Progressive Breakfast for September 18

Morning Message

Airline Workers Win Big In Union Vote — In The South!

The squeeze on employees is finally turning around. Passenger service agents at American Airlines on Tuesday voted to be represented by a union. The vote was described as “overwhelming,” with 86 percent voting in favor. Politico called this a historic win.” According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) this is “the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.” ... This matters. The only way regular, working people can fight back when those with enormous accumulated wealth and power want to take from them – us – is to organize together into unions.

House Keeps Government Open

House passes bill to keep government open, arm Syrian rebels and extend Ex-Im Bank. NYT: “An unusual but overwhelming coalition in the House voted Wednesday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support … There was rare unity between House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, who strongly backed the training legislation and sought to portray it as a modest measure … But the unusual left-right coalition in opposition loudly voiced grave doubts that the training mission will work.”

Gala 2014 banner PB/PMU-EB

Boehner support, WH lobbying sealed the deal. The Hill: “Setting the wheels in motion was a high-stakes Sept. 9 meeting at the White House between Obama and Congress’s top four leaders … A Democratic source familiar with the gathering said getting buy-in from Boehner during that talk — both on the policy and the strategy to attach the measure to the Republicans’ continuing resolution (CR) — was instrumental … Not that the White House was leaving anything to chance … ‘This is the biggest White House outreach effort to Republicans since he’s been president,’ said one senior GOP leadership aide.”

Senate expected to pass bill today reports The Hill.

But bipartisan group wants longer Ex-Im extension. The Hill: “Led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the proposed short-term Ex-Im Bank extension is insufficient, arguing that uncertainty surrounding its reauthorization is already costing jobs. ‘We would like to see an alternative proposed with anywhere from two to five years …’ Cantwell said. She said they want the extension tethered to the funding measure that would keep the federal government open past September.”

Minimum Wage Up Next?

Senate Dems still want a minimum wage vote before adjourning.The Hill: “Democrats might cap the week by trying to revive legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. While the efforts have attracted little media attention, Democratic senators said they would be talking about the votes on the campaign trail … ‘They may not be the national headlines but they’re working in the campaigns,’ said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is tasked with coordinating the floor agenda with the party’s political messaging. ‘Republican candidates are on the defensive. A few of them have come out for minimum wage.'”

State minimum wage initiatives pressuring Republicans. Mother Jones: “In Illinois, voters will weigh in on whether the current rate of $8.25 per hour should be increased to $10. Nebraska’s measure would bump the state’s rate to $9 starting by 2016. In Arkansas … a ballot measure would … boost its rate to $8.50 by 2017. South Dakota’s would bump it to $8.50 in January, with automatic increases for inflation. [Alaska's initiative would] raise it to … $9.75 in early 2016, with future increases for inflation … in August, Republican Dan Sullivan opposed the Alaska wage measure … On Monday, Sullivan completed his flip-flop, saying he plans to vote for the state initiative—although he says, if elected to the Senate, he would vote against raising the federal minimum to $10.10.”

Wall Street still loves Republicans. Politico: “Listen to the chattering class and Eric Cantor’s move to New York was a major blow to the Wall Street-GOP alliance. But already banks are identifying and courting new allies at the top of the party. And they will keep giving some of the biggest money to Republican candidates and party committees …. Cantor’s exit hasn’t affected the House’s policy agenda when it comes to the financial services industry. The Export-Import Bank, a priority of Wall Street, was expected to be extended Wednesday. Dodd-Frank has been altered to help large financial institutions.”

Fed Not Finished

Fed keeps foot on the gas. NYT: “The economic recovery has stayed on course in recent months, and the Fed’s policy-making committee said on Wednesday that it saw no reason to change its own plans, rejecting calls for a faster retreat … ‘There are still too many people who want jobs but cannot find them, too many who are working part time but would prefer full-time work, and too many who are not searching for a job but would be if the labor market were stronger,’ the central bank’s chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, said at a news conference. As expected, the Fed said it would move to end its most recent bond-buying campaign after adding a final $15 billion in October to its holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities…”

Fed shouldn’t stop soon, argues Bloomberg edit board: “The U.S. Federal Reserve is starting to prepare markets for the end of the longest period of near-zero interest rates in its history. In doing so, it should leave itself plenty of room to keep supporting a depressingly inadequate economic recovery. … there’s little evidence that the Fed has reached the limit of what it can do. Giving up too soon would be a tragedy, even if inflation temporarily overshoots the Fed’s target.”