Progressive Breakfast for October 20

Morning Message Dave Johnson

Promised Republican Economic Austerity Plan Will Ruin The Economy

The economy is at stake in this election. If Republicans take the Senate, they promise to impose severe austerity — even as austerity is proven to kill economies ... Having the House – which they already control – and Senate means they can pass budgets and send them to the president. They say they will give the President a choice, sign the severe austerity budgets or let the government just shut down with no budget.

Populism Rising In Midterms?

Prairie populism catching fire in South Dakota. Bloomberg: “[Democratic Senate candidate Rick] Weiland is trying something else. His campaign is a home-grown insurgency, old-fashioned prairie populism in the spirit of George McGovern … He ran against ‘big money’ and its collusion with government. That was exactly the message the Tea Party had conquered vast swathes of the country with in 2010 … ‘Rand Paul can’t be bought,’ promised a narrator. Weiland’s revelation, two elections later, was that a South Dakota progressive could say the exact same thing…”

While “‘Clinton Democrats’ falling flat” in the South, reports The Hill: “Clinton allies also insist that both Bill and Hillary have the sort of innate understanding of Southerners that has become increasingly rare within the Democratic Party. While more of the party’s base increasingly lives urban areas, they are among the few surrogates who can reach blue-collar and rural voters … But the problems facing incumbents even like Landrieu and Pryor, who come from perhaps the preeminent Democratic families in their respective states, underscore the difficulties Democrats face in the South.”

Education issues putting GOP on defensive. Politico: “…Democrats see issues such as college affordability and K-12 funding as their best chance to motivate the on-again, off-again voters who often sit out midterms … Accusing Republicans of cutting programs for students while giving tax breaks to the rich motivates diffident voters more than similarly partisan messages on reproductive rights, the economy or health care, veteran Democratic political strategist Celinda Lake found in a series of focus groups and polls.”

Politico poll of voters in competitive Senate states and House districts sees Democratic edge: “The atmosphere of fear and anxiety has not produced a decisive advantage for either party on the congressional ballot. Forty-four percent of voters said they would vote for Democrats next month, while 41 percent said they preferred Republicans. That represents a tiny shift in the Democratic direction since POLITICO’s last poll, in early September…”

Austerity v. Ebola

Has austerity hurt our ability to contain Ebola? Prof. Terry O’Sullivan talks to the American Prospect: “…we have been starving public health in the last 10 years—since 9/11—despite the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks … This is a classic situation where the lack of a fire has led people to short-change the fire department. And we’re finding out the peril of that at the moment.”

European revolt brews over austerity. HuffPost’s Robert Kuttner: “France, under pressure from Germany and the European Union to meet the E.U.’s straightjacket requirement of deficits of no more than three percent of GDP (whether or not depression looms) informed the E.U. that they will not hit this target until 2017. The government of President Francois Hollande, under fire for failing to ignite a recovery, now plans economic stimulus measures — and the target be damned. Under E.U. rules, France can be fined up to 0.2 percent of its GDP. The French seem to be saying, ‘So sue us!'”

Fed not inclined to change course. NYT: ” The Federal Reserve is watching carefully as financial markets bounce around, but the … Fed still intends to finish its bond-buying campaign at the end of the month. And it is still likely to start raising interest rates in mid-2015.”

Republicans unsure how long to keep the government open. The Hill: “…the Senate Republican leadership would prefer to pass an omnibus spending bill or a year-long stopgap funding measure that would keep the federal government operating until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 … [But] Republicans are divided over whether it should keep federal departments and agencies operating through the end of the calendar year or only until the late winter or early spring.”