Progressive Breakfast for December 17

Morning Message

How “Citibank Budget” Push Foreshadows “Fast Track” For Trade Deals

It is worth examining how the process was rigged to push that budget deal through Congress over the weekend that contained Citibank-written derivative deregulation and all kinds of other goodies for the rich and powerful ... After the budget, Congress will push to pass “fast track” legislation, to grease the skids for the TPP ... Here are the lessons learned about how to rig a legislative process ... Control who is at the table ... Leave little time to analyze the consequences ... Make it about the deadline ... Allow special interests served by the deal time to prepare push-through strategy in advance ... Make it all or nothing.

Congress Grapples With Tax Breaks

Senate passes extension of tax breaks for 2014. Politico: “Democrats and Republicans held their nose to vote for the short-term extension after Wyden and President Barack Obama joined forces to oppose a deal negotiated by Reid and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) that would have extended most breaks for two years and made permanent several tax breaks for businesses.”

GOP divided over online sales tax. The Hill: “GOP supporters say the Speaker is open to passing legislation next year and that they won’t be as passive in pushing for action … Yet incoming majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted against the bill when it came up in the Senate last year. And senior Republican aides say he has no interest in revisiting the online sales tax next year, given that it divided the Senate GOP conference nearly down the middle in 2013 — pitting grassroots favorites like Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.) who oppose the bill against long-time supporters like Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.).”

Senate GOP Readies Pipeline Push

Senate Republicans will pass Keystone legislation first. Politico: “The Kentucky Republican also said he plans to allow open amendment debate on the pro-Keystone legislation from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) … Among potential energy amendments that senators could seek to attach to the Keystone bill are proposals to slow or stop EPA’s emissions rules for power plants and plans to fast-track liquefied natural gas exports.”

Obama bans drilling in Bristol Bay. NYT: ” President Obama on Tuesday again used his executive authority to enact an environmental priority as he indefinitely barred oil and gas exploration of Alaska’s picturesque Bristol Bay to protect some of the nation’s most productive commercial fisheries … Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said she did not oppose the decision … Bristol Bay is home to a variety of marine life, including beluga and killer whales and the endangered North Pacific right whale.”

And hits China with solar panel tariffs. NYT: “The decision, intended to close a loophole that had allowed Chinese manufacturers to avoid tariffs imposed in an earlier ruling by using cells — a major module component — made in Taiwan, found that the companies were selling products below the cost of manufacture and that the Chinese companies were benefiting from unfair subsidies from their government.”

Breakfast Sides

Funding Homeland Security through February gives GOP no leverage on immigration. The Hill: “During the 2013 government shutdown, most DHS employees continued working because they were deemed ‘essential’ in protecting lives and property, or were paid for with fees not part of the traditional appropriations process … [That has] alarmed some conservatives who worry Obama will simply argue that all DHS employees need to stay on the job in the interest of national security…”

Big Obamacare enrollment numbers. NYT: “The Obama administration said Tuesday that nearly 2.5 million people had selected health insurance plans through the federal marketplace in the first four weeks of open enrollment this fall. More than one million of those selections came in just one week, from Dec. 6 through last Friday … The new numbers suggest that the Obama administration can easily surpass its stated goal for 2015: having 9.1 million people enrolled and paying premiums.”

Sen. Rand Paul knocks Jeb Bush over Common Core. W. Post: “‘I think most conservative Republicans think that education should be more at the local and state level. So yeah, I think it will be a big problem,’ Paul told The Washington Post … Bush offered a nuanced defense of Common Core last month, with advice for those who want a different set of standards.”