Progressive Breakfast for July 1

Morning Message

Greece’s Agonies, Europe’s Shame

The Greeks have been badly served by their oligarchs who avoid responsibility and taxes and by their governments that have been corrupt and incompetent. But this catastrophe is Europe’s failure. It is a failure, as economists from Paul Krugman to Milton Friedman argue, of design: a monetary union without a political union to provide unified fiscal policies. And it is a failure of ideology: a rigid insistence on austerity policies even after their failure has been acknowledged.

Greece Goes Over The Edge

Greece misses IMF payment. W. Post: “The $1.67 billion missed payment to the IMF was unlikely by itself to spur immediate problems for the global economy, since it affected only a government-backed institution, not private investors. But if Greece is ultimately forced off the euro, other troubled euro-zone economies such as Portugal could be seen as more vulnerable. The exit could also weaken the goal of ever-closer European integration.”

Tsipras extends olive branch. NYT: “…Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece was ‘prepared to accept’ a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention on issues like pension cuts and tax increases. Mr. Tsipras linked Greece’s acceptance of the terms to a new package of bailout aid that would need to be negotiated.”

Germany PM Merkel says that offer now off the table. NYT: “‘With the expiration of the program, the basis for the offer has been removed,’ Ms. Merkel said.”

Poll shows Greeks will vote “No.” Bloomberg: “. The survey, in Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, showed 54 percent would vote ‘no’ — rejecting austerity in exchange for aid — and 33 percent would vote ‘yes’ — accepting austerity as the price of staying in the euro.”

Push To Secure Overtime Rule

EPI encourages public comments in support of Obama’s overtime rule: “The Department of Labor just proposed a plan to protect an estimated 5 million additional workers from overtime abuse. And now they need to hear from you.”

Overtime rule “only scratches the surface of the bigger problem” says NYT: “… the affluent have captured a rising share in recent decades, leaving the wages of everyone else to stagnate … there are two main approaches that promise to increase middle-class wages considerably. The first would be to improve the bargaining power of workers … The second type of policy change would be to limit the incomes of those nearest the top of the ladder…”

Unskilled labor seeing wage gains. Bloomberg: “Average hourly earnings in industries paying less than $12.50 an hour a year ago rose 3.2 percent in the 12 months through April, about 1 percentage point more than wage growth for the job market as a whole … It is being driven in part by state governments raising their minimum wages, and also through voluntary decisions by companies to raise employees’ pay.”

Scott Walker’s union busting hasn’t helped workers. The Atlantic’s Donald Kettl: “The $3 billion he saved in his first term was certainly something. But that amounted to less than 1 percent of overall state and local government spending over that time period. Those savings came from the pockets of teachers and other public servants who are also taxpayers and whose compensation, by most measures, was not out of line. The law Walker signed didn’t contribute to the fiscal health of the state’s public pension fund.”

Breakfast Sides

Leaked TPP draft shows US pushing Big Pharma line. Politico: “A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law … The highly technical 90-page document, cluttered with objections from other TPP nations, shows that U.S. negotiators have fought aggressively and, at least [as of May 11], successfully on behalf of Big Pharma.”

Ed Department goes after for-profits. Politico: “Its latest tool is the Education Department’s long-debated ‘gainful employment’ rule, which requires colleges to track their graduates’ performance in the workforce and eventually will cut off funding for career training programs that fall short. The rule — upheld by a court ruling last week and set to take effect Wednesday — will trigger the closure of 1,400 programs that together enroll 840,000 students.”

De Blasio slams Cuomo in NYT interview: “Mr. Cuomo, the mayor said, had acted vindictively toward the city, citing cuts in state financing for public housing and what he called an abrupt ramp-up of state inspections of city homeless shelters ‘with a vigor we had never seen before.'”