Progressive Breakfast for May 26

Morning Message

Populists Are Driving the Ideas Primary

In the run-up to 2016 presidential race, press attention is sensibly focused on the money primary – the candidates strutting their stuff before deep-pocket donors who will decide which candidates get a real shot to compete with the already established leaders, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Overshadowed is the ideas primary – the competition to formulate a compelling message and agenda that appeals to voters. Hillary and Jeb have even postponed unveiling their ideas in order to focus on the money. But under the radar, in sharp contrast to the money primary, economic populism has become the coin of the realm in both parties. And on the Democratic side, populism is driving the ideas primary.

Bernie Rallies In Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders holds first presidential campaign rally today. USA Today: “At 5 p.m. ET, Sanders expects to stand on public land he fought for in the 1980s as he announces his presidential ambitions — while spectators munch Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at the free, non-ticketed event in Waterfront Park.”

“Bernie Sanders Takes It to Wall Street With Financial Transactions Tax” cheers Dean Baker: “…a FTT is a great way to raise large amounts of money to meet important public needs. It will come almost entirely at the expense of the financial industry and should strengthen the economy. We now have one presidential candidate who is prepared to support a strong FTT. Are there others?”

“Will Hillary Clinton Run Against Her Husband’s Welfare Legacy?” asks Bloomberg: “… a smaller percentage of Americans are getting the help they need: In 1996, 68 of every 100 families living in poverty received cash assistance. Today, only 26 of 100 do … Engaging with the entwined issues of inequality and poverty will inevitably mean engaging with the consequences of the welfare bill Bill Clinton signed, though she has not done so yet.”

WI jobs agency created by Gov. Scott Walker slammed in audit. Bloomberg: “…Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau released a report showing the authority failed to follow the law and its own policies in awarding taxpayer-funded incentives. It also didn’t always require grant and loan recipients to document that jobs were created or retained.”

Kochs plan to fund multiple GOP candidates. Bloomberg: “In a Saturday interview on the Larry Kudlow Show, a nationally syndicated radio broadcast, David Koch let it slip that the roughly $900 million that he and his brother, Charles, plan to lavish on the 2016 presidential race could find its way into the hands of more than one GOP contender … the Koch brothers seem content to let the sifting process play out before placing their chips on a single candidate.”

Fast Track Fight Moves To House

“House GOP split jeopardizes trade deal” reports Politico: “…about 40 to 45 of the 245 House Republicans, most of them in the far-right wing, are hard ‘nos’ … If they are able to boost their numbers by even a handful of votes, it would imperil the legislation … Democrats are expected to provide at most 25 ‘yeas’ toward the 217 votes needed…”

Self-described “progressive” advocacy group for TPP to run ads. Politico: “The Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, which is being advised by Obama campaign alumni at 270 Strategies and trying to build up appeal among the Democratic base, is already starting with a digital ad buy to thank senators who voted for fast-track legislation … PCAJ will also be advertising in districts where [House] members have already said they’ll support fast-track legislation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or are leaning that way.

Obama Bully Pulpit Moves Cities

Obama’s paid leave and minimum wage strategy paying off at city level. USA Today: “At least six major cities — Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tacoma, Wash., and Washington, D.C. — have passed paid sick leave laws in the four months since Obama called for state and local action in this year’s State of the Union Address. Since the 2013 address when Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage, 17 states and six major cities have taken action, including Los Angeles last week.”

Workers getting fewer raises. NYT: “…the share of payroll budgets devoted to straight salary increases sank to a low of 1.8 percent in the depths of the recession … It has rebounded modestly since the recession, but still only rose 2.9 percent in 2014 … Last year, [short-term rewards and bonuses] hit a record 12.7 percent … While a few more dollars in each paycheck may lack that Christmas-morning feeling, a raise is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Congress may be ready to spend more, says The Hill: “…spending ceilings are unpopular with members of both parties. Pressure to break them is coming from all sides, and building … Lawmakers want more funding for the Pentagon to battle [ISIS]. Last week’s deadly Amtrak crash has provoked Democrats to call for higher infrastructure spending. Other lawmakers warn that the federal government isn’t providing enough funds for law enforcement…”

Crunch Time In Greece

Greece nears bankruptcy. NYT: “Absent a last-minute deal with its creditors, the nation will run out of money early next month … the interior minister, Nikos Voutsis, said that there would not be enough money to pay the I.M.F. if there was no deal by June 5 … As it is in many small towns here, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average of 25 percent. And while the trash is being collected, budget cuts of 50 percent leave room for little else.”

Greek finance minister accuses creditors of demanding austerity. Bloomberg: “‘Our creditors’ insistence on greater austerity is subtle yet steadfast,’ Varoufakis wrote in a Project Syndicate op-ed, published May 25. ‘Our government cannot –- and will not -– accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease.'”

Left-wing parties win in Spanish local elections. NYT: “The success of anti-establishment candidates, who ran for small local parties, in the two largest Spanish cities underlined the fragmentation of Spain’s politics, as well as the precipitous slide of the governing Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, ahead of general elections this year.”