Progressive Breakfast for December 6

Morning Message

Families Have a Lot to Lose – and Protect – Long Before Inauguration Day

The battle to take away our health care, retirement benefits, and even food aid has already begun, with the Republican right-wing in Congress conspiring to hand the federal budget over to big corporations and slip in devastating deregulatory measures before they adjourn this year, while few are paying attention. The Republican Congress has to pass legislation by December 9 to fund the government or cause a shutdown, and it wants to exploit the moment to get a head start on unraveling the programs that are a lifeline for ordinary people.

Trump Transition Operates in the Dark

“Trump’s Transition Team Is Dirty, and It’s Dark” reports The Nation’s George Zornick: “Seventy percent of Trump’s landing team members have some corporate affiliation … Several lobbyists are simply de-registering as lobbyists in order to join the transition team … In 2008, Barack Obama created a website that disclosed every meeting his transition team had with three or more non–transition team members … [Trump] is deliberately keeping the public in the dark about his transition activities, which are made all the more glaring because the Trump children are both serving in key transition roles while also preparing to run the Trump Corporation come January.”

Fast-food CEO considered for Labor Secretary. NYT: “Andrew F. Puzder, a wealthy California donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign whose company, CKE Restaurants, oversees chains such as Hardee’s, is said to be a leading candidate for labor secretary. Mr. Puzder has been extremely critical of the Obama administration’s labor policies, including its push for a higher minimum wage and for new overtime rules for workers.”

Gore meets with Trump on climate. NYT: “…as the president-elect was sitting down with the former vice president, his transition team continued to court ardent opponents of climate control policies to fill key posts in the government … [Gore called] it ‘a sincere search for areas of common ground.’ … Environmental activists looking for straws to grasp pointed to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who met separately with Mr. Gore on Monday and who is reportedly seeking to use her platform as first daughter to speak out on climate change.”

Some GOP Resistance To Trump … and Ryan

House GOPers knock Trump’s proposed offshoring tariff. NYT: “‘I don’t want to get into some kind of trade war,’ Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and majority leader, told reporters … Speaker Paul D. Ryan also pushed back … saying an overhaul of the corporate tax code would more effectively keep companies in the United States than tax penalties …”

As do Senate GOPers. Time: “‘Some of these things do have to face a harsh reality but you have to be very careful if you’re going to add costly tariffs,’ said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch … ‘We’re all going back to the ‘30s when they started playing around with this and that and caused a lot of trouble.’ Republican Sen. John McCain, when asked whether he would support a 35% tariff, scoffed and and answered emphatically. ‘No!’ he said.”

Anti-immigrant forces press Trump on Homeland Security pick. The Hill: “Texas Rep. Michael McCaul is at the center of the pressure. Hard-line organizations like NumbersUSA, FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) are already signaling they would see it as a betrayal for Trump to pick the Texas lawmaker as his Homeland Security secretary. They warn that McCaul is too close to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Republican leadership to be entrusted with Trump’s immigration agenda.”

House Freedom Caucus throws wrench in GOP Obamacare repeal strategy. Politico: “Politico reported last week that GOP leaders on both sides of the Capitol are coalescing around a two- or three-year repeal strategy, which would allow them ample time to come up with a replacement … Freedom Caucus members fumed at that idea. Most said they wouldn’t settle for anything longer than a two-year replacement process … [Rep. Mark] Meadows even suggested that Republicans could replace the law early next year, ahead of the fall enrollment period for 2018. Many leadership sources don’t believe that timetable is feasible.”

Ryan faces resistance to privatizing Medicare, reports The Hill: “In addition to Trump’s views, one of the complications for Ryan is that Senate Republicans are less enthusiastic about his Medicare plan. Senate Democrats are already signaling they plan to put fighting changes to Medicare front and center in the 2018 battle for control of the chamber. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said last week that a Medicare overhaul is ‘biting off more than you can chew.’ Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) [said] she has ‘reservations’ about a ‘complete upending’ of the program.”

Trump Backs Pipeline

Trump reaffirms support for Dakota Access Pipeline. WSJ quotes spox: “With regard to the Dakota Access Pipeline, that’s something that we support construction of and we’ll review the full situation when we’re in the White House and make the appropriate determination at that time.”

ABC explains Trump’s options: “Trump could let the Army Corps of Engineers perform the Environmental Impact Statement that it said this weekend it wants to complete, and see what alternatives are presented there, though that could take several months … Trump could work with Congress to ‘carve out a protection’ for this specific pipeline … Trump could ask the Army Corps to re-examine its decision … But that would likely lead to lawsuits…”

Opponents have legal avenues. The Hill: “Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice lawyer who represents Standing Rock in its lawsuit against the project, said any Trump move is ‘subject to judicial review’ and that the tribe is planning to sue.”

“How We Won the ‘No’ in #NoDAPL – And What We Must Take On Next” from OurFuture.org’s Judith LeBlanc: “Never has there been such close collaboration between more than 300 tribes alongside Native nonprofits and social movement activists. Standing Rock has changed everything … Our hope is to create a project to protect the Missouri River from top to bottom by empowering tribal governments with scientific backup.”

Breakfast Sides

Dems fight for coal miner pensions. The Hill: “Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey(Pa.) and Mark Warner (Va.) said Monday they will block the Senate from passing any bills by unanimous consent until the upper chamber has ‘adequately addressed’ legislation to protect retired coal miners’ pension and healthcare benefits … Thousands of retired miners and their families are expected to lose their healthcare benefits at the end of the year unless Congress acts.”

Amazon retail store plan would eliminate cashier jobs. Yahoo! News: “Amazon says the company brought together the most advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to eliminate cash registers in a new 1,800-square-foot store in Seattle … The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 3,478,420 cashiers in the U.S. earning a mean hourly wage of $10.09 per hour.”