Progressive Breakfast for October 2

Morning Message

Seven Revelations From Those Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

The secret Goldman Sachs tapes released this week by ProPublica and This American Life are attracting a lot of attention, and rightly so. They were clandestinely recorded by Carmen Segarra, an investigator for the New York Federal Reserve Bank who was eventually fired – either for being uncooperative or, as she says and the tapes suggest, for attempting to be a strong regulator. Financial cases can seem complicated, especially in situations when there are multiple parties involved. But the reality that is revealed in these tapes is clear enough, and can be summarized in seven takeaways...

Republicans Threaten Social Security, Wages

NYT’s Gail Collins calls out Republicans who only support Social Security for those currently 55 and up: “If you happen upon a congressional debate in the next few weeks, feel free to ask the candidates what they’re going to do to protect Social Security. Bring along a 54-year-old friend who might helpfully burst into tears when anyone starts promising to protect the 55-year-olds.”

Republicans oppose raising wages of home health care workers. The Hill: “Republican lawmakers urged the Department of Labor (DOL) to suspend an upcoming rule that would increase the wages of home care workers to $7.25 an hour. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) led more than 20 Republicans in writing a letter to DOL Secretary Tom Perez asking him to cancel the new rule that is slated to take effect on Jan. 1, because they said it would ‘dramatically increase costs’ for Medicaid services … Their letter came the same day advocacy groups expressed concern that the new rules … could be delayed.”

Gala 2014 banner PB/PMU-EB

Obama Pushes Economic Message

President to deliver economic speech in Chicago. The Hill: “President Obama on Thursday will lay out steps the U.S. should take to raise wages, create jobs and grow the economy during a speech intended to refocus attention on the economy ahead of the midterm elections … the president faces a tough task convincing the American people that they’re experiencing the benefits of a booming stock market and steadily rising gross domestic product.”

“Corporate U.S. Healthiest in Decades Under Obama” says Bloomberg: “Companies in theStandard & Poor’s 500 Index are the healthiest in decades, with the lowest net debt to earnings ratio in at least 24 years, $3.59 trillion in cash and marketable securities, and record earnings per share. They are headed this year toward the fastest average monthly job creation since 1999, manufacturing is recovering and the U.S. has returned as an engine for global growth.”

NYT’s Eduardo Porters questions whether corporate tax avoidance can be stopped: “The European Commission’s deployment of competition policy to go after dubious tax breaks in Apple’s case is a novel and potentially powerful strategy, which could be applied to many other arrangements … new rules developed by the O.E.C.D., if broadly adopted, could put an end to common avoidance practices, like parking valuable intellectual property in tax havens … There are reasons, however, to remain cautious that the world’s tax collectors can get ahead of its corporate tax strategists.”

W. Post Harold Meyerson zeroes in on pernicious trade clause: “[Under] the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions included in every significant trade deal the United States has signed since Ronald Reagan’s presidency … foreign investors can sue a nation with which their own country has such treaty arrangements over any rules, regulations or changes in policy that they say harm their financial interests … a foreign-owned company suing California or the EPA gets to plead its case to an extra-governmental tribunal of three extra-governmental judges engaged just for that case — and the judges’ ruling can’t be appealed to a higher court. Under ISDS, there are no higher courts.”

Immigrant Advocates Stay With Dems Despite Record Deportations

Obama hits record number of deportations. NYT: “The Obama administration carried out 438,421 deportations in 2013, a record number, bringing the total for President Obama to well over 2 million during his time in office … The figures show a continuing and pronounced shift away from removals of immigrants living in the interior of the country, toward a focus on swift expulsion of those caught crossing the border illegally … 198,394 foreigners who had been convicted of crimes [were removed], about 45 percent of total deportations, and a slightly lower number than criminals removed in 2012. As recent border crossers have become a greater share of the total, those with serious criminal records in the United States have gone down.”

Latino activists sticking with Democrats. Politico: “Latino groups, unions and civil rights organizations are focused on registering voters, raising money to help elect more Hispanics to Congress and highlighting ballot initiatives in states like Oregon that would hinder access to driver’s licenses. They also have plans to launch direct mail and radio and TV ads as Election Day nears … Latino leaders believe that electing more Republicans to Congress weakens the chances of any immigration reform legislation passing and that picking a fight with Obama — their most powerful ally — could backfire.”

Obama to address Congressional Hispanic Caucus event tonight. Reuters: “[He] will reiterate his ongoing commitment to immigration reform, according to a White House official … Obama also will say he intends to fix as much of the U.S. immigration system as he can by using his presidential powers.”

Breakfast Sides

Federal bankruptcy judge in California delivers blow to public pensions. NYT: “…the decision, by Judge Christopher M. Klein of the Eastern District of California, dealt a blow to California’s giant state-led pension system, known as Calpers, which has been leading efforts to preserve defined-benefit pensions nationwide. It echoed a decision made last year by Detroit’s bankruptcy judge, but went even further … Calpers had argued that if Stockton stopped making payments and dropped out of the state pension system, the lien would let it claim $1.6 billion of its assets. But Judge Klein said those statutory powers were suspended once a California city received federal bankruptcy protection.”

Names emerge as possible AG successors to Holder. W. Post: “…we’re hearing that the fourth-ranking official in the Justice Department, Solicitor General Don Verrilli, appears to top the list … Tony West, who just left the department’s No. 3 post, associate attorney general, had been high on the list, but his new job as general counsel at PepsiCo could be an obstacle. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who was assistant AG for civil rights until he moved to Labor last year, is also on the list, but he could spark a major battle in the Senate … [It] could be Loretta Lynch, the current and former (1999-2001) U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Or … former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, who’s highly regarded by Obama but left in May for an uber law firm job.”