Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of January 7, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

Evan Vucci-Pool, Getty Images
Evan Vucci-Pool, Getty Images

Income Inequality in 2014

Obamacare isn't very popular and the midterms are right around the corner. What does that mean as far as talking points from Democrats and the White House? A new focus. This time on income inequality according to FOX NEWS.

The Obama administration has set the stage for a push that could rekindle cries of class warfare -- calling for renewed long-term unemployment benefits, a minimum wage increase and a campaign against what Democrats call "income inequality."

Ahead of his multi-week, holiday vacation in Hawaii, President Obama pushed Congress to move forward on extending federal unemployment benefits that weren't included in the budget deal Senate Democrats and House Republicans struck to fund the federal government for the next two years. The White House has scheduled an East Room event on Tuesday in which the president will appear with people who lost that insurance.

Before the break, Obama called on Congress to follow the lead of 14 states that hiked their minimum wages and do the same for the federal wage.

"We know that there are airport workers, and fast-food workers, and nurse assistants, and retail salespeople who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty," the president said during a Dec. 4 speech in Washington. "And that's why it's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office."

The president went on to suggest that economic inequality, brought on partially by the current federal minimum wage, is a drag on the American way of life.

"The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe," the president said in the December speech.

Critics suggest the president is turning to populist themes -- and stoking the class warfare debate -- in an effort to pivot away from the troubled rollout of his signature health care law. Far fewer people than projected have enrolled in the federal health care exchange, and one official over the weekend played down the administration's goal of 7 million enrollees. Talk of ladders of opportunity and a strengthened middle class would create a stark contrast to the badgering the White House took on health care to end 2013.

Still, some say pitting one class of people against another could backfire on an administration that has already seen its approval numbers plummet over the last year.

"I think the administration is playing with dynamite," Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and former adviser to President George W. Bush, told Fox News. "In the short run they get some advantage from talking about the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. But the more this becomes a question of taking from those who have to those that don't have, the more they engage the American people in a very negative way for the administration."

That potential blowback hasn't stopped some Democrats from taking the president's upcoming agenda and running with it.

In his inauguration speech, newly elected New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio focused almost exclusively on what he called a tale of two, unequal cities.

"When I said we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities, I meant it. And we will do it," De Blasio said. "I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed as One City."

De Blasio touted the idea of raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund city programs aimed at educating poor children.

"Please remember, we do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories," he said.

The president is expected to aim his populist rhetoric directly at Congress during the Jan. 28 State of the Union Address where he'll likely promote an agenda headlined by economic inequality, continuing implementation of the health law and immigration reform. In a separate speech sometime in January, he's also expected to address an administration overhaul of the NSA spying programs after a recent review brought on by the leaks by former NSA employee Ed Snowden.

Wendy Davis Hits Abbott Over Payday Loans

Democrats always like to blame other people for bad decisions. For example, Wendy Davis is now blaming Greg Abbott for payday loans. Because it's Abbott's fault that people sign up and accept them. Davis has been attacking Abbott over payday loans for a few days now. Her latest attack comes just after her campaign lied... sorry, used inaccurate figures when pointing out contributions to Abbott. Now according to the El Paso Times, Davis accuses Abbott of being responsible for the uptick in payday loans.

State Sen. Wendy Davis is highlighting a 2006 letter by the office of Attorney General Greg Abbott that says there are no limits to the fees that payday lenders can charge.

Davis said the letter, which was written in a response to an inquiry by former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, set the stage for an explosion of high-interest lending that critics say exploits the poor.

"Greg Abbott's office gave the green light to predatory lenders to expand their operations across our state," Davis said in a statement Monday. "Greg Abbott has proven that he is an advocate for payday lenders that go after hardworking Texans, even members of our armed services, with predatory loan costs often exceeding 500 percent. It's time for a leader who believes you don't have to buy your way into Texas' future."

Abbott's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. It also has not responded when asked for more than a week whether Abbott believes the Texas payday lending industry needs to be reformed.

The El Paso City Council today will debate whether to enforce local limits on payday and auto-title lenders that in some cases charge annual interest at rates greater than 700 percent.

It and most other major Texas cities have passed ordinances in the face of unwillingness by the Legislature to place stricter limits on the industry.

Religious and charitable groups also have called for reforms of an industry they say traps poor people in a cycle of debt.

A Times analysis of state data from 2012 showed that in El Paso, the average payday or auto-title loan was for $564 and cost the borrower $387 to hold the money for less than two months. Lenders collected $34 million in fees from the loans.

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