Progressive Breakfast for October 30

Morning Message

New Insight Into A Democratic Populist Path To Victory

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is not all doom and gloom about the Democratic Party’s chances of keeping control of the Senate. The polls may suggest otherwise, but Greenberg still sees a way for Democrats to have a good outcome Tuesday – and it’s through the Democratic Party’s base in the “rising American electorate” of single women, millennials and people of color. But to get to that path of victory, Democrats will have to pivot much more strongly and convincingly toward a populist economic message that identifies the villains responsible for economic inequality and middle-class decline as well as the policies needed to address those problems.

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Republicans Worry About Governing

“Civil war looms for GOP” reports The Hill: “Conservatives salivating over the prospects of a huge victory on Nov. 4 are pressuring House and Senate GOP leaders to go big after Election Day … The problem for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other GOP leaders is that they will also face pressure to govern — which could involve cooperating with President Obama to keep the government operating … Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) says the number of new conservatives joining the House conference will determine whether Boehner faces a serious leadership race after Election Day.”

Republicans see big state legislative gains. Bloomberg: “The party that now controls 59 of the 99 U.S. legislative chambers has set a goal of attaining 66 of them, according to the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, which it said would be a modern-day record.”

Big Money getting bigger. Bloomberg: “Elections are getting more expensive–but don’t think that more people are giving money to political groups. Instead, a smaller universe of donors is giving more money, thanks to a series of court rulings in 2010 that led to an explosion of outside groups … the 2014 midterms will cost at least $3.67 billion … Disclosed outside spending will rise to 13 percent of total election expenditures in the 2014 election from about 8.5 percent in 2010…”

Geithner Private Papers Uncovered

Geithner’s private papers obtained by ProPublica revealed unvarnished thoughts: “The 500-plus pages of private papers obtained by ProPublica show a different side of Geithner – one more candidly critical of the administration’s policies and of his own shortcomings. In some instances, they express views he watered down or left out of the book … ‘We sought a very powerful enforcement response by competent authorities,’ he writes in a May 2013 memo … ‘This didn’t turn out as we’d hoped, in part because we didn’t give it enough attention.’ … Geithner faults a Justice Department mortgage fraud task force as a ‘good idea, (that) delivered little.'”

Federal prosecutors eyeing Wall St. relapses. NYT: “Just two years after avoiding prosecution for a variety of crimes, some of the world’s biggest banks are suspected of having broken their promises to behave. A mixture of new issues and lingering problems could violate earlier settlements that imposed new practices and fines on the banks but stopped short of criminal charges, according to lawyers briefed on the cases. Prosecutors are exploring whether to strengthen the earlier deals, the lawyers said, or scrap them altogether and force the banks to plead guilty to a crime.”

WH Tries Again To Regulate For-Profit Schools

Obama administration sets tough standards for for-profit schools. Bloomberg: “Some 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students, almost all at for-profit colleges, wouldn’t meet standards set forth in the rules, the Education Department said today in a statement. Before losing access to the funds, programs would have an opportunity to bring themselves in line with the limits on student debt-to-income ratios.”

But could have been tougher, says Politico: “The final regulation would cut off federal aid and likely shut down some 1,400 programs that don’t clean up their act, Education Department officials said, 500 fewer than the version proposed last spring would have threatened … A previous attempt at a crackdown was killed by the courts in 2012. And the for-profit industry is already alluding to legal arguments against this one.”

Breakfast Sides

“John Maynard Keynes Is the Economist the World Needs Now” argues BloombergBusinessweek’s Peter Coy: “An essential and enduring insight of Keynes is that what works for a single family in hard times will not work for the global economy. One family whose breadwinner loses a job can and should cut back on spending to make ends meet. But everyone can’t do it at once when there’s generalized weakness because one person’s spending is another’s income … The limited effectiveness of [monetary stimulus] measures is sometimes chalked up as a failure of Keynesianism, but it’s just the opposite. Keynes was the economist who demonstrated that monetary policy ceases to be effective once interest rates hit zero and whose recommended policy in those circumstances was tax cuts and spending hikes.”

“No fast track in lame duck” reports The Hill: “With scores of Democrats opposed and liberal interest groups flexing their muscles, business groups say it’s certain the legislation won’t move this year … Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has yet to even produce a fast-track bill.”

Solar staying cheap despite lower gas prices. Bloomberg: “After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states — in 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That’s assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year. Even if the tax credit drops to 10 percent, solar will soon reach price parity with conventional electricity in well over half the nation: 36 states … Solar is becoming mainstream, and prices will continue to drop as the technology improves and financing becomes more affordable…”