Monday, September 19, 2016

Progressive Breakfast: Despite Some Good Economic News, The Status Quo Is Not Enough

Richard Eskow
Despite Some Good Economic News, The Status Quo Is Not Enough
President Obama told a Philadelphia crowd: “… last year, across every age, every race in America, incomes rose and the poverty rate fell" ... But there are lingering problems ... Many parts of the country are still wrestling with extreme poverty and lagging incomes. Americans pay more today for needs like health care and higher education than they did in the 1990s ... Democrats need a vision that is compelling enough to rout congressional Republicans, if not this year than in elections to come. They must meet Teddy Roosevelt’s test of leadership by “daring greatly.”


Hedrick Smith finds recent middle-class income gains insufficient: “…It’s an important milestone worth cheering that last year, families smack in the middle of the middle class saw their household incomes rise by 5.2% … But what’s disturbing is that this took so long to happen. This was the first increase in median family income since 2007 … the typical American family [is] worse off in 2015 than in 2007 … and also worse off than in 1999.”
Despite reports, income in rural areas is rising, notes NYT: “While incomes in metropolitan areas grew 6 percent, those in rural areas fell 2 percent [in the Census’ Current Population Survey] … The number is wrong. Median household incomes in rural America actually grew 3.4 percent in 2015 … The correct median income number is derived from another survey, called the American Community Survey, also compiled by the Census Bureau … the Current Population Survey’s sample is too small for precise geographic estimates.”


Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz hits Trump on trade. Bloomberg: “The U.S. economy would be a big loser if Donald Trump wins the presidential election and imposes new tariffs on imports from China, according to Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. The end result would be a trade war, a correction in U.S. living standards and a net loss of American jobs, Stiglitz said.”
Trump could start a trade war “with ease” says NYT’s Justin Wolfers: “Trade politics reflect an important asymmetry: New trade agreements require congressional approval, but undoing existing commitments does not. And so vast areas of international economic policy can be changed with just a president’s say-so.”
Clinton to reach out to millennials in Temple U. speech today. NYT: “…Democrats have grown increasingly alarmed at her standing with millennial voters, many of whom have drifted toward third-party candidates … The campaign said it would emphasize policies, like Mrs. Clinton’s plan for debt-free college education, that carried particular resonance with young voters …”


Senate hopes to pass bill keeping government open this week. NYT: “The Senate was supposed to begin moving ahead last week, but a variety of contentious issues led by the lingering dispute over funding to combat the Zika virus delayed the vote to allow more negotiations. Other disputes also remain, including a proposal to restore operations at the Export-Import Bank, flood relief for Louisiana and aid for Flint … The House is expected to consider the spending plan after the Senate acts, but it will face considerable pressure to approve it since the Senate is likely to have taken its leave by the time the House has its say.”
House conservatives may be prepared to give up. Politico: “…House conservatives seem resigned to a continuing resolution (CR) that ends in December, even if they don’t like it … said Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee … ‘because Senate Republicans have caved, really the only likely path forward is a short-term CR[.]'”


HUD moves to toward policy change to desegregate housing. NYT: “HUD calculates what it judges to be ‘fair-market rent’ for a broad metropolitan region — a method that, however unintentionally, provides many poor families with subsidies sufficient to lift them into only marginally better neighborhoods, if that … Julián Castro, wants to fine-tune how fair-market rent is calculated, by basing it on housing costs in individual ZIP codes rather than in entire regions … There is a potential downside: Families that remain in neighborhoods where rents are comparatively low would find their vouchers cut … A final decision by HUD is expected this fall.”
Wells Fargo CEO to face Senate Banking Committee Tuesday and Mylan CEO to face House committee Wednesday, reports NYT.
“Tribes open new front in fight over pipelines” reports The Hill: “The Obama administration is launching a review of energy permits on American Indian lands, opening a new front in the fight over oil pipelines in the United States … For Indian activists, the review raises the possibility federal officials could consult more with tribes and lead to fewer projects … The industry warns that an exhaustive review of permitting on Indian land could have a major impact on infrastructure projects, both energy and beyond.”
“Most states on track to meet emissions targets they call burden” finds Reuters: “The 27 states challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden. But most are likely to hit them anyway … 21 of the 27 states suing to block the Clean Power Plan are on track to meet its 2024 targets with existing plants and planned investments.”

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