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Fiscal Showdown

NEW YORK TIMES: On the Left, Seeing Obama Giving Away Too Much, Again

The criticism from the left mirrors past complaints when Mr. Obama included tax cuts in his stimulus package, gave up on a government-run option in health care negotiations and temporarily extended Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy two years ago. Liberals said Mr. Obama should have capitalized on his re-election victory and the expiration on New Year’s Day of all of the Bush tax cuts to force Republicans to accept his terms. “The president remains clueless about how to use leverage in a negotiation,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy organization. “Republicans publicly admitted they lost the tax debate and would be forced to cave, yet the president just kept giving stuff away.”

Starbucks Is Inappropriately Pressuring Its D.C. Employees To Lobby For A Fiscal Deal

Photo credit: Flickr user Cherrysweetdeal

With six days to go before January 1st and both Clinton tax rates and the spending sequester takes effect, some in Washington are desperate to cut a deal, even if it’s a bad deal that involves painful cuts to Social Security benefits.

CNN reports that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has written a letter to his chain’s 120 stores in the Washington, D.C. area to ask employees there to write “Come Together” on coffee cups on Thursday and Friday.

“Rather than be bystanders, you and your customers have an opportunity — and I believe we all have a responsibility — to send our elected officials a respectful but potent message, urging them to come together to find common ground,” Schultz wrote in his letter to the stores. He also apparently cited Fix The Debt, the powerful corporate front group that has been pushing for an agreement to cut Social Security benefits and lower corporate tax rates for months.

In a statement to CNN, the company stressed that these messages are voluntary.

But by even asking employees to voluntarily influence lawmakers to reach an agreement, Schultz is inappropriately pressuring them to take a political stand they may not agree with. For example, some of these employees may benefit from veterans or Social Security benefits that are at risk of being cut in a bad deal.

Starbucks employees should be able to decide for themselves what politics they endorse and should not be asked to write these messages as a part of their employment.

UPDATE: Read the full letter from Schultz here. It claims, without evidence, that the United States is experiencing a debt “crisis.” Schultz also pivots from sympathy for the Sandy Hook massacre to the need to come together to address this so-called “crisis.”


THE NATION: Why Democrats Must Break With Obama on Social Security Cuts

For Obama, these voices are significant. He is losing the allies who should be in the forefront of the fight to seal any deal he reaches with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Without a solid base of Democratic votes in the House and Senate for it, this deal won’t be done. And make no mistake: a fiscal-cliff compromise that compromises Social Security should not be done. Period. That’s the message coming from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which as usual has moved rapidly — and effectively — to build mass opposition to a cut that will only happen if Americans are unaware of the threat.

SALON: Liberals reject Obama’s Social Security offer

Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the chained CPI plan is “unacceptable.” A labor source called it “insanity.” As Matt Yglesias pointed out this morning, the chained CPI is also unpopular, with 60 percent opposed to “changing Social Security to increase at a slower rate” and only 34 percent in favor.

SALON: Poll finds support for Elizabeth Warren’s “balanced approach”

When Warren laid out the approach in a debate with departing Sen. Scott Brown during the campaign, it instantly entered the progressive canon… And the plan has widespread support beyond just liberals, progressives argue. Case in point, the PCCC polled voters in two swing states (Virginia and New Hampshire), and in Obama’s home state of Illinois, about Warren’s plan. The poll, conducted by PPP and shared with Salon before its release, didn’t mention Warren’s name, but asked about individual components. All had broad support.

Senator Tom Harkin Says Any ‘Balanced’ Fiscal Deal Must Include 1-To-1 Ratio Of Cuts To Revenue

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

As Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate over the contours of a fiscal deal, many Democrats have propositioned the idea that any agreement should include a ratio of cuts-to-revenue of 2-to-1. This is a model that President Obama chose for his most recent budget request, for example.

But 2-to-1 isn’t balanced. Balanced means at least equal parts cuts and revenue. Progressive Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has stepped up to the plate and unveiled a new petition to Obama that not only calls on him to reject damaging cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, but also assure a 1-to-1 ratio of cuts to revenue in any deal:

Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has a credible approach to dealing with the deficit over the long term that lays out specific cuts to wasteful spending as well as making the rich pay their fair share in taxes.

Here’s her alternative, truly “balanced approach” to tackling the deficit. During a campaign debate, she laid out a popular vision for dealing with the debt: cut back on wasteful military and agriculture subsidy spending, and make the rich pay their fair share with higher tax rates. Watch Warren explain:

Show your support for Warren’s “balanced approach” by clicking here to add your name as a citizen supporter of her vision.

SALON: Liberals double down: No entitlement cuts

In a story already making waves across Washington, Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen reported this morning that a bipartisan “grand bargain” is emerging from talks between the White House and Republicans. The contours of the deal are this: About $1.2 trillion in new tax revenue, most likely from an rate increase on income over $250,000, along with at least $400 billion over 10 years in entitlement cuts “and perhaps a lot more,” mostly from Medicare.

Liberals have drawn a hard line against entitlement cuts and $400 billion is a lot of money, so some progressives are not pleased with the idea….However, there’s an important caveat that’s missing from the deal described by Politico… The details of the cuts in the Politico article were vague, and it’s unclear if they represents real cuts to benefits or not. “That’s a crucial distinction,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “What’s worried some about the Politico article is that it kind of tossed in reforms or efficiencies along with talk about raising the Medicare retirement age or adjusting the cost of living adjustment — those two things would essentially start a nuclear war on the left,” Green said. “Those are the two big things. Those are benefit cuts. Those actively hurt seniors.” But Green said he was encouraged by Durbin’s speech yesterday, and he doesn’t think raising the retirement age is a real possibility.