Progressive Breakfast for April 28

Morning Message

How TPP Increases Corporate Power vs. Government – And Us

Power is the ability to control, to tell what to do, to get your way. Corporations have a lot of power over working people in our country now, and they might be about to get a lot more. The proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) tell us that it will have unprecedented 'progressive' protections for the rights of working people, the environment, even wildlife. So there is likely to be flowery-sounding language in TPP, just as President Obama says. What matters is whether there will be clear and guaranteed enforceability of those words.

Would Republicans Bail On Fast Track?

Republicans feeling pressure to reject fast track. The Hill: “Republican leaders are facing dissent within their own caucus because of currency manipulation and immigration concerns. ‘The polling is bad, and some people are getting nervous,’ said a GOP senator who requested anonymity to talk about his conversations with colleagues … Republican leaders can only afford to lose fewer than 10 caucus members.”

Some Republicans want currency manipulation addressed in TPP. Roll Call: “Sen. Rob Portman intends to bring an amendment to the floor as part of the ‘fast-track’ debate that would make it a ‘principal negotiating objective’ under TPA to create enforceable rules to combat unfair currency practices … [It] could resurface on the floor as early as next week …”

Obama talks rice and cars with Japanese PM. Politico: “Washington wants Japan to raise the cap on the amount of rice the U.S. can sell to the country without tariffs, which can top 778 percent. Tokyo wants the U.S., long protective of its auto industry, to drop tariffs on cars, trucks and auto parts … a Japanese official close to the negotiations told POLITICO the talks have progressed far enough that the two countries are likely to clinch a deal in the next few weeks, removing the biggest hurdle to inking the broader pact, which, in turn, could happen by late May.”

Obama agrees with Hillary in WSJ interview: “I think she said what she should be saying, which is that she is going to want to see a trade agreement that is strong on labor, strong on the environment, helps U.S. workers, helps the U.S. economy. That’s my standard as well, and I’m confident that standard can be met.”

AFL-CIO President Trumka delivers address today intended to set the bar for Hillary. Politico: “…Clinton’s policy team has been in touch with the AFL-CIO’s team to vet policy ideas, and the campaign has contacted the policy director of every major union since Clinton launched her White House run earlier this month … Trumka is expected to use his Tuesday address to promote the Raising Wages initiative that pressures politicians to increase worker pay …”

House, Senate GOP Agree On Budget (Almost)

House, Senate reach budget deal. NYT: “The deal would increase military spending and take aim at President Obama’s signature health care law. It would also cut education and entitlement programs, like Medicare…”

Republicans drop Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization. Politico: “Dropping both Ryan’s Medicare premium support language and instructions for more than a dozen House committees to squeeze more savings out of government programs will help protect vulnerable Republicans, particularly in the Senate, from Democratic attack ads in the coming election. And moving to protect billions in additional Pentagon spending will bolster support with defense hawks in both chambers.”

But Sen. Bob Corker blocks budget deal from reaching floor. Politico: “Corker’s vote is needed to advance the fiscal blueprint, which GOP leadership hopes to pass this week … Rumors are running wild among budget followers both on and off the Hill that it could be related to his objections to provisions in the budget that boost Pentagon spending without offsets … or even have nothing to do with the budget deal at all, but Iran … Republican critics of the Iran deal are plotting to try to trample it with amendments that, if adopted, could tank the bipartisan agreement Corker carefully crafted …”

Greece In Limbo

Impasse in Greek talks. NYT: “…with Greece nearly out of cash and talks with the country’s creditors at an impasse, regulators, investors and economists are coming around to a view that after five years of endless analysis and speculation, no one really knows how the markets will react.”

Greek PM Tsipras suggests voters may have to ratify any deal. Bloomberg: “Tsipras said his mandate is to negotiate an accord with euro-area member states and the International Monetary Fund ‘that won’t repeat the vicious circle of austerity, misery and pillage; a solution with prospects and within the European framework.’ If the deal ‘exceeds that mandate,’ then “Greek people will have to decide, obviously not through elections,” he said when asked about the possibility of a snap poll or a referendum.”

Breakfast Sides

UK growth slows, damaging Conservative re-election hopes. Bloomberg: “The 0.3 percent pace was just half the rate of the previous three months and marked the weakest reading since the fourth quarter of 2012 … Labour leader Ed Miliband has said the recovery hasn’t lifted living standards for most people. ‘While the Tories have spent months patting themselves on the back these figures show they have not fixed the economy for working families,’ said Ed Balls, the party’s economy spokesman.”

Pope Francis readies summer encyclical on climate change. NYT: “…top Vatican officials will hold a summit meeting Tuesday to build momentum for a campaign by Francis to urge world leaders to enact a sweeping United Nations climate change accord in Paris … In the United States, the encyclical will be accompanied by a 12-week campaign … climate policy advocates see a scheduled address by the pope to Congress in September as a potent moment … Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, invited the pope to speak to Congress … Boehner, who is Catholic, has often criticized the Obama administration for what he calls its ‘job killing’ environmental agenda … a number of Catholics — including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum — are gearing up to compete for the Republican presidential nomination, and most of them question the science of human-caused climate change.”