Progressive Breakfast for January 30

Morning Message

The Mainstream Meets Occupy

...a new report by a commission convened by the Center for American Progress provides a leading indicator of where Hillary Clinton is heading ... Mainstream Democrats are now tacking to meet populist winds; this is a good measure of how far those close to Hillary are prepared to go ... The critique is often stronger than the remedies. The commission clearly wants to outline the scope of the challenge, while remedies presumably are cribbed by political sensitivities ... [But] for all its limits, [the report] marks a sea change in the mainstream debate.

Obama Rallies Dems To Fight Cuts…

Obama calls for end to “mindless austerity.” AP: “…President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control … Taking a defiant tone, Obama vowed not to stand on the sidelines as he laid out his opening offer to Congress during remarks in Philadelphia, where House Democrats were gathered for their annual retreat.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham open to tax hikes for more military spending. AP: “‘Whatever it takes within reason to get this problem fixed is what I’m willing to do,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., adding that he would be willing to consider more tax revenue ‘just to get the damn thing done.'”

…And Tries To Tamp Down Trade Revolt

Obama asks Dems to “keep your powder a little dry” on trade. The Hill: “‘Get informed,’ Obama also advised, ‘not by reading The Huffington Post.’ … Obama tried to defuse [Democratic] concerns, saying his administration will make a ‘substantive case’ for the new pacts. ‘We share same values and are looking out for the same people,’ he said…”

Key Dem criticizes lack of transparency. Roll Call: “Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander M. Levin told reporters assembled at a hotel conference room roundtable that the White House was not allowing members of Congress to know what is being offered by which countries in an emerging trade deal … ‘We need to get it right,’ the Michigan Democrat said. ‘And to get it right, we need to know what’s in it.'”

Senate Approves Keystone

Senate passes Keystone bill, but without veto-proof majority. NYT: “The White House promptly said that Mr. Obama would veto the measure … Nine Democrats joined 53 Republicans in passing the bill. The passage sends the measure back to the House, which passed a largely similar bill this month … Mr. Obama has … said that he wants to wait until a series of reviews by additional cabinet agencies … are complete … The deadline for those reviews … is on Monday.”

Setbacks for offshore wind industry. NYT: “Land-based wind projects are booming, so much so that the United States became the top wind energy producer in the world last year … But offshore, the list of struggling projects is growing … the federal government needs to help ensure longer-term financial support by extending important subsidies like an investment tax credit worth 30 percent of a project’s cost…”

Greece Prepares To Negotiate

New Greek finance minister hints at compromise. NYT: “In the first days after the election victory … Yanis Varoufakis, the new finance minister [referred] to his country’s foreign-imposed austerity budgets as ‘fiscal waterboarding’ … [Now] he seems eager to send a more moderate message … ‘it is not a “yes or no, take it or leave it” situation.'”

NYT’s Paul Krugman tells EU to “stop substituting moralizing for analysis” regarding Greece: “It’s true that Greece … voluntarily borrowed vast sums. It’s also true, however, that banks in Germany and elsewhere voluntarily lent Greece all that money. We would ordinarily expect both sides of that misjudgment to pay a price. But the private lenders have been largely bailed out … Meanwhile, Greece is expected to keep on paying.”

The “Greek Earthquake” may fuel anti-austerity sentiment throughout Europe, says Foreign Policy In Focus’ Conn Hallinan: “One should have no illusions that Syriza will easily sweep the policies of austerity aside, but there is a palpable feeling on the continent that a tide is turning … Important elections are looming in Estonia, Finland, and Spain that will give anti-austerity forces more opportunities to challenge the policies of [Germany’s] Merkel and the troika [of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund].”