Progressive Breakfast for January 29

Morning Message

Let’s Take Apart The Corporate Case For Fast Track Trade Authority

The promoters of fast track say we need it to push “trade” agreements through Congress to expand trade and increase exports. “What we’re going to do through this trade agreement is open up markets,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told Congress Tuesday, “and then level the playing field so we can protect workers, protect American jobs and then ensure a fair and level playing field by raising labor and environmental standards, raising intellectual property rights, standards and enforcement, making sure that we’re putting disciplines on state-owned enterprises that pose a real threat to workers.” These corporate arguments ... just make me more skeptical of what they are selling. Here’s why...

Obama Fires Shot In Budget Battle

“Obama Wants To End The Era Of Sequestration” reports HuffPost: “President Barack Obama will propose a budget on Monday that calls for an estimated 6.8 percent increase in discretionary spending [which] would be offset by cutting spending and closing tax loopholes … For Republicans, the proposal will likely be perceived as fiscally reckless, if not politically brazen … it’s hard to see how a budget agreement will be hashed out.”

Dems hope to ally with McCain on budget. NYT: “Democrats … hope Republican defense hawks such as Senator John McCain of Arizona, the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, will push Republican leaders to increase military spending, something Democrats will not accept without more domestic spending.”

Obama to press Republicans to fund Homeland Security, drop immigration fight. The Hill: “… the president is expected to seize on a suggestion from some Republicans that they allow funding for the department to lapse if they are unable to secure concessions … But while the White House is amplifying its call for a clean bill, it isn’t ruling out accepting provisions that would make the legislation more appealing to House Republicans, provided that Obama’s executive actions remain untouched.”

Germany should rethink austerity after Greece vote, argues W. Post’s Harold Meyerson: “…the policies that Angela Merkel’s government have inflicted on the nations of Southern Europe could not be more different from those that European leaders and the United States devised in the early 1950s to enable West Germany to rebuild its damaged economy … But the considerations that informed Germany’s creditors six decades ago are just as pertinent today.”

Momentum For Corporate Tax Giveaway

Repatriation-for-infrastructure swap in the works. USA Today: “The legislation is still a work in progress. But the broad outlines call for giving U.S. corporations a tax break on profits earned overseas — bringing much of that money back to the U.S. and raising an estimated $170 billion in new revenue. Lawmakers want to use $120 billion of that windfall to shore up the nearly empty Highway Trust Fund for the next six years and direct another $50 billion to the creation of an American Infrastructure Fund. That account would provide loans and other financing tools to states and cities for a gamut of infrastructure projects, from sewer improvements to broadband access … House Speaker John Boehner [and] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky [are] both endorsing the general concept…”

WH pushes public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment. Roll Call: “The administration’s idea is to combine some of the most attractive features of public-private partnerships with those of wholly public projects. Local governments would get a private equity partner willing to share the risk of a project, while the private sector would get access to low-interest loans. The program would require congressional approval, and some observers think it may have a good chance among lawmakers … because receipts from the federal excise tax on motor fuel have been inadequate.”

Senate Keystone Vote Today

Keystone debate wrapping up. The Hill: “The Senate voted Wednesday afternoon and into the evening on a series of 14 amendments after two were withdrawn. All but one failed. An amendment offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on energy retrofitting of schools passed by voice vote. On Thursday, the Senate will vote on at least six more amendments to the bill and then likely hold the final vote. “

Politico explores Obama’s nuanced strategy on oil: “…he’s pushing an executive action to seal off 1.2 million acres of Arctic land from drilling. He’s in a showdown with Republicans over the Keystone XL pipeline, yet just this week he proposed opening a huge swath of the Atlantic coast to oil exploration … Obama’s supporters insist he’s taken a pragmatic stance on oil and gas … But that middle path has often infuriated his green supporters …”

“House panel agrees to prioritize climate change” reports The Hill: “The Republican-led House Natural Resources Committee agreed to put climate change on its agenda over the next two years … A committee aide said Bishop and the Republicans agreed to the climate change provision in an effort to set a ‘tone of collegiality and working across the aisle.'”