Progressive Breakfast for February 27

Morning Message

The Real Social Security Crisis Is Income Inequality

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has called out his Senate Republican colleagues for “creating a phony crisis” with regard to Social Security while ignoring a real one – the income inequality that has eroded the long-term solvency of the Social Security trust fund. Sanders joined a conference call with Social Security Works on Thursday to highlight the conclusions of a report on the impact of income inequality on the Social Security program ... When the payroll tax cap was last set in 1983, the payroll tax applied to 90 percent of total earned income. Today, the tax only covers 83 percent of earned income – a consequence of all of the income gains of recent decades going to the top 10 percent of earners.

Obama v. Warren on Trade

Obama pushes trade agenda in local TV interviews. W. Post: “Among the television stations Obama spoke with was KGW in Portland, Ore., the home state of Sen. Ron Wyden, whom the White House views as a key Democratic ally on trade … Wyden and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) have been negotiating a ‘fast-track’ bill that both sides hope could be introduced in March, with a goal of sending it to Obama’s desk by the end of the month … On the Senate floor, [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren joined a group of six other Democratic senators in warning against the dangers of unfair trade practices, using a placard reading ‘Not Another NAFTA’…”

Warren prioritizing trade fight. Politico: “Warren’s comments … focused on an obscure piece of the TPP agreement, the so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement process, which allows multinational corporations to sue national governments in international forums and win cash judgments that cannot be appealed … Warren’s ability to rally progressives could make the math of getting the deals done more challenging … Some pro-trade Democrats were privately dismissive of Warren’s arguments, saying the senator was stoking unrealistic fears.”

House Moves For 3-Week Homeland Security Extension

House will vote to fund Homeland Security for three weeks. The Hill: “If the bill is approved by the House, the Senate is expected to quickly follow suit — though the upper chamber also plans to move forward with a bill funding Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year … [But] House Democrats said they are whipping against the measure, which could make it difficult for Republicans to win the 218 votes necessary for passage given grumbling from some on the right that the measure would do nothing to attack President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.”

Sen. Schumer says Dems will support. The Hill: “‘…we’re not going to shut the government down,’ Schumer, who is vice chair of the Democratic conference, said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.'”

No Surrender In Greece

Greece did not surrender, argues NYT’s Paul Krugman: “… that the main issue of contention involves just one number: the size of the Greek primary surplus … Syriza has always been clear that it intends to keep running a modest primary surplus … The question instead was whether Greece would be forced to impose still more austerity … did the current Greek government back down and agree to aim for those economy-busting surpluses? No, it didn’t…”

Syriza wants to crack down on tax cheats to shore up finances. NYT: “… fixing Greece’s finances [means] reshaping a system in which Greek tycoons dominate much of the economy and engage in sometimes murky business practices — including, Mr. Tsipras asserts, tax evasion — that analysts say deprive state coffers of billions in revenue … Frustratingly out of reach … is considerable untaxable Greek wealth outside the country.”

GOP ’16ers Pander To Right

Jeb Bush entertains flat tax. W. Post: …Bush began an aggressive outreach to more suspicious conservatives with an appearance before [the Club for Growth] … Bush said that he was open to a flat tax and that his eventual policy plan would be ‘bigger and broader tax relief.'”

Gov. Scott Walker says busting unions prepares him to defeat ISIS. The Hill: “‘If I can take on 100,000 protestors, I can do the same across the world,’ Walker said in response to a question about international terrorism [at CPAC]”

Jeb addresses CPAC today. The Hill: “Bush will have to face his two biggest liabilities among conservatives head on Friday — his support for Common Core and immigration reform.”