Progressive Breakfast for June 30

Morning Message

In Tax Battles, “Competitiveness” Means Coercion

There are two areas where the corporations are coming at us. The first is a blatant grab to keep somewhere up to $700 billion in tax money they already owe on “offshore” profits. The second is a push to permanently cut corporate tax rates – even more ... Do not let Congress do anything that lets these companies pay less than the 35 percent they already owe on “offshore profits.” And any future tax rate on offshore profits that is lower than the rate on U.S. profits will make guarantee that every remaining factory, penny of profit, etc. leaves the country for a mailbox in the Cayman Islands.

Obama To Give Workers A Raise

President Obama announces expanded overtime pay on HuffPost: “… we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work. This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year …”

Five million more workers expected to get a raise. NYT: “The rule, which would most likely be completed in 2016, would give workers whose salary is between the current threshold and the new threshold a raise if they work more than 40 hours a week … economists believe that many employers will most likely reduce workers’ hours so as to save on overtime pay [though] any attempt to scale back hours could increase hiring.”

Earlier rumors suggested Obama would settle for less. Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson: “Early in 2015, the rumor was that the Obama administration would raise the threshold to around $42,000, an amount that would have covered around 35 percent of salaried workers, or an additional 3.5 million. That’s a big boost, but by contrast, in 1975, 65 percent of salaried workers were covered. Progressives hoped for better than $42,000 from this administration … and will get it.”

New York moves toward higher minimum for fast-food workers. NYT: “The three-man panel, known as a wage board, agreed that fast-food restaurants that are parts of national chains should be required to pay more than the state’s minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. But the panel said it was not ready to make a full recommendation … [One] member, Mike Fishman, said the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour…”

Greece To Stiff IMF Today

“Greece Staggers Into Economic Unknown With Bailout Expiring” reports Bloomberg: “[Greece PM] Tsipras and his creditors are brawling amid a landscape transformed by his shock call for a July 5 referendum. While he labels it a vote on austerity, his counterparts in Berlin and Paris say it’s nothing less than a decision on whether to remain in the euro. The ballot may be rendered moot by an unpaid bill to the IMF; that could prompt the European Central Bank to withdraw its lifeline — now frozen — to the country.”

Europe speculates on Tsipras’ endgame. NYT: “To some critics, Mr. Tsipras turned to the referendum as a last-ditch play to retain power … To others, he was a study in ideological conviction … But there was also a case to be made that, by accident or design, he had actually succeeded in intensifying the crisis in a way that could provide him with additional leverage should negotiations get back on track.”

Lights Out At Ex-Im Bank

Ex-Im Bank charter expires today, but fight not over. W. Post: “…at midnight Tuesday, the bank will lose its authority to extend new taxpayer-backed loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods sold abroad, buoying conservatives who have mounted a years-long campaign to eliminate an institution they say represents the worst of big government … But the victory may not last. Congressional Democrats and many Republicans remain determined to reverse that step this month…”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushing tobacco around the world. NYT: “From Ukraine to Uruguay, Moldova to the Philippines, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its foreign affiliates have become the hammer for the tobacco industry, engaging in a worldwide effort to fight antismoking laws of all kinds…”

Fast Track Is Law

Obama signs fast track legislation, pushes for transportation bill next. W. Post quotes: “”This is… a reminder of what we can get done on even the toughest of issues if we compromise. I hope we can summon that effort on future challenges, including rebuilding our roads and bridges and infrastructure around the country.”

U.S. trade rep Michael Froman moves to finalize a slew of negotiations. Politico: “[Said Froman,] ‘We want to get TPP done and through Congress. We want to get TTIP negotiated. We’re going to finish ITA. I’m hoping to finish EGA and TISA.’ Those would be, in order: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union, an even bigger pact than the TPP in terms of economic size; the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement, which covers about 97 percent of world IT trade; the Environmental Goods Agreement, accounting for 86 percent international commerce in green goods; and the 24-party Trade in International Services Agreement, which involves three-quarters of the United States’ gross domestic product and two-thirds of the world’s services, such as banking and communications.”

Small Win For Coal

Supreme Court blocks EPA mercury rule. The Atlantic: ” The 5-4 decision found that the EPA had violated the Clean Air Act by not considering the cost of compliance before deciding to limit mercury pollution. The government had argued that it considered the cost throughout its process of writing the mercury rules, but not at the outset … the narrow nature of Scalia’s ruling doesn’t offer much of a signal either way about how the Court might rule on EPA [climate] regulations going forward.”

Won’t do much for coal, argues Politico’s Michael Grunwald: “…the agency shouldn’t have too much trouble demonstrating that the costs of the rule (which it has already calculated are much less than the benefits) are not too high to go forward … But even if the mercury rule dies … most of America’s dirtiest coal plants have either been scheduled for retirement or retrofitted with modern control technologies