* Steven Mufson reports on a new instance of potential Trump corruption:
President Trump set up a new clash with an independent agency Monday evening with his call for the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep open an aging coal plant that buys much of its coal from a company chaired by Robert E. Murray, one of the president’s major supporters.
The TVA board will meet Thursday to consider whether to close the 49-year-old plant, which ran only intermittently last year because it was no longer needed to supply steady uninterrupted power known as baseload. The board also is considering shutting down a 52-year-old coal unit at Bull Run near Oak Ridge, Tenn.
In a tweet Monday night, Trump said: “Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!”
But the TVA is leaning toward the closure of the Paradise and Bull Run plants precisely because they are not viable.
Was that tweet written by Murray? How did Trump even know about this plant?
* Heather Long reports on a new warning sign for the economy:
A record 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their auto loan payments, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Tuesday, even more than during the wake of the financial crisis.
Economists warn that this is a red flag. Despite the strong economy and low unemployment rate, many Americans are struggling to pay their bills.
“The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market,” economists at the New York Fed wrote in a blog post.
A car loan is typically the first payment people make because a vehicle is critical to getting to work, and someone can live in a car if all else fails. When car loan delinquencies rise, it is usually a sign of significant duress among low-income and working-class Americans.
This isn’t about this month’s job numbers, it’s something more fundamental, about what kind of security this economy is creating, or failing to create, even at a time when nearly everyone has a job. Might be something the Democratic presidential candidates would want to talk about.
* John Bresnahan, Laura Barrón-López, and Heather Caygle report on how Republicans think it’ll be great for them if they aim their attacks at high-profile freshman women Democrats.
* Ron Brownstein and Joyce Tseng offer a very useful dive into the Democratic primary electorate, which will be more diverse in 2020 than ever before.