MORNING MESSAGE: Why 21,000 of Us Asked LA’s Mayor to Resign From Fix the Debt
OurFuture.org's Richard Eskow: "A reasonable person might ask why any group which claims to be concerned about deficit spending would try to lower tax rates for the most privileged among us, since that would make those deficits much worse. Good question: It doesn’t make sense – unless the real goal is tax breaks for the wealthy, not deficit reduction. That is Fix the Debt’s goal. … By lending his name to this campaign, Mayor Villaraigosa joins Democrats like former President Clinton, Erskine Bowles, and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. They’ve signed on to other incarnations of this billionaire/corporate campaign, while at the same time raking in millions on Wall Street."
Pressure Builds on GOP
And predicts GOP will cave on taxes, in ABC interview: "I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals."
Sen. McConnell sounds like he's already caved. TPM quotes: "What the President’s trying to achieve on the top two tax rates, he can get by doing nothing. The law is certainly stacked in his favor."
And CEOs backing Obama on taxes. NYT: "A broad swath of the nation’s leading chief executives dropped its opposition to tax increases on the wealthiest Americans on Tuesday, while the White House quietly pressed Wall Street titans for their support as well."
NYT questions if Boehner can whip his caucus to support a deal: "His statement seemed directed as much at Republican lawmakers and party activists — to reassure them that he was fighting the good fight against government spending, given Republicans’ likely concessions on taxes — as at the president and the broader public. Conservatives have been growing nervous about any deal with Mr. Obama. 'I have great respect for the speaker,' said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, 'but he doesn’t have my proxy.'"
President, Boehner Trade Offers
President slightly reduces revenue request in negotiations. Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama reduced his demand for tax increases to $1.4 trillion from $1.6 trillion … The president’s plan also would include a corporate tax overhaul."
Boehner counteroffer doesn't budge on taxes. Politico: "The huge ideological and policy gap between Obama and Boehner explains why, in recent days, the White House and House Republicans have shown they’re unlikely to budge off their respective barricades unless the prize is very rich.
The White House and GOP leaders are accusing each other of being unreasonable and willing to go over the cliff in order to score a political victory … Top Republicans involved in the talks have turned more sour in recent days. Almost all key aides think Obama is preparing to blame Republicans if no compromise is reached."
President's stimulus proposal is not just a bargaining chip, reports HuffPost: "Senior Democratic officials on Capitol Hill and in the White House say that the media and Republicans are mistaken to assume that the stimulus measures were included as mere bargaining chips … the 'fiscal cliff' deal may be Obama's last, best chance to win spending or tax-code concessions from Republicans."
President insisting last year's cuts count. Politico: "The White House wants more than $1 trillion in spending cuts that were approved last year counted toward the goal of a $4 trillion deficit-reduction package, since the cuts were part of a deal that set the stage for the fiscal cliff debate in the first place. But Republicans say that’s double counting. Obama approved those cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and shouldn’t get to apply them here."
Medicare More Vulnerable Than Medicaid
Also leaves the door open to raising Medicare age: "When you look at the evidence, it's not clear that it actually saves a lot of money. But what I've said is let's look at every avenue…"
Though congressional liberals are successfully protecting Medicaid from cuts, reports The Hill: "[The ObamaCare Supreme Court] ruling has changed the dynamic for Medicaid cuts, liberals argue. Now that the administration must coax states into the Medicaid expansion, they say, it shouldn’t be endorsing other Medicaid cuts that would shift more costs to the states … The White House ultimately agreed. On Monday, the Health and Human Services Department announced that the administration no longer supported one of its own proposals to cut Medicaid spending. Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget had proposed streamlining the various calculations that determine how much the federal government will contribute to each state’s Medicaid program."
And GOPers ready to cut military. Politico: "This new generation of conservatives in Congress, freed from the ideologies of the Cold War and Reagan-era defense buildups, is pushing Republicans to buck their tradition and put defense on the chopping block in pursuit of a truly smaller federal government."
Michigan Slams Unions
Michigan enacts anti-union law. W. Post: "Michigan enacted far-reaching legislation Tuesday that threatens to cripple the power of organized labor in a state that was a hub of union might during the heyday of the nation’s industrial dominance … it excludes firefighters and police, groups that were critical in overturning Ohio’s law … unions say the measure will starve them of money, weakening their ability to bargain for their members …"
Labor plots counterattack. Politico: "For national labor groups, the upcoming gubernatorial elections in 2013 and 2014 may be a greater test of their political swat than even the 2012 presidential race … Strategists in the Democratic and labor communities identified a half-dozen major battlegrounds that elected Republican chief executives and new GOP legislators in 2010 where they believe union muscle ought to be able to power a comeback over the next cycle."