Progressive Breakfast for November 24

Morning Message

Keep on Steppin’, Mr. President

Instead of suing for peace, the president would be wise to keep on steppin’. President Obama has already shown the way not only on immigration but with the historic agreement on climate with the Chinese ... and his firm support for net neutrality ... There are many critical areas where action is long overdue. Here are some suggestions ... issue a pardon to all those non-violent offenders who have served their sentences [then] call on all states to join in ending disenfranchisement for ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society ... Give procurement preference to employers that pay a living wage, provide good benefits and allow their workers to organize and bargain collectively ... he can act to restore normal diplomatic relations [with Cuba], expand travel opportunities, lift private investment restrictions, and end the cap on remittances...

GOP Struggles To Control Agenda

Republicans rail against immigration action, still lack plan. Bloomberg: “Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Republicans are instead weighing whether to use ‘the power of the purse’ to cut off funding. ‘We are not going to shut the government down,’ McCaul said … ‘But we are going to shut down the president and his actions as it pertains to granting amnesty to five million people.'”

GOP may install ideologue at CBO. Mother Jones’ Erika Eichelberger: “Republicans have long claimed that tax cuts lead to greater economic activity that inexorably yields more tax revenues—a point much disputed. But Ryan, who in January will head up the House Ways and Means committee—which has jurisdiction over tax reform—and his fellow GOPers are looking to enshrine this Republican belief into the hard and fast calculations of Capitol Hill’s number-crunchers.”

Stalemate over expiring tax breaks. The Hill: “…with almost three weeks left before lawmakers want to break for the year, House GOP tax writers are still pushing to get as many business-friendly incentives – like those for research and expensing – extended without an expiration date, as they can. If a deal between the two chambers can’t be reached, House Republicans are saying the best they might be able to do is extend tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013 only through the end of this year … In the Senate, Democrats aren’t rejecting that approach out of hand, but are also putting the idea of indefinitely extending tax breaks for working families into negotiations.”

Incoming GOP majority may be preoccupied with leftover legislative housekeeping. Politico: “…their new agenda will be consumed with leftover business, a reality check for many in the party who had hoped to come out swinging in the new year on tax reform, trade deals, energy legislation and changes to Obamacare … When Congress returns in December, not only will lawmakers have to figure out the length of a government funding bill, they must decide whether to extend a package of expiring corporate and individual tax breaks and reauthorize a terrorism insurance program. If those items slip into next year, they’ll just be added onto the pile.”

America Struggles With Crumbling Infrastructure

CBS’ 60 Minutes investigates our crumbling infrastructure, need for higher gas tax: “… the U.S., which used to have the finest infrastructure in the world, is now ranked 16th according to the World Economic Forum, behind Iceland, Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a fact that’s not been lost the most powerful economic and political lobbies in the country who believe the inaction threatens the country’s economic future. Big corporations like Caterpillar and GE say it’s hurting their ability to compete abroad. And at a Senate hearing earlier this year Tom Donohue, president of the generally conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce voiced strong business support for raising the gas tax for the first time in 20 years.”

Some North Dakotans souring on oil boom. NYT: “The giant oil spill in Tioga in September 2013 frightened people, as did the explosion months later of a derailed oil train, which sent black smoke mushrooming over a snowy plain. The engine of an oil train that derailed and exploded in a collision near the governor’s hometown, Casselton, in December 2013. Then, this year, North Dakotans learned of discovery after discovery of illegally dumped oil filter socks, the ‘used condoms’ of the oil industry, which contain radiation dislodged from deep underground. Suddenly a percolating anxiety came uncorked.”

“Corporate America Is Using the Sharing Economy to Turn Us Into Temps” argues TNR’s Noam Scheiber: “Over the last year or so, a handful of startups have begun helping companies find workers to complete their odd jobs … the basic model is to make it frighteningly easy for companies to outsource work. If the model catches on, most companies may one day employ only a small cadre of full-timers, which they beef up with freelancers as the need arises.”