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.

Wall St. Reform Becomes Law Today

President will sign Wall St. reform bill at 11:30 AM ET. CNN: "...the most-sweeping set of changes to America's financial regulatory system since the 1930s."

Attention turns to choice for consumer protection bureau. Rep. Jackie Speier demands Elizabeth Warren: "The Wall Street bankers who got the benefits of a massive government bailout weren't able to kill the CFPB and they certainly don't like Warren. Some say she's ruffled feathers. The good old boy network of investors is uncomfortable around her. Is this because she is a woman in a male-dominated 'sport,' or is it that she's an advocate for middle-class families who sees nothing amusing about winning and losing with people's life savings?"

Right-leaning Senate Dems, moderate GOPers, undecided on Warren. CQ: “'I’m not going to speculate on anybody and won’t make up my mind on anyone until the president has made a nomination,' said Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson ... 'We obviously have to have a strong individual in that capacity,' [GOP Sen. Olympia] Snowe added, but whether Warren is the right person for the job 'remains to be seen.'"

Reuters' Felix Salmon argues the WH should embrace Elizabeth Warren's independence: "...the CFPB has been set up to be very independent; as such, it should have an independently-minded head, rather than someone who can be trusted to fall into line behind Treasury and/or other regulators if and when there are any clashes. It’s never easy for a politician to nominate someone who they know will cause trouble for them down the road, but if anybody can do it, Obama can."

W. Post's Ezra Klein likes Warren, but also the other possible candidates: "...the question is whether you think Warren's unique prominence and pedigree as the person who created the idea for this agency and put the issues beneath it on the map is worth more than the managerial experience and administrative relationships Barr and Kimmelman have. I come down on Warren's side, but her nomination has achieved a level of symbolism on the left that's out of proportion to the merits of the different candidates."

President will turn to housing policy reform after signing Wall St. reform bill, may shift focus away from home ownership. W. Post: "Officials in a new Office of Capital Markets and Housing Finance set up in Treasury are studying options for reform, and generally have concluded that federal policy should focus on what they call 'sustainable homeownership' and not on simply boosting the homeownership rate."

Senate GOPers may kill proposed $30B lending fund for small biz. CQ: "Senate Democrats are considering dropping an administration-backed $30 billion lending fund from a bill designed to help small businesses ... The bill has been on and off the Senate schedule for several weeks as lawmakers have tried to overcome Republican objections ... Many Republicans, however, have derided the lending fund as 'TARP Jr.,'..."

Jobless Aid Coming, But Where Are The Jobs?

Senate breaks filibuster on jobless aid, but that may be the last drop of help this year. LAT: "...the vote only hardened the political divide and almost assured that any further domestic aid before November will be all but impossible ... prospects for the next spending bill — enabling states to avert teacher layoffs — appeared doomed.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reminds the bill used to be a lot bigger: "That's the good news: there is an unemployment bill. The bad news. It's not a jobs bill. It used to a jobs bill."

Dems preparing package to support manufacturing. Politico: "...among the ideas are a $5 billion tax credit for alternative energy products and a mandate to study the state of American manufacturing every four years." CQ adds: "House leaders are still considering what legislation to include in their package. Hoyer said as many as 18 to 20 bills are in the mix."

Fed not ready to provide additional stimulus. NYT: "Mr. Bernanke says he believes that there are situations that could justify new measures ... But to take new action, Mr. Bernanke and other Fed officials would have to be convinced that the economy was moving onto a perilous path of deflation, or that the recovery was so painfully sluggish that it lacked enough momentum to generate private sector job growth."

Climate Bill Limbo

No Senate agreement on climate bill, time running out. Politico: "...Reid was noncommittal about when a bill would come or what it would contain ... 'We’re still trying to find a Republican or two or three on energy' he said.. '[The utility companies] want to work with us to see if they can negotiate an agreement on a utility-only bill, but as far as they’re concerned, they can’t do it in 10 days, so they’re pleading for more time,' Lieberman said. 'And I think that’s something we ought to consider.' ... Kerry and Lieberman seemed prepared for several additional months of debate — possibly even into a lame-duck session after the election."

Reid gave Senate Dems two choices, reports Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard: "Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told reporters that they spent about five minutes on the subject of an energy package. Reid walked them through several options on a bill, one with a carbon cap and one without it, and gave senators more time to think about it."

Utility industry strike positive note after WH meeting, but downplay quick agreement. The Hill: "'That was probably the most productive meeting we’ve had all day,' said one utility official ... One of the utility representatives was quoted as saying at the meeting, 'Look, I’ll go buy 10 clean shirts and we’ll stay here to get it done.' But industry officials also say there is not enough time before the congressional August recess to get a deal ... A key issue left to be resolved, Kerry said, was trying to 'massage' how emission credits are given to electric utilities to better resemble how they were given out in broader draft carbon-pricing legislation..."

Opposition hardens to utility company proposal to trade carbon cap for weakening other pollution rules. Wonk Room's Brad Johnson: "The environmental and public health community — including NAACP and Green For All, Public Citizen and the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund and Environment America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists — are united in their opposition, saying that 'delaying the cleanup of these plants threatens the health of millions of Americans.'"

NYT's Tom Friedman challenges Senate GOPers to step up on clean energy: "Can you imagine how high the stock market would soar and how easy a compromise with Democrats would become if Republicans offered an energy policy consistent with their values and our interests? What if the G.O.P. said: We will support a carbon tax provided one-third of the revenue goes toward cutting corporate taxes, one-third toward cutting payroll taxes for every working American and one-third toward paying down the deficit."

Retiring Sen. Evan Bayh, past critic of comprehensive House climate bill, now critic of narrow climate bill proposals. The Hill: "'That would be pretty difficult in my state,' Bayh told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. 'I am willing to look at the proposals but that would, No.1, not solve the climate change problem, and, No. 2, ask the citizens of Indiana to bear a disproportionate burden.' ... Bayh didn’t shut the door on backing a utility-focused climate plan — he noted there could be ways to soften the impact — but, overall, he sounded unlikely to become a 'yes' vote."

Coal industry ally Sen. Byron Dorgan tells executives to embrace putting price on carbon. Politico quotes: "Regulations are coming in the future. If coal does nothing, coal will lose ... The reason I have reached out to the coal industry is that they’ve been on the defensive position, not negotiating with anyone, and they’re going to lose under that. With or without carbon regulations, there will be a substantial conversion to natural gas, and coal will lose.”

House looking for offsets to extend clean energy tax credits before moving on green jobs bill. The Hill: "House Ways and Means Chairman Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) is unlikely to mark up a green energy jobs bill before the August recess ... The $22 billion proposal extends through 2014 the Section 48C manufacturing tax credit for investing in renewable energy ... It also expected to extend the ethanol tax credit for one year, but at a reduced rate ... Levin originally wanted to pay for the bill by repealing tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. But Senate resistance ... forced him to look elsewhere for offsets ... he could rescind tax breaks on U.S. multinational companies."

House Dems rip Bush-era Interior secretaries for mismanaging oil drilling. McClatchy: "Democrats noted that [Gale] Norton left to work as general counsel for Shell Oil amid the scandals in the Interior Department over the influence of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Last year, the Justice Department began investigating her role in a Shell lease; on Tuesday she referred questions about the status of the investigation to her lawyer."

BP undeterred, sells land assets, readies to go back into the deep. NYT: "Analysts say the choice shows that BP is committed to deepwater drilling, despite the prospect of increased global regulation of such wells and an effort in Congress to bar the company from receiving new drilling permits in the gulf."

Dems Prepare To End Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

Dems prepare to end Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, extend for middle-class. Time: "Senate Democrats will soon advance a plan to make permanent President George W. Bush's 2001 tax cuts for middle-class Americans earning less than $200,000, but let the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans expire, two Senate party aides said Tuesday. They will also propose to reinstate a 45% estate tax on individuals for the next two years ... The showdown could come as early as August, now that Senate majority leader Harry Reid has decided to keep his colleagues in Washington through the middle of next month.

Sen. Bernie Sanders asks why conservatives want to increase the deficit by ending the estate tax? " a time when this country has a $13 trillion national debt ... it is beyond comprehension that anyone would advocate huge tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. And, that is why I have introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act with Senators Harkin, Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown and Franken. This legislation would raise $318 billion over the next decade by establishing a graduated inheritance tax on estates over $3.5 million."

Dem splinter group goes after special interests while attacking leadership on deficits. The Hill: "...a group of House Democrats criticized their party on Tuesday for failing to back specific deficit-reduction proposals ... the four Democrats are proposing budget cuts that would total $72 billion over 10 years ... The budget items offered for elimination include select defense programs, agricultural subsidies and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry ...
Cuts to farm subsidies have been shot down numerous times by lawmakers from rural states. And the proposed termination of the C-17 military aircraft program has been pushed by the Defense Department for years, with little success."

Breakfast Sides

Marc Ambinder counsels WH to reinstate Shirley Sherrod as Andrew Brietbart's smear job has been debunked: "The White House is loathe to touch anything resembling a racial thing, but this isn't a racial thing: it's a judgment thing. It's about thinking before speaking. It's about slowing down, it's about gathering evidence before making decisions, it's about doing the right thing." Ag Sec. releases statement saying he will reconsider firing, reports Bloomberg.

W. Post's Dana Milbank praises Sen. Lindsey Graham's vote for Elana Kagan: "Those who were there did hear something fresh: Graham's penetrating indictment of the tribal logic that has overtaken his colleagues."

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