Progressive Breakfast for September 30

Morning Message

Reagan Set Up The Death Of The Middle Class, But China Was The Clincher

The Reagan Revolution hit us hard, but a lot of hardship hit the fan right around the year 2000. The benefits of our economy had already been going more to a few at the top than to the rest of us, but something happened in 2000 to make that trend seriously accelerate ... What happened was trade, especially with China, and the outsourcing of American jobs. Combined with “advances in technology and automation,” 2000 was an “inflection point.”

Mayor de Blasio Raises Wages

NYC Mayor de Blasio expands living wage law. NYT: “Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday significantly expanding New York City’s living wage law, covering thousands of previously exempt workers and raising the hourly wage itself, to $13.13 from $11.90, for workers who do not receive benefits. The change is also intended to frame a looming debate in Albany, where Mr. de Blasio hopes to win the authority to set the citywide minimum wage at the same amount. If Mr. de Blasio succeeds in matching the minimum wage to the living wage, all hourly workers in the city would earn more than $15 by 2019 … The current living wage law, passed in 2012, has applied to about 1,200 jobs…”

Gala 2014 banner PB/PMU-EB

Consumer spending up, reports NYT: “Consumer spending in August rose 0.5 percent from the previous month after showing no gain in July, the Commerce Department reported on Monday … The acceleration in consumer spending added to signs that the economy is sustaining strength in the current July-September quarter. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic activity…”

But jobs data suggests uneven recovery, reports Bloomberg: “Even as the U.S. economy reached a milestone in May with employment exceeding the prerecession peak, 29 of 50 states have yet to match that accomplishment … The weakest jobs rebound has been in the states central to the 2002-2006 housing bubble and the subsequent price collapse.”

A Warrior Against Wall Street At Justice?

Progressive want a bank fighter for AG. The Hill: “Lawmakers and outside groups that have accused Holder of going easy on big banks are hoping for a fresh start now that the Justice Department is set to come under new leadership. ‘It is our hope the president nominates someone who will begin to police Wall Street with real conviction and prosecute the individual executives who commit crimes with the full force of the law,’ said the financial reform group Better Markets … Some industry sources believe that, while criticism of Holder’s approach toward Wall Street has been vocal and garnered attention, only a small number of lawmakers would make the issue a priority when vetting Obama’s nominee.”

NYT’s Joe Nocera knocks “The Hole In Holder’s Legacy”: “…Holder’s Justice Department has been notoriously laggard in prosecuting crimes that stemmed from the financial crisis, and much of what it has done amounts to an exercise in public relations … No matter how he tries to spin it, Holder’s inability — or unwillingness — to prosecute financial crimes is on the negative side of the ledger.”

Breakfast Sides

TNR’s John Judis explores how conservatism failed in Kansas: “By June of 2014, the results of [Gov. Sam] Brownback’s economic reforms began to come in, and they weren’t pretty. During the first fiscal year that his plan was in operation, which ended in June, the tax cuts had produced a staggering loss in revenue—$687.9 million, or 10.84 percent … Moody’s downgraded the state’s credit rating from AA1 to AA2 … Brownback had also promised that his tax cuts would vault Kansas ahead of its higher-taxed neighbors in job growth, but that, too, failed to happen … his [re-election] campaign is now visibly struggling.”

Latino voters could decide the Senate. McClatchy: “A recent analysis by the Pew Research Center found Latinos were a tiny fraction of the electorate in key [Senate] states: Of nine tight races examined, Latinos make up 5 percent or less of eligible voters in eight of the nine states. The exception in their analysis was Colorado … But the races in North Carolina, Michigan and Georgia also could be strongly impacted by Latino voters. In each of those states, the share of registered voters that is Latino is close to what polls show as a possible margin of victory. And [Latino Decisions' Matt Barreto] said Kansas might be added to that list.”

Two Senate Dems push to keep oil and gas out of European trade talks. The Hill: “Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) said the U.S. should ‘resist’ calls from the EU to include language on exports in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks that started on Monday … A number of Republicans are gearing up to make crude exports a primary topic next year in the House and Senate. However, a majority of Democrats oppose more exports, arguing it would increase costs for consumers at home.”