Fast Track vs. Medicare, silent Olympia, Blondie’s Golden…

Thursday, June 11, 2015




► From NBC News — Survey: Obama’s trade proposal a tough sell for most Americans — Despite a heavy push by President Obama for a sweeping multinational trade deal, a majority of Americans echo the concerns of labor unions and a number of Democratic members of Congress that the trade accord will negatively impact U.S. workers and companies. Two-thirds of Americans say protecting American industries and jobs by limiting imports is more important than allowing free trade so they can buy products at lower prices from any country.

ALSO at The Stand — Voters in Washington state oppose Fast Track, poll finds (May 8) — In Rep. Suzan DelBene’s 1st CD, voters opposed Fast Track by 18 points, with 54 percent opposed and 36 percent supporting. In Rep. Derek Kilmer’s 6th CD, it was opposed by a 14-point margin (50 to 36) and in Rep. Denny Heck’s 10th CD, voters oppose Fast Track by a whopping 22 points (57 to 35).

► From Politico — Dems threaten to sink Obama trade agenda — President Obama’s trade agenda is running into potentially fatal opposition within his own party on the eve of a critical vote, and there might be only one person who can save it: Obama himself. Speaker John Boehner’s plan to bring a package of trade bills to the House floor Friday is proving to be a big gamble, as both senior Republicans and Democrats are privately wondering whether they have the votes to pass several key portions.

► From Roll Call — Medicare dispute could derail Friday trade votes — A lingering dispute over language regarding Medicare cuts could delay House Republican leaders’ plan to put a package of four trade bills on Friday. In the original TAA bill passed by the Senate, the retraining programs were paid for with sequester cuts to Medicare (a plan devised by our own Rep. Dave Reichert). House Republican leaders agreed to find a different offset to appease revolting Democrats, and they did. The problem is that, to avoid having to send TAA back to the Senate, they left the original language intact and put the new pay-for in the African trade bill. Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who have been whipping against the TAA’s Medicare language, aren’t satisfied, calling it “a bait-and-switch.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — This morning, the AFL-CIO sent a letter clarifying its position on undoing the Reichert Plan for Medicare cuts. It reads, “Nothing… would make the proposed pay-for fix to Medicare acceptable. Anything short of fixing the pay-for in the actual text of the TAA bill is an unacceptable gimmick that will put Members of Congress on the record for cutting Medicare.”

► BREAKING from Huffington Post — TPP targets Medicare, new leak reveals — A recent draft of the health care transparency section of TPP released by Wikileaks on Wednesday reveals the deal would make Medicare vulnerable to legal challenges from pharmaceutical companies and jeopardize future attempts by the insurer to negotiate lower drug prices.

EDITOR’S NOTE — There’s a good reason why President Obama is keeping the TPP secret before Congress ties its own hands with Fast Track.

► In today’s NY Times — Republicans tie their favorite causes to trade agreement — With a final House showdown coming on Friday on President Obama’s push for accelerated power to pursue a sweeping trade agreement, the vote brokering has begun — and it is all tilting to the right. For Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), there is language promising that no trade deals can compel the United States to address climate change. For anti-immigrant firebrand Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), another provision would prohibit future trade deals from loosening immigration laws or expanding visa access. “It’s one vote at a time,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), a leader in the trade push. “It’s going to be close.”

► In today’s Washington Post — AFL-CIO sends angry letter to Obama on trade — AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka has sent a sharply worded letter to President Obama chiding him for having “repeatedly isolated and marginalized labor and unions” in the debate over the president’s Pacific Rim trade accord.

ALSO at The Stand — Trumka letter sets Obama straight on trade

► From the AFL-CIO — A refugee of America’s failed trade policies




► In today’s WA News Service — Parks, kids are focus of state budget protests today — As hopes for a budget deal dwindle in Olympia, five protest rallies are planned for Thursday afternoon around Western Washington as state workers call attention to higher funding needs for children’s services and state parks — which the state Senate has left out of its budget.

ALSO at The Stand:

Amid budget slog, advocates for children, parks rally Thursday — Vigils to Protect Kids will be held at noon today (Thursday) in Olympia, Everett, Tacoma and Vancouver.

DOC employees to picket Thursday for contract funding — Teamster corrections employees will raise informational pickets in Monroe and Walla Walla today (Thursday) from 12 to 4 p.m.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Inslee mum on status of budget talks — Silence descended over spending talks Wednesday, as Gov. Jay Inslee deflected most questions about progress in talks to break a legislative stalemate over the 2015-17 operating budget.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — High stakes, low drama and no budget deal in Olympia (by Jerry Cornfield) — A government shutdown is a mere three weeks away but on another sunny and warm day, there’s not much visible activity taking place to prevent the shuttering of agencies.

► From CNBC — State incentives: Business boon or corporate welfare? — While the number of tax-subsidy deals sought by businesses began declining before the Great Recession and remains depressed, the assistance being offered by states is going up. The result, says Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, is that a relatively small number of companies have increasing leverage, and “they’re taking it to the bank.”

► From AP — Oregon Senate backs paid sick leave bill — The Senate’s 17-13 vote sends the measure to the House, which could vote as soon as next week. If the House approves and Gov. Kate Brown signs the bill, Oregon would become the fourth state after Connecticut, California and Massachusetts to require paid leave for sick employees.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Koster ‘thinking seriously’ about another run for state House — John Koster, the Arlington dairy farmer, former state and county legislator, and three-time failed candidate for Congress, is “seriously” thinking about a run for the Legislature in 2016. Koster, 63, would be seeking to replace Republican Rep. Elizabeth Scott in the 39th Legislative District. Scott will not run for re-election so she can run for Congress.




► From KPLU — State will examine labor dispute at Green River College — A state commission has decided it will wade into the labor drama that’s pitted many Green River College faculty members against the school’s administration. The state’s Public Employee Relations Commission will appoint an examiner to handle a faculty complaint that school administrators’ proposal to lay off several faculty union leaders amounts to an unfair labor practice.

ALSO at The Stand — Green River College board backs Ely; faculty authorizes strike (May 27)

► In the (Everett) Herald — Machinists gather 1,400 pounds of peanut butter — Members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 collected nearly 1,400 pounds of peanut butter during a recent drive coordinated by the Snohomish Central Labor Council and Snohomish County United Way benefiting Volunteers of America’s Everett food bank.




► From Reuters — Burwell: Obama wouldn’t sign GOP plan to extend insurance subsidies — President Obama would not sign a Republican plan to extend subsidies for buying insurance under the ACA if the Supreme Court rules against such assistance in a pending case, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.

► From AP — Walmart violated minimum wage laws, judge rules — Wal-Mart could be on the hook for more than $100 million in back pay after a federal judge ruled the company failed to pay California minimum wage to truck drivers for activities that included inspecting and washing their trucks, an attorney said Wednesday.




► From Equal Voices — The dignity of living: America’s home care aides — Meet Christal Boutte, a Seattle woman who is among 3.5 million home caregivers. Learn about her compassion, her clients and living.




► Although we’ll post the outcomes of the big Fast Track/Medicare/TAA votes, The Entire Staff of The Stand is taking Friday off as part of a weekend celebration of our son’s high school graduation. We are proud to say that, in addition to being a deep-thinking, creative nonconformist, this young man is passionate about music, particularly rap. In choosing a song for him today, we considered “Now or Never” by Kendrick Lamar, one of his favorite artists. And we nearly picked an obvious theme choice: “Commencement Day” by local heroes The Blue Scholars. But in the end, we know he’s a Jill Scott fan, so we went just with this. Congratulations, Blondie!


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

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