Progressive Breakfast for July 30

Morning Message

Congress’ Transportation Stall Is Our Chance to Mobilize

The Senate is likely as early as today to vote for a three-month extension of surface transportation programs that the House approved on Wednesday, shelving for now a six-year bill the Senate had hoped to pass this week. There will be the usual hand-wringing about Congress being unable to pass relatively uncontroversial bring-home-the-bacon legislation, but this time short-term congressional paralysis offers the chance to prevent a long-term disaster...

Congress’ Fall To-Do List Piles Up

House passes 3-month transportation bill, pushing deadline back to October. The Hill: “The House is adjourning … But senators are planning to stay in Washington next week … to finish a six-year transportation bill to jumpstart conference negotiations … ‘Sen. McConnell and I, while we have a disagreement over this bill … we both want to get to a long-term highway bill,’ Speaker John Boehner [said.]”

Debt limit may also be reached in October. The Hill: “[Treasury Secretary Jack] Lew told lawmakers that while he cannot pinpoint when the nation would be in danger of missing debt payments without a borrowing boost, he was confident he would be able to avoid default until at least late October.”

To keep government open, Republicans demand stingier spending than what they backed 10 years ago. Politico: “When adjusted for inflation, the level of nondefense appropriations in 2006 turns out to be almost identical to what Republicans are now asking Obama to accept for 2016 under the Budget Control Act … But it ignores the fact that the nation has grown in the past decade, and the cost of medical services for veterans has exploded … Despite the increase in student enrollment, aid to the nation’s public schools is significantly less than what Republicans supported in 2006.”

Ex-Im Bank could be revived in September, but backers worry. The Hill: “The bank’s proponents say Ex-Im has the money to get by over the next two months, and they note that appropriators have included funding for day-to-day operations in next year’s spending bills. They are eyeing an expected continuing resolution to keep the government operating past September as a potential vehicle for Ex-Im … [But] the bank’s supporters are concerned about Speaker John Boehner…”

Small exporters losing business. Politico: “…Rami Touma, president of Houston-based oil equipment exporter CECA Supply & Services, said Ex-Im’s services are critical to his business’s ability to sell products to Algeria … [Tyler] Schroeder’s Texas crop-dusting manufacturer could lose up to one-fourth of its sales after losing the bank’s credit insurance … BCH Trading, a lumber shipper from Arkansas … would have to find an investor to help it access money needed as collateral for business deals … Private banks won’t lend against the promise of money by a foreign buyer, which leaves small businesses with few options.”

Cautious Clinton Worries Dems

Democrats uneasy with Hillary Clinton’s evasions on controversial issues. The Hill: “Keystone is far from the only issue on which Clinton has bobbed and weaved. On the minimum wage, a key issue for many liberals, she has backed a minimum of $15 an hour for fast food workers in New York but has not stipulated a nationally mandated figure. She avoided taking an unequivocal position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) even as the related debate over fast-track trade authority roiled Congress last month — and her position remains unclear.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders hosts 100,000-person virtual organizing rally. NYT: “The national organizing day, which featured more than 3,500 events and house parties across the country, centered around a technological infrastructure that uses text-messaging sign-ups and a deep database of volunteers. Attendees at the house parties were asked to text a number to opt in and show interest.”

Some candidates angle for AFL-CIO endorsement. W. Post: “Mike Huckabee met privately for an hour Wednesday afternoon with the AFL-CIO’s executive council … [He] was the only Republican presidential candidate … to appear seeking an endorsement … [He] addressed the executive council immediately before … Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders … Hillary Rodham Clinton and ex-Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) will speak to the group on Thursday.”

Rick Perry open to Glass-Steagall-type regulations. The Hill “In remarks delivered in New York, Perry did not mention Glass-Steagall by name, but floated among several policy proposals one that is practically identical … Perry also floated an alternate idea of requiring large banks to hold additional capital as a cushion … While favoring stronger cushions for big banks, Perry argued that community banks, banks run as partnerships and asset management firms should be wholly exempted from Dodd-Frank’s new rules.”

Donald Trump would deport the undocumented, then let the “good” ones back in. CNN: “‘Legal status,’ Trump suggested. ‘We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.'”

GDP Ticks Up

GDP up 2.3% in second quarter. Bloomberg: “Gross domestic product rose at a 2.3 percent annualized rate, and a revised 0.6 percent advance in the first quarter wiped out a previously reported contraction, Commerce Department data showed Thursday in Washington … The economy has moved beyond some of the early 2015 constraints including weather and port delays, while cooling global markets, a strong dollar and insufficient wage gains may continue to limit growth.”

Federal Reserve could raise rates in September. NYT: “The Fed issued an upbeat assessment of economic conditions on Wednesday after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee … The statement suggested officials didn’t need to see much more progress before they started to increase their benchmark rate, which they have held near zero since December 2008.”