Progressive Breakfast for November 26

Morning Message

Prosecute Now: The Justice Department Can Still Act Against Bad Bankers

It’s been a grim period for American justice. Despite compelling evidence of widespread bank fraud in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis ... prosecutors have not indicted executives at any major U.S. bank ... And as the Justice Department’s criminal division remained idle in the aftermath of 2008, the statute of limitations passed for most of the bankers’ crimes. But there’s a ray of hope: The bankers’ own deep-seated propensity for cheating and corruption may have given prosecutors a new opportunity to indict them. With the upcoming departure of Attorney General Eric Holder, there is the chance to forge a new approach toward Wall Street lawbreaking by pursuing evidence of wrongdoing wherever it may lead.

Veto Threat Upends Tax Break Deal

Obama threatens to veto corporate tax break bill. Bloomberg: “Negotiators from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were preparing to exclude a pair of Obama’s top priorities from a year-end agreement … Obama objected and responded in an unusual way yesterday. The White House issued a veto threat before lawmakers released the plan publicly, siding with progressive groups and advocates for a lower budget deficit over his own party’s Senate leaders … The veto threat shows that the White House has calculated that an extenders agreement now — regardless of the merits — would make it harder for the administration to negotiate a revamp of the tax code with Republicans when that party controls the Senate…”

Deal would leave out tax breaks for wind power and working poor. NYT: “[It] would make permanent 10 provisions, including an expanded research and development tax credit, which businesses and the Obama administration have wanted to make permanent for years; a measure allowing small businesses to deduct virtually any investment; the deduction for state and local sales taxes; the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college costs; deductions for employer-provided mass transit; and four different breaks for corporate and charitable giving … The tax credit for wind power, a Democratic priority, would phase out and end after 2017 … Left off were the two tax breaks valued most by liberal Democrats: a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president’s executive order on immigration, saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit …”

“Emerging Deal Is Everything That’s Wrong with Washington” argues TNR’s Danny Vinik: “Imagine somebody asked you to imagine the worst possible deal on taxes. It’d probably have the following qualities: It would be bad for the environment. It would be bad for the deficit. It would give short shrift to the working poor. And it would be a bonanza for corporations. Unfortunately, you don’t have to conjure up such a package. Congressional Republicans already have. And for some unfathomable reason, Senate Democrats including Harry Reid seem inclined to go along…”

Obama To Tackle Ozone

EPA to announce ozone pollution rule. NYT: “The proposed regulation would lower the current threshold for ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion, according to people familiar with the plan. That range is less stringent than the standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups, but the E.P.A. proposal would also seek public comment on a 60 parts-per-billion plan, keeping open the possibility that the final rule could be stricter. Public health groups have lobbied the government for years to rein in ozone emissions and said the regulation was one of the most important health decisions Mr. Obama could make in his second term.”

Polluters go ballistic. Politico: “‘This would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public,’ says the National Association of Manufacturers … Louisiana Sen. David Vitter argues that tightening the ozone standard ‘will shut down job-creating projects in every state,’ and South Dakota Sen. John Thune introduced legislation that would force EPA to postpone the action. ‘I expect there to be strong, bipartisan opposition to what will be the most expensive EPA regulation in history,’ Thune said in a statement Monday…”

Supreme Court will review EPA mercury rule. WSJ: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would review the nation’s first-ever standards requiring power plants to reduce mercury emissions and other toxic air pollutants, taking up a case with implications for President Barack Obama’s broader environmental agenda.”

Do Dems Need a “Class-Based” Strategy?

Jim Webb presidential bid raises questions about Democratic strategy, argues NYT’s Tom Edsall: “What are the prospects of winning the presidential nomination for a candidate who challenges current Democratic Party strategic orthodoxy? This strategy calls for identity group, rather than class-based, mobilization, on the assumption that turning out single women, the young, and racial and ethnic minorities is more effective than an uphill struggle to revive support in the recalcitrant white middle and working class. As much as such a shift to a class-based strategy might result in economic policies more beneficial to less affluent Democratic constituencies, and therefore to more votes in the long haul, so far there has been insufficient intraparty pressure to force a change in strategic orientation.”

San Francisco approves retail worker “bill of rights.” Fortune: “The ordinances will require businesses to post workers’ schedules at least two weeks in advance. Workers will receive compensation for last-minute schedule changes, ‘on-call’ hours, and instances in which they’re sent home before completing their assigned shifts. Businesses must also offer existing part-time workers additional hours before hiring new employees, and they are required to give part-timers and full-timers equal access to scheduling and time-off requests. The legislation will apply to retail chains with 20 or more locations nationally or worldwide and that have at least 20 employees in San Francisco under one management system”.