Progressive Breakfast for April 16

Morning Message

CEO Pay Soars As Worker Pay Stagnates

How’s your job going – if you even have one? The odds are very, very high that you haven’t seen a raise in a long time. Or maybe you were laid off and found a new job at half your old pay. They say this is the “new normal. ... The AFL-CIO has released this year’s 2014 Executive PayWatch at www.PayWatch.org, a “comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies.” PayWatch.org offers workers the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives. According to Executive PayWatch data, U.S. CEOs pocketed, on average, $11.7 million in 2013, compared to the average worker who earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker.

Republican Gov Challenges Boehner To Pass Jobless Aid

Nevada’s GOP governor backs Senate unemployment insurance bill. Politico: “Sandoval became the first Republican governor to endorse the Senate’s bill to retroactively revive long-term jobless aid through May, joining Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee in a letter to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) advocating for swift passage.”

President to announce job training initiative today. The Hill: “During a visit to a western Pennsylvania community college, Obama will announce that the Department of Labor is accepting completive bids for $500 million in federal funding intended to help community colleges and employers develop training programs … The president will also announce $100 million in grants to fund apprenticeship programs, using money from the H1-B visa program. The grants will sponsor apprenticeships in emerging fields where employers are struggling to find qualified candidates, including IT, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing. Administration officials say that 87 percent of apprentices today are offered a job, and normally at a starting salary of $50,000.”

“CBO says food stamp costs could drop by $24 billion” reports Politico: “After the buckets of political blood spilled over food stamps this past year, the Congressional Budget Office has quietly lowered its cost estimate for the nutrition program by $24 billion over the next decade. The ‘technical’ adjustment is tucked into a report issued Monday and reflects revisions in how CBO calculates what the average beneficiary receives each month under food stamps … t’s just a 3 percent change but more than a little ironic after the fighting over fewer SNAP dollars…”

Obama admin warns highway trust fund is running out. Time: “Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the U.S. Highway Trust Fund will run out of cash by the end of September, threatening widespread layoffs and delays of badly needed highway projects, unless long-term action is taken … President Barack Obama has put forward a $302 billion plan to Congress to boost the fund with savings from proposed changes to corporate tax laws. If no action is taken, the fund will dry up before the end of September. Officials in some states are already considering a halt to some projects. ‘I feel it’s clearly a crisis,’ said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, who is on an eight-state tour to whip up public backing for the Obama plan.”

Dems Up Pressure On Immigration Reform

House Dems target GOPers for immigration discharge petition. McClatchy: “The election-year campaign against 30 House Republicans, who have expressed interest in changing the nation’s immigration laws, was framed by Democrats as one last opportunity to engage in a legislative debate before President Barack Obama begins taking executive actions.”

More from The Hill: “The Democrats acknowledge they almost certainly won’t attract enough Republicans to their discharge petition to force a vote. (The 191 members who have endorsed the petition – all Democrats – are well shy of the 218 needed to bring the bill to the floor). But the design is to generate local headlines and build enough public pressure that GOP leaders are left with no choice but to act.”

GOP Faces Obamacare Beneficiaries

GOP struggles with how to talk to Obamacare enrollees. Poltiico: “Republicans … acknowledge that some of their constituents may be better off because of the ACA. But they say that many more are finding the law unworkable and emphasize that those problems are what they’re primarily hearing when they’re back home … Yet the latest Gallup poll shows that the public’s attitude could be shifting, certainly far more than the lawmakers’ comments suggest. The change is particularly sharp among Republicans. In late February, 72 percent of Republicans surveyed said the law would make their own health care situation worse in the long run. By early April, that had dropped to 51 percent, and more than 4 in 10 Republicans said the law would have a negligible impact for them.”

House conservatives want leadership to produce a Obamacare replacement bill. The Hill: “…party leaders have given no indication when they might present a plan or what form it will take. Conservatives like Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), are pushing for a vote by the time lawmakers leave town for five weeks at the end of July.”

US Slashes CO2 Emissions

Big drop in US greenhouse gas emissions. The Hill: “Greenhouse gas emissions fell in the United States by 3.4 percent in 2012 from the previous year, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday [and] a 10 percent drop since 2005 … The agency attributed the decline to decreases in energy consumption among all sectors in the economy, the switch to natural gas from coal in electricity generation, increased fuel efficiency in transportation and limited demand for passenger transportation.”

EPA wins big court case upholding mercury rule. Politico: “The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s rule … . Its strict pollution control requirements will push many of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants into retirement when it takes effect in 2015. The court upheld EPA’s decision to take into account environmental damage from the pollutants, rather than just health-based harms, when it decided to regulate.”