Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Measures Economy's Problem


Dave Johnson
Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Measures Economy’s Problem
Our economy has a trade problem. Our trade deficit measures the extent of the problem. Our trade deficit continues to be enormous and humongous ... our economy bought $43.6 billion more in goods and services in February than it sold. $43.6 billion of our economy’s “demand” is translating into jobs, wages, and production elsewhere in the world. It has done this month after month since the late 1970s and shows no sign of balancing.

Gorsuch, Plagiarist

Gorsuch hit with plagiarism charge. Politico: “… documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, ‘The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,’ read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them … ‘I’ve never seen a college plagiarism code that this would not be in violation of,’ said Rebecca Moore Howard, a Syracuse University professor who has written extensively on the issue.”
McConnell files for cloture. Time:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has filed a motion for cloture on the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch … The Senate will vote to invoke cloture on Thursday … This sets the stage for McConnell to change the rules by introducing a vote for the ‘nuclear option.'”
McConnell promises to keep legislative filibuster. Politico: “McConnell stressed that ‘there’s no sentiment’ among Senate Republicans for overhauling the filibuster on legislation … When asked whether he would commit to not changing the legislative filibuster under his tenure as majority leader, the Kentucky Republican responded: ‘Correct.'”

GOP Flails On Healthcare

No healthcare deal. Politico: “….conservative and moderate Republicans met and realized they had two very different understandings of the changes sought by top Trump officials … Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus say Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus and budget director Mick Mulvaney sought to win their votes by offering a repeal of major Obamacare regulations during a Monday night meeting. But moderates who met with the same Trump officials hours before were told the changes wouldn’t be as far-reaching … leaving Hill insiders speculating whether the White House offered two different potential deals — or lawmakers selectively heard what they wanted.”
Majority approve of ACA. Gallup: ” Fifty-five percent of Americans now support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a major turnaround from five months ago when 42% approved and 53% disapproved. This is the first time a majority of Americans have approved of the healthcare law, also known as Obamacare, since Gallup first asked about it in this format in November 2012.”

WH Shoots Down Carbon Tax

Carbon tax, VAT floated and shot down. The Hill: “The denial [by a WH spokeswoman] … came hours after the Washington Post reported [that] Trump aides were considering both tax proposals in place of a border-adjustable tax that is running into significant Republican and business opposition.”
Coal companies tell Trump to keep Paris pact. Reuters: “Remaining in the global deal to combat climate change will give U.S. negotiators a chance to advocate for coal in the future of the global energy mix, coal companies like Cloud Peak Energy Inc and Peabody Energy Corp told White House officials over the past few weeks … The coal industry was interested in ensuring that the Paris deal provides a role for low-emission coal-fired power plants and financial support for carbon capture and storage technology”

Freedom Caucus Aims To Shape Tax Deal

Freedom Caucus warns GOP leadership about tax reform. Politico: “The head of the ultra-conservative group said Monday evening that lawmakers need to see the draft of a tax overhaul bill before it’s leaked to the media — which is what happened on the health care repeal bill. That measure failed in large part because it was written by leadership, and Freedom Caucus members felt they had no input.”
Dems set markers for avoiding shutdown. The Hill: “Among the nonstarters are any attempts to block funds for ­ObamaCare implementation or environmental protection. Democrats will oppose language that halts Obama-era rules regarding overtime pay and retirement advice provided by financial advisers, as well as legislation that increases funding for the Pentagon while cutting domestic discretionary spending … The House Appropriations Committee is expected to release a spending package the week of the [April 28] deadline…”

Breakfast Sides

Rep. Pramila Jayapal makes case for the College for All Act in The Nation: “The bill creates a federal-state partnership where the federal government provides 2/3 of the cost of free tuition for all students and the state provides 1/3. We do this for families earning up to $125,000/year—which covers about 80 percent of students … our plan also recognizes the unaffordability of non-tuition costs—fees, books, housing—and allows for those who receive maximum Pell Grant awards to use those awards to cover those expenses. We include tribal and historically black colleges and minority serving institutions because we know how important these institutions are to educational equity. And all students, regardless of income, who want to attend a two-year community college would do so completely tuition and fee-free.”
American Propsect’s Harold Meyerson questions the GOP strategy of attacking social programs: “For decades, Republicans have attacked Democratic efforts to expand or merely defend social insurance by depicting such insurance as benefiting presumably shiftless minorities at the expense of white workers who weren’t all that prosperous themselves … What they didn’t factor in was the downward mobility of the white working class…”

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