Progressive Breakfast for October 21

Morning Message

Senior Regulator Says Bank CEOs Meant Well. Documents Say Otherwise.

The head of one of Wall Street’s most important regulatory agencies argued recently that big-bank CEOs never intended to break the law or engage in foreclosure fraud. Instead, Thomas Curry of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency tells us they weren’t cautious enough. Internal documents obtained from a bank-backed venture several years ago seem to directly contradict this claim. These documents, which include training materials, PowerPoint presentations and videos, suggest that the industry made a conscious attempt to bypass local jurisdictions and automate processes – in what can best be described as a fraud-friendly way.

Midterm Elections Tight

Dead heat in KY. McClatchy: “The poll of 655 likely voters found McConnell leading Grimes 44 percent to 43 percent … Wilma Allen, 80, of Breckinridge County, said there are lots of reasons why she and her three children will vote for Grimes. ‘Mitch has been in there too long, 30 years is too long,’ Allen said. ‘I’m also for helping poor people by raising the minimum wage. She’s for that and he, a multimillionaire, is against that.'”

Demographic shifts keep Iowa race tight. NYT: “The state’s once ubiquitous farms are supporting fewer workers, the towns built around them are hemorrhaging younger residents … Farm fields are yielding to the new headquarters of banks, insurance companies and health care providers … contributing to the state’s enviable 4.5 percent unemployment rate … Those changes have turned Iowa’s older, Republican precincts even redder and its younger, Democratic districts even bluer, while giving rise to suburbs whose politics can be harder to categorize…”

Right-wing governor about to lose big in PA. NYT: “In eastern Pennsylvania, the governor is in the doghouse because of nearly $1 billion in cuts he made in state aid to education in his first year. Philadelphia was hit particularly hard: Thousands were laid off, schools closed, services cut to the bone. The state’s largest district fell into a swoon from which it has yet to recover. Suburban schools have suffered from state cuts, too, with school services down and local taxes up. The soccer moms are not amused.”

No voter ID for WI. AP: “J. B. Van Hollen, the state’s attorney general, is giving up on finding a way to get a voter photo identification law in place for the Nov. 4 election … It was unclear what Mr. Van Hollen could have done after the Supreme Court stopped enforcement of the law.”

2016 Looms Over 2014

Pelosi boosts Hillary at fundraiser for House candidates. Time: “‘I’m frequently introduced as the highest ranking woman in U.S. office; I’d like to give up that title. And soon,’ [Pelosi] told a roaring crowd. ‘If Hillary Clinton, mother and grandmother, decides to run for president she will win… and she will be one of the best prepared leaders, one of the top presidents in the Oval Office.'”

Warren delivers comprehensive critique of conservatism on campaign trail. W. Post’s Eugene Robinson: “Her weekend swing through Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa to rally the faithful displayed something no other potential contender for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Hillary Clinton, seems able to present: a message. … The core issue in all the Senate races, she said, is this: ‘Who does the government work for? Does it work just for millionaires, just for the billionaires, just for those who have armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does it work for the people?'”

GOP playing with fire on immigration. NYT: “Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants — similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus — may backfire after November. At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections … Much of the harsh talk on immigration today may have to do with simple math. In the states that Republicans need to win to retake the Senate, Hispanics are a sliver of the electorate.”

Republicans Can’t Handle Obamacare

“Obamacare Losing Power as a Campaign Weapon” reports NYT: “…as the program picks up enrollees, even Obama-bashers are having to shift targets … some of the health program’s fiercest opponents are turning themselves into pretzels over the issue. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell [is] defending Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, which has enrolled 500,000 people … Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, recently wrote that the attraction of federal funds and the votes of the newly insured ‘may gradually trump ideology,’ prompting the 23 states that initially refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion to opt in.”

OH Gov. Kasich latest Republican to trip over Obamacare. Politico: “A political firestorm broke out Monday when the The Associated Press quoted Kasich as saying that Obamacare repeal was ‘not gonna happen.’ … Kasich said AP got it wrong, and he called POLITICO Monday night to correct the record. He said he was talking specifically about repeal of the expansion of Medicaid — which Ohio has implemented — and not of the Affordable Care Act more broadly … Kasich is the latest high-profile Republican to struggle with the implications of repealing Obamacare as Americans have begun to benefit from its provisions.”