Progressive Breakfast for September 17

Morning Message

Senate Republicans Filibuster Equal Pay For Women (Again)

Republicans in the Senate on Monday unanimously filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. Did you see this on the news? Did you hear about it on the radio? Did you read about it in your local paper? ... Politico at least reported that there was a vote: “Senate blocks pay equity bill.” ... So women should be angry at “the Senate”? ... What information do voters get from this, to help them decide who to vote for and against?

“You Can’t Eat GDP”

Stronger growth hasn’t translated into higher incomes. NYT’s Neil Irwin: “The [new 2013] census numbers on what American families made last year are as mediocre as they are predictable … up a mere 0.3 percent from 2012. If you’re counting, that’s an extra $180 in annual real income for a middle-income American family … [And] a whopping 8 percent — about $4,500 per year — below where it was in 2007 … In the last 15 years, median income has been more or less flat while there was far sharper growth in, for example, per capita gross domestic product … You can’t eat G.D.P … You can’t give your kids a better life because your company’s C.E.O. was able to give himself a big raise.”

Gala 2014 banner PB/PMU-EB

But poverty is going down. W. Post’s Emily Badger: “The official poverty rate ticked down in 2013, but with 14.5 percent of the population still living below the poverty line, that share is still about what it was in 1993, and 1982, and 1966 … [But that] doesn’t capture the impact of many of the programs the government runs to aid the poor, such as food stamps and housing vouchers … last year, researchers at Columbia University … concluded that government anti-poverty programs have made a big difference in reducing poverty, particularly among children and the absolute worst-off.”

Foreign policy crises complicating Dem midterm strategy to focus on inequality. NYT: “Events overseas have undermined Democrats’ strategy to tie their midterm prospects to an economic theme that includes calls for a higher minimum wage, reducing income inequality, pay equity for women and help with college tuition. Instead, the public and Congress have been overwhelmed this summer by a border crisis, an Ebola outbreak in Africa and, most notably, the terrorist threat from the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS. Democrats, pointing to President Obama’s effectiveness in drawing an economic contrast with the Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and to the 2006 midterm races in which they took over the House and the Senate, still believe the strategy is sound.”

Dems try to mix populist and pro-business stances. The Hill: “For months, Democrats have wooed the business community by touting their support for the expiring Export-Import Bank, an agency Tea Party Republicans have been fighting to disband. But at the same time, top Democrats have questioned the patriotism of companies seeking offshore tax deals, and pushed a populist set of proposals, including a hike in the minimum wage, that are businesses broadly oppose … Democrats say there’s no reason their populist economic pitch should jeopardize long-term efforts to make inroads with corporate America … they have repeatedly pressed business leaders about their reflexive support for Republicans — especially given the government shutdown last year and the GOP’s resistance to business priorities such as immigration reform.”

Fed meets today. Bloomberg previews: “Thirty-two of 60 economists in a Bloomberg survey said the FOMC will stick to its pledge to keep its benchmark interest rate near zero for a ‘considerable time’ after it finishes bond purchases. Cutting that language could spook investors …”

Wall Street Getting Beat

Wall Street loses court case over derivatives regulation. Bloomberg: “U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman threw out much of an industry challenge questioning the legality of Commodity Futures Trading Commission guidelines that extend the regulator’s reach into swap deals handled in the U.K., Japan and other foreign countries.”

NY AG turns heat up on Barclays. Bloomberg: “Barclays Plc hid the role of high-frequency traders in its dark pool even after the bank said it had shut off clients who engaged in suspect activity, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Schneiderman sued Barclays in New York State Supreme Court inManhattan in June, accusing Britain’s second-largest bank of bilking its own customers in order to expand its dark pool … Dark pools are private stock markets usually operated inside large banks.”

Union Win In The South

Big union organizing win. Politico: “Reservation agents at Texas-based American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly for union representation, in a move that labor organizers hailed Tuesday as a historic win in the South. The agents chose to join with US Airways agents to form a bargaining unit of 14,500 employees at the new American Airlines. The two airlines merged this year … ‘It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states,’ [AFL-CIO's Richard] Trumka said in a statement. ‘The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.’”

GOP tries to neutralize NLRB. WSJ: “Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would expand the five-member board to six, giving it three members from each political party like the Federal Election Commission, while linking nominations in bipartisan pairs.”