Progressive Breakfast for March 4

Morning Message

Silicon Valley Rising Fights for Worker Justice

Silicon Valley companies, many run by stock-billionaires, pay a lot at the top, and squat at the bottom. There are the lucky employees, and a huge number of “contractors” – employees who are not called employees. The employees that reach over a certain age are discarded ... In the midst of all this, a number of labor, faith and community groups have joined together to address income inequality, create affordable housing and urge corporate responsibility among tech companies ... Silicon Valley Rising ... will engage in a comprehensive campaign to “raise wages, create affordable housing and build a tech economy that works for everyone.”

Republicans Cave

Republicans back down, fund Homeland Security. The Hill: “Tuesday’s roll call allows Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to finally turn the page on an ugly chapter in his leadership that consumed the opening months of the new Republican-controlled Congress. But it also highlighted once again the tenuous power Boehner enjoys over his conference. The spending bill cleared the House on a 257-167 vote only because of the unanimous support of House Democrats.”

Republicans “shaken” at their inability to govern. Politico: “The fear among House Republicans is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be too quick to heed Democratic demands and push through watered-down bills on education, trade, health care and the budget. And the worry among Senate Republicans is that their House counterparts will scuttle hard-fought compromises that offer the only way to overcome filibusters and get bills to President Barack Obama’s desk.”

Debt limit estimated to be reached in the fall. The Hill: “Just minutes after lawmakers averted a partial government shutdown by agreeing to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the CBO released a warning about the need to lift the debt ceiling. In a new report, the CBO estimated that the government would default on its obligations some time in October or November if Congress fails to act.”

SCOTUS Hears Obamacare Case

Supreme Court hears arguments in suit over Obamacare subsidies today. Bloomberg: “A decision halting the credits might unravel the Affordable Care Act, making other core provisions ineffective and potentially causing the market for individual insurance policies to collapse in much of the country. Hospitals would potentially be left with billions of dollars in unpaid bills … The court will rule by the end of June.”

TNR’s Abigail Moncrieff predicts “the Supreme Court Will Rule in Favor of Obamacare”: “Several questions have recently emerged over the legitimacy of the plaintiffs’ case, including issues of jurisdiction and congressional intent, but there’s an even deeper flaw: The plaintiffs’ interpretation would render the statute unconstitutional.”

Summers Goes Populist

Policy ideas from Larry Summers winning progressive economist praise. NYT: “[He] calls for tax and regulatory policies to encourage employee ownership, the strengthening of collective bargaining rights, regulations requiring corporations to provide fringe benefits to employees working for subcontractors, a substantial increase in the minimum wage, sharper overtime pay enforcement, and a huge increase in infrastructure appropriations – for roads, bridges, ports, schools – to spur job creation and tighten the labor market. Summers also calls for significant increases in the progressivity of the United States tax system.”

Sen. Marco Rubio looks to end a business tax break while eliminating capital gains tax. Politico: “On the chopping block is a widely used business deduction for interest paid on debt … The Tax Foundation found that the plan could raise $94 billion from economic growth after a 10-year transition … [But] scored with the traditional methods … the proposal would mean $414 billion in revenue losses.”

Senate Seeks To Kill Union Election Reform

GOP will vote to scrap NLRB rule expediting union elections. The Hill: “If the bill gets to his desk, however, the White House says President Obama will veto it … If it goes into effect next month, it would shorten the amount of time employers have to prepare for union elections from 38 days to 11 days.”

ProPublica and NPR investigate “The Demolition of Workers’ Comp”: “Over the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year … The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend.”

Breakfast Sides

Obama knocks China on rules for tech firms. NYT: “The rules, among other things, require companies that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to turn over secret source code, submit to invasive audits and build so-called back doors into hardware and software … [Obama said to Reuters,] ‘Those kinds of restrictive practices, I think, would, ironically, hurt the Chinese economy over the long term…'”

Mayor Emanuel “in the fight of his life.” Politico: “With local and national progressive groups lining up behind Garcia and promising to pour cash into the effort to deny Emanuel a second term, the mayor … plans to launch an ad campaign in the coming days intended to discredit Garcia and cast him as a do-nothing pol … A pair of liberal groups, Democracy for America and, are partnering on field efforts, and a third, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is raising money for the cash-starved Garcia.”