Progressive Breakfast for August 28

Morning Message

Inequality: A Broad Middle Class Requires Empowering Workers

On Labor Day, families gather, politicians pay tribute to values of hard work, and some workers even get an extra day off. But this Labor Day arrives with working families struggling to stay afloat. Working family incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income, while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have. This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers – we should understand how vital reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.

Another GOP Shutdown?

Sen. Marco Rubio hints at potential shutdown fight over immigration. CBS News: “Sen. Marco Rubio hinted in an interview Tuesday that his fellow Republicans might take advantage of the fact that Congress will need to pass a spending bill this fall to block President Obama from taking executive action on immigration. ‘There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a continuing resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this,’ Rubio, a Florida Republican, told Breitbart, a conservative news organization, in an interview. ‘I’m interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue. Beyond that, I’m not sure if the president is going to make this decision before we go back or after.’”

McConnell: ‘Remember me? I am the guy that gets us out of shutdowns’. CNN: “In his strongest words to date, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, tried to quash talk that he would allow another government shutdown if he becomes Senate majority leader next year. ”Of course not. Remember me? I am the guy that gets us out of shutdowns,“ McConnell told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday. ”It’s a failed policy,“ he said of shutdowns. Earlier this month, Politico reported that, if selected majority leader, McConnell plans to tell the president to accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown. Last year’s government shutdown was hardly a popular event, and McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, pounced on the story.”

McConnell Appeals to Millionaires

In Audio From a Koch Event, McConnell Envisions Undoing Obama Initiatives. The New York Times: “At a private conclave with the billionaire Koch brothers’ political apparatus this year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, laid out a confrontational agenda for a Republican-controlled Senate aimed at dismantling President Obama’s legislative successes through the federal budget. In an audio recording leaked to The Undercurrent, a liberal-leaning YouTube channel, and initially reported by the magazine The Nation, Mr. McConnell told the mid-June gathering in Dana Point, Calif., that if the Republicans gained control of the Senate and retained control of the House in November, Congress could use the budget process to force the president to roll back his priorities.”

Nicole Girard, at Liberals Unite, says McConnell promised to make billionaires even richer, at our expense: “Mitch McConnell really does not care about our problems. The way he talks about the needs of average Americans, you’d think we were his sworn, personal enemy. At a Koch Brothers Summit in Dana Point, California this summer, the conscience-less, corporate shill basically promised our country’s head on a gold platter to his billionaire gang of perverse, psychotic donors. In a leaked audio-recording, the Kentucky Republican swore to devote himself to the singular task of more fully lining the pockets of his audience: people so rich they could survive any tragedy, any sort of economic downturn, another of McConnell’s government shut-downs, effortlessly and without a care.”

Mike Rapoport says McConnell’s appeal to millionaires makes the case for a constitutional amendment on political money: “He surely did not intend it, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a stunningly compelling case for a constitutional amendment allowing Congress and the states to restore sensible limits on the influence of money in politics. We appreciate his help and his clarity. The good news is that the Senate will vote on just such a proposal next month, the Democracy for All Amendment (S.J. Res 19). Senators still undecided about the amendment should study Sen. McConnell’s remarks carefully. Speaking to a roomful of ultra-rich political investors in June, McConnell voiced his delight at their collective success in unharnessing political money. …. He paid particular tribute to industrialists Charles and David Koch, the country’s most prolific political spenders: ‘I don’t know where we’d be without you,’ he told them.”

Walker’s Wisconsin Woes

Wisconsin race for governor is the tightest in the country. LA Times: “The latest poll shows Walker narrowly trailing his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, among those most likely to vote, with 49% for Burke and 47% for Walker. But among all registered voters, Walker has the lead, by a similarly narrow 47%–44%. The race has been locked in a dead heat all summer, making it the tightest gubernatorial contest in the nation. Unlike most other states, Democrats have a slight edge in Wisconsin in the percentage of their partisans saying they are ”certain“ to vote in November, the poll showed. The two sides were equal in enthusiasm about voting, again a contrast with the GOP edge in most of the country.”

Slate’s John Dickerson asks if this is the end of the Scott Walker experiment: “But the biggest national test taking place in Wisconsin is a test of the Walker Hypothesis, which held that a politician who enacted conservative policies and didn’t shrink from the resulting controversy would be rewarded by a wide range of voters—conservatives, but also swing voters. It was a model that conservatives offered not just for other GOP governors, but for the party’s presidential candidates. With each new poll showing a close race, that hypothesis grows weaker. Walker may win (he’s ahead by three points with registered voters, he’s an incumbent, has lots of money and is a fierce competitor) but the polls seem pretty conclusive that it will only be through a grinding and close political battle where he relies deeply on his base. That’s not how the hypothesis was supposed to work.”

Breakfast Sides

Robert McIntyre of Citizens For Tax Justice blames Congress for Burger King’s tax move: “The real culprits are members of Congress, who have failed to close these loopholes and have allowed Burger King to claim that it is becoming a foreign corporation for tax purposes even when common sense tells us it is as American as any company could be. You see, Burger King will continue to serve U.S. customers. It will not undergo much change in ownership. And it will likely continue to have its managers based in the United States. But when it’s time to pay taxes, it will claim to be a newly restructured company based in Canada, which has a lower corporate tax rate. It’s absurd that Congress is allowing Burger King to use paperwork to avoid supporting the very public investments — highways, agriculture supports, food inspections, courts — that make its profits possible.”

Exclusive: GOP poll of women: Party ’stuck in past. Politico: “A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as ‘intolerant,’ lacking in compassion’ and ‘stuck in the past.’ Women are ‘barely receptive’ to Republicans’ policies, and the party does ‘especially poorly’ with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO.”