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FUSION: Obama is ‘sounding like Elizabeth Warren,’ and his populist pitch could set the tone for 2016

Some Democrats said the president “sounded like Elizabeth Warren,” the firebrand freshman senator who has tried to push the party to the left. His State of the Union address could shape the debate for the 2016 presidential elections

Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said afterward that there was only one “sore thumb” in his speech — his proposal for more power to unilaterally approve trade deals.

“President Obama is sounding more like Elizabeth Warren, and that’s a good thing for Democrats because her economic populist ideas are super popular,” said Taylor, whose group is pushing Democratic candidates who may challenger former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next year to embrace Warren’s policies.

“On issues like taxing the rich and making college affordable, the president took giant steps in the right direction — and Americans want Democrats to go even further in the direction of big, bold, economic populist ideas.”

THE HILL: The $5 billion presidential campaign?

The 2016 presidential election could cost as much as $5 billion, according to top fundraisers and bundlers who are already predicting it will more than double the 2012 campaign’s price tag.

Adam Green, co-founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC, which is pressing for candidates to adopt progressive policies more aligned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said there’s “definitely” space for a viable Clinton alternative despite her fundraising prowess.

“The big money matters more in the presidential race after New Hampshire and Iowa,” said Green.

He said Clinton could scare off challengers not by raising money but by reaching out to progressives.

“Clinton can close that political space by following the Warren wing,” Green said. “Early money is important for credibility but the big issue comes when a candidate cuts corners on policy to get more big money. That’s the problem.”

THE HILL: Biz hears '16 undertones in Obama SOTU

State of the Union or 2016 stump speech?

That's what Washington's financial regulatory watchers are wondering as they review the tax policy plan President Obama will formally unveil on Tuesday during his State of the Union address.

"It's a rhetorical tax proposal designed to placate Elizabeth Warren and other economic populists," said Fratto, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based financial services communication consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies.

That's good news to Adam Green, co-founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who has been pushing for Obama and Democrats to follow Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) to the left and push for policies opposed by the business community.

"The more President Obama continues marching in her direction by proposing big populist ideas, the better positioned Democrats will be in these fights -- and the more Democrats will win," said Green.

NEW REPUBLIC: Elizabeth Warren Is Taking Control of the Democratic Agenda

In 2014 the Administration wanted Antonio Weiss, a Wall Street dealmaker at the investment bank Lazard, for the number three job at the Treasury Department. A small coalition of senators on the Banking Committee and progressive groups mounted opposition, and yesterday, Weiss withdrew.

The Weiss affair will certainly lead to the White House thinking twice about future nominees. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already floated “progressive economic thinkers” like former Senator Byron Dorgan and economist Dean Baker for the Treasury spot. At the very least, in the future you should expect Warren to be consulted on a nominee before, and not after, the announcement.

So why is the Warren wing of the party ascendant? First, Democrats are languishing with their smallest House minority since the 1940s, and a state legislative minority dating back to the pre-FDR days. Part of the success stems from the ideological winnowing of the party, through losses in red states and purple districts. There’s less of a battle of ideas to be fought. But that doesn’t fully account for the change during just the last few weeks.

THE AMERICAN PROSPECT: Can Elizabeth Warren Lead the Left to Greater Influence?

If you aren't immersed in the world of liberal activists, you may not appreciate just how much attention, admiration, and outright worship Warren gets there. She has become the focus of an extraordinary amount of strategizing and organizing on the left, so when she declared that she was going to fight Weiss' nomination, the left picked up the ball and ran with it. For instance, the liberal group Credo Action got 163,000 signatures on a petition to oppose Weiss. But look at the petition: The headline on the page reads, "Stand with Elizabeth Warren: No Wall Street bankers running Treasury," and features a picture of the Massachusetts senator. Or check out the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the leading groups seeking to elect liberal Democrats and push the Obama administration to the left. On PCCC's home page, Warren's name appears eight times; its blog has posts with such titles as, "How to Win Like Elizabeth Warren" and "PCCC and Allies Amplify Elizabeth Warren's Message." Talk to a liberal activist about what progressives ought to be doing, and you'll only have to wait about 10 seconds before Warren's name comes up.

THE HILL: Progressive groups call for free public college

A coalition of progressive groups is hoping that President Obama’s proposal to offer two free years of community college to qualifying students is just a start.

The groups say the proposal should be just the first step toward cost-free four-year public colleges.

The Progressive Campaign Change Committee (PCCC), Democracy for America (DFA) and the liberal Daily Kos Website — sent out petitions asking their members to pledge their support for Obama’s plan and work toward "debt-free" higher education.

“Free community college is a first step toward debt-free college at all public institutions of higher learning,” the PCCC said in its emailed petition.

A spokesperson for the group said that their email had yielded close to 30,000 signatures so far, and that they intend to lobby lawmakers on the issue.

THE HILL: OVERNIGHT FINANCE: Win for Warren as Obama pick withdraws

PROGRESSIVE GROUPS CHEER, via Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee: "This is a victory for the Elizabeth Warren wing of American politics. Voters in red, purple, and blue states are done with Wall Street and special interests running our government and our economic policy. To inspire the public, Democrats must fight for the little guy."

FUSION: Elizabeth Warren just scored another huge victory over Wall Street

Warren, the firebrand Democratic senator from Massachusetts, had vehemently opposed Weiss’s nomination and led a progressive charge against him. Warren and other progressives, who have become locked in an ongoing battle over the future of the Democratic Party, argued the Lazard banker Weiss was too close to Wall Street.

“We’ve already seen that the new Republican Congress is going to aggressively attack the Dodd-Frank Act,” Warren said in a statement. “… The risk of another financial crisis remains too high, and we should be strengthening financial reforms, not rolling them back to benefit Wall Street.”

Progressive groups backing Warren’s push against Weiss cheered the news Monday evening. Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said it was a “victory for the Elizabeth Warren wing of American politics.”

THE ATLANTIC: The Democrats Call Dibs on the Middle Class

On Monday, one of the leading Democratic policy-makers in the House, Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, offered a new and more aggressive economic blueprint that may well become a rallying point for the party in 2016. The headline proposal is a $1.2 trillion package of tax cuts for middle-income earners, including a $1,000 "paycheck bonus credit" for individual making less than $200,000 a year, and twice that amount for couples. Van Hollen, who is the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, would also expand the earned income tax credit and the child care tax credit, along with offering an even bigger break for people who devoted a portion of their tax credit to retirement savings. Additionally, the plan would try to prod CEOs to give their employees raises by changing the rules for companies that claim deductions for executive pay.

The plan drew swift endorsements from Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, and an array of liberal groups, although not yet from the White House. While the tax cut for the middle class should be an easy political sell (Who doesn't want an extra $1,000-2,000?), the more punitive Wall Street policies are significant because they put the Democratic leadership behind ideas that have energized the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party. A group supportive of Warren, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, applauded Van Hollen for his plan "taxing high-risk Wall Street gambling." "Since Election Day, we've been urging the Democratic Party to rally around big economic populist ideas that impact millions of people's lives," the PCCC said.

TALKING POINTS MEMO: Progressives Seek Control Of The Democratic Party

With Democrats' popularity at a record low and the party now in the minority in the House and Senate, the progressive caucus and outside activists say the party is now free to stop cutting bad deals with Republicans and must draw red lines against legislation designed to help narrow, wealthy interests.

"Democrats lost in 2014 because the brand was not associated with big, bold ideas that would be game-changing for peoples' lives," Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said.

Progressive advocates see the next two years through the prism of the coming 2016 race. They want Democrats to use their minority to lay down a sweeping populist agenda for the country ahead of the election, which could include breaking up the big banks, a major clean energy jobs bill or investments in education to let college students graduate debt free.

"Things like that will inspire people to vote," Green said. "So the question is, what do we do in 2015 and 2016 toward that north star vision?"

WASHINGTON TIMES: Left jab: Elizabeth Warren, liberals hammer Obama on treasury nominee

The confirmation of Antonio Weiss — tapped by Mr. Obama to serve as Treasury’s undersecretary for domestic finance — is in doubt, as liberals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, have taken direct aim at the former investment banker’s close ties to Wall Street.

The uproar highlights how some on the left, led by Mrs. Warren and also powerful progressive organizations outside Capitol Hill, now feel more emboldened to take on both the administration and so-called Wall Street Democrats.

They argue the administration must move to the left, particularly on financial matters, and needs to break associations the Democratic Party has with powerful banks and other financial institutions. Mrs. Warren has, for example, made the case that the federal government should pursue harsher regulations on Wall Street and should seek to break up large banks.

Mrs. Warren, Mr. Manchin and other opponents have been joined by groups such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — which has rallied liberals to oppose Mr. Weiss‘ nomination — and organizations such as the Independent Community Bankers of America, which argues the nominee would be yet another Wall Street voice in the federal government.

MCCLATCHY: Clinton and 2016 raise other questions beyond ‘will-she-won’t-she?’

What some of those potential contenders have that Clinton lacks publicly is that they are identified by their passion for a particular issue: Sanders has long championed measures to reduce income inequality. Warren led the December congressional fight against easing laws aimed at restricting risky financial institution dealings and has long promoted populist concerns.

Clinton’s backing of Obama on Cuba, immigration and climate change notwithstanding, the party’s progressive wing wants to hear more about her plans for the economy.

“The big unchecked box for Hillary Clinton is economic populism and corporate accountability,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The PCCC is organizing in key early presidential primary states to urge Democratic presidential candidates to campaign on an “Elizabeth Warren-style message of economic populism.”

CNN: Obama's 'Bulworth' moment & other 2014 lessons

We end the year with several liberal groups urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to change her mind and seek the presidency in 2016.

Some of this is real, some is part fund-raising gimmick, and some is designed to keep pressure on runaway Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Politico's Maggie Haberman shared reporting of how Team Clinton is paying close attention -- and making key inroads.

One group that has not joined the "Draft Warren" movement just happens to be the one perhaps closest to her, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Haberman took us inside a key meeting -- a top Clinton political aide sitting down with PCCC leadership.

"This is the first time you're seeing people in Clintonland trying to build a bridge openly, in a serious way, toward Warren's supporters. This is also the group that has not joined the draft movement. So I think that this is something you are going to see more of going forward."

MCCLATCHY: As 2016 looms, Democrats face a liberal-moderate tug-of-war

The Democrats’ progressive wing this month led a strong but ultimately unsuccessful push to strip from the congressional budget bill provisions easing restrictions on financial institutions.

Activists have launched an energetic effort to boost Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for president, but Warren says she isn’t running.

Polls show significant disenchantment with mainstream Democrats, but mainstream icon Hillary Clinton retains a huge lead among Democrats for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Progressives interpret all this differently, saying it helps create awareness of their mission. “We want to un-rig the playing field. We want people to not feel the fix is in on every level,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

They paint even the recent setbacks as detours on their path to progress. The December McClatchy-Marist poll found that in the 2016 Democratic nomination derby, Clinton won 62 percent support from Democrats, while Warren got 9 percent. Among liberals, Warren rose to only 11 percent, while Clinton’s number doesn’t move.

USA TODAY: National parties, donors embrace higher campaign limits

Some third-party groups on the left and the right of the political spectrum, however, aren't as pleased, warning the national parties will have more power to drown out upstart politicians challenging the establishment's favored candidates.

Everyone agrees on one point, however: More campaign money will start to slosh through federal elections — just as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up.

On the left, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's spokeswoman Laura Friedenbach said: "Gutting campaign-finance laws represents Democrats marching in the exact wrong direction."

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Clinton faces headwinds from liberals as Warren rises

“There are a lot of unchecked boxes with Hillary Clinton when it comes to economic populism and corporate accountability,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group. “There are definitely red flags.”

He cited pricey speaking fees that Clinton received at two events for Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street investment bank, and questions about her position on numerous policies that affect the middle class, such as a long-shot hope to expand Social Security benefits.

The group, while not part of the draft effort, has sent an organizer to New Hampshire in hopes of creating a coalition that ensures that candidates carry Warren’s message.

At the very least, these liberal groups hope to use her momentum to push Clinton in a direction more aligned with a populist agenda.

THE HILL: Wall Street braces for Warren run

Big banks are unnerved by Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) rise in Democratic circles, which is raising the prospect of her running for the White House.

Supporters who have launched campaigns to push her into the race as a rival to Hillary Clinton launched a protest in Warren’s name outside Citigroup's Manhattan offices on Thursday, which only added to the industry’s anxiety.

The demonstration came a week after Warren led a populist uprising against changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the $1.1 trillion government-spending bill.

Equally jarring to Wall Street is the possibility that Warren could force Clinton to the left to appease progressives. Income equality has emerged as the number one issue on the left, and it is seen as a touchstone issue for Warren.
Clinton, who also has not said if she will run for the White House, has already sent signals of concern about Warren.

On Thursday, a Clinton adviser reportedly met with officials from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which organized the Citigroup protest and is backing Warren.

BLOOMBERG: Elizabeth Warren Gets Her Own Folksong on Park Avenue

Chanting and clapping outside Citigroup Inc.’s (C) Park Avenue headquarters today, about 50 protesters tried to thrust the bank into the 2016 presidential race.

“As part of running for president, you have to answer ‘The Citigroup Question’ -- where do you stand on breaking up Citigroup?” said Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Andrew Cuomo for this year’s Democratic nomination for New York governor. “Do you think Citigroup should be broken up, or do you think things are OK?”

The protest, organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, singled out the bank that Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren denounced in the Senate last week, saying its lobbyists drafted the derivatives deregulation that Congress added to its $1.1 trillion spending bill. The lawmaker became the subject of a reworded folksong.

“If I had a Warren, I’d end too big to fail,” a circle of protesters sang to the tune of Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.” “I’d strengthen Volcker, bring back Glass-Steagall too! Use those laws to help my brothers and sisters all over this land.”

MSNBC: Pro-Warren protesters take their fight to Wall Street

The growing anti-Wall-Street movement led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren took its fight from the halls of Washington, D.C., to the streets of New York City on Thursday.

Outside Citigroup, about 120 protesters called for the breakup of the big banks, chanting: “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” Around half of the crowd marched to Lazard’s office at Rockefeller Center, where they called for Weiss — whose name they pronounced “weece” — to come down and explain why his background made him suitable for the Treasury Department job.

“This is not a democracy anymore,” said protester Donna Romo, lamenting the weakening of banking regulations at Citigroup’s request. “This is really owned by the big corporations.”

The protest was organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which says it represents the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic party.

CNN MONEY: Elizabeth Warren allies march outside Citi: 'Break big banks'

A group of protesters gathered outside Citi's headquarters in New York chanting "break big banks."

Made up largely of Senator Elizabeth Warren's supporters, the protesters on Thursday specifically targeted Citigroup (C) because of the bank's role in watering down Wall Street regulation.

"We need to break up the big banks that have too much power in our democracy," said TJ Helmstetter, one of the protest organizers. "They literally wrote the law and Washington let them do it."

Protesters carried signs that read "#StandWithWarren" on a chilly morning outside Citigroup's Park Avenue tower with about a dozen police officers standing by.

Organizers called for a modern day Glass-Stegall Act, the 1933 legislation that separated the money lending arm of banks from their investment banking operations. They claimed to have 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for this sort of law to be reinstated.

THE HILL: Clinton aide meets with liberal group backing Warren

An aide to Hillary Clinton recently met with the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which strongly supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the group confirms.

The meeting with PCCC founder Adam Green, first reported by Politico, could be a sign that the Clinton camp is reaching out to liberal groups that are more enthusiastic about Warren than about Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential race. It is unclear which side requested the meeting, who the Clinton aide was or what was discussed.

The PCCC is an enthusiastic backer of Warren, who some liberals hope will challenge the former secretary of State from the left in the presidential primary.

"It is time for Democrats to remold the party around Elizabeth Warren's big economic populist ideas -- like breaking up 'too big to fail' banks, expanding Social Security, and making college way more affordable," the group said in a statement earlier this week.

POLITICO: Clinton aide met with Warren-aligned liberal group

A Hillary Clinton adviser recently met with the head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the liberal issues group most closely affiliated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both sides confirmed.

The meeting is the first sign that Clinton’s team is trying to build a bridge with those who are actively supporting Warren, whom many on the left want to see challenge Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

MSNBC first reported that the meeting might take place. On Thursday, PCCC co-founder Adam Green confirmed that he had met with a Clinton aide in the past few weeks, but declined to identify the aide or describe what was discussed.

Although Green’s group has been tied to Warren, whose progressive stands have earned her adulation but who insists she’s not running for president, the PCCC has not joined the “Draft Warren” efforts being led by MoveOn.org.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: If Elizabeth Warren Says No, What Is Progressives' Backup Plan?

Elizabeth Warren's fans refuse to take no for an answer, but soon enough they'll almost certainly have to.

That means it's tough to tell where Warren backers will go in a Warren-less primary. Some could decide they're OK with Clinton; others might migrate to more left-leaning candidates like Sanders or O'Malley. Without Warren in the race, groups supporting her may also look to down-ballot races to build up the "Warren wing" instead.

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee—the group that drafted Warren into the 2012 Senate race against Republican Scott Brown—said progressives' main goal is making sure their issues are front-and-center in the 2016 primary, no matter who the candidates are. The PCCC isn't directly involved with the draft-Warren efforts for 2016, but Green said it's an overall positive because even if the field doesn't include Warren, it will bring prominence to her agenda.

"If the net effect is that there are hundreds or thousands of rallies around the country showing visibly how much Americans agree with Elizabeth Warren's economic populist agenda, that serves the goal," he said. "What success will look like is multiple Democratic candidates campaigning in six months to see who can outdo each other and be more like Elizabeth Warren."

THE HILL: What does Warren want?

She has a spot in Democratic leadership, a swelling alliance of liberals in Congress and a rabid following in the Democratic Party.

The question is: What does Elizabeth Warren want to do with all that power?

Groups on the left are trying to draft the Massachusetts liberal into the presidential race, viewing her as the perfect populist counterweight to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The initiative marks the second time there has been a grassroots effort to pull Warren into a race. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a "Draft Warren for Senate" campaign after reports she was being eyed by Democrats as a candidate in Massachusetts in 2012.

“In many ways, Elizabeth Warren’s economic populist message is the North Star for the Democratic Party,” said Adam Green, PCCC’s founder. “It’s entirely possible that Democrats lose the presidency if our standard-bearer is not actively campaigning on an Elizabeth Warren-style populist message.”

BLOOMBERG: Our Nation's Most Important Verb Conjugation Is All About Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren said it again, and again. She's not running for president. This time, Warren was talking to NPR's Steve Inskeep, who like many in Washington, pointed out that Warren keeps using the present tense when she describes her presidential aspirations–leaving open the possibility that she might decide to run in the future, like in the first quarter of 2015.

The interview caught the attention of both the right and the far left—with the Republican National Committee blasting out the remarks in an email where they noted that "Democratic insiders aren't buying" her denials. Within minutes, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee also focused on Warren's words, shooting out an email that recounts the work that the group has done for her. "The way for Democrats to inspire the public is to give Americans the debate about big ideas that we deserve–and that means following Elizabeth Warren's lead," said Stephanie Taylor, the committee's co-founder.

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