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Monday Jan 26, 2009

Progressive Breakfast: Who Won In November?

Progressive Breakfast is created for OurFuture.org, and is the morning roundup of what progressive movement members need to know to start the day.

Dems Stand Firm On Econ Recovery, GOP Opposition Hardens

On NBC's Meet The Press, Obama econ advisor Larry Summers addresses criticism that too little will be spent quickly, noting most will be spent quickly, but long-term investments are crucial too:

The president has committed, through a letter from his [budget] director, Peter Orszag, that three-quarters of this $825 billion program will be spent out within the first 18 months. ... we're not going to rush things to the point of being wasteful. But the tax measures are going to change withholding checks within weeks after they're enacted. Cities across the country are going to see help so they don't have to lay off teachers or cops within weeks after the program is passed.

So yes, speed is a crucial concern. But you know, David, there is something else we have to recognize, which is these problems weren't made in a day or a week or a month or even a year, and they're not going to get solved that fast. So even as we move to be as rapid as we can in jolting the economy and giving it the push forward it needs, we also have to be mindful of having the right kind of plan that will carry us forward over time. That's why the productive aspects of the investments the president's making--doubling renewable energy, for example, modernizing 10,000 schools--are so essential.

Angry Bear's Bruce Webb reminds that many New Deal public works investments helped win WWII in the following decade, and are still with us today.

Summers on claims from the W. Post editorial board that money for police and education don't help the economy:

...respectfully I would disagree with The Washington Post. There are cops being laid off across the country. Saving their jobs is saving jobs, it's helping the economy, it's protecting our neighborhoods.

I used to be a college president. There are kids across the country who are losing the chance to go to college, whose families are being forced to put their houses on the market to help those kids go to college, further putting downwards pressure on the economy.

I think spending to respond to the extra burdens on financial aid, putting money into the economy for financial aid for college students is a good investment, just like saving the jobs of cops is a good investment.

Summers on repealing the Bush tax cuts: "I don't think there's any question they have to be repealed. The country can't afford them for the long run ... the question of timing is one we're going to have to reach as we see how the economy unfolds, as Congress reaches its judgments. But they're not going to be with us for long."

On ABC's This Week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed House Minority Leader John Boehner's attempt to mock funding for family planning services:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies.

Republican opposition hardened on the Sunday shows, fueled by what D-Day deemed a "Misinformation Brigade"

FireDogLake posts video of Paul Krugman politely slamming Sam Donaldson for carrying the false conservative talking point that Obama adviser Christina Romer previously wrote a paper undermining the rationale from the econ recovery bill.

The Non-existent CBO Report

Conservatives claimed a CBO report proved the American Recovery and Reinvestment would only spend 38% of its funding in the next two years. Turns out, the report doesn't exist.

Huffington Post's Ryan Grim has the scoop:

Reports of a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, showing that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won't be spent until after 2010, have Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending.

Funny thing is, there is no such report.

"We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study," a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.

Rather, the nonpartisan CBO ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program that uses a standard formula to determine a score -- how quickly money will be spent. The score only dealt with the part of the stimulus headed for the Appropriations Committee and left out the parts bound for the Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee.

Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at.

The CBO numbers were given to a small number of congressional Democrats and Republicans, but were not posted online because they're not an official CBO product ... Democratic aides say they are certain that the GOP leaked it to the Associated Press in order to undercut the spending portion of the stimulus.

OurFuture.org's Isaiah Poole: "...we have the answer to the question I posed about whether the CBO is being used by House conservative obstructionists to derail the Obama stimulus package. The answer is a resounding yes, in a most dishonest way."

OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg: "CBO hadn't released a public report, but it had released some estimates to a handful of senators. Those estimates were highly questionable on their face, and good reporters should have questioned them immediately. Moreover, CBO should never have issued them as they were. ...only a few scattered Democratic voices seriously questioned the core of the CBO numbers--and those numbers are highly questionable on their face."

Beat The Press' Dean Baker: "Washington Post Still Touts Non-Existant CBO Report on Stimulus"

Crooks and Liars: "[Rep]. Bilbray Cites Nonexistent CBO Report as Excuse to Oppose Stimulus Package"

Econ Package Invests Long-Term

HuffPost's Robert Kuttner praises the econ recovery plan for investing long-term: "If you look at the details of the Obama recovery plan, however, it includes a lot of outlays that don't look like one-shots: laying more than 3,000 miles of electric transmission lines; installing 40 million "smart" utility meters to help reduce energy use; weatherizing 2 million homes and most federal buildings. Among the other infrastructure investments are improving security at 90 major ports and modernizing the nation's water system. These needs and others like them don't end after two years ... Sounds good to me, but he will face ideological qualms from the fiscal conservatives within his own party, as well as from most Republicans. So the bipartisan honeymoon is unlikely to last, and I'd say, good riddance."

ClimateProgress praises energy-efficiency measure: "The single most important policy change needed to promote broad-based, California-style energy efficiency is to 'decouple' utility profits from sales, to allow utilities to profit from energy efficiency ... I have been assuming that Democrats would wait until the mother of all energy bills later this year to make their big push toward decoupling. But it turns out that Dems have decided to make it one of the conditions for the multi-billion-dollar energy efficiency block grants in the stimulus"

Push For More Infrastructure, Less Biz Tax Breaks

Friday night, Rep. Peter Defazio took to The Rachel Maddow Show to press Obama and Congress from the left, demanding more infrastructure investment:

McClatchy reports that Sen. Max Baucus' version includes more corporate tax breaks, as well as, more clean energy tax incentives than the House version.

D-Day: "The reason you want lots of infrastructure spending in the stimulus is because it can both be spent quickly and leave something behind afterwards. That's true of the health care and energy spending as well, but that's not what infrastructure spending appears to be competing with. It's competing with business tax breaks that do not provide nearly the kind of 'bang for your buck' that can multiply the effect of fiscal spending. These Chamber-of-Commerce-friendly provisions being put in the Senate package, for example, are appalling."

FDL's Stirling Newberry previews the House floor debate: "One [amendment] from DeFazio, a key member of Transportation, would restore 2 billion of the 23 billion shorn away from the bill since it was introduced. Jerry Nadler has asked for a direct meeting with Obama to increase the size and spending scale of the bill, and to green it's provisions, arguing the bill is too small by standard measures, and that more money could be spent effectively."

More Small biz tax cuts? W. Post reports on Obama's talks with House GOPers: "[Rep. Eric] Cantor presented Obama with an alternative GOP plan that included a reduction in marginal tax rates and no increased domestic spending that would result in higher deficits. Afterward, Cantor said the president rejected most of those ideas but remained open to increasing benefits for small businesses that, according to Republican calculations, would receive $41 billion in tax relief under the Democratic plan. Republicans are proposing a 20 percent rate cut in taxes on businesses with fewer than 500 employees."

Economic Populist's Robert Oak says scientific research funds, "should be tied to hiring/using U.S. citizens, Americans, perm residents preferred" to better impact the U.S. economy.

African American Political Pundit worries that new construction jobs won't reach African-Americans without additional "workforce education programs, apprenticeship programs, and first source hiring policies that will benefit low-income communities of color."

Mortgage Modification Taken Off Table?

OpenLeft's Chris Bowers: "Senator Durbin has confirmed that President Obama opposes including the measure in the stimulus, and favors including it in later legislation instead ... Further, with ten Senate Democrats opposed to the measure last year, we can also expect a big fight over the measure when the home foreclosure mitigation bill comes up later this year."

Wonk Room: "This provision would allow bankruptcy judges to modify -- or ‘cram down’ -- mortgages payments “for homeowners who owe more than their home is worth.? Currently, bankruptcy judges are not able to modify loans on a primary residence (but can modify loans on second-home mortgages). Giving judges this power is critical to addressing the housing crisis, and should be included in the stimulus package ... speeding mortgage modification has a stimulative effect, thus meriting its inclusion in the stimulus bill."

Conservative Carping Continues

The conservative wishful-thinking counter-narrative is forming. National Review's Yuval Levin: "It’s simply seen by the Democratic leadership as an opportunity to spend a lot of money on various causes they’ve wanted to support for years and to increase the reach of the government into the economy ... At some point, and possibly soon, some significant chunk of the public will wake up to the essential recklessness of our government’s reaction to this financial crisis, and to the failure of technocratic expertise made evident by both the crisis itself and the response to it."

NYT's Paul Krugman takes conservatives to task: "...there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created ... write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money ... ignore anyone who tries to make something of the fact that the new administration’s chief economic adviser has in the past favored monetary policy over fiscal policy as a response to recessions."

ThinkProgress: "McCain Slams Broadband Expansion Idea After Campaigning For It"

Obama Allows States To Slash Auto Emissions

NYT: "Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process. Once they act, automobile manufacturers will quickly have to retool to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule ... Automotive emissions account for more than one-fifth of all such greenhouse gases."

W. Post: "Obama will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider whether to grant California a waiver to regulate automobile tailpipe emissions linked to global warming, sources said, and he will order the Transportation Department to issue guidelines that will ensure that the nation's auto fleet reaches an average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, if not earlier."

Grist's Kate Sheppard has Sen. Boxer's statement: "When the waiver is signed, it will be a signal to Detroit that a huge market awaits them if they do the right thing and produce the cleanest, most efficient vehicles possible."

America Needs More Unions

Robert Reich makes the case for EFCA in the LA Times: "Although America and its economy need unions, it's become nearly impossible for employees to form one. The Hart poll I cited tells us that 57 million workers would want to be in a union if they could have one. But those who try to form a union, according to researchers at MIT, have only about a 1 in 5 chance of successfully doing so."

Posted by Bill Scher on Jan 26, 2009 email post email Spotlight / / You are in Progressive Breakfast