Progressive Breakfast for October 23

Morning Message

The Economy: What is the Democrats’ Closing Argument?

How should Democrats make their case on the economy? ... The president’s message is the message of a rational man bedeviled by an irrational world and a partisan opposition. The argument of many Democrats offers reforms that appear carefully sculpted to appeal to specific groups. [But Sen. Elizabeth] Warren offers a big argument, a historic context, and the reality that this isn’t screwed up because people are wrong-headed or irrational. It is screwed up because the rules are rigged by those who are cleaning up.

GOP Agenda: No Jobs. More Voter Suppression

“Chris Christie Just Exposed His Entire Party’s Deceitful Voter Suppression Plan” says TNR’s Brian Beutler: “‘Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist?’ New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asked this week at a Chamber of Commerce event in Washington. ‘Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke?’ … Republicans in each of those states have already imposed disenfranchising restrictions, which makes it clear that Christie sees these kinds of laws as an existential necessity.”

No one thinks a Republican Congress will create jobs. NYT: “While private sector analysts say that the varied Boehner list is not suitable to their computer models, Joel Prakken, a founder of the St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers, said, ‘I don’t think you would get a rush of hiring from passing these bills.’ His firm has analyzed some business tax cuts of the sort proposed by Republicans that would permanently allow deductions up front for the cost of new equipment. ‘We think they have minimal impact,’ Mr. Prakken said … As for repealing the health law, ‘that would create a lot of economic uncertainty, and uncertainty is bad,’ Mr. Prakken said.”

Big Money Rolling In

Massive influx of GOP campaign cash. HuffPost: “On Sept. 17, [Karl] Rove … took to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to send out his billionaire bat-signal. … ‘Republicans [must] open their wallets to candidates whom they may have never met.’ Since Rove’s plea, 21 billionaires and their family members have poured $19.9 million into super PACs backing Republican Party candidates, fueling an October outside spending surge. Only $5.1 million was given to the Republican super PACs in the first half of September…”

$119M spent on ballot initiatives. Center for Public Integrity: “Four of the five most expensive ballot initiatives feature at least one corporate patron duking it out over the airwaves, getting involved in the initiative process that was designed as a way to give voters a direct voice on public policies.”

Not just the Kochs. Bloomberg: “The third most generous Republican donor this cycle, [Hedge funder Robert] Mercer has cut checks for a total of $37 million in the past six years, supporting pro-life candidates [and] those who deny man-made global warming … In addition to a broader desire to shape national policy, Mercer has business interests in the midterms. His company, Renaissance Technologies … has used sophisticated financial maneuvers to lower the amount it’s investors paid to the Internal Revenue Service by $6 billion over 14 years.”

National Democrats re-invest in KY. The Hill: “A DSCC official confirmed the committee plans to spend another $650,000 on TV to bolster Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). According a Democratic source tracking ad buys, Senate Majority PAC is also poised to go back on the air with a purchase in the high six figures. Though McConnell has maintained a lead in most public polls, Democrats say the race has tightened over the past few days.”

Warren Reconsidering?

Warren opens the presidential door a crack. The Hill: “… in a People magazine interview … Asked whether she was mulling a bid in 2016, Warren used language that made it sound like a run wasn’t out of the question. ‘I don’t think so,’ she said at her Cambridge, Mass., home for this week’s issue. ‘If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open.'”

Krugman dreams of a Clinton-Warren ticket. HuffPost: “Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has an interesting vision of the 2016 Democratic presidential ticket: Hillary Clinton for president and Sen. Elizabeth Warren ‘looking over her shoulder so she doesn’t stray too far.'”

Breakfast Sides

Bipartisan backing for Northeast high-speed rail. NYT: “A group of Washington investors with high-level political backing and a $5 billion commitment from the Japanese government is pressing ahead with its vision of a high-speed train that could whisk passengers between New York and Washington in about an hour … [Former GOP Gov. Christie Todd] Whitman is part of a high-powered advisory board for the Northeast Maglev, a private Washington-based company [which also] includes former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York; Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, who also rode on the train in Japan on Tuesday; former Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania; and Mary Peters, who was a secretary of transportation in the George W. Bush administration…”

Business worried about Ex-Im Bank’s future. WSJ: “A decision by Congress to extend the Export-Import Bank only temporarily is raising concern among business owners who say they rely on the credit agency to lower the risks of exporting … ‘Many small businesses and many jobs are dependent on the bank’s programs. It’s an area that needs less political fighting and more policy discussion,’ [Bepex CEO Ralph] Imholte said.”