fresh voices from the front lines of change







GOP Warned On Balanced Budget Pledge

Leading deficit hawk warns GOP balanced budget in 10 years means unrealistic cuts. Politico: “‘It will be about $5.5 trillion to get us to balance in 10 years,’ Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget told the [Senate Budget Committee]. ‘Just to put that in perspective that’s eight times the size of the [2012] fiscal cliff deal and it’s 65 times the size of the [2013] Ryan Murray deal which you recall we didn’t stick to for very long.’ … a second witness, Mark Blyth of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, warned that Republicans must learn from the experience in Europe where he said too much austerity worsened budget problems by stifling growth … ‘You don’t really have a spending problem. You have a revenue problem,’ Blyth said.”

“Republicans Vie Over Who Can Cut Taxes Most as Deficit Shrinks” reports Bloomberg: “Senator Marco Rubio of Florida kicked off the competition with his plan to boost economic growth by slashing taxes on investments, wages and business income. Even the plan’s proponents concede it would reduce tax collections by at least $1.7 trillion in the first decade, largely favoring the top 1 percent of Americans over the middle class … Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky says he will propose the biggest tax cut in U.S. history. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, both considering repeat presidential campaigns, ran on reducing taxes four years ago and would be expected to do so again.”

Utah May Spark National Push For Bankster Registry

Utah approves white-collar criminal registry. NYT: “Their faces will soon appear online … appending a scarlet letter of sorts on the state’s financial felons. The registry … will be replete with ‘a recent photograph’ of Utah’s white-collar offenders and, in case they try to run or hide, their ‘date of birth, height, weight, and eye and hair color.'”

Wall Street bonuses up 2%. Time: “Despite falling profits, the average bonus on Wall Street rose to $172,860 last year … ‘The cost of legal settlements related to the 2008 financial crisis continues to be a drag on Wall Street profits, but the securities industry remains profitable and well-compensated even as it adjusts to regulatory changes,’ [NY State Comptroller Thomas] DiNapoli said…”

Stress tests force changes in banks. NYT: “… Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank by assets after JPMorgan Chase, passed only provisionally and could still fail later this year if it does not fix deficiencies that the Fed identified. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase andMorgan Stanley, which dominate Wall Street, each had to alter their planned payouts to investors to achieve passing grades. The American units of Deutsche Bank, the German banking giant, and Santander of Spain failed the tests outright.”

Workers need more power than shareholders for salaries to rise, argues W. Post Harold Meyerson: “The decimation of private-sector unions has flatly eliminated the ability of large numbers of U.S. workers to bargain collectively for better pay or working conditions. But the ability of financiers to threaten the jobs of corporate managers unless they fork over more cash to shareholders has greatly increased.”

House GOP Ponders Highway Bill

House to hold hearing on highway bill to figure out funding fix. The Hill: “The hearing will be the panel’s second meeting about the transportation bill this year as lawmakers search for a way to pay for an extension of the infrastructure funding [as] an $11 billion measure [is] scheduled to expire on May 31.”

Rail infrastructure strikingly unsafe, says Marcus Stern in NYT oped: “The public has only one hope of finding out if such centenarian bridges are still sturdy enough to carry these oil trains. Ask the railroads. That’s because the federal government doesn’t routinely inspect rail bridges. In fact, the government lacks any engineering standards whatsoever for rail bridges. Nor does it have an inventory of them … Five oil trains have exploded in the United States in the last 16 months.”

Energy Politics Flare Up

Biofuels mandate sparks intra-industry battle. WSJ: “Biofuels, mostly corn-based ethanol, have been blended into the nation’s gasoline supply since Congress passed a law a decade ago promoting increased use of alternative fuels. But the government has struggled with how to craft regulations and mandates for a more diverse offering of fuels, such as products made from municipal solid waste, plant material and biogas …”

Bipartisan Senate duo will try again to pass energy efficiency legislation. The Hill: “Commercial buildings and homes would benefit from updated model building standards that the bill would mandate, as well as new effort to train workers to construct buildings. The Energy Department would be authorized to work with manufacturers to reduce energy use, and the bill would also exempt thermal storage water heaters from upcoming energy standards. Last year, a similar bill almost made it to the Senate floor for a vote. But Republicans blocked it…”

State officials duel in Senate over EPA climate regs. The Hill: “The GOP brought in officials from Indiana, Wyoming and Wisconsin … to outline how they find the rule unreasonable, irresponsible and illegal. Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee brought in officials from New York and California … to support the regulation, which aims to slash the power sector’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.”

California energy regulators David Hochschild and David Olsen show how “Renewable energy is a California success story” in LAT oped: ” Renewable energy has grown so rapidly that, in 2014, it accounted for most new electric generation capacity added nationwide. California leads the pack with the share of electricity from renewable sources, more than doubling from 12% in 2008 to 25% today … Meanwhile, the early predictions of California’s economic calamity have proved to be misinformed. “

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