Progressive Breakfast for September 2

Morning Message

It’s Harder to Reach the American Dream If You’re Reaching All Alone today’s workplace, the rules are rigged against workers. Deprived of a voice at work in a high unemployment economy, they have little bargaining power — and corporations are increasingly willing and able to exploit that. This is one reason why median household incomes have fallen in the five years after the Great Recession — even as corporate profits (and CEO pay) have soared to new heights. Turning this around will take new forms of political organizing. Democrats must once more make empowering workers central to their program.

Presidential Push for Minimum Wage

Obama uses Labor Day to refocus on minimum wage. NYT: “Hailing examples set by employers like Kentucky State University, whose president took a pay cut to give raises to his lowest-paid workers, Mr. Obama said Congress needed to catch up to the businesses and other institutions — as well as 13 states and the District of Columbia — that have already acted to raise their minimum wage … Countering arguments that raising the minimum wage would reduce jobs, Mr. Obama said states that had not waited for the federal government to raise their wages had seen more job growth than those that had not raised their wages.”

LA Mayor proposes $13.25 minimum. Bloomberg: “[Mayor Eric] Garcetti, a 43-year-old Democrat, said he will ask the City Council to lift the prevailing $9 minimum to $10.25 next year, then phase-in $1.50 annual raises over the following two years … The Los Angeles minimum would top out at $13.25 in 2017, when California’s minimum wage is to reach $13 under a law signed last year by Governor Jerry Brown … Seattle will raise its minimum to $15, the highest among any large U.S. city, over the next three to seven years, depending on the size of the employer. In San Francisco, voters in November will consider setting a $15 minimum by 2018.”

No Midterm Wave

House GOP strategists don’t expect to win big in November. Politico: “Republicans are convinced they’ll be significantly outspent by Democrats … Nearly a year after the government shutdown, Republicans privately say the party’s tattered public image is dragging down candidates in key races.”

But “Economy no savior for Dems” reports The Hill: “They have long predicted that an economic turnaround would be the elixir that helps them retain control of the Senate in November. But with just a handful of big economic reports left before Election Day, the economic picture is largely in place. And while the outlook is bright, voters continue to hold a dim view of their own financial prospects … For example, the University of Michigan reported Friday that while consumers overall were more optimistic about their finances, the vast majority of that boost came from those in the top-third of income earners.”

W. Post Eugene Robinson’s explores why there’s no Republican wave: “…they’re running on the wrong issues. Rather, the wrong issue: the Affordable Care Act … for independent voters, undoing health-care reform is not the sure-fire issue Republicans hoped it would be. The program is in effect. Some people who previously could not obtain health insurance now have it. Most people are unaffected. Despite all the dire GOP predictions, the sky has not fallen.”

Fast-Food Strikes Intensify

Unions aim to prevent GOP Senate takeover. The Hill: “Faced with the possibility of such a dramatic shift in the political landscape, labor groups have injected more than $70 million dollars into the current election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). Among the biggest Spenders is the powerful AFL-CIO, a federation representing scores of unions. The group has spent more than $5.7 million to date…”

Wave of fast-food worker strikes this week. Bloomberg: “Fast-food workers in 150 U.S. cities plan to protest this week in what could be the largest strike since the demonstrations began in late 2012. Thousands of workers from restaurant chains … are planning to rally on Sept. 4 for $15-an-hour pay and the right to form a union. They will strike in cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Oakland…”

Civil disobedience expected. NYT: “…labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests … ‘They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,’ said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions of dollars helping to underwrite the campaign. ‘They’re invoking civil rights history to make the case that these jobs ought to be paid $15 and the companies ought to recognize a union.’”

Breakfast Sides

Los Angeles suffering from lack on infrastructure investment. NYT: “With each day, it seems, another accident illustrates the cost of deferred maintenance on public works, while offering a frustrating reminder to this cash-strained municipality of the daunting task it faces in dealing with the estimated $8.1 billion it would take to do the necessary repairs … Los Angeles’s problems reflect the challenges many American cities face after years of recession-era belt-tightening prompted them to delay basic maintenance. But the sheer size of Los Angeles, its reliance on the automobile and, perhaps most important, the stringent voter-imposed restrictions on the government’s ability to raise taxes have turned the region into a symbol of the nation’s infrastructure woes.”

50,000 NYC kids start free full-day public pre-K. NYT edit board: “It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform … No other city has done something so big, so quickly, and it would not have happened but for Bill de Blasio…”