Progressive Breakfast for April 21

Morning Message

Populism2015’s Upshot – Hillary Clinton Has Her Challenger: It Is Us

...the Populism2015 conference ... brought around 800 activists together under an alliance of National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, USAction and Campaign for America’s Future. Much of the news coverage of the conference revolved around how this emerging alliance will affect Hillary Clinton now that she is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Will the Populism2015 attendees be the foot soldiers for a Clinton challenger? The answer is yes – but in bigger and more important ways than what some reporters and pundits may be thinking when they ask the question...

Progressives Rip Fast-Track (But Where’s The Tea Party?)

Populism2015 rally against fast-track puts pressure on Democrats. Washington Examiner: ‘Thank you for lying to us,’ said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO labor federation, during a noon rally before the U.S. Trade Representatives’s Office Monday … Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, said the Trade Representative’s Office had nice things to say publicly about protection for U.S. workers, but that was really just a smoke screen for the ‘insider’ deals … [The rally] underscores the difficulty the White House will have selling its trade agenda to Congress.”

Rally video and photos from’s Dave Johnson.

Sen. Sherrod Brown slams fast-track in advance of Wednesday Finance Committee hearing. The Hill: “‘Little media attention, little scrutiny by committees, little discussion from leadership,’ he said. ‘Last week we were called into a rushed legislative session hearing on fast track and on a trade package with little notice and no bill to see.'”

Labor Secretary Tom Perez tries to sell progressives on TPP in W. Post interview: “I share the skepticism that my friends have about NAFTA. It was woefully weak in protecting workers and on the enforcement side. The question is: Can we meaningfully build a trade regime that has as its North Star protecting American workers and American jobs through meaningful enforcement? I think we can.”

Republicans suggest they don’t need many Democrats to pass fast-track. NYT: “…the Tea Party rebellion has not caught fire, and conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute have come out strongly in favor of the trade authority … ‘We’re still going to need Democrats, and we’re going to need more than the 10 they’re trying to lowball,’ said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee. ‘But there’s been a misconception that modern Republicans are more antitrade than they actually are.'”

ISDS provision becomes sticking point in European trade deal talks. Politico: “…TTIP critics in the European Parliament and in some lobby groups are stepping up their attacks on the controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process. MEPs will consider a parliamentary resolution in the second week of June on whether to support TTIP and under what conditions it will do so — with ISDS as a major sticking point.”

Business lobbies defend ISDS. The Hill: “In a letter to lawmakers on Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and more than 60 other groups voiced support for the boards, which have been lambasted by organized labor and the left.”

Kochs *Heart* Walker

Kochs signal support for Scott Walker. NYT: “On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother … believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee … Mr. Koch’s remark left little doubt among attendees of where his heart is.”

While Roger Ailes is unimpressed with Ted Cruz. W. Post: “In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Ailes was asked whether he thought Cruz could win the the GOP nomination … ‘Listen, we elected Warren G. Harding. Anybody has a chance,’ Ailes said.”

Scott Walker flops farther right on immigration. HuffPost: “[Walker] took it a step further Monday by sounding some critical notes about the number of those who immigrate to the U.S. legally … ‘what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages’ … Walker may be hoping to placate conservatives wary over his previous support for a pathway to citizenship…”

Walker’s middle-class shtick masks support for big corporate tax breaks. Bloomberg: “…Walker can’t stop talking about Kohl’s … [He] lets audiences know that he’s mastered its check-out process, its promotions and its multiple coupons … What Walker doesn’t mention is his biggest interaction with the third-largest U.S. department store chain: a state incentive package worth as much as $62.5 million … The package was tied to making $250 million in capital improvements and hiring 3,000 more employees … Slightly more than a quarter of those jobs have materialized.”

Hillary Clinton says “don’t mess” with Social Security. MSNBC quotes: “What do we do to make sure it is there? We don’t mess with it, and we do not pretend that it is a luxury – because it is not a luxury. It is a necessity for the majority of people who draw from Social Security … my only question to everybody who thinks we can privatize Social Security or undermine it in some way – and what is going to happen to all these people, like you, who worked 27 years at this other company? … It’s just wrong.”

Labor Intensifies Testing Fight

Teachers unions organize against high-stakes testing. NYT: “…testing … offers unions a way to join forces both with parents who object to testing and with Republicans who oppose the Common Core standards as a federalization of education … Secky Fascione, director of organizing for the National Education Association … said reining in testing was the union’s top organizing priority. In the past month, Ms. Fascione said, chapters in 27 states have organized against testing …”

Union seeks reinstatement of laid-off Walmart workers. NYT: “A union is asking labor regulators to go to court to force Walmart to rehire all 2,200 employees affected by the abrupt temporary closing of five stores a week ago. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, arguing the closings were retaliation for labor activism. Walmart says it closed the stores to fix plumbing issues.”

Europe Pressures Greece

European Central Bank looks to squeeze Greece. Bloomberg: “The European Central Bank is studying measures to rein in Emergency Liquidity Assistance to Greek banks, as resistance to further aiding the country’s stricken lenders grows in the Governing Council…”

Though EC President insists Greece won’t leave euro. Politico: “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Monday that Greek intransigence risks pushing the continent towards economic catastrophe and rebuked Athens for an ‘unacceptable’ lack of cooperation. An agreement on a financial rescue package remains distant, Juncker said, but he ruled out a Greek debt default or exit from the eurozone.”