Morning Briefing: September 14, 2011

The income of the typical American family dropped for the third year in a row, putting it at 1996 levels when adjusted for inflation, according to a new Census report. The median earnings for men who work full-time year round is particularly troubling, hitting a low not seen since 1978, when adjusted for inflation.

Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf warned supercommittee members Tuesday that making deep spending cuts now could slow the economic recovery. The “most effective way” to boost the recovery, Elmendorf said, would be “changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit now but narrow it later in the decade.”

Three House Democrats will introduce a bill to eliminate the federal debt ceiling today, viewing it as “truly arbitrary” restriction that “has nothing to do with the deficit.” Reps. Jerrold Nadler (NY), Jim Moran (VA), and Hank Johnson (GA) say the Full Faith and Credit Act of 2011 will help “keep parties from using a potential default as a hostage in future budget debates.”

Voter frustration spurred two Republicans to victory in two separate special elections yesterday with Republican “political novice” Bob Turner upsetting the Democrat in New York’s 9th district to take former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D) seat, and Republican Mark Amodei “won a landslide victory” in Nevada. Republicans are seizing these victories “as a reason to push back on Obama’s proposed $447 billion jobs program.”


Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren announced her intention to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in the 2012 election. Warren built President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the ground up. In a statement, she said, “The pressures on middle-class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington. … I want to change that.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) does not think Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) comments disparaging Social Security will harm his bid for the presidency. “I think everybody realizes it’s an issue that we have to deal with,” Scott said during an appearance on MSNBC.

Yesterday on the View, former Vice President Dick Cheney commented on marriage equality, saying, “I think freedom means freedom for everybody and you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation.”

Roughly 5,400 former congressional staffers and 400 former U.S. lawmakers have become lobbyists in the last 10 years, and 605 former lobbyists left K Street to work for members of Congress in the last decade, according to documents published by LegiStorm, an online disclosure site. “That represents a large network of people to influence decisions and to provide valuable intelligence,” said Jock Friedly, founder of LegiStorm.

Walmart will announce today new programs meant to help women workers and women-owned businesses as it continues to deal with potential claims of sexual discrimination. The company plans to spend $20 billion on products from women-owned businesses in the next five years, fund training programs for women at its suppliers, and donate $100 million to causes supporting women’s economic development.


And finally: Former Vice President Al Gore made a rare reference to Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert’s faux on-air persona, pushing the fourth wall when he said Keith Olberman “scares Fox News and he scares your character, absolutely, as he should.” Colbert sat “stone-faced,” for a moment, then both men burst out laughing. “My character?” Colbert screamed. “What the hell are you talking about, sir?”

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