Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Progressive Breakfast: Health Care Is a Right, Not a Business


Financial columnist Megan McArdle recently wrote a column entitled “Healthcare Is a Business, Not a Right.” ... “Almost everybody feels that there is something fundamentally wrong about making money off someone else’s illness,” McArdle laments. It’s a straw-man argument ... Rights and commerce can coexist in a democratic society, as long as commerce doesn’t threaten rights. But when they clash, commerce must give way. Since commerce has failed to provide affordable and accessible health care, it must yield to rights.


“White House says it sees a path to approval of Pacific trade deal” reports Reuters: “The White House said on Monday it could still win congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before President Barack Obama leaves office, and warned that failing to do so would undermine U.S. leadership in the region … ahead of Obama’s trip to Asia this week.”
Trump or Clinton could bury TPP even if Congress passes it. Politico: “The next president could refuse to verify that other countries have implemented their early commitments under the pact. Or he or she could simply delay sending the paperwork to inform other TPP members that the United States has completed its own implementation … If Trump or Clinton refused to forward the required paperwork, it would scuttle the pact not just for the United States, but for all 12 members.”
France wants delay of TTIP trade talks. AP: “French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that talks on a landmark trade deal between the U.S. and European Union are unbalanced and cannot be completed before President Barack Obama leaves office … ‘The negotiations have bogged down, the positions have not been respected, the imbalance is obvious.'”
TTIP prospects dim. Bloomberg: “To anti-globalization activists both on the left and on the right, the deal attempts to make multinational corporations unaccountable to national governments. The EU is pushing for a greater role for governments in regulating foreign investors’ activities … negotiations have dragged on for so long, and so many doubts about it have been raised in Europe, that neither the German government nor the French will want to make any serious compromises before next year’s elections. Nor will the U.S. want to back down during the next round of talks, expected at some point in the fall.”
Buzzfeed continues its investigation into ISDS trade dispute mechanism, a key component of TPP: ” Of all the ways in which ISDS is used, the most deeply hidden are the threats, uttered in private meetings or ominous letters, that invoke those courts. The threats are so powerful they often eliminate the need to actually bring a lawsuit. Just the knowledge that it could happen is enough.”


Apple busted on tax avoidance. Reuters: “E.U. antitrust regulators ordered Appleon Tuesday to pay up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in taxes plus interest to the Irish government after ruling that a special scheme to route profits through Ireland was illegal state aid. The massive sum, 40 times bigger than the previous known demand by the European Commission to a company in such a case, could be reduced … if other countries sought more tax themselves from the U.S. tech giant.”
Tax cheating poised to rise. W. Post’s Catherine Rampell: “Today, about 82 cents of every dollar owed in U.S. taxes gets paid voluntarily, which is high. Here are six reasons that number is going to fall … Congress has gutted Internal Revenue Service enforcement … Budget cuts have also hurt IRS customer service … The rise of the ‘gig economy’ …”


Economists joust over how much it will cost US to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets by 2050. Bloomberg: “Geoffrey Heal, an economist at Columbia Business School [says the] investment to make sufficient electricity to power America, with an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, would cost anywhere from $1.28 trillion to $5.28 trillion … Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University professor of civil and environmental engineering [says Heal] accounts only for reductions from electricity generation, transmission, and storage … Jacobson’s own central estimate [is] about $14.6 trillion…”
Communities on frontline of climate crisis fight for limited federal funds. Bloomberg: “The contest, called the National Disaster Resilience Competition, was the first large-scale federal effort to highlight and support local solutions for coping with climate change. It wound up demonstrating something decidedly less upbeat: The federal government is still struggling to figure out which communities should be moved, and when, and how to pay for it.”


Private section union membership hits new low, forces unions to focus on nonunion workers. American Prospect: “A new Economic Policy Institute white paper published Tuesday found that since 1979, the share of men who belong to unions in the private-sector workforce has fallen from 34 percent to 10 percent … if unions had the same presence in the private sector today that they did in 1979, men—both union members and nonunion members alike—would be making $2,704 more each year … Traditional unions are involved in efforts to help nonmembers secure better benefits, even if those workers never end up joining the union.”
Unions boosting African-American wages. The Atlantic: “In a paper published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Cherrie Bucknor looks at the wages of black workers, who are more likely to be unionized than white workers … Black union workers earned $24.24 an hour, compared to $17.78 for their non-union counterparts.”


Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz expected to survive FL primary today. NYT: “Sanders supporters later bolstered [challenger Tim] Canova’s candidacy. But polls still have her ahead in a district that extends from west of Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach, and she has had campaign help from Mrs. Clinton.”
Sen. John McCain expected to win today’s AZ primary, but margin may matter. Politico: “…the margin of victory will decide whether he barrels or limps into the toughest general election fight of his 34-year political career, against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick … Even if he wins by 10 points it would still be his closest primary since McCain ran for his House seat 34 years ago.”

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