Progressive Breakfast for September 15

Morning Message

Republicans for What?

This November’s bi-election has all the makings for a Republican wave. But the polls show the key races for the Senate remain virtually neck and neck. The Wall Street Journal suggests the problem is that Republicans are known only for their obstruction. But the GOP is against raising the minimum wage, against pay equity for women, against paid family leave and paid sick days for workers. The Republican caucus has voted against every jobs program, even the rebuilding of an increasingly decrepit public infrastructure. No wonder the Republicans run solely on their opposition to all things Obama. Their agenda won’t sell.

Hillary, Bernie Pitch Iowa Progressives

Hillary Clinton takes populist tack in Iowa “Harkin Steak Fry” speech. W. Post: “Hillary Clinton has been under pressure to address growing concerns in her party about income inequality, not only because of her ties to Wall Street and the business community but also because of the centrist economic policies of her husband’s administration. She did so here on Sunday. ‘Today, you know so well, American families are working harder than ever, but maintaining a middle-class life feels like pushing a boulder uphill every single day,’ Clinton said. ‘That is not how it’s supposed to be in America.’”

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TNR’s Noam Scheiber underwhelmed: “What the steak fry speech did make pretty clear that Hillary isn’t exactly in the business of innovating these days. As one solution to the precariousness of middle class life she touted making ‘college and technical training affordable’—that golden Clinton oldie. She made multiple allusions to her husband’s ‘90s-era incantation that people who ‘work hard and play by the rules’ should have something to show for it. It was rhetorical comfort food—the turns of phrase you go back to when the world is scary and hard to make sense of.”

Also in Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders lays out “Agenda for America.” CNN: “His first point was the most well-received: ‘We have got to restore the democracy to the United States of America by overturning this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.’ … On health care, Sanders added that ‘the United States of America needs to join with the rest of the industrialized world and have a nationalized health care.’ Sanders ended his speech with a call to action, urging attendees to begin a conversation and organize support in northeast Iowa for the issues he was addressing.”

Sanders says his potential run is “not about Hillary Clinton” on NBC’s Meet The Press: “”A) I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running, and b) I don’t know what she is running on. But this is what I do know: I know the middle class in this country is collapsing, I know the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. I know there is profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at corporate America, anger at the policitical establishment — and anger, by the way, at the media establishment. The American people want real change, and I’ve been taking on the big money interests and special interests all of my political life.”

Sen. Tom Harkin encourages progressive pressure on Hillary, on ABC’s This Week: “As someone who has carried the liberal, progressive populist banner for many years, we’re always nervous about people moving too far to the right … See we, a lot of us believe the center ought to be moved back, that the center has moved too far right … we’ll find out when, if she, if she decides to run. You know, what’s her vision for America?”

Republicans Exert Discipline Before November

Tea Party quiet with 50 days to go before Election Day. The Hill: “The party’s recruitment of strong candidates has resulted in no serious gaffes and has produced polling leads in several key swing states in the bare-knuckle brawl for the Senate. On Capitol Hill, Tea Party insurgents who forced a government shutdown last year are playing nice with GOP leadership in the campaign’s home stretch in a bid to keep the heat on President Obama and off a sometimes-divided GOP caucus … House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has put his efforts to kill the Export-Import Bank on hold — for now. Neither did Republicans put up much of a fight over Obama’s request for $88 million in extra funding to combat the Ebola virus in West Africa.”

Economy casts pall over election. Politico: “Strong majorities now say that they lack the savings to grapple with an unforeseen job loss (61 percent) and that the cost of basic household items like gas and groceries has strained their finances (62 percent.) Neither party has established a clear advantage in the midterm economic debate: In the states and congressional districts most likely to decide control of Congress, voters were evenly split over which party they trust more to handle the economy, with 36 percent choosing Democrats and an equal proportion choosing Republicans.”