Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: A Fair Mortgage Program Can Boost The Economy, Create Millions Of Jobs … And Shrink The Federal Deficit
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “Remember The Music Man? That’s the musical where a con man tricks an entire town’s parents into buying musical instruments they don’t need by promising to teach music to their kids. Then he skips town. Only when he makes good on his promises is he forgiven by the town and rewarded with true love. If today’s America was that town they’d have written the Music Man a fat check and promised not to prosecute him. They’d even let him complain to the local newspaper about being called a ‘con man,’ the way JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon complained to the New York Times about criticism of bankers. As for those bilked parents and their disappointed kids, Americans in government and the media would undoubtedly say ‘Serves ‘em right.’ Serves ‘em right. That’s the attitude our leaders are taking toward homeowners all across America, millions of whom were bilked by their banks into taking out loans based on inflated housing values.”
Obama Jobs Plan: Plan A or Plan B?
Robert Reich wonders if Obama will choose plan A or plan B: “Next Wednesday President Obama will unveil his jobs plan. He’ll choose either Plan A or Plan B. Plan A would be big enough to restart the economy (now barely growing) and reduce unemployment (which continues to grow). That means spending another trillion dollars over the next two years – rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, creating a new WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps, and lending money to cash-starved states and cities… Republicans will oppose it, of course… That means the President would have to fight for it. He’d have to barnstorm the country, demanding Republican votes. He’d build his 2012 campaign around it, attacking the Republican ‘do nothing’ Congress. He’d give ‘em hell. Plan B would be a bunch of policy miniatures that would have almost no effect on the economy or employment but would nonetheless be good things to do… Republicans will oppose it, of course. They’ll say this is no time for new initiatives, that our biggest problem is the size of government, debt, and over-regulation. They’ve been saying almost exactly the same thing for eighty years.”
Labor Leader Trumka: Job-Creation Plans Require ‘Boldness’ [PBS]:”When it comes to jump-starting the struggling U.S. economy, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka proclaimed Wednesday, ‘This is a time for boldness.’ The labor leader spoke at his union’s annual Labor Day news conference in Washington. ‘This is a moment that working people will judge all of our leaders — see if they will propose solutions that are on the scale necessary to address the job crisis America has right now,’ said Trumka, as he sat alongside long-time unemployed and underemployed Americans, and other AFL-CIO leaders. ‘This economic mess, this inequality and joblessness, are the result of politics, which means the solution must be political as well.’ ‘We need to put America back to work,’ Trumka added. With that goal in mind, the AFL-CIO outlined a six-part ‘Good Jobs Plan,’ which includes rebuilding infrastructure, reviving manufacturing and increasing government spending through stimulus.”
Suzy Khimm explains three ways progressives hope to pass a jobs plan: “1) Going through Congress: First, some on the left are still holding out hope that Congress can pass some kind of significant jobs package this fall, even in the face of staunch Republican opposition… 2) Going through the “supercommittee”: Given the likelihood that any big spending bill will be dead in the water once it hits Congress, some liberals say they’re more hopeful that a jobs package could be part of the supercommittee’s deficit-reduction deal… 3) Reelecting Obama and waiting until 2013:. As such, other liberals may just be holding out for the 2012 elections for anything substantial to pass Congress again. They want Obama to put a bold jobs plan at the center of his agenda now and at the forefront of his campaign going forward, pointing the finger squarely at Republicans if and when the GOP rejects his ideas.”
Infrastructure bank could be part of jobs package [AP]: “A national infrastructure bank that would entice private investors into road and rail projects could be a major part of the jobs package that President Barack Obama hopes will finally bring relief to the unemployed. The White House hasn’t divulged the contents of the package that Obama is to unveil in an address to a joint session of Congress next week. But the president has pushed the idea of an infrastructure bank in recent speeches and has praised Senate and House bills that create such a government-sponsored lending institution. Whether the bank, which would need time to organize, could have any real impact on the jobs situation in the coming year — and particularly before the November 2012 elections — is in dispute. Obama seems to think it would.
Obama’s Ratings Drop On Economy
President Obama approval on economy dips [Politico]: “President Barack Obama’s disapproval rating has hit yet another series of new lows on his handling of the economy, the federal budget deficit and unemployment, a new poll shows. Nearly two-thirds – 65 percent – of respondents to a CNN/ORD poll released on Thursday said they disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy. Voters also gave thumbs down on other aspects of Obama’s policies as they relate to the economy. CNN found that 66 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the Obama’s handling of the federal deficit, and 62 percent said that they disapproved of his handling of unemployment. All three figures for Obama’s handling of the economy, the deficit and unemployment are new lows in terms of CNN polling during the Obama presidency.”
Romney Seen Doing Better Job Handling Economy Than Obama in Poll [Businessweek]: “U.S. voters say Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would do a better job handling the economy than President Barack Obama, according to a poll that finds Obama’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high. The Quinnipiac University survey found that 46 percent of voters favor Romney’s skills in recharging the economy, while 42 percent opt for Obama. At the same time, 52 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance, compared with 42 percent who approve. In July, 46 percent in the poll disapproved of Obama’s job performance and 47 percent approved. Obama plans to give a speech next week detailing plans to spur job growth.”
Obama vs. the GOP
Obama relents on jobs speech to Congress, moves address to Sept. 8 [Washington Post]: “President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8 to lay out his plan for jobs and the economy, the White House announced Wednesday night. The date is one day later than the president requested earlier Wednesday, but that date conflicted with a scheduled debate of Republican presidential candidates in California, drawing objections from GOP lawmakers. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) responded by suggesting that Obama come to Capitol Hill on Thursday night, citing the need for the House to conduct a “security sweep” in its first day back in session. ‘It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks,’ Boehner wrote in his response letter to Obama.”
Jed Lewison says the White House briefed Boehner before he rebuffed Obama’s request for a joint session of Congress: “Multiple reporters—Sam Stein, Sam Youngman, and Glenn Thrush— report that Obama administration officials tell them that John Boehner was privately briefed about the timing of President Obama’s jobs speech request and that he voiced no objections until rejecting the request this afternoon. Boehner’s office concedes that it was briefed ahead of time, but denies agreeing to the date. But even if they didn’t explicitly agree to the schedule, unless they voiced an objection, they were quite clearly operating in bad faith. But all that is really beside the point. For what is almost certainly the first time in the history of our nation, the Speaker of the House has rejected a request from the President to speak on a matter of great national urgency. Everything else about this story is noise.”
Wapo’s E.J. Dionne diagnoses Obama’s paradox problem: “Call it the Party-of-Government Paradox: If the nation’s capital looks dysfunctional, it will come back to hurt President Obama and the Democrats, even if the Republicans are primarily responsible for the dysfunction. Then there is the Bipartisanship Paradox: No matter how far the president bends over backward to appeal to or appease the Republicans — no matter how nice, conciliatory, friendly or reasonable he tries to be — voters will judge him according to the results. And the evidence since 2009 is that accommodation won’t get Obama much anyway. This creates the Election Paradox: Up to a point, Republicans in Congress can afford to let their own ratings fall well below the president’s, as long as they drag him further into negative territory. If the president’s ratings are poor next year, Democrats won’t be able to defeat enough Republicans to take back the House and hold the Senate. The GOP can win if the mood is terribly negative toward Washington because voters see Obama as the man in charge.”
Robert Schlesinger explains the contrast Obama wanted to draw with the GOP debate: “Here’s the timing: Wednesday night the GOP candidates will be trying to out-conservative each other in a mad dash to please their party’s ascendant fringe. They will be dishing the rhetorical red meat, taking no prisoners and brooking no compromise. At some point, months from now one of them will emerge as the nominee and will (presumably) try to tack back toward the center to try to appeal to swing voters. So why let them introduce themselves to the general public at a time and in a manner of their choosing? Better to have the independents’ first introduction to the GOP nominee come when they are vying for Tea Party approval. If Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann is bound to share the presidential spotlight anyway, better they do it when they’re consciously trying to seem like partisan hacks rather than when they’re consciously trying to seem presidential. Let that contrast stand opposite the can-do chief executive trying to rise above partisan acrimony to solve the biggest problem facing the country.”
GOP Field Update
With the rollout of his own jobs plan, John Hunstman goes from “green Republican” to “energy Hawk” [Huffington Post]: “Huntsman’s 12-page outline detailing his plan cements the former U.S. ambassador to China as a full-fledged energy-production hawk. “Energy independence” is the third of four objectives in the plan, behind tax reform and regulatory reform (trade is the fourth), but the plan has the most amount of detail in its energy section. It gets a full three pages, far more than any of the three other subject areas. Huntsman’s platform aims to reduce the leverage that oil-producing nations in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, have over U.S. government policies. “To free ourselves from OPEC’s grasp, we must end our heroin-like addiction to foreign oil,” Huntsman said in a speech to announce his plan in New Hampshire.”
ThinkProgress notes that Huntsman’s jobs plan is very Republican when it comes to taxes: “2012 GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman is releasing an economic plan today that is as bad for the middle-class — and as nutty — as any proposed by his rivals. It would pay for a half-million-dollar tax break for the richest 0.1 percent of Americans with tax increases on the middle-class and new taxes on seniors, veterans, and poor families. In an apparent attempt to eclipse all previous Republican giveaways, including the disastrous Bush tax cuts, Huntsman would drop the marginal rate paid by the richest Americans by more than a third to 23 percent — a lower rate than rich people paid during the Coolidge and Hoover Administrations or any time since. He would also eliminate all taxes on all capital gains and dividend income — the primary forms of income for the wealthiest Americans.”
Michele Bachmann AWOL from N.H. [Politico]: “Michele Bachmann’s campaign all but confirmed Wednesday what New Hampshire Republicans have suspected for weeks: the Minnesota congresswoman’s political calculus no longer includes the first-in-the nation-primary state. She hasn’t been back to New Hampshire since her campaign kickoff two months ago. She canceled a planned visit to the Granite State after her Ames straw poll win — and began spending her time in South Carolina, Florida and Iowa instead. In fact, in the two-and-a-half weeks since the straw poll, Bachmann is the only 2012 GOP contender not to visit the Granite State.”
Al Gore supports the protests against the pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, and calls the tar sands “the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet”: “The tar sands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet. As I wrote in Our Choice two years ago, gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. This pipeline would be an enormous mistake. The answer to our climate, energy and economic challenges does not lie in burning more dirty fossil fuels —instead, we must continue to press for much more rapid development of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and cuts in the pollution that causes global warming.”
Digby notes that the GOP’s effort to suppress the votes of African Americans, Latinos, the poor, etc., is just the next step in a long march to dismantle democracy: “The movement has been leading up to it for decades, but it’s picked up speed in the last 12 years. They impeached a Democratic president and stole an election in a two year time span. They fired US Attorneys for failing to rig elections and dismantled the voting rights section of the DOJ. They’ve packed the courts with anti-democratic judges and filed cases before them to create a sense of systematic voter fraud that doesn’t actually exist. And last November they made their move into state houses all over the country and wasted no time in creating laws to disenfranchise as many liberal voters as possible. Democrats had better hope that the coming elections aren’t close. If they are, there’s just no way they can win with these laws that are coming on line. And that’s the plan.”
Kos explains why Rep. Louie Gohmert thinks that Obama is making us look like a “Third World, corrupt” country: “What’s funny about this is that the Obama Administration, obvious flaws aside, has been one of the most squeaky clean administrations in forever. There have been no major scandals, no indictments, no special prosecutor investigations. In fact, the administration is so clean, that House Republicans have been unable to mount any real oversight investigations because of a lack of material that ‘fits their narrative’—that narrative being that they’re engaging in corruption and wrongdoing. So given the lack of ethical problems in this administration, what possibly could Gohmert be referring to? Why would America start resembling a third world country? For Gohmert, the answer is easy: because more brown people are living in it.
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