Progressive Breakfast for December 7

Morning Message

Will Trump Bring the Robot Apocalypse?

Trump is considering Andrew Puzder, CEO of the parent company to fast-food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, for Secretary of Labor ... According to the 1913 law that created it, 'The purpose of the Department of Labor shall be to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.' Now we learn that Trump may entrust the well-being of working Americans to someone who wants to eliminate them altogether ...

Obamacare Divides GOP

GOP divided on Obamacare strategy. Politico: “Lawmakers have proposed putting off the effective date of repeal from as little as six months to as long as three years … Several senators suggested at the meeting with Pence that additional measures from Congress or the administration may be needed to address rising insurance premiums and avoid roiling the insurance markets … Incoming House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said the Senate’s approach will meet ‘major resistance,’ … While the party struggles over when exactly to disassemble Obamacare, others are trying to focus on developing a replacement as early as possible to give maximum assurance to insurers and voters that they won’t be left in limbo. Republicans will need to immediately begin negotiating with Senate Democrats, who must be involved with any replacement plan to overcome a filibuster.”

30 million could lose insurance under repeal. The Hill: “The [Urban Institute] research is based on the GOP’s repeal bill from 2015, which would strike down the law’s mandates, subsidies and Medicaid expansion but leave in place some non-budget related provisions. It does not predict how Republicans would replace the law [but] it underscores the potentially damaging effects of the GOP’s repeal plan without a replace.”

Health insurers draw up demands. NYT: “The insurers … say they need a clear commitment from the Trump administration and congressional leaders that the government will continue offsetting some costs for low-income people. They also want to keep in place rules that encourage young and healthy people to sign up, which the insurers say are crucial to a stable market for individual buyers … the industry would support a delay so it could prepare for the changes. ‘We would love to see a three-year time frame, as long as possible,’ [Marilyn Tavenner, the chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans,] said … She also argued that the insurers had no desire to return to the time before the law was passed, when people with pre-existing conditions were routinely denied coverage in the individual market.”

Hospitals oppose repeal. The Hill: “The American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals on Tuesday fired off a damning new report warning that its industry stood to take a massive financial hit under the repeal of ObamaCare … the hospital industry would lose $165.8 billion through cuts to Medicaid alone [and] another $289.5 billion if Republicans scrap the ObamaCare payments to hospitals with higher Medicare patients … [Federation of American Hospitals President Chip Kahn] said: ‘Members of Congress are going to hear that from every hospital in their district.'”

Trump Appears To Soften On Immigration

Trump tells Time he’ll “work something out” with DREAMers: “As for the people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as youths and now have work visas under Obama, Trump did not back off his pledge to end Obama’s executive orders. But he made clear he would like to find some future accommodation for them. ‘We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud … They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

Transition members scale back plans for a border wall. Bloomberg: “…the president-elect’s closest allies in Congress are working to redefine Trump’s top campaign promise, which many view as too costly and impractical for securing the 1,933-mile border with Mexico. Most illegal immigration can be halted with fencing, more Border Patrol agents and drones, they contend.”

Government Open Through April

Congress to keep government open through April. The Hill: “GOP leaders announced a deal Tuesday to keep the government funded for nearly six months, with a slight boost to defense spending and bipartisan health programs. The 70-page stopgap spending bill runs through April 28, allowing the incoming Donald Trump administration to take an active role in negotiations this spring … Democrats have raised major objections with … a provision that eases the restrictions for retired military members to be confirmed. This would almost immediately benefit incoming President Trump’s Defense secretary pick, retired Gen. James Mattis…”

Dems plot to salvage domestic spending. Politico: “Several Democrats said they could see the two parties agreeing on a larger tax-and-spending deal that would boost both defense and infrastructure, but such a plan would likely face stiff resistance from GOP fiscal hardliners … More than a half-dozen congressional Democrats said in interviews it will be imperative to go into any negotiations demanding equal increases between defense and non-defense … The only way to enforce this ‘parity’ demand, though, is to threaten to deny Republicans the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster … Another potential variable is whether Republicans can hold their own caucus together…”

Unions, Corporations Unnerved

Republicans in states plan anti-union attack. The Hill: “Republican leaders in New Hampshire, Missouri and Kentucky are planning in the coming months to take up and pass so-called right-to-work measures … they plan to reform collective bargaining laws as well, similar to a push made by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) five years ago.”

“New York City Council to Consider Laws on Employee Hours, Scheduling” reports WSJ: “New York City lawmakers are introducing legislation to require employers to offer their workers more predictable schedules and opportunities for more hours … Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and the overwhelmingly Democratic City Council are making a pre-emptive strike against the incoming Trump administration…”

Corporations worry about Trump’s corporate-shaming. Politico: “The concern among executives and free-market conservatives is that Trump will tweet first and ask questions later if he hears about plans he doesn’t like, potentially hitting stock prices, turning public opinion against companies before they have a chance to explain themselves and chilling investment.”

“Democrats Move to Divide Donald Trump From GOP on Coal and Steel” reports Time: “…Democrats called for long-term funding for retired coal miners’ health benefits and making permanent ‘Buy America’ provisions in a water infrastructure bill that would require the government to only fund projects that use American-made steel … on both, Republicans in Congress are at odds with the ethos, if not the letter of Trump’s campaign promises to protect American mining and manufacturing.”

Forthcoming data may turn public against corporate welfare, argues American Prospect’s Greg Leroy: “Over the next 18 months, a torrent of newly-mandated data about the costs of corporate welfare will flow from cities, counties, school districts, and state capitals everywhere. Thanks to an obscure new government-accounting rule that is just now kicking in, tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue will be revealed to taxpayers for the first time.”

“Americans Are Paying Apple Millions to Shelter Overseas Profits” reports Bloomberg: “Taking advantage of an exemption tucked into America’s Byzantine tax code, Apple stashed much of its foreign earnings—tax-free—right here in the U.S., in part by purchasing government bonds … In return, the Treasury Department paid Apple at least $600 million and possibly much more over the past five years in the form of interest…”

Breakfast Sides

Activist charge Park Service with blocking inauguration protests. AP: “Protest organizers and their attorneys say the National Park Service is quashing dissent by blocking access to public space … activists say the denial of protest permits has gone too far this time and is unconstitutional.”

No evidence Trump sold off stock. AP: “President-elect Donald Trump sold all of his stocks in June as he plunged into the costly general election campaign, his transition team abruptly announced Tuesday. His advisers provided no proof of the transactions and would not explain the apparent sell-off.”