Progressive Breakfast for November 21

Morning Message

Obama’s Immigration Order Moves Us Closer To Opportunity For All

Our inequality crisis is worsened by the exploitation of immigrant workers who toil without equal rights and fair compensation. The American economy will grow stronger, from the bottom up, once we end our two-tiered economic system and ensure that all workers have the same rights. Providing immigrant workers with legal status will boost their compensation and increase economic demand, growth which will even reduce long-term budget deficits. While comprehensive immigration reform legislation is still needed to fully address these persistent problems, today’s executive action is a major step forward that Republicans would be foolish to even try to roll back.

Sweeping Relief For Undocumented

Presidential address waives deportation threat for millions, challenges Republicans to step up: “What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up … to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

Details from W. Post: “Obama outlined a plan to provide administrative relief and work permits to as many as 3.7 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as an additional 300,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children … undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents would qualify only if they have lived in the country at least five years — since Jan. 1, 2010. The administration said it will be ready to begin taking applications in the spring, and that those who qualify will be granted three years of deportation relief, meaning they would be protected through the first year of Obama’s successor in 2017. It would be up to the new administration to determine whether to continue the program or eliminate it.”

“Legal Scholars: Obama’s Immigration Actions Lawful” reports Time: “Pushing back on Republicans who have blasted Obama’s action as unconstitutional and unlawful, the signatories include Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, conservative legal scholar Eric Posner, and former Yale Law School Dean and former State Department Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh.”

Republicans Bewildered

Republicans don’t know what to do now. W. Post: “The moves announced Thursday night by Obama … have sparked an immediate and widening rebellion among tea party lawmakers that top Republicans are struggling to contain … Ideas being floated include filing a lawsuit over Obama’s executive authority, pursuing stand-alone legislation on immigration policy and removing funding for immigration agencies … Many conservative lawmakers, however, are shrugging off pleas from leadership. Furious with the president, they are planning a series of immediate and hard-line actions that could have sweeping consequences.”

“Republicans could struggle to roll back immigration changes” reports Yahoo! News: “Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said it would be ‘impossible’ for Congress to defund the executive action in the pending government-spending legislation, because the agency that oversees the issuance of immigration status is self-funded through fees it levies on immigration applications … Any efforts to reverse Obama’s policies and increase deportations are likely to create a political minefield for Republicans heading into the 2016 presidential cycle.”

GOP shooting themselves in foot, says TNR’s Noam Scheiber: “…conservatives love to couch their positions in the language of process. So, for example, conservatives rarely admit they want to disenfranchise poor people and African Americans. They talk about the scourge of voter fraud … [But] there’s something about dark-skinned foreigners that sends the conservative id into overdrive … it exposes the GOP’s soothing proceduralism as a sham.”

Breakfast Sides

Factory wages decline. NYT: “Even as the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill and in Fortune 500 boardrooms all agree that expanding the country’s manufacturing base is a key to prosperity, evidence is growing that the pay of many blue-collar jobs is shrinking to the point where they can no longer support a middle-class life. A new study by the National Employment Law Project, to be released on Friday, reveals that many factory jobs nowadays pay far less than what workers in almost identical positions earned in the past.”

Senate committee to explore “regulatory capture” at the Fed. Bloomberg: “On the eve of a Senate hearing today into whether the Federal Reserve has been ‘captured’ by the institutions it is supposed to regulate, the Fed announced a broad review of its supervision of the largest banks, and a top official acknowledged there’s a danger that examiners could be too easy on them … The hearing was prompted by allegations leveled against the New York Fed by a former supervisor who said her colleagues were too deferential to Goldman Sachs … [Sen.] Jack Reed of Rhode Island, introduced a bill this week that would add the New York Fed chief to the list of central bank officials who must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.”

Senate clears some more judges. W. Post: “When the Senate came back last week, there were 32 nominees for ambassadorships pending on the Senate floor, 23 of them career folks. Some had been awaiting confirmation since mid-2013 … By Thursday, as the Senate left town, all but five of the 23 career nominees were sent off on their merry ways … Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) did manage to push through 10 of the 16 [judicial] nominees — none for appeals courts — pending on the floor this month.”