Thursday, November 17, 2016

Progressive Breakfast: Finally, A Chance to Remake the Democratic Party


Richard Eskow
Finally, A Chance to Remake the Democratic Party
For the first time in a quarter-century, we’re about to see a vacuum of political and intellectual leadership in the Democratic Party. An entire generation of leaders – including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Bill and Hillary Clinton – will be leaving the political stage. With them will go an entire infrastructure of policy advisers, political strategists, associates, friends, and hangers-on. The party will have to remake itself. The question is, as what?


People’s Action to join Our Revolution in Washington, DC rally at 1 PM ET today: “Join Senator U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and broad array of labor, environmental, healthcare, consumer and other advocacy groups in Washington DC Thursday to promote a people’s agenda and a common commitment to stepping up grassroots mobilizations for economic and social justice and equality as the incoming Trump administration takes office.”
Sen. Schumer installs Sens. Sanders, Warren and Manchin in Democratic leadership. Time: “Sanders won a position as chair of outreach … Warren, formerly a strategic policy adviser, was named vice chair of the conference … The more conservative Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia won a messaging position … [Sanders] will continue as the ranking member of the Budget Committee.”
Sanders’ role is fuzzy. Politico: “…no one could fully explain what Sanders’ new post, announced on Wednesday, will entail … [Sanders] dropped hints about his plans for the role in a speech at George Washington University on Wednesday night … ‘Many Democrats will be prepared to work with Mr. Trump’ on some priorities he talked about during his campaign, Sanders said. ‘If those promises turn out to be hollow, nothing more than campaign rhetoric,’ he vowed, Democrats would stand against Trump …
The Hill explores the rules for the DNC race: “There is no set date for the election, which is required to take place some time before March 31 … A simple majority of DNC members, or 224 votes, is needed to win. About a quarter those voting — 112 — are chairs or vice chars from the 50 states and six territories. An additional 200 are elected below them at the state level, turning the contest into a true national election that will unfold outside of Washington.”
Pelosi formally announces bid to retain Minority Leader post. The Hill: “…Pelosi wrote in a letter to all House Democrats[,] ‘As of this writing, I am pleased to report the support of more than two-thirds of the Caucus.’ … there was some grumbling on Wednesday that the letter failed to acknowledge the protest message from the rank-and-file just the day before.”
Rep. Joe Crowley could challenge Pelosi. Politico: “Crowley, a New York City native, served in the New York State assembly from 1986 to 1998, when he won a seat in the House. Once on Capitol Hill, Crowley quickly aligned himself with [Rep. Steny] Hoyer and other moderate, pro-business Democrats.”


Trump administration looks to be an “investment banker’s dream” reports Politico: “Former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin has been seen at Trump Tower amid rumors that he’s the leading candidate for Treasury secretary. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross appears headed to the Commerce Department. Steve Bannon, another Goldman alum, will work steps from the Oval Office. If Mnuchin drops out, as some rumors suggest he may, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon remains a possibility as Treasury secretary, and will serve as an outside adviser if he doesn’t get the job … ‘You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington,’ said Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College…”
Mnuchin once accused of racial discrimination. Mother Jones: “Two California nonprofit housing organizations have formally asked the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate allegations of racially discriminatory practices at OneWest Bank, now a subsidiary of CIT Bank and formerly headed by Trump adviser Steven Mnuchin. The complaint alleges that OneWest systematically refused to loan to people of color or to establish branches in minority communities in California.”
House GOP prepares Dodd-Frank rollback. NYT: “[Rep. Jeb] Hensarling introduced his blueprint for reform, the Financial Choice Act … last summer, and he said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a version of the bill could come up for a vote on the House floor early next year … Mr. Hensarling’s bill seeks to revamp the oversight of financial institutions and how big banks are wound down in times of trouble, as well as make structural changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the broader rule-making process. It would also repeal the Volcker Rule … he conceded that Senate rules, which require 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, will still demand some amount of compromise with Democrats…”


NYT edit board demands Trump remove conflicts of interest: “Unless he takes the sorts of common-sense steps past presidents have relied on to preserve the public trust, Americans will never know for certain if his actions in office are for the public good or his family’s private gain … the cleanest path out of Mr. Trump’s tangle of conflicts would be for him to sell his holdings and put the proceeds into a blind trust operated by independent managers.”
Zephyr Teachout says “Trump’s Foreign Business Ties May Violate the Constitution” in NYT oped: “Several provisions of the Constitution were designed assuming that foreign powers would actively try to gain influence. President-elect Trump may be on the verge of violating one of them, known as the ’emoluments clause’ … an antibribery rule, which forbids public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign powers without explicit congressional approval.”


GOP open to infrastructure bill. The Hill: “But even the most optimistic lawmakers caution that conservative support for his plan will hinge on the details, such as how the package is paid for and whether it’s coupled with other GOP priorities … Lawmakers acknowledged that coming up with a palatable budget offset would be a herculean task … increasing the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure is a nonstarter. There’s more appetite for … “repatriation” … But Republicans have also floated repatriation as a way to finance tax reform … other components of the plan that may be important to conservatives are whether it ensures dollars are distributed fairly across the country and whether it rolls back certain regulatory hurdles to getting projects off the ground…”
“Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan wouldn’t actually fix America’s infrastructure problems” argues Vox’s Brad Plumer: “All Trump has right now is an idiosyncratic proposal for Congress to offer some $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors who want to finance [projects] … But this private financing scheme, experts across the political spectrum say, wouldn’t address many of America’s most pressing infrastructure needs — like repairing existing roads or replacing leaky water mains in poorer communities like Flint … If high user fees and tolls are required to help private investors recoup their investments, then a lot of infrastructure in America will simply never get funded.”
An infrastructure bill “could take several months” reports Politico: “Writing legislation of that size and complexity is extraordinarily challenging and time consuming … But one thing is clear: Trump’s dream of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill is that — a dream. It’s likely to be smaller — a lot smaller.”
Trump’s economic plans suffer from a “glaring contraction” says NYT’s Neil Irwin: “A centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s campaign was the United States’ trade deficits. He pledged to eliminate them and create a resurgence in American manufacturing. He has also pledged tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation … That, in turn, is driving the value of the dollar higher on currency markets … A pricier dollar makes it harder for American manufacturers to compete overseas [and] tend to make the trade deficit higher…”
Fed poised to raise rates. Bloomberg: “A rate hike ‘could well become appropriate relatively soon if incoming data provide some further evidence of continued progress toward the committee’s objectives,’ Yellen said in the text of testimony she is scheduled to deliver Thursday in Washington before Congress’s Joint Economic Committee … Yellen’s remarks will serve to cement expectations, barring a significant negative shock, for an increase in interest rates when the Federal Open Market Committee gathers in Washington Dec. 13-14.”
Obamacare strategy may be “repeal and delay.” The Hill: “A Republican plan to quickly repeal most of ObamaCare but delay the effects for up to two years is gaining steam on Capitol Hill … But there’s a problem: If insurers know the law is going away, they might drop out immediately, causing chaos for enrollees before any replacement plan has time to take shape.”
Coal CEOs excited for Trump. The Hill: “…Trump has promised to revive the industry and bring back the thousands of jobs that it once provided … Experts and even industry officials say Trump’s policies are likely to make a marginal difference, potentially increasing profit margins. Beyond that, the future of coal remains cloudy.”
Obama admin plows ahead on climate. Time: “The White House presented a plan Wednesday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, announced a finalized regulation to reduce methane gas emissions from oil and gas operations, and has continued to push for strong multi-lateral action in ongoing negotiations at an international climate change conference in Marrakech. The administration is also reportedly planning to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic through 2022 … Trump could take aim at any of the new plans or rules when he takes office in January, but announcing them formally will make reversing them much more challenging.”

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