage ... Still, the possibility of even a close vote could prove embarrassing to Senate Democrats just weeks before Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Kerry plan to bring climate change legislation to the Senate floor."
Coast Guard commander Thad Allen warns oil will be in the Gulf after the summer. NYT: "...he said the only solution to the problem would be the successful completion of relief wells to finally stop the flow from the bottom of the 18,000-foot-deep well, a job that will not be completed until August at the earliest. 'The spill will not be contained until that happens,' Admiral Allen said. 'But even after that, there will be oil out there for months to come. This will be well into the fall.'"
BP slow in paying meager claims to Gulf gusher victims. NYT: "...BP has ... sent $46 million in checks so far to some 17,500 Gulf Coast residents for their lost income. But some boat owners ... complain that BP is not paying enough. Others say they have had a hard time getting their claims paid. BP said another 17,500 claims — about half of all submitted — had yet to be paid because of questions about documentation, which can be hard to come by in a cash industry like fishing. When President Obama visited here on Friday, he said he did not want to hear that BP was 'nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the gulf who are having a hard time,' while spending billions of dollars on dividends and millions of dollars on advertising."
Big poll shift against coastal drilling. Political Wire: "...51% of people believe increased offshore drilling is 'too risky' with 40% still in favor. That is a huge swing from August 2008, when 62% of people favored increased offshore drilling ... The new poll also shows that just as many people now view the spill as part of a broader problem as consider it an isolated incident..."
G-20 Nations Can't Agree On Next Steps
Bloomberg reports U.S. wants more stimulus, Europe wants more austerity: "...Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the world cannot again bank on the cash-strapped U.S. consumer to drive growth and urged other nations to stimulate their own demand. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said fiscal tightening in 'old industrialized economies' would aid the expansion by shoring up investor confidence ... In a statement released after their talks ended June 5, they promised to 'safeguard recovery,' yet replaced an endorsement of budget stimulus with a pledge to pursue 'credible, growth-friendly measures to deliver fiscal sustainability.'"
Paul Krugman rips G-20 for deficit hysteria: "So wise policy, as defined by the G20 and like-minded others, consists of destroying economic recovery in order to satisfy hypothetical irrational demands from the markets — demands that economies suffer pointless pain to show their determination, demands that markets aren’t actually making, but which serious people, in their wisdom, believe that the markets will make one of these days."
Naked Capitalism praises Geithner, knocks European leaders: "In the wake of a period of high international capital flows and increasingly intense financial crises, the remedy seems to be not merely to go back to status quo ante, but for a region that had been close to being in trade balance, the eurozone, to endeavor to go into a large surplus as a way to finesse addressing its internal imbalances. Needless to say, this does not bode well for economic stability."
President to continue effort to explain healthcare bill with Tuesday televised Q&A: "The timing is no accident; the first batch of [prescription drug rebate] checks will be mailed on Thursday."
On eve of AR primary runoff, union effort to defeat Sen. Lincoln seen as having positive policy impact: "...according to one senior union official, the outcome is almost beside the point, because a message has been sent to the entire Democratic caucus. 'We have already heard from other senators on the Hill that Lincoln was reasonable on financial reform because of this fight, and two progressive senators have told union lobbyists that they need to do more of this to keep moderate Dem senators "in line."' ... 'If unions just use their resources to elect Democrats and don't use their resources to also hold Democrats accountable, they will forever be chasing their tails...'"