Progressive Breakfast for April 17

Morning Message

The Popularity of the New Populism

Politicians embracing populist reforms aren’t moving to the left or the right; they are moving to the center of American opinion ... people’s movements often start with minority support, not majority approval. Their purpose is to mold popular opinion, not reflect it. So it is remarkable that the bold populist agenda already garners widespread support ... This week, four major progressive organizations – National People’s Action, US Action, the Alliance for a Just Society and the Campaign for America’s Future – will host a gathering of organizers across the country to release a populist platform “for people and the planet” and make plans for driving these ideas into the political debate.

Fast-Track Battle Begins

Bipartisan deal reached on Senate fast-track bill. NYT: “Trade unions, environmentalists and Latino organizations — potent Democratic constituencies — quickly lined up in opposition, arguing that past trade pacts failed to deliver on their promise and that the latest effort would harm American workers … The bill would make any final trade agreement open to public comment for 60 days before the president signs it, and up to four months before Congress votes. If the agreement … fails to meet the objectives laid out by Congress — on labor, environmental and human rights standards — a 60-vote majority in the Senate could shut off ‘fast-track’ trade rules and open the deal to amendment.”

Fast-track bill sparks “civil war” among Democrats, says Politico: “The internal Democratic wars are spilling into the presidential campaign as well, putting Hillary Clinton on the spot … Other potential Democratic candidates, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have assumed the progressive populist mantle and are already positioning themselves to Clinton’s left by preemptively coming out against the TPP … so far, there is little indication that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi or Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer will support the legislation … The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Sander Levin, has come out against the bill.”

11 “centrist” House Dems back fast-track. The Hill: “The House is expected to need support from about 30 Democrats to push a bill through the lower chamber.”

Populism2015 conference, beginning Saturday, will end Monday with rally against fast-track: “Join … Sen. Bernie Sanders, CWA President Larry Cohen, commentator Jim Hightower … Assemble 11:30 AM 815 16th Street NW AFL-CIO … Rally Noon 600 17th Street NW Office of the US Trade Representative.”

Hillary Hires Bank Reformer

Hillary taps “one of Wall Street’s fiercest critics” for her campaign. Bloomberg: “[Gary] Gensler, in his role as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was a leading player in the drafting and then implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act … He became known as someone with sharp elbows —even during his negotiations within the Obama administration—in his push for tighter regulation.”

Martin O’Malley sharpens his rhetoric. Time: “‘I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues [regarding equal marriage rights and immigration]’ said O’Malley … ‘Leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular,’ he continued.”

Rubio’s health insurance program in FL ended up covering just 80 people. Politico: “Rubio pushed his no-mandate health insurance exchange, dubbed Florida Health Choices [in 2008.] now covers 80 people. Obamacare, which Rubio wants to repeal, covers 1.6 million in Florida alone. And 93 percent of them are subsidized … [Rubio’s spokeswoman] blamed Obamacare’s subsidies for luring buyers away from Florida Health Choices.”

Paul Volcker teases new financial reforms, in advance of a Monday “Volcker Alliance” release, in W. Post oped: “…what we see in full view are inconsistencies in approaches among the half-dozen or more regulatory agencies … too many opportunities for agency ‘capture’ by those regulated … a large new challenge [is] the multiplying innovations in finance and the proliferation of complicated and often opaque instruments…”

Judges Skeptical Of Climate Suit

Early legal attack against pending climate regs appears to fizzle. NYT: “Two of the three judges on the panel, Thomas B. Griffith and Brett M. Kavanaugh, appeared highly skeptical of the coal companies’ efforts to stop the regulation before it was final, noting that there was no legal precedent for such an effort … It was less clear where the three judges, who were all appointed by Republican presidents, stood on the merits of the rule itself. If the panel dismisses the case because the regulation is not yet finalized, the petitioners are expected to return to the court once the final version is released.”

Conservative judicial panel takes up immigration executive order suit today. The Hill: “‘We had concerns from the outset that the plaintiffs judge shopped … knowing that this could very well end up in the Fifth Circuit on appeal,’ said Marshall Fitz, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress…”

House Helps Super-Rich

House repeals estate tax. NYT: “The vote was the first in a decade to eliminate what Republicans call the death tax, and it stands little chance of making it out of the Senate, much less past the president’s veto pen. But each side saw an opportunity to portray the other as out of touch on an issue that resonates beyond the few who would directly benefit.”

Obama signs Medicare reform bill. The Hill: “The so-called ‘doc fix’ measure is one of the biggest achievements for the new Republican Congress. It permanently ends automatic Medicare payment cuts to doctors that lawmakers have been forced to address every year for almost two decades.”