Progressive Breakfast for December 22

Morning Message

Growth or Fairness: The Phony Debate

Rather than take this time to develop a rich new brew of big ideas ... proverbial “Democratic strategists” offer off-the-shelf near beer, arguing about how to package the old stuff in ways that might have new appeal. ... At the center of this packaging debate is a false choice: Should Democrats champion a “fairness agenda” or an agenda for “growth and prosperity”? ... This theme – that the choice is between growth and fairness, between “getting things done” and “identifying enemies – is utterly disingenuous, part of an elaborate dance to mask the old failed ideas as part of a new reform era.

Obama, Warren Gain In Polls

Obama approval nears 50%. The Hill: “President Obama’s job approval rating has inched up to 47 percent, according to a survey released Sunday by Gallup, the best showing for the president in more than seven months [and] the first time since June fewer a than half of respondents reported dissatisfaction … The survey suggests Obama has been bolstered by his recent executive actions on immigration and Cuba policy”

And a small bump for Warren. ABC: “Clinton’s backed by 61 percent of Democratic and Democratic leaning independents who are registered to vote, giving her a vast advantage over potential rivals Joe Biden, at 14 percent, and Warren, the freshman U.S. senator from Massachusetts, at 13 percent … Clinton’s support has slipped from 69 percent in June, down by 8 points, while support for Warren is up by 6 points…”

Deep South Republicans seek to influence presidential primary. Politico: “Officials in five Southern states — Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2016 … a Southern Super Tuesday [and] a crucial early test for Republican White House hopefuls among the party’s most conservative voters.”

Congress Looks Towards 2015

Skepticism abounds that corporate tax reform deal can be reached. The Hill: “The death of the [two-year corporate tax break] deal … shows how serious Obama is about imposing his will on the tax talks. They also leave a bitter taste with some lawmakers, raising the degree of difficulty next year.”

Republicans debate whether to push policy changes through filibuster-proof budget reconciliation. The Hill: “Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are rallying behind using a rarely deployed budget tool next year to dismantle ObamaCare. But the issue of how to use ‘budget reconciliation’ has divided Republicans, with some calling for it to be implemented to overhaul the tax code or to push through major energy reforms … Senate rules say the reconciliation measure must not hike the federal deficit beyond a 10-year period and do not change spending and revenue.”

Regulatory Bodies Veer In Different Directions

Labor ends year with big wins. Politico: “In a chain of end-of-the-year rulemakings, filings and decisions, the NLRB is exercising more muscle on labor’s behalf than Obama achieved during his previous six years in office … over at the Labor Department, the Wage and Hour Division’s collection of back pay has risen by more than a third under Obama, and man-hours dedicated to enforcement are up by half.”

NYT edit board praises NLRB for taking on McDonald’s working conditions: “The alleged violations involve coercive conduct against workers who supported the protests, including threats, surveillance, interrogations, firings, discriminatory discipline, reduced hours and excessive restrictions on conversation about unions or work conditions. Managers were also said to have offered promotions in exchange for giving up the fight. Memo to McDonald’s: Wouldn’t it be easier just to bargain over the terms and conditions of employment?”

But TNR’s David Dayen rips Fed delay of Volcker Rule: “…the delay extends beyond the 2016 elections. That gives financial institutions the entire Congressional session, with Republicans in charge, to chip away at the Volcker rule before its full implementation. Clearly that’s banks’ goal, using must-pass vehicles to make the alterations.”