Progressive Breakfast for April 27

Morning Message

On Fast Track: Obama’s Scorn Forces Hillary Clinton’s Hand

Will Hillary Clinton oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the fast track authority designed to ramrod it through the Congress? She’s been noncommittal to date, with many assuming she will eventually support the president who she served as secretary of state. But by calling out his opponents, President Obama has turned the escalating battle over fast track and TPP into an intra-party back-alley knife fight. As someone seeking to lead that party, Hillary can’t remain on the sidelines for long. And, if she adheres to the standards that she put forth for the agreement, she might well end up joining the opposition.

Left Energized By Trade Fight

Congressional Progressive Caucus members hope fast track fight, win or lose, will influence Hillary. Roll Call: “Ideally, Clinton would have come out already against TPA, [Caucus co-chairs] Grijalva, Ellison and others say. But if she won’t — and not many expect her to — then the mission is to make it politically untenable for Clinton, assuming she is the nominee, to tack to the right on other issues important to populists and labor, a core Democratic constituency. A senior House Democratic aide who works for a member of the CPC added that even if Democrats aren’t able to derail TPA, the opposition has reached a crescendo that will make future trade negotiations non-starters.”

Robert Kuttner explains the trade “Test for Hillary Clinton”: “…this is only the first of countless tests of where Clinton really stands — tests that will keep coming up between now and primary season. If she is presenting herself as a forceful leader, it ill-becomes Clinton to duck.”

“Obama shifts his pitch for the Trans-Pacific Partnership” reports W. Post: “…last December, President Obama … mentioned the looming threat of China 18 times in remarks to the Business Roundtable. Last week, while making the case to 200 liberal activists, Obama mentioned China only once … Obama sought to place his trade pact alongside his signature domestic initiatives, including his health-care law, the auto industry bailout, student-loan consolidation and Wall Street reform.”

Warren Keeps Heat On Clinton

“Elizabeth Warren isn’t running, but she’s Hillary Clinton’s biggest Democratic threat,” says The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza: “‘I think she’s in a beautiful position right now,’ the Warren adviser said, ‘because she can get Hillary to do whatever the hell she wants. Now the question is, will Hillary stick to it if she gets in? But at the moment Elizabeth can get her on record and hold her feet to the fire.’ Clinton’s advisers are respectful of Warren, but they privately argue that Clinton has a more sophisticated understanding of the economy, and that Warren places too much blame on Wall Street as the root of America’s economic problems.”

Clinton’s populist rhetoric may signal a deeper ideological shift in the electorate, argues TNR’s Brian Beutler: “Clinton’s movement to the left is unalloyed good news for liberals. Because if she wins the presidency as a result, that would change American politics in perpetuity … if those reliably liberal positions turn out to be reliably winning positions with the national electorate, that would mean America itself has moved durably to the left.”

SC Dems impressed by O’Malley and Sanders. W. Post: “Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont toying with a primary challenge to Clinton, brought Democrats to their feet with a fiery sermon about the hollowed-out middle class and the rise of an ‘oligarchic form of society’ controlled by billionaires … Delegates rose again for Martin O’Malley, the ambitious former Maryland governor, after he spoke with rhetorical flourish about the undying American dream and gave a muscular defense of such liberal ideals as increasing wages, expanding Social Security benefits and cracking down on Wall Street banks.”

Jeb Raking It In

Jeb Bush exploiting Citizens United to the hilt. NYT: “Jeb Bush told donors here that he believed his political action committee had raised more money in 100 days than any other modern Republican political operation … the figure is expected to be in the high tens of millions of dollars … the money he’s raising is primarily for his super PAC, which can collect unlimited donations … [As an undeclared candidate,] he is still able to raise funds for and direct the spending of his super PAC. The senators face restrictions on such activities. And it’s an edge that he will keep until he is a declared candidate…”

W. Post’s Robert Samuelson slams GOP for estate tax repeal: “…they’ve handed Democrats a priceless campaign gift: a made-for-TV (and Internet) video depicting Republicans as lackeys of the rich … A party working to reduce the taxes of the rich while cutting food stamps for the poor invites a public relations nightmare.”

Corinthian Collapses

Corinthian Colleges shuts down. AP: “Corinthian Colleges will shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses, displacing about 16,000 students … U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois released a strongly worded statement in response to the closures, encouraging [the U.S. Department of Education] to pursue debt relief for students of the colleges.’ … the U.S. Department of Education [had] announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation.”

Education Dept. reaches out to displaced students. Bloomberg: “U.S. Education Under-Secretary Ted Mitchell said the department’s workers will begin reaching out to Corinthian’s students to review their options, including the possibility of loan discharges.”

Breakfast Sides

Nuclear industry lobbies for changes to EPA climate regs. The Hill: “The proposed Clean Power Plan rule would allow states with nuclear power plants to take 6 percent of their nuclear output and credit it toward the emissions reduction goals regulators sets for them. The industry says the 6 percent figure is arbitrary and is a disincentive for states that might otherwise switch to nuclear sooner … That number is based on a government calculation that nearly 6 percent of U.S. nuclear plants are in danger of closing, primarily due to market pressures.”

Japanese PM will urge US to embrace high-speed rail. WSJ: “With the support of the government, Japanese companies are vying for chances to join three fast-train projects under consideration in the U.S. The three would link Los Angeles and San Francisco; Dallas and Houston; and New York and Washington with high-speed systems … Mr. Abe also is expected to highlight the latest achievement of the magnetic levitation bullet train being developed by Central Japan Railway Co. The maglev train reached a record speed of 603 kilometers an hour…”