Progressive Breakfast for October 21

Morning Message

Watch Out For The Coming Corporate Tax-Break Trickery

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) might be Senate Majority Leader after the election. In a Tuesday CNBC interview he said he is hoping to work with Republican House Speaker Paul “Gut the Government” Ryan on “some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program.” ... When Schumer says “at a lower rate” he is talking about a “tax holiday” allowing corporations to pay less than the 35% tax rate they owe...

Hillary Faces New Tensions With Left

“WikiLeaks poisons Hillary’s relationship with left” reports Politico: “Liberal groups and activists are assembling opposition research-style dossiers of the most dismissive comments in the WikiLeaks emails about icons of their movement like Clinton’s Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, and their stances on trade, Wall Street reform, energy and climate change. And some liberal activists are vowing to use the email fodder to oppose Clinton policy proposals or appointments deemed insufficiently progressive … [Other] liberal activists said they saw signs in the emails that her team was susceptible to pressure from the left.”

Clinton campaign pushes into red territory. Mother Jones: “…Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager announced that her campaign would spend $2 million on ads and direct mail in Arizona … If she wins Arizona, Clinton could bring Republicans to the table on immigration reform by proving to them that they have no shot at the White House—that even formerly safe red states will turn blue—if they continue to hold the Trump line on immigration.”

Bernie Presses Big Pharma, Big Soda

Bernie questions drug company over price spike. The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) … sent a letter to Ariad Pharmaceuticals questioning an increase in the price of the leukemia treatment Iclusig from $115,000 a year to $199,000 a year. The lawmakers say that the company also cut the number of doses in a package while keeping the price the same, effectively increasing the cost … Sanders and Cummings are requesting documents from the company on its revenue and pricing.”

Bernie says soda lobby inappropriately using him to defeat soda tax ballot initiatives. Politico: “[Sanders] is demanding that the American Beverage Association … stop using his likeness in the tens of millions of dollars of anti-soda tax ads flooding television and mailboxes across the Bay Area … the beverage industry has been capitalizing on Sanders’ public opposition to a soda tax in Philadelphia … Sanders has not reversed his position on soda taxes. But in his statement Thursday, he noted that the Philadelphia tax was three times the size of the tax being considered in the Bay Area when he came out against it [as too regressive.]”

Millions Still Reliant On Payday Lenders

24 million “underbanked.” The Atlantic: “The number of American families without a bank account dropped to about 9 million in 2015, the lowest rate on record … Still, around 24 million households are considered underbanked, meaning that they have checking accounts but still rely on alternative services—such as pawn shops, check-cashing operations, and payday or auto-title loans … And that number, a new report finds, hasn’t improved much at all in the past few years.”

Hedge funds squeezed by regulations. Bloomberg: “The $2.9 trillion industry has posted average annual returns of 2 percent over the past three years, well below those of most index funds … $51.5 billion [has been] withdrawn from hedge funds in the first nine months of the year, the most since the financial crisis … [Fund managers] bemoan central bank near-zero-rate policies, political and economic decisions made overseas and government regulation for undermining their craft.:

More from Bloomberg: “A new rule intended to make banks safer and avoid government bailouts forced lenders to fund less risky assets with more equity, reducing returns. As a result, some companies left the business and the ones left standing are raising prices … Under pressure to cut costs, funds are acquiescing to banks’ insistence that they concentrate their business in exchange for the best service available … Equity-trading revenue declined at Citigroup and Bank of America enough to cut the total amount earned by the five biggest U.S. investment banks by 4.8 percent to $6.7 billion…”

Better Business Bureau drops Wells Fargo to “C-” reports CNBC: “The San Francisco-based lender is no longer accredited by the Better Business Bureau, making it possibly the biggest business ever to fall into that category.”

Climate Deal May Hit Senate Snag

New global climate agreement might require Senate ratification, reports The Hill: “The agreement to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning, was struck on Oct. 15 … U.S. officials have not yet determined whether they will submit the pact for Senate ratification as a treaty — which requires a two-thirds vote … [EPA chief] Gina McCarthy [said] ‘We’ll take a look at it, but that’s going to be up to the legal experts as to whether or not it needs to have that type of ratification process.’ … Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), whose panel is responsible for reviewing treaties, said the committee is doing its own analysis … Francis Dietz, spokesman for the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute … is hopeful that if the Senate does have a say, industry support for the measure would trump opposition to climate policies.”

US needs to lead world on fossil fuel subsidies, argues Varun Sivaram and Jennifer Harris in Politico oped: “…some 22 countries — half of all countries with fuel consumption subsidies — have begun steadily dismantling their subsidy regimes over the past two years … These positive developments could quickly unravel, however, without continued U.S. vigilance … previous fuel subsidy reforms crumbled as oil prices rebounded and foreign leaders faced renewed political pressure.”

Inspector general finds EPA waited too long to respond in Flint crisis. NYT: “[He] said that E.P.A. officials had enough information and authority to issue an emergency order under the Safe Drinking Water Act as early as June 2015 … The E.P.A. did not issue an emergency order until Jan. 21, 2016, seven months later …”

Obama Renews Public Option Push

Obama pushes public option in Miami speech. ABC: “…during the 2009 negotiations … the White House used the public option as a bargaining chip … Now, the president is citing the public option as one of three essential solutions to perfecting the law, along with more states expanding Medicaid and an expansion of tax credits for middle-class Obamacare enrollees.”

And defends Obamacare’s progress to date. The Hill: “…Obama took credit for reaching a record-low uninsured rate and slowing the growth of healthcare spending. ‘You’re getting better quality, even though you don’t know that ObamaCare is doing it,’ …”

New Hope For Garland Vote

Republican senator wants Garland vote in lame duck. Politico: “[Sen. Jeff] Flake said[,] ‘If Hillary Clinton is president-elect then we should move forward with hearings in the lame duck. That’s what I’m encouraging my colleagues to do.’ The political calculus is straightforward: Better to deal with Garland now and avoid swallowing a more liberal nominee from Hillary Clinton.”

Some GOP senators open to Clinton Supreme Court picks. The Hill: “‘I look at each one on the merits,’ [Sen. Rob Portman] said during a Senate debate in Cleveland on Thursday night. ‘So no, I don’t agree that we should automatically block nominees.’ … Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told a Philadelphia radio station that Senate Republicans would be ‘united against’ her pick … But Sen. Chuck Grassley [said] the Senate can not ‘simply stonewall’ any Clinton nominee. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) [said] he doesn’t agree with the Arizona Republican’s initial comments.”