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WH Steps Up Fast-Track Push

USTR Michael Froman testifies to House and Senate in favor of fast-track. The Hill: “Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee voiced support for passage of a fast-track bill … Senate Finance panel Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) … said he is working with [Sen. Ron] Wyden, the Finance panel’s top Democrat, and [Rep. Paul] Ryan on crafting a new … bill … Hatch is said to be aiming to have a fast-track bill ready some time in late February. Meanwhile, Froman said the 12-nation TPP is inching closer to the finish line, saying the time frame for completing TPP is ‘a small number of months.'”

Dems still resist. W. Post: “…the real outreach on trade will be for Obama to convince skeptical members of his own party; both sides agree that a small number of Democratic votes will be needed to ensure passage of a fast-track bill.”

GOP In Immigration Box

Republicans “boxed in on immigration and searching for a way out” reports The Hill: “…a familiar endgame — in which Boehner is forced to move legislation through the House with broad Democratic support — could be inevitable. The House bill is destined for failure in the Senate … McConnell on Tuesday declined to reveal whether he would allow Democrats to offer amendments to the House bill when it is considered in the Senate or how he would proceed if Democrats filibuster it.”

Jeb Bush makes no sense. W. Post’s Chris Cillizza: “… here’s Bush: ‘The 40 percent of the people that have come illegally came with a legal visa and overstayed their bounds. We ought to be able to find where they are and politely ask them to leave.’ … Democrats joyfully sent around that … quote Tuesday, insisting it was Jeb’s ‘self deportation’ moment … within two minutes of saying the ‘politely’ line, Bush is, seemingly, contradicting himself by insisting that there is no way all of the people in the country illegally are going to be deported.”

Breakfast Sides

Rewards of economic recovery still only going to top 1 percent. NYT: “…the average income for the richest 1 percent (excluding capital gains) has risen from $871,100 in 2009 to $968,000 over 2012 and 2013. By contrast, for the remaining 99 percent, average incomes fell by a few dollars from $44,000 to $43,900.”

Northeast Democratic Senators criticize WH Atlantic offshore drilling plan. The Hill: “The senators — from Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland — said that although the drilling proposal would not include their states, oil spills from the wells could easily travel to them …”

Indiana strikes deal with WH for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. NYT: “The plan will extend coverage to an additional 350,000 Indiana residents with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level … But [Gov. Mike] Pence, like several Republican governors before him, insisted on adding a conservative twist to the expansion, mostly by requiring beneficiaries to pay something toward their coverage … In another unusual concession, the Obama administration will let Indiana lock some people out of coverage for six months if they stop paying monthly premiums.”

Greece moves to re-negotiate bailout, halt privatization. NYT: “[Prime Minister] Tsipras and his new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, have spoken with various European officials, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup of European Union finance ministers. Mr. Dijsselbloem, who has warned that there is ‘very little support for a write-off’ of Greece’s debts, is scheduled to visit Athens on Friday … Adding to the uncertainty was a report that Mr. Tsipras had basically frozen Greece’s privatization program, which had been a central demand of creditors in approving a bailout …”

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