Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Progressive Breakfast: While Democrats Chase Russians, Republicans Keep Rigging Elections

MORNING MESSAGE

Richard Eskow
While Democrats Chase Russians, Republicans Keep Rigging Elections
What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about allegations of Russian election-rigging than they are about Republican election-rigging? ... GOP voting laws systematically discriminate against minority voters and working people. Yes, leading Democrats have lodged pro forma protests against them, but they should be shouting about it from the rooftops.

BIG OIL GETS BIGGER

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson named Secretary of State, faces tough confirmation. Bloomberg: “He would be the first oil executive to lead the State Department … Tillerson would add to a cabinet increasingly full of millionaires and billionaires … Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida were among those who said they had questions about Tillerson’s dealings with Putin.”
Might not clear committee. The Hill: “The Foreign Relations Committee now has nine Democrats. If all nine of them opposed Tillerson and Rubio joined them, Senate leadership would have to break with committee to bring the nomination to the floor, which would be unusual for a job as important as secretary of State … Three Republican defections [on the Senate floor] could potentially doom any of his Cabinet nominees, if Democrats are united against them.”
Rick Perry tapped to lead Energy Department. NYT: “During a televised debate in 2011, when he was seeking the Republican nomination, Mr. Perry intended to list the Department of Energy among agencies he wanted to eliminate, but he could not remember its name … Mr. Perry is an enthusiastic advocate of extracting [fossil fuels], it is not clear how that experience would translate into leading what is also a major national security agency. Despite its name, the Department of Energy plays the leading role in designing nuclear weapons and in ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal through a constellation of scientific laboratories.”
Energy Department refuses to cooperate with Trump purge. W. Post: “…the transition team’s request to ‘provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended’ certain climate change meetings casts a shroud of apprehension over the workforce … Energy officials resolutely rejected the request, while reassuring workers … American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr., who also represents Energy employees, warned against ‘a return to the political witch hunts of the 1950s…'”
New pipeline battle flares up in Ohio. ABC News: “The 255-mile NEXUS pipeline would carry natural gas from Appalachia across northern Ohio and into Michigan and Canada. A NEXUS spokesman told ABC News that the pipeline has already been rerouted numerous times to accommodate landowners and that it is safe and will bring substantial economic benefits to the area. But some in the area say the pipeline would run too close to homes, schools and businesses in heavily populated areas.”

ONE MORE FOR GOLDMAN SACHS

Goldman Sachs president to steer economy. The Hill: “President-elect Donald Trump on Monday officially announced that he will appoint Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn to be the director of his National Economic Council … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted the pick on Friday. ‘It’s called a rigged economy and this is how it works,’ he tweeted.”
Incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wouldn’t let Detroit fix her mistakes. NYT: “…schools in Detroit were … the worst-performing in the nation. So city leaders across the political spectrum agreed on a fix, with legislation to provide oversight and set standards on how to open schools and close bad ones. But the bill died without even getting a final vote … support fell away, as leaders of the Republican caucus reminded the members of how much financial support the DeVoses could withhold.”
Politico explores what Andy Puzder can do at Labor: “…Puzder is likely to modify two guidance documents … The first provided an expansive definition of who is an employee—and thus covered by federal labor laws—and who is an independent contractor. The second also offered an expansive definition for ‘joint employment,’ … a big deal for franchise companies … Puzder could unilaterally slow down the enforcement regime, conducting fewer investigations, seeking smaller settlements with employers … The Department is also responsible for enforcing immigration laws in the workplace … [conservative] critics are sounding the alarm that he’ll betray Trump’s campaign promises by loosening up on workplace-based immigration enforcement…”

MCCONNELL READIES CORPORATE TAX CUTS

Sen. Mitch McConnell plans to ram through Obamacare repeal and tax cuts, not infrastructure. TPM: “The Senate will use the procedural process known as budget reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes to pass in the Senate … in January to repeal the Affordable Care Act, [and a] second will be used in the spring to cut taxes … McConnell also voiced skepticism that a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill was a good idea or use of the GOP’s time and resources…”
“Corporate Welfare Won’t Create Jobs” Americans for Tax Fairness’ Frank Clemente warns Trump in NYT oped: “…lowering corporate taxes won’t prompt firms to create American jobs. Instead, we need to close a major tax loophole that actually creates an incentive for multinationals to shift jobs offshore, even as it substantially lowers taxes for them. That loophole, known as deferral, lets corporations avoid paying any United States taxes on their offshore profits until they are brought back here … The corporate clamor for tax cuts has nothing to do with job creation. It’s about lining the pockets of corporate executives and wealthy shareholders through ever-higher dividends and ever-bigger stock buybacks.”
Republicans consider “border adjustment” taxation. NYT: “A central idea is that goods would be taxed based on where they were consumed rather than where they were produced, meaning that imports would be taxed by Washington while exports would not … By not taxing exports, [economist Alan Auerbach] said, it would ‘strongly encourage American companies to locate activities in the United States.’ But critics say this is wishful thinking, divorced from the reality of international trade laws, Washington lobbying and corporate financial engineering.”
Trump’s power to coerce companies is limited. WSJ: “…any executive action likely would face legal challenges and the Trump administration might elect to pursue tax legislation in Congress to accomplish his goal … Rarely used trade legislation gives presidents surprisingly broad authority to put products on a ‘retaliation list’ and impose a tariff—essentially a tax—at the border, although any effort to target specific companies the way Mr. Trump has suggested would likely face challenges in U.S. courts and in international trade tribunals…”

PEREZ V. ELLISON

Labor Secretary Tom Perez expected to enter DNC race. NYT: “Mr. Perez’s entry into the race could start a proxy battle between Democrats loyal to the Mr. Obama and those from the more liberal wing of the party represented by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is backing Mr. Ellison, a Minnesota progressive, for party chairman … Perez, 55, has scant experience with electoral politics, having served just four years on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland … But there has been no groundswell of support from the committee for any of the announced candidates, and the contest remains highly volatile.”

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