The Stand

Fast Track bull, budget deal tee’d up, jailing the poor…

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Monday, June 8, 2015

 


FAST TRACK

 

wall-st-bull► From The Hill — Trade supporters bullish as vote nears — House GOP leaders are expressing a bold new confidence heading into the final stretch of the divisive fight over granting President Obama broad trade powers. The vote, expected as soon as this week, is likely to be a nail-biter — scores of lawmakers in both parties remain publicly undecided, making the count on both sides difficult to pin down. But both the White House and GOP leaders say their whipping efforts are paying dividends, with new supporters signing on by the day.

► From Politico — Big Pharma seeks special trade deal — The pharmaceutical industry has been pressing the Obama administration to insist that the Trans-Pacific Partnership include 12 years of monopoly pricing power for the makers of costly drugs. But critics and international relief organizations warn that the deal would lock in higher costs and mean that far fewer people in developing countries would be able to afford life-saving medication.

► From AP — Obama’s trade quest trails him across Atlantic — President Barack Obama’s politically fraught trade quest in Washington trailed him across the Atlantic Sunday, as he met with world leaders anxiously watching a debate on Capitol Hill that could impact the status of economic pacts with the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

► From Huffington Post — Obama’s Fast Track attack on women (by Martha Burk) — The so-called partnership is an insult to all U.S. workers, with many provisions that will hurt women the most. The CWA says it will steal majority-female jobs from low wage workplaces like call centers, as well as higher wage sectors such as human resources. And according to Doctors Without Borders, the agreement may well cut off access to generic drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS — now predominately women and kids.

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► In the Seattle Times — Budget writers in Olympia have tentative spending agreement — State budget writers have tentatively agreed on a spending level for the state’s 2015-17 operating budget, according to the OFM director. If lawmakers in both parties green-light the agreement, then negotiators can begin line-by-line bargaining. That’s when lawmakers will determine exactly how much to spend on education, mental-health programs, prisons and other needs.

waleg-chambersbay► From WFSE — Budget talks go on, no end in sight, as lawmakers prepare for US Open visit — Budget talks being refereed by Gov. Jay Inslee are reportedly making some very slow progress as the Legislature enters its second week of the second 30-day special session. Meanwhile, lawmakers are making plans to take their show on the road once the U.S. Open golf championship tees off June 18 at Chambers Bay south of Tacoma. Golf or averting a shutdown? Tiger Woods or funding our contracts? Hmmm. What’s a legislator to do?

► In the Seattle Times — Lawmakers get penalty stroke at Chambers Bay (editorial) — If Pierce County officials really have nothing to hide, they should allow reporters into meetings with state legislators during the upcoming U.S. Open.

► From AP — Lawmakers claim $180K in payments for special session — The price of running the Legislature for an extra month included more than $180,000 in daily expense payments to lawmakers. Those $120-a-day per diem payments and mileage reimbursements will continue to add up as lawmakers continue to negotiate a state budget in a second special session.

► In today’s NY Times — States confront wide budget gaps even after years of recovery — Though the national economy is in its sixth year of recovery from the recession, many states are still facing major funding gaps that have locked legislatures in protracted battles with governors. In some states, lawmakers have gone into overtime with unresolved budgets, special sessions and threats of widespread government layoffs.

shell-game► MUST-READ from the UFWS blog — Oh Danny Boy (by Bill Lyne) — On higher education, Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times is convinced that “the Republicans blew the Democrats out of the water. The GOP,” he tells us, “is proposing to slash tuition but at the same time send tens of millions of dollars to the universities to make up the difference.”  The problem: It’s not true. The Republicans say they provide enough money to cover the tuition cut, but the cold, hard numbers in their budget say they do not. The Republican rhetoric on tuition sounds great, but the gap between that rhetoric and the reality of their budget would leave lots of students actually paying more in tuition because it would take them longer to get their degrees.

 


LOCAL

 

► From AP — Proposal to raise minimum wage qualifies for Tacoma ballot — A citizen’s initiative to raise Tacoma’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has qualified for the November ballot. The Pierce County auditor’s staff has verified that petitions submitted by the 15 Now group contained 3,231 valid signatures of registered Tacoma voters, exceeding the requirement is 3,160 to get on the ballot.

 


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

immigration-rally► In today’s Washington Post — Obama administration stops work on immigrant program — A series of legal setbacks have halted the government’s intensive preparations to move forward with President Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, even as community organizations continue a rapid push to get ready for the programs, according to U.S. officials and immigrant advocacy groups.

► From Politico — Obama poised to hike wages for millions — The Obama administration is on the verge of possibly doubling the salary levels that would require employers to pay overtime in the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade. And it doesn’t need Congress’s permission.

► From The Hill — Report: Data breach not limited to federal employees — The recent hack on a database with the personal information of 4 million current and former government employees may have also yielded data on people that never worked in government, according to a report by ABC News.

 


NATIONAL

 

walker-cash► In today’s NY Times — Behind Scott Walker, a longstanding conservative alliance against unions — More than any of his potential rivals for the White House, Walker is a product of a loose network of conservative donors, think tanks and talk radio hosts who have spent years preparing the road for a politician who could successfully present their arguments for small government to a broader constituency. Walker has embraced those goals in Wisconsin, and the promise of his fledgling presidential campaign is to do the same in Washington. The little-known governor-elect honored in Milwaukee has become something of a conservative hero, backed by wealthy donors like Charles G. and David H. Koch and revered as a leader brave enough to face down unions and their liberal supporters.

► From AFL-CIO Now — Workers head to Walmart shareholders meeting to demand $15/hour, full-time schedules — Workers and Our Walmart activists are headed to the Walmart shareholders’ meeting in Bentonville, Ark., to demand that the company raise its minimum salary to $15 per hour and provide consistent, full-time jobs for workers who want them at the retail giant. The workers also will protest the layoffs of workers who have raised their voice and demanded more from the country’s largest private employer.

► From KUOW — Men named John, Robert, William or James outnumber women on corporate boards — More men named John, Robert, William or James run the boards of America’s largest companies than women do. And in the Pacific Northwest, the numbers are worse than the national average.

derp-south-park► In today’s NY Times — Fighting the derp (by Paul Krugman) — We live in an age of derp and cheap cynicism. “Derp” is shorthand for an all-too-obvious feature of the modern intellectual landscape: people who keep saying the same thing no matter how much evidence accumulates that it’s completely wrong… But derp isn’t destiny. But how can you — whether you’re a pundit, a policy maker, or just a concerned citizen — protect yourself against derpitude? The first line of defense, I’d argue, is to always be suspicious of people telling you what you want to hear… Fighting the derp can be hard, not least because it can upset friends who want to be reassured in their beliefs. But you should do it anyway: it’s your civic duty.

 


TODAY’S MUST-SEE

 

► From Last Night Tonight — John Oliver explains why America’s system of bail is a way to lock up the poor and the frequency and cost of bail is on the rise. So poor people are regularly choosing to admit guilt, even when they are not, just to get out of jail, which restricts what jobs are available to them, keeping them poor. But Washington, D.C. is leading the way toward a solution.

 


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

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