FROM Clive Crook
Is It Time to Increase the Minimum Wage? President Obama wants Congress to " give America a raise ." But Republicans say it would be a disaster for small business. But, even if Washington fails to increase the minimum wage, states and cities already are acting on their own, along with a major employer: Gap clothing. The Congressional Budget Office warns a federal hike might cause 500,000 jobs to disappear — at the same time almost a million people could be lifted out of poverty. We look at what's happening around the country and the potential consequences for this year's congressional elections.
Political Dysfunction in Washington Hurting the Economy and American Credibility With government offices closed, the Pentagon says it won’t pay death benefits to the families of combat casualties. Billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett compares failure to raise the debt ceiling to “a nuclear bomb.” How long can the US government lead the free world if it can’t keep its doors open or pay its bills? As Republicans and the White House hint at potential fixes, how long are they liable to last? Is there any permanent solution? There’s a slight crack in the political pavement today from two influential right-wing advocacy groups. Heritage Action and Freedom Works are still adamant about keeping the government shut down until Obamacare is de-funded. But both say that refusing to increase the debt ceiling is going too far. President Obama says his Treasury Secretary is running out of emergency powers. Speaker Boehner responded that the President is demanding that Republicans “capitulate” before talks can begin.
The Mythology of the Middle Class The convention halls in both Tampa and Charlotte echoed with outreach to the Middle Class, starting with the wives of both candidates for the White House. Both Democrats and Republicans are campaigning with traditional appeals to "the Middle Class." Is that a phrase that's losing its meaning? Do the party platforms offer credible promises about helping Americans fulfill "the American Dream?" Graphis: EN2008/flickr
Republicans, Democrats and 'the Middle Class' In both Tampa and Charlotte, speaker after speaker tried to identify with "the Middle Class" and echoed the theme of upward mobility and fulfillment of "the American Dream." That's been a staple of presidential campaigns since the end of World War II. But in recent decades, "the Middle Class" has been shrinking. Do Democrats and Republicans even agree any more on what "Middle Class" really means? Do potential voters still share "the American Dream?" We hear about traditional slogans, contemporary realities and this year's promises from both political parties.
Will the Senate and Congress Pass the Debt-Ceiling Deal? Late last night, the President and Congressional leaders announced a debt-ceiling deal . The trade-off is deficit reduction that relies entirely on spending cuts and no increases in taxes. It still may not pass both houses, but here's how it stands. Almost no Democrats are willing to go past tomorrow's deadline without raising the debt ceiling. But a lot of Republicans are willing to risk the first default in American history. It's a dynamic that doesn't create a deal so much as it creates a "ransom." We hear what the President and leaders of Congress agreed to and what it could mean for their partisan rank and file, the American people and the global economy.
Will the Senate and Congress Pass the Debt-Ceiling Deal? Late last night, the President and Congressional leaders announced a debt-ceiling deal . The need for last night's so-called compromise was forced by Tea Party Republicans ready to risk the first default in American history, but they still might not vote for it. The President says he had no choice but to reduce the debt with drastic cuts and no revenue, so angry liberal Democrats might not vote for it either. It's a dynamic that doesn't create a deal so much as it creates a "ransom." If it does pass, the spending cuts might further slow the economic recovery. It won't create jobs, and it lets unemployment extensions expire for 14 million Americans. We hear about the terms of the deal and what might happen if it passes — or fails.
Debt Showdown: Playing Politics with the US Economy E-mail and phone lines are jammed on Capitol Hill, and there's a nasty Twitter campaign against all of Washington. But despite the impending deadline, Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the debt ceiling. House Republicans and Senate Democrats are each working on plans unacceptable to the other, and President Obama is still talking about compromising on a Big Deal, including new revenue. He says the "hard deadline" is next Tuesday, August 2 when the government will run out of borrowing authority. But it's now reported that there will still be enough money to pay the bills until August 10. One of our gests calls it "The Politics of Calamity."
Deadlock on Capitol Hill The US is advancing toward the once-unthinkable prospect of default by next Tuesday, August 2, unless it turns out to be August 10 instead. While President Obama talks about "compromising" on a Big Deal, including new revenue, he's threatened to veto the Republicans' plan and Republicans won't vote for a Democratic alternative. Sarah Palin is the latest Republican to accuse the President of "fear mongering," but the head of the IMF says US default would be "very, very, very serious." In the midst of all the uncertainty, are both parties playing with economic disaster? Is it really all about next year's elections?
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.