Progressive Breakfast for October 6

Morning Message

What You Should Know About That Completed TPP “Trade” Deal

The effect the deal will have on actual “trade” is unclear, since the U.S. already has trade agreements with many of the participating countries. Also much of the deal appears to be about things people would not usually consider “trade”, like investor rights and limits on the ability of countries to regulate ... Expect a massive and massively funded corporate PR push. The biggest corporations very much want TPP. It massively benefits the interests of giant corporations and the “investor” class, even as it incentivizes moving jobs and production out of the U.S.

TPP Faces Tough Road In Congress

Populist sentiment threatens congressional approval. Politico: “…Speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy will have to tame an unruly tea party caucus to push the agreement through the House. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch supporter of free trade, is angry over a provision that would prevent tobacco companies from suing governments over anti-tobacco laws … With populism animating the base of both parties, a trade pact is bound to be unpopular with many early-primary voters who already feel disconnected from government …”

Congressional vote may not be until spring. W. Post: “…it could take a while to get it through Congress with aides not expecting votes on the trade pact to start until early April, though even that timing is very fluid.”

Clinton could go either way. Politico: “The deal is one of the most ambitious items left on Barack Obama’s White House bucket list. But his former secretary of state owns it too, even though she has expressed increasing ambivalence about its details and could soon disown it outright, as some in her circle have suggested.”

“China cautiously welcomes Trans-Pacific free trade deal” reports BBC: “China said it was ‘open to any mechanism’ that follows World Trade Organization rules. But it did not indicate it would join the TPP, which still needs to be ratified by lawmakers in each country.”

Complicated impact predicted for American industries. NYT: “Critics of the pharmaceutical industry, while welcoming the shortening of the exclusivity period, said that the trade agreement as a whole would still impede access to affordable medicines, particularly for the less-developed countries in the pact … For steel makers, auto-parts manufacturers, garment companies and solar panel producers … one question is whether the gradual reduction of import tariffs and other trade barriers will unintentionally provide a back door for more Chinese goods to enter the United States.”

OECD proposes stronger international tax system. WSJ: “The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Monday issued a series of recommendations aimed at stopping large companies in many industries from avoiding paying hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes every year through baroque structures that are legal, but have come under increasing political pressure, particularly in Europe.”

Speaker Vote Looms

Final Speaker vote set for Oct. 29th. Reuters: “On Thursday, House Republicans will meet privately to choose their party’s nominee for speaker. The entire House – both Republicans and Democrats – will then vote in an open session three weeks later … many … conservatives have withheld their support so far for any candidate, making the outcome uncertain.”

Boehner could strike deal to limit Medicare premium increases. NYT: “Congress and the Obama administration are frantically seeking ways to hold down Medicare premiums that could rise by roughly 50 percent for some beneficiaries next year … Aides to Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, and Speaker John A. Boehner are quietly exploring a possible deal … Premium increases could affect about 30 percent of the 51 million people enrolled in Part B of Medicare…”

Breakfast Sides

Projected drop in global poverty. HuffPost: “[The World Bank’s] latest projections expect the number of people who survive on $1.90 a day to drop from 12.8 percent of the human population in 2012 to 9.6 percent this year. That means 702 million people still struggle to survive. But that’s a stunning decline from the numbers reported over the last 25 years. According to the World Bank, 37.1 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty in 1990.”

Renewable energy as affordable as ever. Bloomberg: “Wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both Germany and the U.K., even without government subsidies … once a solar or wind project is built, the marginal cost of the electricity it produces is pretty much zero … If you’re a power company with a choice, you choose the free stuff every time.”