Progressive Breakfast for March 5

Morning Message

Congressional Progressive Caucus Offers A Real Alternative on Trade

... to date, the debate over TPP and fast track has produced more heat than light. The president and his allies keep puffing the treaty’s potential to increase exports without mentioning what it will do for imports. They keep arguing the treaty will have the strongest labor rights provisions ever, while ignoring the fact that Vietnam, designated as the major low-wage producer in the deal, doesn’t even allow independent trade unions ... This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus broke through this mire, releasing its “Principles for Trade: A Model for Global Progress.” The principles lay out elements of an alternative trade strategy, one built to benefit workers, not investors, and to serve the public interest, not the special interests of global companies and banks.

All Eyes On Wyden

Impasse on fast-track. W. Post: “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters that his plans to introduce legislation to grant the administration additional powers to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership … would be delayed until April … [Sen. Ron] Wyden said his additional demands from Hatch are aimed at answering concerns from fellow Democrats for more public accountability in trade agreements.”

Wyden wants fast-track “shut off.” NYT: “[Wyden is] trying to thread a maddeningly narrow needle with proposals that would placate Democrats who worry that any such deal will hasten the loss of United States manufacturing jobs while assuring Republicans that he is not undermining the free flow of global commerce … ‘Right now it’s kind of stuck because I think some of the Democrats want things that we just can’t give them,’ Mr. Hatch said on Tuesday … [Wyden] remains adamant that if the president brings forward a trade deal that falls short of the standards expected by lawmakers, Congress should be able to suspend trade-promotion authority so members can amend it.”

Swing Justices In Play On Obamacare

“Did John Roberts Tip His Hand?” asks The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin: “Anthony Kennedy had asked about ‘Chevron deference,’ a doctrine of law that describes how much leeway the executive branch should have in interpreting laws. [The Solicitor General], not surprisingly, said that the Chevron doctrine gave the Obama Administration more than adequate permission to read the law to allow subsidies on the federal exchange. ‘If you’re right about Chevron,’ Roberts said, at long last, ‘that would indicate that a subsequent Administration could change that interpretation?’ Perhaps it could, Verrilli conceded. The question suggests a route out of the case for Roberts—and the potential for a victory for the Obama Administration.”

Justice Kennedy also may uphold. W. Post’s Ruth Marcus: “Kennedy’s concern involved whether prohibiting subsidies on federal exchanges would be unfair — not to citizens denied subsidies, mind you, but to states themselves. States, Kennedy noted, would be put to the coercive choice of either setting up their own exchanges or being stuck with the ensuing disaster … ‘It seems to me that under your argument, perhaps you will prevail in the plain words of the statute, there’s a serious constitutional problem if we accept your argument.'”

Bernie Frets About Prez Run

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to know if support is there for a presidential run, in Buzzfeed interview: “If I do it, it has to be done well. And that’s not just for my ego. The worst thing I could do is run a poor campaign without the organizational support, without the money — and then have people say that the ideas themselves are ideas that people don’t support.”

Warren told Hillary to cut Wall Street ties. Politico: “In December, the former secretary of state invited Warren to her mansion on Whitehaven Street in Washington … Warren suggested that the probable Democratic frontrunner do more to distance herself from the titans of finance and advised her to stock the White House economic team and Treasury Department with fewer big-bank Wall Street types and more outsiders …”

Democrats prepare effort to win back state legislatures. Politico: “A delegation of about 20 Democratic state legislators from around the country representing a group called the State Innovation Exchange is planning to huddle on Thursday and Friday with administration officials in the White House, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Hill and with policy experts at the Center for American Progress.”

Breakfast Sides

Republicans push bill through Senate overturning union election reform. AP: “The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted 53 to 46 to kill a National Labor Relations Board rule reducing the time between a union’s request for representation and a vote by workers on it. The legislation now goes to the House … the Senate vote indicates that supporters are far from the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override him.”

Sen. McConnell urges states to ignore EPA climate rules. NYT: “‘Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,’ Mr. McConnell wrote [in an oped].”

Corporations are skimming off the top, instead of investing in the economy. W. Post’s Harold Meyerson: “In the 1960s and ’70s, about 40 cents of every dollar that a corporation either borrowed or realized in net earnings went into investment in its facilities, research or new hires. Since the ’80s, however, just 10 cents of those dollars have gone to investment … the money that once went to expansion and new ventures has gone instead into shareholders’ pockets.”

CFPB readying payday lender rules for this month. The Hill: “…it is likely to target short-term loans, including those requiring a borrower’s car title as collateral. The CFPB is also believed to be weighing restrictions on lenders’ ability to automatically roll over loans and electronically debit payments from customers’ bank accounts, as well as language requiring them to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan.”