Wonkbook: The GOP's health care battle plan; Green's retrench; the pro-business recovery
With a comprehensive energy bill unlikely this session, environmental groups are moving their resources from advocating cap and trade to defending existing emissions regulations and, in particular, the EPA. But just to show that hope springs eternal, Carol Browner is still saying some sort of carbon cap might appear in a lame-duck session of Congress -- a comment that will surely give the GOP more ammunition against the lame-duck session.
Meanwhile, unemployment is extremely high, but we're also seeing a build-up in open jobs positions; Republicans map out their strategy for defunding health care reform, which might require shutting down the government; Ben Bernanke doesn't seem very impressed with the advice he once gave Japan; and for a purportedly anti-business president, Obama has sure run a business-friendly recovery.
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Green groups are moving cap and trade to the back burner, reports Darren Samuelsohn: "The National Wildlife Federation, the country’s largest environmental group with 4 million members and supporters, considers it 'Job No. 1' to defend EPA against lawsuits in the federal appeals court from a broad coalition of industry and conservative state leaders, including the attorneys general in Virginia and Texas."
Ezra Klein writes that Obama's recovery has seen business recover first, and best: http://bit.ly/9FNmRq
Even as unemployment stays high, some firms are finding it hard to get employees, reports Mark Whitehouse: "Matching people with available jobs is always difficult after a recession as the economy remakes itself. But Labor Department data suggest the disconnect is particularly acute this time around. Since the economy bottomed out in mid-2009, the number of job openings has risen more than twice as fast as actual hires, a gap that didn't appear until much later in the last recovery. The disparity is most notable in manufacturing, which has had among the biggest increases in openings."
Philip Klein previews Republican strategies for defunding the Affordable Care Act: "'It's possible to defund sections of it. It would be more likely that some of those things that were done as special provisions to capture one or two votes are more vulnerable than others.' For instance, he noted the 'Louisiana Purchase' of $300 million in Medicaid money, inserted as Democrats were courting Sen. Mary Landrieu to vote for the Senate bill. Another example is the increased funding for Internal Revenue Service agents to audit businesses and individuals to enforce mandates."
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Ben Bernanke is going against his own advice from the Japanese economic crisis of the 1990s, reports Jon Hilsenrath: "When Japan fell into deflation in the 1990s, Mr. Bernanke, then a Princeton professor, urged the Bank of Japan to set an objective of 3% to 4% inflation. The reason: With interest rates pinned at zero, rising inflation would mean that the real cost of borrowing, which is nominal interest rates minus inflation, would be falling. In theory that would spur demand. As Fed chairman, Mr. Bernanke has rejected that idea, in part because the U.S. doesn't have deflation now. But if deflation does set in, calls for inflation above the Fed's informal goal of 1.5% to 2% could become louder."
Late night rock interlude: Titus Andronicus play "A More Perfect Union" on Jimmy Fallon.
Still to come: The tax code encourages corporate debt; Obama's head energy advisor says a lame duck climate bill is possible; new legislation would return Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter to the Supreme Court; and pictures of dogs wearing goggles.
America's private debt problem has been egged on by the tax code, reports David Cho: "The combined impact of those two deductions can be tremendous, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Together, they can free a company from paying tax on any income produced by projects financed with debt. But that's not all. The combined deduction can be so large that a company may also be able to apply some of it to its other income, reducing the overall tax bill even further."
Nelson Schwartz reports on academics' belief that this level of unemployment may be the "new normal": http://nyti.ms/d6YD8D
Identity confusion is causing debt collectors to hurt innocent peoples' credit scores, reports Sonja Ryst: "In the uncertain economy, people are especially sensitive to anything that can hurt their credit rating. The FTC said it recognizes that third-party collectors contact millions of people each year, and it receives more complaints about the debt-collection industry than about any other. In its 2010 annual report on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the FTC said it received 119,364 complaints about third-party and in-house debt collectors in 2009, up from 104,766 the previous year."
The FDIC is preparing the first round of credit rating regulations: http://bit.ly/bJX9XN
Robert Frank argues that extending the Bush tax cuts makes for poor stimulus: "Because most poor and middle-income families consume their entire income, higher tax rates for those families would indeed deprive the economy of much-needed short-run stimulus. But extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest families would be one of the worst possible ways to stimulate spending. These families typically consume much less than their income. Instead of trying to use up all their savings before they die, most prefer to leave substantial bequests. Letting their tax cuts expire might reduce those bequests, but it will not reduce their current consumption significantly."
James Suroweicki wants to soak the super-rich: http://bit.ly/cbVtQj
Former NEC director Keith Hennessey explains how the White House economic staff works in the wake of Christina Romer's departure: "NEC does economic policy and decision-making, and CEA does economics. They’re different. CEA staff apply economic theories and data to economic policy, while NEC staff operate at the intersection of economics, policy design, the law, communications, politics, strategy, and the practical aspects and constraints of legislating and managing a bureaucracy."
Bruce Bartlett thinks the NEC is unnecessary: http://bit.ly/dlD9Ac
Photograph interlude: America in full color, from 1939 to 1943.
Carol Browner says a climate bill is "possible" in Congress' lame duck session, reports Manu Raju: "Browner said on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that President Barack Obama is still committed to pushing the bill through the Senate, and that there was 'potential' for the bill to come up in a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress. Browner's remarks will almost certainly give ammunition to Republicans who say Democrats are plotting to do mischief in a lame-duck session -- even though top congressional Democrats have thrown cold water on an overly ambitious lame-duck agenda."
Krissah Thompson and David Fahrenthold detail Gulf residents' concerns as the oil spill recovery winds down: http://bit.ly/adIWn1
Recent fires are waking Russia up to climate change, reports John Collins Rudolf: "The heat-induced disaster may come as little surprise to Russian climate scientists, who have warned for years that the country is experiencing rapid warming that will only accelerate over the course of the 21st century. Drawing on the work of leading climate researchers, a 2008 report compiled by Russia’s state environmental agency concluded that Russia was warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and experienced an average temperature increase of about 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the 20th century."
Thad Allen gives BP mixed scores on the spill cleanup effort: http://politi.co/aVrN5w
Julie Makinen writes that insurance companies are embracing green tech: "They are advising companies on how best to incorporate renewable energy systems into their factory operations and offering property insurance that will pay not just to rebuild a structure in the event of a loss like fire but reconstruct it in a more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient way. They are even offering coverage to carbon traders. So, if you are a European utility engaged in an emissions offset program in China and a devastating earthquake damages your partner power plant in Sichuan, you have some peace of mind."
Adorable animals on Flickr interlude: Dogs wearing goggles.
A bill from Pat Leahy could call back retired Supreme Court justices when current ones recuse themselves, reports Robert Barnes: "In her first term, which concluded in June, Sotomayor recused herself from six cases, for instance, and did not take part in a greater number that the court was considering whether to review. Elena Kagan, the newest justice, will be absent from the court's mahogany bench for more than that. She already has identified a dozen cases she worked on as solicitor general that she will not hear as a justice, and more are likely as the court accepts new cases for the term that begins in October."
House liberals will try to restore food stamp funding in the state aid bill, reports Walter Alarkon: "DeLauro oversees annual spending on the food stamps program as chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee for Agriculture. Asked if she would try to restore the food stamps money in future legislation, DeLauro said, 'Yes, absolutely, I will be fighting for these funds.'"
Matthew Yglesias argues economic downturns foster xenophobia: http://bit.ly/aRecwn
Immigration rights groups are bashing the Democrats over the new border spending bill, reports Carrie Budoff Brown: "'If the Democrats try to feed the beast of enforcement that Republicans seem to be fixated on, they are never going to satiate that appetite,' said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress. 'I don’t know if Schumer thinks this is the candy that coaxes them back to the table, but it’s sort of like my fourth grader -- there is never enough candy in the world to make her happy.'"
Robert Samuelson argues the tax code punishes parenthood: http://bit.ly/bEBEFv
Paul Krugman sees America's infrastructure crumbling in the face of the recession: "The antigovernment campaign has always been phrased in terms of opposition to waste and fraud -- to checks sent to welfare queens driving Cadillacs, to vast armies of bureaucrats uselessly pushing paper around. But those were myths, of course; there was never remotely as much waste and fraud as the right claimed. And now that the campaign has reached fruition, we’re seeing what was actually in the firing line: services that everyone except the very rich need, services that government must provide or nobody will, like lighted streets, drivable roads and decent schooling for the public as a whole."
James Fallows proposes term limits for Supreme Court justices: http://bit.ly/agB5SG
Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard.
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