Progressive Breakfast for January 26

Morning Message

Corporate Tax Break Scheme Is Gaining A Momentum We Must Stop

...Sen. Rand Paul (R-Texas) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are close to agreeing on a plan that would give multinationals a deep tax reduction on money they currently have stashed overseas if they bring the money back into the United States, also known as repatriation. Money collected would be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund, which is dedicated to paying for federal transportation projects ... is rewarding tax avoidance really the way to fund our public infrastructure needs? ...

Huge Triumph Over Austerity In Greece

“Syriza’s victory is a milestone for Europe,” reports NYT: “Continuing economic weakness has stirred a populist backlash from France to Spain to Italy, with more voters growing fed up with policies that require sacrifice to meet the demands of creditors but that have not delivered more jobs and prosperity. Syriza is poised to become the first anti-austerity party to take power in a eurozone country and to shatter the two-party establishment that has dominated Greek politics for four decades.

Syriza quickly forms governing coalition. NYT: “Alexis Tsipras, the leftist political maverick who swept to power on Sunday in Greece in a popular rebellion, formed a new coalition government on Monday with a right-wing fringe party that will charge immediately into the task of reversing wrenching austerity policies and negotiating with European leaders to reduce Greece’s debt burden … Now that he has formed a coalition, Mr. Tspiras must quickly determine which of his populist promises he can carry out quickly, setting up a likely showdown with Greece’s European partners.”

Choice of governing partner surprises markets. AP: “The surprise alliance between two staunchly anti-bailout parties, spooked markets and triggered a loss of nearly 4 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange as well as elsewhere in Europe … Tsipras’ choice to negotiate with the Independent Greeks rather than the centrist Potami caused concern that he could take a tough line in negotiations with rescue lenders.”

Now Syriza faces very tough task. TNR’s Spyros Economides: “It is confronted by the immense task of governing at a time when Greece may be ungovernable, while also facing a potentially divisive internal struggle … If Greece’s international creditors don’t come through with quick concessions, or if radical opposition rears its head against Syriza’s more moderate approach … That could lead to an accidental default, which would have disastrous consequences for Greece.”

Bernie Takes On Wall Street

The American Prospect’s Ari Rabin-Havt explains “How Bernie Sanders, In New Role, Could Make Wall Streeters Very, Very Unhappy”: “Bernie Sanders, the United States senator from Vermont, plans on using his new position as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee to take on too-big-to-fail financial institutions by advocating for their dissolution … Sanders, by reframing the financial crisis in budgetary terms … opens up a new front in the debate over Wall Street …”

Wall Street Dems stunned at defeat of Antonio Weiss nomination. Politico: “Warren won big. And the moderate, Wall Street- and business-friendly wing of the party — in past years happily occupied by Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton — got punched in the mouth … The larger question is the extent to which Warren continues to use her platform to push Hillary Clinton to the left and away from her more centrist, Rubinite roots.”

The middle class has literally shrunk. NYT: “In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today’s dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets. But since 2000, the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow, the main reason being that more people have fallen to the bottom. At the same time, fewer of those in this group fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home, a gap increasingly filled by the elderly.”

Obama Moves To Save Arctic

Obama calls on Congress to protect Arctic wildlife. NYT: “The White House announced Sunday that Mr. Obama would ask Congress to designate 12 million of the [Arctic National Wildlfe] refuge’s 19 million acres as wilderness. The wilderness designation is the strongest level of federal protection afforded to public lands, and would forbid a range of activity that includes drilling for oil and gas and construction of roads … Environmentalists cheered the proposal, even though enactment appears unlikely.”

While Republicans push for Atlantic offshore drilling. McClatchy: “U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr introduced an amendment Thursday to the Senate Keystone pipeline proposal that would allow drilling up the coast from Florida to Delaware in search of oil and gas resources … Obama already has approved seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Atlantic, which many environmentalists see as a precursor to eventual drilling … Environmental advocacy groups see it as an attack on the country’s national and state treasures, including North Carolina’s fragile barrier islands.”

Solar projects threatened as tax credit slated to expire. NYT: “…uncertainty surround[s] an important tax credit worth 30 percent of a project’s cost. Although the subsidy, known as the Investment Tax Credit, is to remain in place until the end of 2016, when it will drop to 10 percent, that does not give developers enough time to get through the long process of securing land, permits, financing and power-purchase agreements, executives and analysts say.”