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Trade vote soon, crazy Republicans, state tax breaks…



►  From Reuters — Obama said ready to move on South Korea trade deal — President Barack Obama will soon send a free trade pact with South Korea to Congress for approval despite Republican threats to vote against it because of a retraining program for workers displaced by trade, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said on Thursday.

►  This week in The Stand — Americans oppose ‘free-trade’ deals, now more than ever — A May 2011 poll finds that Americans’ No. 1 foreign policy priority is “protecting the jobs of U.S. workers,” now ranking ahead “protecting the U.S. from terrorism.” And what does the American public blame for the loss of U.S. workers’ jobs overseas? Globalization and NAFTA-like free trade agreements: 69% of Americans believe FTAs have cost U.S. jobs, while just 18% believe they have created jobs.




►  In today’s Washington Post — As White House talks falter, Senate works on deal to raise debt limit — “It’s decision time,” Obama told congressional leaders after meeting at the White House for a fifth straight day. Obama gave Republicans until early Saturday to tell him whether any of three options for trimming the federal budget would win GOP support.

►  In The Hill — S&P sees 50% of downgrade for U.S. credit rating — If the agency believes Congress and the White House cannot reach a “credible solution to the rising U.S. government debt burden,” it could lower the rating several notches. Such a move would significantly drive up borrowing costs for the federal government, and in turn roil global markets which widely treat Treasury bonds as risk-free assets.

►  In today’s Washington Post — GOP dissent complicates path to resolution — As the Aug. 2 deadline looms, the debate over how to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis is being complicated by Republican legislators, including several freshman, who think the crisis is not as bad as it’s made out to be.

►  In today’s Washington Post — With no debt deal, Obama would face tough choices on what bills to pay — He would choose among Social Security checks, salaries for members of the military and veterans, unemployment benefits, student loans, and many other government programs, and to protect the nation’s creditworthiness, he would have to balance those priorities with the imperative of making payments to investors in U.S. government bonds — ranging from domestic pension funds to the Chinese government.

►  In today’s NY Times — The debt alarm is heard (editorial) — As negotiators in the debt-ceiling talks sputtered and raged, the chill reality of an imminent government default crept up Wednesday and made a mockery of their gamesmanship. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said default would be bad for his party’s “brand” and would allow the president to shift blame for the poor economy onto Republicans. What he really meant, of course, was that default would expose the huge Republican role in creating the economic crisis. Republicans have not only consented to the skyrocketing deficit, they have also blocked any consideration of programs to put Americans back to work, all while blaming high unemployment on President Obama.

►  In today’s NY Times — Anarchists and tasseled loafers (Timothy Egan column) — The debt-ceiling debate suggests that a wing of the G.O.P. is willing to flirt with chaos.

►  In today’s NY Times — Getting to crazy (Paul Krugman column) — A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask. Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.




►  At AFL-CIO Now — Tell your Senators CPI changes are scam to cut Social Security –There’s a plan floating around Capitol Hill that would slash Social Security benefits as part of a deficit reduction package even though Social Security does not contribute a penny to the deficit. That’s why you need to CLICK HERE to tell your senators “Do not cut Social Security.” Backers of the plan are disguising the cuts as so-called inflation adjustments. Don’t be fooled. Changing the way the Consumer Price Index is calculated will reduce the cost of living adjustments that Social Security recipients count on to keep pace with inflation.




►  In today’s Spokesman-Review — Panel takes aim at state tax breaks — The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee suggests the state could bring in nearly $44 million if it allows tax breaks on hog fuel and on renewable energy machinery to expire as scheduled this year. That $44 million is a relatively small sum compared to the state’s two-year general fund budget of about $32 billion. But the committee said the Legislature should review some more lucrative tax breaks to see if they should be allowed to continue.

►  In today’s Olympian — Voters quickly get another shot at privatizing liquor sales (editorial) — It’s a bit of a surprise that voters are being asked to weigh in on a citizen initiative to end the state’s monopoly on hard liquor sales so soon after they rejected two ballot measures based on the same premise. “What part of ‘no’ doesn’t Costco understand?” asked Jim Cooper, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. “There is no grassroots groundswell for liquor privatization in the state,” Cooper said. “I-1183 shares the same flaws of the previous initiatives, hurting public safety.”




►  In today’s Tri-City Herald — Battelle, Lockheed say job cuts coming — Battelle (which operates PNNL for the DOE) provided little specific information about how many jobs would be lost when it transfers work to Ohio, but a former job posting for the toxicology center described it as having more than 100 employees in Richland.

►  At — Boeing logs cancellations of 35 737s — The cancellation comes as Boeing’s rival Airbus has logged more than 600 orders for its single-aisle A320 and A320 new engine option aircraft.




►  From AP — NFL players, owners making progress, sources say — Significant progress on a major sticking point in the NFL labor impasse – soaring rookie salaries – during marathon talks Thursday raised hopes that a tentative agreement in principle could perhaps come within 24 hours.

►  In The Hill — Business group: Scrap pilot rest mandate — Calling it “precisely the kind of rule that the Obama Administration is targeting for reform,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging the Office of Management and Budget to reject a proposed regulation that is intended to guard against fatigue among pilots.

►  In today’s News Tribune — 11,000 jobs at risk with Borders — Borders Group, once the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain with more than 1,000 outlets, appears headed for liquidation after a judge on Thursday approved its motion to auction itself off with a team of liquidators as its opening bid.




►  At– Citigroup profit rises 24%, to$3.3 billion — Citigroup announced a profit of $3.3 billion, or $1.09 a share, beating analyst consensus estimates. It reported a $2.7 billion profit in the second quarter of last year.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.


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