Progressive Breakfast for September 3

Morning Message

End the Great American Drug Heist

This week, Sen. Bernie Sanders took on Big PhRMA, the all-powerful prescription drug company lobby, by demanding an end to the Great American Drug Heist ... Medicare projects that drug costs will continue to rise about 10 percent a year for the next decade ... This isn’t because drugs are expensive. This is because we are getting robbed ... Congress actually voted to prohibit Medicare from negotiating bulk discounts on prescription drugs. There is no excuse for this except corruption ... Sanders detailed a five-point program for ending the rip-off...

Graham Brings Back Simpson-Bowles

Sen. Lindsey Graham tries to resurrect Simpson-Bowles. USA Today: “… the group’s final product — a politically toxic combination of tax increases, spending cuts and reforms to entitlement programs like Social Security — is the recipe that Graham says he would follow if he were in the White House. While he doesn’t endorse all of the plan’s specifics, he speaks favorably of the trade-offs that form its heart.”

Sanders may sign fundraising agreement with DNC. NYT: “Senator Bernie Sanders is on the verge of signing a joint fund-raising agreement with the Democratic National Committee, his aides said, a week after Hillary Rodham Clinton entered such an arrangement … Mr. Sanders has never aggressively courted the types of party donors who hold major national events. But his aides indicated that he would like to help the committee build its war chest in preparation for the 2016 general election.”

“I’m not a populist like Bernie,” Biden tells party donors. The Hill: “…an attendee who spoke to a pool reporter [said Biden] added that Sanders ‘was doing a great job exciting his crowds,’ … Biden was reportedly not asked about his 2016 plans and therefore did not address them.”

Trump has exposed the Tea Party as not libertarian, says Politico Magazine’s Michael Lind: “…the Summer of Trump was supposed to have been the Summer of Rand Paul … But Paul has all but disappeared from view … Trump is no libertarian; quite the opposite. He is a classic populist of the right who peddles suspicion of foreigners…”

Union Momentum

The political tides are favoring unions, argues W. Post’s Harold Meyerson: “… American workers may be beginning to reclaim what by right should be theirs … Ordinances to raise the local minimum wage … have in the past few weeks been enacted in St. Louis; Kansas City, Mo.; and Birmingham, Ala. … In a mid-August Gallup Poll, [unions] had a 58 percent approval rating, including 66 percent among adults under 35 …”

“Walmart to Reopen 5 Stores Named in Union Complaint.” Reuters: “The complaint filed by the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International, is still pending. It said that Walmart closed a store in Pico Rivera, Calif., because workers had been trying to organize for better pay and benefits. The other four stores were included as cover, the union said. Walmart has denied the claims.”

“Low-Income Workers See Biggest Drop in Paychecks” finds NYT: “…take-home pay for many American workers has effectively fallen since the economic recovery began in 2009 … The declines were greatest for the lowest-paid workers in sectors where hiring has been strong — home health care, food preparation and retailing — even though wages were already below average to begin with in those service industries.”

Obama Wraps Alaska Visit

Obama becomes first president to visit Arctic Alaska. WSJ: “[He] came bearing modest policy announcements, including an assistance package for Arctic communities and a coordinated effort to bolster climate resilience. Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Obama flew to the fishing community of Dillingham. There, he highlighted his administration’s decision to block oil and gas exploration in Bristol Bay, home to one of the largest wild salmon fisheries in the world … Mr. Obama made no mention of his administration’s recent move to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska’s coast.”

Mixed reaction from locals. NYT: “…Sewalik, an inland village of 900 people[,] has been trying for 10 years to relocate to higher ground but has struggled to find the money to do it … ‘If there becomes, as a result of all of this, a focal point where communities that are really facing the brunt of this climate change crisis can go to get their issues addressed … that would be the best that could come of this,’ said Reggie Joule, the mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough … [But] ‘What is $2 million going to give us?’ [Sewalik’s Diane] Ramoth said with a rueful smile. ‘A dream?'”