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SCOTUScare, cueing up TPP, shutdown looms, SocSec worries…

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

 


BREAKING

 

► This morning from Huffington Post — Supreme Court rejects ACA lawsuit, preserving health insurance for millions — The latest and possibly the last serious effort to cripple the Affordable Care Act through the courts has just failed. On Thursday, for the second time in three years, the Supreme Court rejected a major lawsuit against the ACA. Had the plaintiffs prevailed, millions of people who depend upon the ACA for insurance would have lost financial assistance from the federal government. Without that money, most of them would have had to give up coverage altogether. But two of the court’s conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined the court’s four liberals in rejecting the lawsuit in a 6-3 decision. The decision is a major defeat for conservatives, who have been trying to wipe the ACA off the books ever since its enactment in 2010.

► From Think Progress — The 5 most melodramatic lines from Justice Scalia’s ACA dissent — They include: “Words no longer have meaning,” today’s interpretation “is unheard of,” and “we should start calling this SCOTUScare.”

 


FAST TRACK

 

fast-track-murray-cantwell► From Politico — Senate clears Fast Track bill for president — The Senate sent Fast Track trade promotion authority legislation to President Obama’s desk Wednesday, ending more than two weeks of convoluted legislative procedures aimed mainly at overcoming Democratic opposition. The 60-38 vote caps off a contentious debate that pitted Obama against a majority of his fellow Democrats.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted “yes” again Wednesday on Fast Track, just as they did on Monday’s critical cloture vote that required 60 votes.

Senators also passed a bill on Wednesday to renew TAA assistance for workers who lose their jobs because of trade. Although AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote, “We cannot endorse the current TAA legislation, given its shortcomings,” the AFL-CIO urged House members to vote on the legislation as they saw fit.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As noted in Trumka’s letter, the Reichert Plan of draining $700 million from Medicare to help pay for TAA has been dropped, but the new Senate-approved TAA bill still cuts $250 million in Medicare payments to hospital kidney dialysis centers. “This violates the principle that Medicare savings should be plowed back into Medicare,” Trumka wrote. Remember this the next time Republicans take a run at “reforming” (read: privatizing) Medicare. They’ll point to the program’s precarious financial projections and pretend they had nothing to do with it.

► From Reuters — Congress victory moves Obama’s Pacific trade pact forward — (Fast Track’s passage) could propel the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), over the finish line, while also boosting hopes for completing an ambitious trade deal with the European Union. Labor groups, which fought fast-track, said they will redouble their efforts. “We will vigorously oppose TPP if it continues on its current course,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama’s bolsters his leverage with trade victory, but at a cost — The open warfare within his own party was searing and may be slow to heal. Democratic lawmakers said an already fraught relationship with the president had soured further, and some vowed to keep fighting the TPP, foreshadowing another bruising battle.

free-trade► In the Wall St. Journal — Support for free trade drops, amid raging Congressional debate — Asked if free trade between the U.S. and foreign countries has helped or hurt the U.S., the poll found that  29% said it helped — down from 37% in April. Meanwhile the share who said trade has hurt the U.S. rose to 34% from 31% in April.

► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Who’s speaking up for the American worker? (by Beth Macy, author of Factory Man) — Unfettered free trade has not only put the Henry County region near the top of Virginia’s unemployment rankings for more than a decade, but it has also ushered in an era of soaring food insecurity and Social Security disability claims… Consumers and journalists alike had failed to connect the dots between escalating crime in dying factory towns and page-three wire stories about Bangladesh textile factory fires… I wish I could tell the people in my audiences exactly who will benefit most from TPP.  But anything this secretive, and this marked by corporate influence, leaves little room for doubt: It will not be America’s factory workers.

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

15Jul01-shutdown-rally► In today’s Olympian — State employees brace for potential shutdown — State employees who received warnings they might be laid off next week aren’t just waiting to see if the state government partially shuts down. They’re planning for it — either by watching their spending in June or by organizing rallies to pressure the Legislature to reach a budget deal. While state lawmakers are working to finalize a new state budget that would avert a shutdown, state worker unions are organizing a Wednesday rally at the Capitol.

ALSO at The Stand — If lawmakers fail, Shutdown Rally on July 1

► In today’s Olympian — Cities fret over shutdown, budget — To hear the mayors of South Sound’s largest cities talk, there’s a bad-news, worse-news scenario shaping up for local government.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Capital building kerfuffle adds to state budget woes — It’s vexed state lawmakers for months as they consider moving the Washington State Patrol into new digs. The House and Senate can’t agree on the answer, adding fuel to the interminable political wrangling in Olympia that’s pushed the state ever closer to a shutdown. It puts at risk a new state construction budget that would pay for such things as a new cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School and a WSU building in Everett.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Phony politicking in Olympia puts education at risk (by former Rep. Larry Seaquist) — Instead of strategic leadership in Olympia, we’re getting political posturing and the budget shaving that automatically goes with pandering. Even if they somehow manage to satisfy the court on “basic” funding, our legislators will leave our overall education system too small, our teacher corps in crisis and way too many of our citizens fenced out.

 


BOEING

 

mcnerney-as-burns► In the Seattle Times — Boeing boss Jim McNerney’s turbulent tenure — Admirers describe Jim McNerney as a numbers guy whose relentless push for efficiency and lower costs has consistently delivered stellar profits in his decade as Boeing chairman and CEO. Yet McNerney has alienated engineers and machinists — and even some executives — in the Pacific Northwest with what they see as his coldblooded approach to moving work and forcing union concessions. All agree on this: He is an iron-willed strategist who redrew the map of Boeing’s manufacturing and engineering sites, gaining tremendous leverage over the company’s pugnacious labor unions.

► MUST-READ from Forbes — Boeing will pay high price for McNerney’s mistake of treating aviation like it was any other industry (by Richard Aboulafia) — The company continues to lose tens of millions of dollars on each 787 it builds. These recurring production losses (on top of 787 development costs) stood at over $26 billion in January and will likely reach $30 billion, and possibly beyond. This terrible drag on profitability would have been partly avoided if Boeing management had taken a different approach to labor. Rather than the McNerney formula of eliminating pensions, cutting wages, and shifting production to new facilities, the company could have proposed a partnership with their workers. After all, productivity improvements often come from the shop floor.

mcmorris-rodgers-L► From AP — GOP-led Congress prepared to let Export-Import Bank expire — Congressional Republicans are poised to deal a sharp blow to their traditional allies in the business community by allowing the federal Export-Import Bank to go out of business at the end of the month. But it may only be temporary. Over the past year, the 81-year-old bank that makes and guarantees loans to help overseas buyers purchase U.S. products — including Boeing jets — has become a surprising test of GOP purity, as tea party-backed lawmakers and outside conservative groups have denounced the bank as crony capitalism and vowed to get rid of it.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Boeing: You get what you pay for.

 


LOCAL

 

► In the PSBJ — Washington falls from #7 to #8 in ranking of best states for business — Washington state placed No. 8 in CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business 2015. Washington was No. 7 last year. CNBC used 60 measures of competitiveness and then separated the rankings into 10 broad categories.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The CNBC report cites poor roads and the high cost of living as hindrances.

► In today’s News Tribune — Wages up in Washington, unemployment benefits also due to rise

 


NATIONAL

 

voter-id-stats► From Think Progress — Democrats unveil bill to restore gutted Voting Rights Act — On the eve of the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to strip the Voting Rights Act of one of its strongest provisions, Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing a new bill to restore federal oversight in states and counties with a history of discrimination and voter suppression.

► From Huffington Post — Florida voter purge fiasco haunts Jeb Bush’s bid for president — As the 2016 campaign heats up, an episode from his tenure as Florida governor reveals why Bush’s image as a “uniter, not a divider,” may not stand up. The state’s deeply flawed purge of felons from its voting rolls in advance of the 2000 presidential election remains a scar that still has not healed for many in the state.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

social-security-check► In today’s Seattle Times — How to worry about Social Security (by Jon Talton) — To think Social Security could fail requires imagining that the American economy collapses, Washington defaults on its debt and revolution follows. Even the oligarchs don’t want that to happen. The more real-world worries about Social Security center around our New Gilded Age. Severe and widening inequality doesn’t help the soundness of the program. Consider indebted college grads who enter the workforce making less than I did at the same point in my life. People laid off who can never make the same decent wage in their new job. A lifetime on minimum wage. Permanent joblessness because of the new robots and automation. All these are bigger threats to Social Security than the very murky projections of 20 years hence.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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