Progressive Breakfast for April 18

Morning Message

The Populist Wave: Politics And Pitchforks

...populist sentiments are on the rise. But the stunted economic recovery — and big GOP money — makes it hard for Democrats to exploit them. Disarray on message pulls the populist punch ... it isn’t surprising that Republicans believe they can block a range of popular reforms without paying a real political price. What would change that? ... the only option that Democrats have would be to tee up a series of fights on basic issues, fight on them repeatedly and vociferously, in the hope that they might begin to break through and let voters know just who is on which side.

Obamacare Numbers Keep Rising

Obama celebrates 8 million Obamacare signups. W. Post: “‘I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it. I think is a strong, good, right story to tell.’ … the 8 million figure does not include everyone who is newly insured, because more than 1 million consumers — and possibly many more — have bought plans directly through insurance companies. And 3 million Americans have been determined newly eligible for Medicaid …”

Gallup survey says 12 million fewer uninsured since fall. McClatchy: “That is millions more than Gallup found in March and suggests that as many as 4 million people signed up for some kind of insurance in the last several weeks as the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act drew to a close.”

No Obamacare “death spiral” says W. Post’s Paul Waldman: “The death spiral, of course, was the concern that since the Affordable Care Act forbids insurers from denying anyone coverage based on pre-existing conditions, sick people who couldn’t formerly get insurance would flood the market, then premiums would explode because of the cost of insuring these people … [But if] USA Today’s projections are accurate, premium increases next year will be about what they’ve been in recent years.”

Warren Calls Out Geithner

Sen. Warren criticizes Geithner’s housing policy in new book. HuffPost: “She pressed him on why so little was being done to help struggling homeowners. He admitted that really was not the goal, she writes. ‘The banks could manage only so many foreclosures at a time, and Treasury wanted to slow down the pace so banks wouldn’t be overwhelmed,’ Warren writes, recounting Geithner’s explanation. ‘And this was where the new foreclosure program came in: it was just big enough to “foam the runway” for them.’ … Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.’”

Daily Beast’s David Freedlander explains “How Elizabeth Warren’s Book Tour Could Mean Trouble for Hillary Clinton”: “If Warren sticks to her pledge [not to run for president] or not, however, is really of no matter, certainly not for the next six weeks as she barnstorms around the country on book tour … Warren is likely to spell trouble for Clinton even from her position on the sidelines … even as the party tilts toward the left … Clinton has wooed Wall Street and hasn’t yet pivoted toward anything that might excite the base, such as a more progressive income-tax scheme, or the repeal of Glass-Steagall, or the decriminalization of marijuana … [Warren's] presence on the national stage over the next several weeks is going to remind Democrats of the voices that are missing from their side of the debate.”

Breakfast Sides

“Corporate Group Launches ‘Fact-Based’ Trade Series, Avoids Facts” says Eyes On Trade: “…the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), a corporate alliance … has launched a new ‘Trade Notes’ series with some confused data on the record of U.S. trade under ‘free trade’ agreements … ECAT asserts, ‘recent data suggest that trade agreements, on the whole, actually help to improve U.S. trade balances with FTA partner countries.’ How can ECAT make this claim? First, they take oil and gas out of the trade data…”

Tax gap between rich and superrich is narrowing. NYT: “…our current tax system assures that — year after year — the superrich, those who report adjusted gross incomes of more than $10 million, have tax rates that are significantly lower than those of the very rich, those earning more than $500,000 … in 2011 the difference in rates between the groups rose to 4.1 percentage points … because investment income … has long enjoyed preferential tax treatment … But starting in 2013, the wealthy face significant tax increases. And the increases are greater for investment income.”

“Obama puts $15M into solar power” reports The Hill: “The Obama administration on Thursday announced a $15 million program to help state, local and tribal governments build solar panels and other infrastructure to fight climate change. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and White House counselor John Podesta announced the program at what the White House billed as a ‘solar summit’ designed to push governments and private and nonprofit businesses to up their use of solar power.”

TNR’s Nora Caplan-Bricker on why left and right draw opposite conclusions from the deportation data.: “Under Bush, the majority of immigrants that the U.S. sent home were simply ‘returned.’ Nobody took their fingerprints … U.S. authorities put them on buses and sent them back across the border … There were, by contrast, just 2 million ‘removals.’ Those are the more formal deportations—the ones that go through some form of individual review … Between 2009 and 2012, the number of deportations and informal returns was roughly the same—about 1.6 million each. Add up all the relevant numbers, you’ll see removals are on track to end up higher under Obama than Bush … but that removals plus returns will end up higher under Bush than Obama … Obama critics on the left say it’s wrong to treat removals and returns equally, since removals carry permanent, more serious consequences…”