Progressive Breakfast for March 30

Morning Message Richard Eskow

Big-Bank Bad Guys Bully Democracy – And Blow It

According to a well-reported recent Reuters article, “Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest.” “Symbolic protest”? “Heavy-handed threat” is more like it. That sentence suggests that they’re seeking not only to punish Warren and her allies, but all Senate Democrats – presumably until they reduce or eliminate her influence within the party ... If the big banks weren’t unpopular already, this undertaking would certainly help turn public opinion against them. They have made the case more convincingly than their critics ever could: We need to get money out of politics – and break up the big banks.

Warren Expands Trade Fight

Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes trade fight to the House. The Hill: “[She] met Tuesday with a group of House Democrats before administration officials were to meet with a larger of group of Democrats to discuss the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process … liberals argue that the dispute settlement panels would tilt the playing field for corporations … The meeting with Warren underscores the deep rift between the Democratic base and the administration on trade, and highlights Warren’s growing influence in the House among progressive members.”

Top union leader joins effort to draft Warren. Politico: “…Larry Cohen, the president of the Communications Workers of America, and Annie Leonard, the executive director of Greenpeace USA [signed] a new [open] letter published by Run Warren Run … “

O’Malley Seizes Populist Mantle

Martin O’Malley takes on Wall Street in ABC’s This Week interview: “…right now, it’s not even a fair fight. It’s as if Wall Street owns one party, and is trying to totally intimidate the other party. And we need to stand up and put the national interests first. If we do that, we can restore our economy.”

No candidate yet proposing tax increases to reduce inequality, despite polls showing support. NYT: “It’s not just right-wing presidential aspirants like Mr. Cruz and Mr. Paul whose statements on inequality diverge from public opinion. Hillary Rodham Clinton, though she has been more open to a government role in solving the problem, has yet to mention tax increases as a possible answer … Mr. Rubio is the Republican who has come closest to suggesting an affirmative role for government … [But] he has indicated that he would cut taxes for the rich rather than raise them.”

HuffPost’s Robert Kuttner offers “5 Radical Ideas Hillary Should Support”: “The millennial generation is the economically stymied generation … A very substantial write-off of all outstanding debts could surely get their attention … [Paid leave] laws should cover not just payroll employees, but temps, part-timers, contract workers and those in a worker-employer never-never land such as Uber drivers … hardly any [states or cities] offer universal tax-supported early childhood and childcare programs on the model of public kindergarten. It’s time.”

Breakfast Sides

NLRB judge to review rule making corporate franchisors responsible for working conditions in franchises. The Hill: “A finding in the affirmative would mark the first time that a major franchisor would be found culpable for labor violations at individual chains, following a finding last year by the NLRB’s lead attorney that McDonald’s should be treated as a ‘joint employer.’ That status would expose the corporation to liability for worker rights violations and force it to the negotiating table in collective bargaining situations.”

Greek finance minister tries to cool tensions with Europe. BBC: “Yanis Varoufakis has called for an end to the ‘toxic blame game’ between Greece and Germany. The finance minister made the call as Greece prepares to finalise its list of economic reforms to present to its international creditors … Greece submitted plans … on Friday night [which] do not include any ‘recessionary measures’ such as wage and pension cuts … the measures in their current form do not appear to have been specific enough to win the approval of the lenders…”

Threat of shutdown not over, notes Bloomberg’s Al Hunt: “‘On the debt ceiling …’ said Representative Matt Salmon, Republican of Arizona. ‘We will need a big-ticket item dealing with the deficit, like entitlement reform.’ That will be a nonstarter for the White House … One committee chairman, echoing a view held by others, said the right-wing Republicans really wanted to shut down the government some time this year, as a matter of principle, even if it cost the party politically.”