Progressive Breakfast for July 28

Morning Message

Haunted by Student Debt to the Grave

... the government is withholding Social Security payments for some retirees because their student loans have not been fully repaid ... Many people will be surprised to learn that any seniors are still paying off their student debt. They are: 706,000 households headed by someone 65 or older are still paying off their student debts ... Of those households, 191,000 – more than one in four – are in default ... we must stop the practice of garnishing Social Security payments to pay student debt. Then we must take a long, hard look at all the student debt that has been accumulated in this country.

House, Senate Dig In On Transportation Bill

Senate nears final vote on highway trust fund bill. The Hill: “Senators voted 62-32 [Monday night] on a procedural vote to end debate … The move sets a 30-hour clock until lawmakers can take a final vote … House leadership has shown no interest in taking up the six-year bill and suggested that it will be dead on arrival when, and if, it reaches the House.”

House may pass three-month extension, lacking Ex-Im Bank restoration, instead. Politico: “The House could vote on the draft legislation by Wednesday … House GOP aides added that the Senate leadership signaled it would accept the new package rather than see highway funding lapse [Friday.]”

Transportation Secretary tries to win Gov. Chris Christie support to build tunnels. NYT: “Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx … sent a letter on Monday to the governors of New York and New Jersey urging them to meet with him in the next two weeks … after a series ofcrippling train delays frustrated tens of thousands of New Jersey Transit riders … In 2010, Mr. Christie canceled a plan to build new tunnels under the river…”

TPP Talks Resume

“Final” round of TPP talks begin with much unsettled. NYT: “Australia and New Zealand are resisting American rules on access for pharmaceutical companies … Vietnam, Mexico and Brunei have far to go to comply with international standards on labor organizing. Canada is so reluctant to open its agricultural market to competition that it might drop out of the talks altogether …”

Some congresspeople criticize WH move to remove Malaysia from human trafficking list. WSJ: “[The move] allows Malaysia to be included in the TPP trade agreement … ‘The Malaysia decision prioritizes trade over trafficking victims and may put millions of U.S. dollars in the pockets of traffickers,’ said Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.). ‘It’s about entry into the TPP, plain and simple.'”

Breakfast Sides

“$15 minimum wage divides Dems,” reports The Hill: “Many liberals on and off Capitol Hill have embraced the $15 figure … Democratic leaders, however, have been reluctant to back it … President Obama has edged his support to higher levels in recent years, from $9 to $10.10 and now $12. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, backed $15 per hour for New York fast-food workers on Friday but hasn’t specified a wage floor for the nation.”

Hillary’s CEO pay proposal reverses Bill Clinton policy. Politico: “In a speech Friday, she signaled that she’ll try to roll back a provision of the tax code which she referred to as “an effort in the 1990s to tie executive compensation to corporate performance, including through the use of stock options.” … the plan didn’t work as Bill Clinton hoped. Instead of keeping CEO pay under control, the new policy saw public companies pile on even more pay in the form of performance incentives like stock options and restricted stock. CEO compensation grew more than twice as fast in the 90s as it had during the 1980s.”

Environmentalists oppose bipartisan energy bill. The Hill: “Eleven major environment and conservation groups came out against a Senate energy policy overhaul bill on Monday. [They oppose] provisions to speed up permitting for liquefied natural gas exports and mining operations, a section repealing a fossil fuel phase-out for federal buildings and changes to hydropower regulations that they say could put fish and wildlife at risk.”