washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Paige Winfield Cunningham reports at The Daily 202 that “Conservatives are furious – furious – that Senate Republicans got close to repealing big parts of Obamacare and are now on the verge of walking away from the effort altogether, possibly leaving President Obama’s health-care law on the books for the foreseeable future…Now, nothing is turning out as they’d hoped. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) intends to hold a vote early next week to start debate on a repeal bill. But unless senators can hash out an agreement on how to treat Medicaid spending — as they tried to do in a meeting last night in Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) office — it will likely fail…” Cunningham reports that groups like Freedomworks, Tea Party Patriots and Club for Growth are so angered that they have initiated ‘shaming’ campaigns to punish conservatives who announced against the GOP ‘repeal and replace’ bills.

In his syndicated Washington Post column, “Why Obamacare won and Trump lost,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “The collapse of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is a monumental political defeat wrought by a party and a president that never took health-care policy or the need to bring coverage to millions of Americans seriously…They had seven years after the law was passed and could not come up with a more palatable blueprint.” However, adds Dionne, “Supporters of the 2010 law cannot rest easy…On Wednesday, the president demanded that the Senate keep at the work of repeal, and, in any event, Congress could undermine the act through sharp Medicaid cuts in the budget process and other measures. And Trump, placing his own self-esteem and political standing over the health and security of millions of Americans, has threatened to wreck the system.”

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore explores three interim health care reforms, which could possibly leverage bipartisan support to help bridge the transition from Obamacare to a single payer or public option health care system: 1. Stabilizing individual insurance markets; 2. Keeping the maximum number of younger and healthier people in insurance risk pools; and 3. Broader nonideological reforms of the health-care system., including more flexibility at the state level for administering Medicaid and allowing people nearing retirement age to buy into Medicare coverage.

A stray, but hopeful thought, tickled by a friend’s Facebook observation: As health insurers realize how fast the public is warming to Medicare-for-all/single payer/public option, the insurance companies will fight harder for Obamacare. “We’re not seeing any evidence of a death spiral or a market collapse,” said Cynthia Cox, Kaiser’s associate director of health reform and private insurance (quoted in Paul Demko’s “Despite doomsday rhetoric, Obamacare markets are stabilizing” at Politico on July 17th). “Rather, what it looks like is insurers are on track to have their best year since the [Affordable Care Act] began.”

Steve Phillips, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority” has a New York Times op-ed, “The Democratic Party’s Billion-Dollar Mistake.” Among his observations:  “In the 2016 election, the Democratic Party committees that support Senate and House candidates and allied progressive organizations spent more than $1.8 billion. The effectiveness of that staggering amount of money, however, was undermined by a strategic error: prioritizing the pursuit of wavering whites over investing in and inspiring African-American voters, who made up 24 percent of Barack Obama’s winning coalition in 2012..”

At The Fix, Aaron Blake sees trouble ahead for Democrats in the new WaPo/ABC News poll, which “presents a pretty mixed bag for Democrats. It shows that registered voters say they want Democrats to control Congress to be a check on Trump by a 52-38 percent margin, but it also shows Democrats are — rather remarkably — less enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are. While 65 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning adults say they are “almost certain to vote,” just 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults say the same.”

Brendan Nyhan notes at The Upshot: “A new working paper by the Emory University political scientists B. Pablo Montagnes, Zachary Peskowitz and Joshua McCrain argues that people who identify as Republican may stop doing so if they disapprove of Trump, creating a false stability in his partisan approval numbers even as the absolute number of people approving him shrinks. Gallup data supports this idea, showing a four-percentage-point decline in G.O.P. identification since the 2016 election that is mirrored in other polling, though to a lesser extent…When the Emory political scientists use the Gallup data to account for Republicans who have stopped identifying with the party since the election, they find that partisan support for Trump could be substantially lower than it appears.”

For a little heavier lifting, check out Gabriel Winant’s “The New Working Class” at Dissent, which includes this take on the potential for working-class solidarity: “To imagine that we should look for “class” and see hard-hats mistakes a particular historical manifestation—the industrial working class—for a general category whose ranks are always changing. But while the idea of a new working class is not yet widely accepted, its distinguishing features are, on their own terms, familiar. We can reduce them down roughly to feminization, racial diversification, and increasing precarity: care work, immigrant work, low-wage work, and the gig economy. There’s also a host of interlinked forces shaping working-class life from outside the workplace: policing and punishment; housing insecurity; indebtedness; the costs of education; and the difficulties of caring for the young, the disabled, the sick, the addicted, and the old. A set of shared experiences coheres here, and a potential set of shared enemies: landlord, lender, bill collector, manager, cop. Racialized and gendered unevenness in exposure to these forces is real, but that portion of experience that is shared appears, quite clearly, to be growing year by year at the intensifying intersection points of race, gender, and class. This, the growing stock of common experience, is the process called “class formation.””

Trump as Buchanan 2.0: “The “miracle” of the mogul’s campaign, apart from his cunning success in manipulating negative media coverage to his advantage, was capturing the entirety of the Romney vote, without any of the major defections (college-educated Republican women, conservative Latinos, Catholics) that the polls had predicted and Clinton had counted upon. As in an Agatha Christie mystery, Trump eliminated his dazed primary opponents one after another with murderous innuendo while hammering away on his master themes of elite corruption, treasonous trade agreements (“greatest job theft in the history of the world”), terrorist immigrants, and declining white economic opportunity. With the support of Breitbart and the alt-right, he essentially ran in Patrick Buchanan’s old shoes.” – From Mike Davis’s “The Great God Trump and the White Working Class” at The Jacobin.


Political Strategy Notes

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans prefer Obamacare to Republican replacements,” reports WaPo’s Philip Bump. “In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday, we decided to ask the question directly: Which do you prefer, Obamacare or the Republican replacement plan? By a 2-to-1 margin — 50 percent to 24 percent — Americans said they preferred Obamacare…There’s a split by party, as you might expect, with Democrats broadly favoring the existing law and Republicans the latter. But that split wasn’t even, with 77 percent of Democrats favoring the legislation passed in 2010 by their party and only 59 percent of Republicans favoring their party’s solution. Independents in this case came down on the side of the Democrats, with 49 percent favoring the existing law vs. 20 percent backing the GOP alternative…More worrisome for Republicans hoping to pass a new bill is how the support broke out by demographic. Only among Republicans, conservatives, white evangelicals and white men without college degrees did more Americans support the GOP bill than Obamacare. In every other group analyzed, including older respondents and white women without college degrees — an important part of President Trump’s voting base in 2016 — backed the existing law by some margin.”

Paul Krugman’s syndicated column on “The GOP Health Care Con” rolls out the Republicans’ latest catastrophe: “The most important change, however, is the way the bill would effectively gut protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Affordable Care Act put minimum standards on the kinds of policies insurers could offer; the new Senate bill gives in to demands by Ted Cruz that insurers be allowed to offer skimpy plans that cover little, with very high deductibles that would make them useless to most people. The effects would be disastrous, which is what insurers themselves say. In a special memo, AHIP, the insurance industry trade group, warned that it would “fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools,” leading to “unstable health insurance markets” in which people with pre-existing conditions would lose coverage or have plans that were “far more expensive” than under Obamacare…Put another way, this bill would send insurance markets into a classic death spiral. Republicans have predicted such a spiral for years, but kept being wrong: Obamacare, despite having some real problems, is stabilizing, and doing pretty well in states that support it. This bill would sabotage all that progress.”

Bill Lambrecht of the Washington Bureau of the San Antonio Express-News reports on Democratic military veterans running for congress, including: Joseph Kopser (TX); Jason Crow (CO); Dan McCready (NC); Chrissy Houlahan (PA); Mikie Sherrill (NJ); and Josh Butner (NJ). Lambrecht quotes Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN, a Democratic-aligned think tank in Washington, who notes “The issue of whether America has been betrayed and whether our homeland has been violated by an outside foreign power creates an environment where patriotism and love of country become important in a way that they haven’t been for a very long time.”…Rosenberg said he believes that veterans “are going to drive a very different sensibility in the Democratic Party than we’ve had over the last generation. If we can mount a big argument to the American people based on love of country and patriotism, I think we are going to be a formidable political party in 2018.”

Max Ehrenfreund explains why “Democrats’ internal dispute over the white working class is about to get real” at The Washington Post: “After decades of relying on free-market solutions to achieve liberal aims, Democrats have shifted to the left in recent years, and many are calling for more government intervention in the economy…The shift follows a gradual trend among Democratic voters toward more progressive politics. The share of Democrats calling themselves liberal has increased from 27 percent in 2000 to 42 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center. There are now more ordinary people in the party who describe themselves as liberal than who describe themselves as conservative or moderate.”

AP’s Steve Peoples and Bill Barrow discuss Democrats’ struggle to craft an appealing message that can inspire voters. “The soul-searching comes as Democrats look to flip at least 24 GOP-held seats necessary for a House majority and cut into Republican advantages in U.S. statehouses in the 2018 midterm elections. Yet with a Russia scandal engulfing the White House, a historically unpopular health-care plan wrenching Capitol Hill and no major GOP legislative achievement, Democrats are still struggling to tell voters what their party stands for.” How about “Move America forward with health care for all and investment in infrastructure projects that provide jobs: Vote Democratic.”

“If we kill net neutrality,” writes at Bryan Mercer in his article, “Why Net Neutrality Is a Working-Class Issue” at In These Times, “we will make it more politically possible for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other big telecom providers to raise their prices and sell your private data for profit. Net neutrality is an important protection that working-class people and communities of color need, considering the history of predatory practices of telecom providers and the tightening wallets of Americans who aren’t part of the one percent…Make no mistake: Net neutrality is one of the defining workers’ rights and civil rights issue of our time. We all know the internet is driving changes in culture, politics and the economy. It is also one of the key spaces where workers can organize—and where mass movements for racial and economic justice blossom and build power.”

Jonathan Chait scores a number of good points in his New York Magazine article, “How ‘Neoliberalism’ Became the Left’s Favorite Insult of Liberals,” including: “The Democratic Party has evolved over the last half-century, as any party does over a long period of time. But the basic ideological cast of its economic policy has not changed dramatically since the New Deal. American liberals have always had some room for markets in their program. Democrats, accordingly, have never been a left-wing, labor-dominated socialist party. (Union membership peaked in 1955, two decades before the party’s supposed neoliberal turn, and has declined steadily since.) They have mediated between business and labor, supporting expanded state power episodically rather than dogmatically. The widespread notion that “neoliberals” have captured the modern Democratic party and broken from its historic mission plays upon nostalgia for a bygone era, when the real thing was messier and more compromised than the sanitized historical memory.”

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, provides an excellent demographic dissection of a critical swing state, Virginia: “Based on the Census Bureau’s 2015 estimates, Virginia ranks sixth among the 50 states in its percentage of the population 25 years or older that has at least a bachelor’s degree…Virginia has also become more diverse in many ways. It’s become more racially and ethnically varied since the 1970 census. Race and education are now the two strongest indicators of voting preference, so the fact that Virginia’s population has moved from being 19% nonwhite in 1970 to about 37% nonwhite today is surely a part of the story as well. The fastest-growing localities in the state, such as Loudoun and Prince William counties in Northern Virginia, have become dramatically more diverse since 1970. Loudoun was 13% nonwhite in 1970; today, it is 10 times bigger in overall population and is about 41% nonwhite. Prince William has seen even more dramatic changes: It was about 6% nonwhite in 1970; today, its population is roughly five times bigger (if you subtract Manassas and Manassas Park from its 1970 totals; they’re now independent cities) and the county is 54% nonwhite. The physical origins of Virginia’s population are now more diverse as well. In 1970, 63% of the state’s population had been born in the state; in 2010, that figure had fallen to just below 50%…These are just some of the factors that have moved Virginia in the Democrats’ direction in national politics. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.”

Associated Press reporter David A. Lieb’s “Analysis indicates partisan gerrymandering has benefited GOP” provides a revealing quantification of what you already knew: “The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering. The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts…Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010…The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”


Political Strategy Notes

First the good news, from David Weigel at PowerPost: “Tuesday night, Democrats picked up two seats in Oklahoma, a once-blue state where the Obama years had reduced them to a rump party. It was the fourth pickup in a state legislative race this year,* the only electoral bright spots for a party that is lagging in fundraising and fighting localized battles over leadership and messaging. Michael Brooks, who’d lost a 2014 race for the state’s 44th Senate District, won it by 9 points on Tuesday; Karen Gaddis, who’d narrowly lost the 2016 race for the 75th District of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, took it by 5 points this time.” However, writes Weigel, “The victories also did little to slice into what, by the end of the Obama years, had become a Republican supermajority…

In a Vox exclusive, Sarah Kliff reports that “House Democrats introduce new plan to fix Obamacare,” which stops far short of single-payer reform. As Kliff explains, “Ten House Democrats will unveil a new plan to fix Obamacare, highlighting the parts of the law that have struggled to work and offering modest steps to improve them. The proposal includes more funding to help insurance plans cover the sickest patients, along with possibly changing the timing of the open enrollment season in hopes of attracting more Americans to sign up for insurance…These Democrats are agitating for a new strategy, one where they speak openly about the health law’s weak spots — particularly the individual market — and how to shore them up. The party has so far been reticent to highlight Obamacare’s problems at a moment when Democrats are fighting against Republican efforts to repeal parts of the law.”

At Facing South, however, Sue Sturgis notes that “Medicare for All wins backing of conservative Southern Democrats.” Sturgis reports that “two Blue Dogs cosponsoring Medicare for All are from the South. Vicente Gonzalez, who was elected last year to represent South Texas’ 15th Congressional District, signed on on April 17. Jim Cooper, who has represented Middle Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District since 2003 and who served its 4th Congressional District from 1983 to 1995, signed on on April 25. Both seats are considered safely Democratic…Other Southern Democrats who’ve signed on to the Medicare for All bill for the first time this year are Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Al Lawson and Darren Soto of Florida; Bennie Thompson of Mississippi; G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina; and Gene Green and Marc Veasey of Texas.”

Scott Detrow writes at npr.org that some red state Democrats are ready to negotiate on reforming Obamacare, but they are hanging tough on not cutting Medicaid. Further, “Democrats are prepared to drive a hard bargain. A broader measure would need 60 votes to advance, not 50 like the current GOP measure. That means moderate Democrats would suddenly be the key swing votes who have leverage over the bill’s language…Democrats like North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Montana Sen. Jon Tester are both up for reelection next year in deep red states. Both say they’d be happy to deal — but that Republicans would need to drop their push to scale back Medicaid spending. “That has to come off the table,” said Heitkamp. “We cannot be turning back the clock on Medicaid.”…”If eliminating Medicaid, or trimming it back, or however they want to put it is the price for admission, then it’s going to be very difficult,” said Tester.”

U.P.I.’s Allen Cone reports “U.S. adults are divided on the government’s best approach to healthcare insurance reform, according to a Gallup poll…The largest segment, 44 percent, want “significant changes” to the existing Affordable Care Act but to keep it in place, according to the survey. Thirty percent favor repealing and replacing the law and 23 percent want to keep the ACA as it is…With independents, 48 percent want to keep the ACA and make changes. The rest are somewhat equally divided — 25 percent repeal and replace and 23 percent keep it as is.”

In her L.A. Times op-ed, “Democrats are doubling down on the same vanilla centrism that helped give us President Trump,” Melissa Batchelor Warnke quotes Democratic National Comittee Rep. Keith Ellison: “Ellison says he’s keen on rebuilding trust between the Democratic Party and those it represents. “Look, how do you build a trust relationship?” Ellison asked. “You listen to me, I listen to you. When you count on me, when you call on me, you can count on me. But what have we had with the Democratic Party? Sometime around election time we call you and ask you to vote for us. Maybe we ask you for money and then you don’t see us again until we need more votes and more money.” Warnke adds, “One of the goals of the Resistance Summer events is to put the party in contact with the people it represents outside of an election year — a good and necessary idea.”

John Light notes at Common Dreams: “A study by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA found that Wisconsin’s voter-ID blocked as many as 200,000 people from voting in 2016. That’s an order of magnitude more than the 22,000 votes that delivered the state to Trump.”

In his Harper’s ‘Letter from Washington,’ “It’s My Party: The Democrats struggle to rise from the ashes,” Andrew Cockburn notes a weakness of the Clinton’s campaign which has to do with favoring a technocratic approach over making a more human connection: “Notoriously, the 2016 Clinton campaign put all its trust in a data-driven voter model. In Nebraska, Kleeb remembered the Clinton team working hard. “But what they were missing was the real grassroots person-to-person campaign. They had these sophisticated voter models and their organizers had very specific numerical goals they had to hit at the end of every day. It had no heart. That matters, you know. People vote for people because they think they care about them. It’s not a transactional process, which is exactly what the Clinton campaign was.” (It didn’t help that the voter model failed in many ways to reflect the real-life electorate, fatally underestimating, for example, the number of Trump voters.)…Such withering critiques might warrant major changes in a defeated party’s way of doing business. But indications are that many leading players see no reason why business should not continue as usual.”

Re Mitch Smith’s New York Times article, “Strategy for Democratic Mayors Facing Troubles: Attack Trump,” couldn’t it just be that Democratic elected officials at all levels attack Trump because his outrages are so unrelenting and destructive that responsible leaders can’t ignore them? Think how weird it would be if they didn’t.


Strong Support for Single-Payer, Medicare-for-All Shaping Health Care Debate

Strong support for “single-payer” and Medicare-for-all now drives America’s health reform debate. As Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew Research Center, writes:

A majority of Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. And a growing share now supports a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.

Currently, 60% say the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, while 39% say this is not the government’s responsibility. These views are unchanged from January, but the share saying health coverage is a government responsibility remains at its highest level in nearly a decade.

Among those who see a government responsibility to provide health coverage for all, more now say it should be provided through a single health insurance system run by the government, rather than through a mix of private companies and government programs. Overall, 33% of the public now favors such a “single payer” approach to health insurance, up 5 percentage points since January and 12 points since 2014..Just 5% of Americans say the government should not be involved at all in providing health insurance.

Kiley notes that “Democrats – especially liberal Democrats – are much more supportive of this approach than they were even at the start of this year…The share of Democrats supporting a single national program to provide health insurance has increased 9 percentage points since January and 19 points since 2014.” Also,

Nearly two-thirds of liberal Democrats (64%) now support a single-payer health insurance system, up 13 percentage points since January. Conservative and moderate Democrats remain about evenly divided: 38% prefer that health insurance continue to be provided by a mix of private insurance companies and government programs, while 42% favor a single-payer approach.

This is not the only poll which affirms that an overwhleming majority of Americans want government-run health care for all citizens. Increasing numbers of Americans are becomming aware of the benefits, savings and success of government-run health care in nearly all other developed countries, and they are raising questions about why we can’t have this and why we allow profiteers to define our national health care system to benefit their enrichment.

Family health security is the most important issue for most people, and that gives Democrats an edge. Despite the string of narrow electoral defeats they have recently expeerienced, it’s becomming clear to the public that Democrats, unlike their adversaries, are actually fighting for health security for all. Dems have had success in branding themselves as the party of health security and they should amplify this impression in the months leading up to November, 2018. If issues matter at all, Democratic candidates who master their messaging for a Medicare-for-All system are going to have an edge in 2018.


Political Strategy Notes

Medicare for all advocates will find some useful statistics in Robert H. Frank’s article at The Upshot, “Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money,” including: “Total costs are lower under single-payer systems for several reasons. One is that administrative costs average only about 2 percent of total expenses under a single-payer program like Medicare, less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Single-payer systems also spend virtually nothing on competitive advertising, which can account for more than 15 percent of total expenses for private insurers…The most important source of cost savings under single-payer is that large government entities are able to negotiate much more favorable terms with service providers. In 2012, for example, the average cost of coronary bypass surgery was more than $73,000 in the United States but less than $23,000 in France.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” John McCain said of the Republican tax-bill-posing-as-health-care legislation on the CBS program Face the Nation. “Yet even McConnell cast doubt on the bill’s prospects for passage last week,” Reuters reports. “Speaking at a luncheon in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell said if Congress failed to follow through on a seven-year pledge to repeal Obamacare then it must act to shore up private health insurance markets, comments seen as providing a pathway to a bipartisan deal to fix the health system.” Sen Grassley isn’t optimistic about the bill’s prospects, either. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to hold a vote on the bill before the six-week recess that begins on July 29th.

Viral video about Trump’s awkward and weak presence at the G-20:

Sarah Jones explains “How the Democrats’ online outreach strategy went haywire” at The New Republic, and warns that the “churn and burn” email fund-raising strategy used by Jon Ossoff  may be played out. As Jones writes, “The Ossoff emails warned of electoral doomsday. The subject lines often contradicted emails that had been sent earlier that day. As election day neared, the pace increased. The campaign bombarded its email list with increasingly desperate pleas for money—or psychological intervention, depending on your interpretation…“There’s a limited pool of Democratic small-dollar donors out there,” said Kenneth Pennington, former digital director of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, quoted by Jones. “When the Ossoff campaign and DCCC run a churn-and-burn program like this, it sullies the pond for every other Democratic cause. When people get turned off by fundraising emails, they tune out. Not just from the bad programs, but from the good ones. Everyone from Elizabeth Warren to UNICEF is going to feel that.” Jones adds, “but there’s no denying that the churn-and-burn strategy gets results. Ossoff did raise a lot of money. His fundraising helped him remain competitive with Handel…” Jones cites the more measured email fund-raising strategy of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, which was also highly-effective, not only in rasing money, but also in generating engagement.

At Salon, Conor Lynch ruminates on “Why we need the left-wing critique of liberalism: Because liberals got us where we are today. Too many American liberals have betrayed FDR’s legacy — and the attacks from both left and right have some merit.” Lynch makes his case and offers some worthwhile insights, including “At first it may seem that conservatives and leftists are criticizing liberals for opposite reasons: Right-wingers think that liberals are far-left ideologues, while actual leftists think that liberals lack core beliefs and are practically conservative.” There are grains of truth, as well as overstatement, in both characterizations, and the souring dialogue between liberal and moderate Democrats could use some adult supervision, as is often suggested by sniping and snarkage in Facebook and other social media. The ‘big tent’ party has both purist ideologues and moderate centrists, and tension between them is inevitable and needed for developing sound Democratic policy. Despite the divisions, liberal values affirming an increased role for government helping people and expansion of human rights generally hold sway with most voters who cast ballots for Democrats. What Democrats agree on remains far more significant than their more frequently-publicized disagreements.

Nobody should be surprised by all of the Pelosi-bashing. It’s what Republicans do to progressive women who have political power. Now that Hillary Clinton holds no political office, it would be surprising if the GOP did not come after the highest-ranking Democratic woman. Reasonable Democrats can disagree about whether Pelosi or another Democrat should be the next House Speaker. What is certain, however, is that, when Paul Ryan finally surrenders the Speaker’s gavel, his accomplishments will pale in comparison to what was achieved under Pelosi’s speakership.

The New York Times editorial board addresses measures for “Combating a Real Threat to Election Integrity,” and explain “Last year, Russian hackers tried to break into voter databases in at least 39 states, aiming to alter or delete voter data, and also attempted to take overthe computers of more than 100 local election officials before Election Day. There is no evidence that they infiltrated voting machines, but they have succeeded in doing so in other countries, and it’s only a matter of time before they figure it out here. R. James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, wrote in an introduction to the Brennan Center report, “I am confident the Russians will be back, and that they will take what they have learned last year to attempt to inflict even more damage in future elections…The question is this: Can the system be strengthened against cyberattacks in time for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race? The answer, encouragingly, is that there are concrete steps state and local governments can take right now to improve the security and integrity of their elections. A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice identifies two critical pieces of election infrastructure — aging voting machines and voter registration databases relying on outdated software — that present appealing targets for hackers and yet can be shored up at a reasonable cost.”

Marcus H. Johnson offers an idea for combatting voter suppression at Alternet: “Framing the issue is important because it is an effective way for voting rights advocates to expand the base of support for their fight. Twenty years ago, there wasn’t broad support for legalizing marijuana. But an effective messaging campaign turned marijuana legalization into a medical issue instead of a recreational one, leading to an increase in support and over two dozen states legalizing medical marijuana. Instead of visualizing teenagers smoking marijuana, legalization advocates got voters to think about cancer and epilepsy patients and others who use the drug to relieve pain…In the same vein, voting rights advocates can draw in a bigger base of support by framing voter suppression as an issue of political corruption. Currently, voter suppression is a problem known to the Democratic base and activists, but it isn’t covered extensively by the media and is openly dismissed by Republicans as a partisan issue. Framing voter suppression as political corruption would put Republicans on the defensive and force them to answer for stealing political influence from minority voters. It would also garner more media coverage, because corruption and theft sounds juicer and more pressing than “partisan differences.””

“A trio of new political action committees – the People’s House Project, Brand New Congressand Justice Democrats – are looking for ways to support candidates with economically progressive platforms and to challenge the party establishment, especially in rust-belt states where President Donald Trump saw much unexpected success last November,” reports Katishe Maake at mcclatchydc.com. “The People House Project says it will run candidates in every Republican-held district in 2018, with an emphasis on Midwestern and Appalachian states. A central tenant of the organization’s platform is that candidates cannot receive donations from big money donors, who Ball said have distorted the party’s messaging and intentions.”


Trump Removal Involves Tricky Strategy, Timing

Julia Azari explores the ramifications of a difficult question and a painful reality in her Five Thirty Eight post, “What Happens If the Election Was a Fraud? The Constitution Doesn’t Say.” As Azari writes:

For all the headlines about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, no hard evidence has come to light, at least publicly, showing that President Trump or his team were involved. But suppose that such evidence did come to light — what would happen if it became clear that Trump or his advisers colluded with the Russians?1 This isn’t the only type of wrongdoingthe investigations could uncover, but it’s among the most serious because it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2016 result. So, is there a process for dealing with a finding that in essence invalidates an election?

When it comes to presidential elections, the answer is: not really. The laws and processes around national elections have grown up in a piecemeal fashion over time, with state and local laws governing the administration of presidential elections. And the Constitution itself focuses more on ensuring stability than on administering elections. As a result, there aren’t clear procedures for how to handle questions of legitimacy after the fact — especially when those questions involve the presidency.

…The lack of an established process for reviewing elections points to a larger issue: The structures established by the Constitution assumed a world in which the presidency and the Electoral College were not fully absorbed into a contentious national party system. That vision has long since been replaced by one in which presidential elections are national contests over policy agendas and ideas. The text of our Constitution has never been changed to reflect this reality. Instead, the Electoral College remains the final word on who gets to be president. When it comes to the possibility that the winning side colluded with a foreign power to influence the election outcome, the Constitution doesn’t offer much in the way of a plan.

Democrats should press the case for a complete investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, while keeping in mind the reality that Republican suppression of pro-Democratic voters, especially African Americans and gerrymandering are likely stealing even more votes than any foreign interference. There are also indications that Republican Secretaries of State are suppressing a lot of votes by delaying registration of voters. Consider, for example this disturbing excerpt from a Democracy Now report about voter registration problems in the recent GA-6 election, featuring voter suppression expert Greg Palast and voting rights activist Nse Ufot of the New Georgia Project:

GREG PALAST: Voting rights groups registered literally tens of thousands of minority voters, but, strangely, the voter forms simply vanished.

NSE UFOT: We registered over 86,419 voter registration forms.

GREG PALAST: How many again?

NSE UFOT: Eighty-six thousand four hundred nineteen. There are 46,000 of the folks that we’ve registered who have made it, and 40,000 of them are missing. And you know what they told us? “We don’t know what you’re talking about. What forms?”

GREG PALAST: You mean that 40,000 of the voters you had registered, mostly minorities, just disappeared?

NSE UFOT: They did not disappear.

GREG PALAST: Nse Ufot of the New Georgia Project.

NSE UFOT: With all four of my eyes, I—we walked into county boards of elections—county boards of registrars and seen boxes of voter registration forms waiting to be processed.

GREG PALAST: And if you complain about the missing voter registrations, you could face criminal felony charges, and your group could be destroyed…

Concerns about a fraudulent election at the presidential level may not come to much, if there is a lack of compelling evidence. Even if there is adequate evidence, the Trump Administration may delay action on it for a long time. Or the Republicans might take pre-emptive action/distraction by finally stepping up to impeach the President, since he has been so distructive to their brand.

Never before in American history has there been so much buzz about impeachment so early into a President’s term. Many political observers (see here for example) have been dismissive about the idea, more because of the difficulty of rallying the needed support than concerns about whether Trump’s mess meets impeachment requirements. Other progressives have worried about impeachment on strategic grounds — that impeachment could result in the worst case scenario of President Pence for two plus terms (the Constitution limits the time a President can serve to ten years. If the Republicans want Trump impeached, they have to time it in such a way that Pence would be sworn in just less than 10 years before his second term would be completed. We may see some tricky timing maneuvers by both Democrats and Republicans before any such impeachment drama runs its course). Forcing Trump’s resignation could accomplish the same result.

But Trump’s brand of lunacy could make avoiding impeachment impossible for Democrats, as well as Republicans. Who would bet that Trump will not do anything illegal, dangerous or outlandish enough in the next couple of years to make impeachment the only palatable choice for members of congress who want to get re-elected?

Between the GOP’s twin disasters of their health care debacle and Trump’s destructive tweets, they are on track to experience a rout in 2018. When your adversary is self-destructing, the argument goes, get out of the way. Don’t introduce another draining distraction.

For now, the best strategy for Democrats is to remain vigilant, while leaving the headache about removing Trump to the Republicans. The distracting drain on time, energy, money, credibility and emotions presented by mobilizing for impeachment properly belongs to Republican office-holders and operatives. Democratic resources can be better allocated elsewhere, like recruiting strong candidates, registering voters, fighting voter suppression and crafting a better message/brand for the party. Dems may eventually have to play a leadership role in impeachment, but not yet.


Political Strategy Notes

As a group, veterans don’t seem to vote to any significant exent according to candidate positions on issues like veterans benefits. It may be that the best way for Democrats to court veterans is to encourage more of them to run as Democrats. In her New York Times article, “Democrats Court Military Veterans in Effort to Reclaim House,” Emmarie Huettman writes that “Most of the veterans serving in Congress are Republicans; of the 13 veterans in this year’s House freshman class, 10 are Republicans.” Now, however “about 20 military veterans who have announced that they will run as Democrats for the House of Representatives next year. Democratic Party leaders are aggressively seeking former members of the military in hopes of increasing their appeal among the sort of frustrated voters who elected President Trump — and winning back the 24 seats they need to regain the Republican-controlled House.”

At The Hill, Mike Lillis probes deeper into a much discussed topic in his post, “Dems divided on Trump attack strategy for 2018.” While nearly all Democrats advocate honing a better message, most of the disagreement over strategy seems to be about who to attack and how. There is lots of disagreement about how much to attack Trump and Republican candidates. But Lillis provides one quote that suggests a new approach that merits more discussion in Democratic strategy circles: “I don’t want to run against Trump,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said. “My recommendation is to run against the Republican Party, and I think our party has made a mistake by emphasizing too much Mr. Trump.” Dems should try a series of hard-hitting ads that focus more directly on branding the Republican Party, instead of just its candidates. At the very least, the idea should be tested in focus groups.

Ron Klain provides some salient insights about how Democrats might flip the meme about which party is really condescending to working people, and put it where it belongs, in his Washington Post article “To win the working class, Democrats need to start talking straight.” As Klein writes, “Trump’s economic message has been a kind flim-flammery where the carnival barker lavishes compliments on his audience while whispering to his sidekicks, “Can you believe they are buying this?” He extolled the virtues of “Buy American” while building his own projects with imported Chinese steel. He made immigrants the scapegoats for a wide array of economic problems, while applying for special visas to import foreign workers for jobs at Mar-a-Lago…It was Trump’s campaign that reeked of condescension when he told working-class voters that he alone could make sure that jobs shipped overseas come back. Trump’s presidency is erected on faux populism, as he claims to look out for “forgotten people ” while saying that only rich people are qualified to formulate economic policy and using the presidency to promote his family’s businesses. Appealing to working-class voters on false promises and flawed premises is not showing them respect: It is a condescending belief that with enough bluster and showmanship, you can get away with anything.”

Sarah Jaffe reports at Truthout on the activities of a new progressive political action group in Indiana: “We have been building this thing now for three months. We have got a small but growing base of dues-paying members. We have teams around operations and administration and around fundraising and around politics. We have been running a test canvas program to gear up for our first big canvas, which we will start on July 8 and go for three weeks. We did a daylong boot camp training for organizers in Indiana. People from all over the southern half of the state came. We did one action on Donnelly’s office around Medicaid cuts and infrastructure. We have been collecting Medicaid stories, getting videos of them, first person accounts that people, mostly mothers in the region, have written and trying to get them placed in national press outlets…A lot of this organizing is based on having long one-on-one discussions with people, what their lives are like, what they are interested in, what they are concerned about, what they are afraid of, what they are angry about, what they are hopeful for and growing relationships that way. That is both on the doors and ideally in follow-ups after people get knocked or called.”

At Daily Kos, Joan McCarter explains why “Tom Price’s Health and Human Services Dept. forced to admit Obamacare is doing pretty well,” and notes “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of Tom Price’s Department of Health and Human Services, is out with its report on the health of the insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act for 2016, and it’s pretty good…If not for the out-and-out sabotage by the Trump administration and the uncertainty created by its dithering over payments to insurers (not to mention the chaos Congress has created), the market would be going into the 2018 plan year very strong. As it is, it finished out 2016 in very good shape, and the Trump administration just admitted it.”

Democratic candidates and campaigns should make themselves familiar with the latest innovative reforms regarding campaign finance, and one of the best ways to do it is to read “Public Funding for Electoral Campaigns: How 27 states, Counties and Municipalities Empower Small Donors and Curb the Power of Big Money in Politics” by Juhem Navarro-Rivera and Emmanuel Caicedo at Demos. The authors observe that “Public campaign funding programs have been successful in diversifying the donor base of candidates in terms of class and race. In some places, these programs have also succeeded in diversifying the gender, racial, and class makeup of candidate pools. Among the other benefits they cite are more quality time with constituents and more women running for office. They credit the reforms with “reducing participating candidates’ reliance on large individual, corporate, and out-of jurisdiction donors, while providing incentives to reach out to constituents for small contributions.”

Generic Ballot Model Gives Democrats Early Advantage in Battle for Control of House, reports Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crytal Ball. Abramowitz concludes that “On average, based on calculations from FiveThirtyEight, Democrats hold an adjusted lead of close to seven points on the generic ballot, mirroring that of the RealClearPolitics average. A lead of that magnitude would result in a predicted Democratic gain of close to 30 House seats, more than enough to regain control of the chamber. Given the model’s standard error of 11.6 seats, that forecast would give Democrats about a two-thirds chance of regaining control of the House…So keep an eye on the generic ballot polling for 2018. If Democrats maintain a lead in the high single digits, that probably indicates they will have a decent chance to win the House or at least significantly cut into the Republicans’ majority. A bigger Democratic lead, into the double digits, would make a takeover more likely, while a smaller Democratic lead — or a GOP advantage — would put Republicans in a clearer position to preserve their majority.”

Peter Beinart argues at the Atlantic that Democratic leaders must present an assertive challenge to Trump’s Korea policy. As Beinart writes, “Republicans tend to think Ronald Reagan proved that the way to deal with adversaries is through ideological denunciations, economic sanctions, and military threats. By contrast, Democrats—at least in the Obama era—emphasized diplomacy and international cooperation. Instead of seeking the capitulation of hostile regimes, they sought deals that involved compromise by both sides. They supported pressure only when it helped to bring such deals about…Not anymore. When I asked the veteran arms-control expert Joe Cirincione what today’s Democrats believe about North Korea, he answered: “A Bud Light version of the hawkish neocon view…What makes this so tragic is that the path Trump is on—with bipartisan support—is doomed to fail. Were Democrats willing to risk a political fight, they could offer a better way…The lesson of the Iraq War is that progressives must challenge the GOP’s hawkish maximalism regardless of the political cost. The lesson of the Bernie Sanders campaign is that grassroots Democrats hunger for authenticity, independence and courage. If there are dangers for Democrats who challenge the current hawkish discourse on North Korea, there are opportunities too.”

Enroute to making his point at cnbc.com that “Liberal firebrands may not be best hope for divided Democrats in the Trump era,” John Harwood notes of the electorate that “in 2000, they embraced George W. Bush’s vow to restore “honor and dignity” to a White House tarnished by Bill Clinton’s scandal.” But, ahem, let’s not forget that Bush lost the popular vote. We nonetheless hope that a majority of voters in the next couple of election cycles still want to “restore ‘honor and dignity’ to a White House,” because the options for those two qualities should be quite clear by then.


Political Strategy Notes

At HuffPo Sam Levine reports that Republican voter suppression guru Kris Kobach finds himself in a bit of a mess over a court ruling that he be sanctioned for making “patently misleading representations” to the court about the contents of voting rights documents he was photographed holding while meeting with Donald Trump in November.” Kobach’s  excuse, Levine explains, is that “he eliminated four pages of arguments from a brief his attorney was drafting in order to get it down to the page limit as a filing deadline approached.” However, adds Levine “ACLU lawyers also urged the court not to reconsider the sanctions based on Kobach’s pleas about last-minute editing because he hadn’t made such a claim in other briefs responding to the motion to compel him to produce the documents from the Trump meeting. The lawyers said the claim was Kobach’s “latest excuse,” and “if a misunderstanding had simply arisen from editing errors, that fact would have been well known to Defendant and his co-counsel months ago.”

Trump’s nasty attacks against ‘Morning Joe’ co-host Mika Brzezinski provide a convenient distraction from more important matters, like the GOP’s latest voter suppression scam under Kobach’s leadership as vice chair of the phony “comission” on election “integrity,” which doesn’t even pretend to be bipartisan. The Mikagate uproar also eats up media space that would be better allocated to coverage of the Trumpcare horror show, at least for the millions of Americans whose health security is at stake. But Trump’s latest twitter disaster has produced one beneficial effect, as Ashley Kilough reports at CNN Politics: Rep Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has introduced “a bill to create an 11-member commission made up of mostly physicians and psychiatrists — more formally called the “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity,” which could help to oust a mentally-unhinged President. Although few would have thought a year ago that such legislation is necessary, the sobering thought of Trump in control of the launch codes makes it a welcome development. As things stand now, one Democratic slogan for 2020 might be “Sane Leadership for Challenging Times.”

Speaking of distractions, another importat  Heather Digby Parton writes at salon.com; “As much as the president’s grotesque tweets served as a grim reminder of his true character, Trump did manage to do the one thing he has been dying to do for weeks: move the press off the Russia story. Sadly for him, it only lasted a few hours before yet another late-breaking Russia scoop hit. The Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris published a story that links former national security adviser Michael Flynn to a longtime right-wing operative named Peter W. Smith, who told Harris he had engaged with Russian hackers to obtain the so-called “missing emails” from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Smith also claimed he was in touch with Michael Flynn and possibly his son, both of whom he knew through some earlier business dealings…Another big Russia story, arguably even more significant, landed yesterday and few people seem to have noticed. Kevin G. Hall and Ben Weider of the McClatchy Washington bureau reported that Trump’s business dealings in countries of the former Soviet empire were much more substantial than he’s let on and his ties to bankers, oligarchs and politicians in the area are much more consequential…”

Much recent media coverage urges Democrats to focus on developing and projecting a more credible message, instead of relying on blasting Trump (Here is a good example) to win elections. That’s true, although it’s somewhat of a straw-man argument, considering that nearly all Democratic members of the House and Senate embrace a specific, well-thought out legislative agenda, the elements of which generally receive strong support in opinion polls. It’s just hard to condense the various priorities of the ‘big tent’ party into a soundbite, or even a digestible paragraph. In addition, well-targeted attack ads are often effective. The other problem is that Trump’s aggressive pursuit of the most extreme right-wing goals leaves Democrats no choice but to addresss his almost daily outrages — especially since the opposition to his excesses is so weak in the Republican Party.

As for White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claiming at last Thursday’s press briefing that Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever encouraged violence, quite the contrary,” echoing Trump’s assurance that he “certainly” did not “incite violence,” she should be called on to respond to the following video clip:

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is trying to discredit the Congressional Budget Office as part of the “Deep State” apparatus, in the wake of the CBO analysis shredding Trumpcare. But current Republican Speaker Paul Ryan sees it a little differently, as Roll Call reports: “One day after the White House criticized the Congressional Budget Office as an inaccurate arbiter, amid a heated debate over the effects of the Republicans’ plans to change the health insurance system, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is defending the nonpartisan office. “Yeah, he’s actually a Republican appointee. If I’m not mistaken, Tom Price appointed him,” Ryan said Tuesday morning when asked whether he had full confidence in CBO Director Keith Hall. Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services and a key advocate of GOP efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, was previously the House Budget Committee chairman.”

“House Majority PAC, the main Democratic super PAC involved in House races, has launched a major project studying white working-class voters ahead of the 2018 elections, looking to arrest Democratic losses with the key demographic,” notes Scott Bland at Politico. “The research is a sequel to an effort the super PAC ran in 2016, when it combined focus group interviews and a large-scale series of polls examining the views of whites without college degrees in key congressional districts…The follow-up reflects growing recognition among Democrats that their party cannot win back political power in Washington or many states without many more votes from whites without college degrees.

At The Upshot, Claire Cain Miller reports that “Family-Friendly Laws Are Being Passed, but Not by Trump’s Team,” and notes “Last week alone, state legislatures passed several major pieces of legislation that benefit families. Oregon became the first state to pass a bill guaranteeing workers predictable schedules, with two weeks’ notice and 10 hours off between shifts. Washington passed a paid leave law that gives workers 16 weeks to care for babies, family members or themselves. New Jersey voted to double its paid family leave to 12 weeks, pay workers more while they’re out and let them use it in more types of situations. Rhode Island’s House and Senate passed separate paid sick leave bills, but not yet a compromise bill.”

 


Political Strategy Notes

The editors of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas are running a symposium on “The Missing Progressive Infrastructure.” It features a dozen contributions from top progressive thinkers and political analysts, including: Heather Booth; Donna Brazile; Hahre Hahn; Ilyse Hogue; Sally Kohn; Maria Teresa Kumar; Scott Nielson; Faiz Shakir and Sarah Miller; Jonathan Soros; Zephyr Teachout; Michael Tomasky; and Vanessa Williamson. A sampling of the topics covered includes “Get Millennials to Run for Office,” “Culturally Competent Messaging, ” “Reaching White Women” and “A Group to Defend Government.”

Heather Booth writes in “State of the States” that “State infrastructure—especially grassroots organizing—is the weakest link of the progressive movement…To turn this around, we need to invest in grassroots networks around the country—both a 50-state strategy and a focus on building in key states where we can have an impact on redistricting in 2020…To do this we need to hire, train, and supervise organizers whose job it will be to find those who will vote for progressives. We need to be organizing both those we need to mobilize and those we need to persuade. We need to fund candidates for down-ballot races, to build our farm team and impact local politics. The Koch Brothers are doing this for every position from sheriff to school board. We need the political funding, not only restricted non-partisan money, to do the same—the amount of money is important, but so is the kind of funding to do advocacy and politics.”

Michael Tomasky writes in his contribution to the symposium, “My idea is for an organization that will defend government. On its face, that may sound so simple and fundamental as to be unnecessary…But think about it. We’ve seen 35 years of unrelenting assaults on the government, with millions of Americans persuaded that the federal government is their enemy; and yet, over all that time, no group has made its mark by defending the existence and functions of this federal government. Specific interest groups guard their turf—environmental groups defend green programs, anti-poverty groups argue for programs for the poor. But no one simply defends government.”

In a slate.com forum, “Can This Donkey Be Saved?,” Jamelle Bouie observes, “What Donald Trump did was match Clinton on the left on economic policy, at least rhetorically. So, if she proposed a $600 billion infrastructure program, Trump proposed a $1 trillion one. She said she would improve the health care system. Trump said he would, too. He also talked a lot about jobs and factories and vocally activated identities and showed signals of this is someone who cares about my economic standing. Here was a candidate offering both. And that I think was effective for Trump. The question is whether it would be effective in 2020, and I’m not sure because by then, Trump will be defending a standard-issue Republican economic program. So that knocks out one element of his appeal.”

Jonathan Chait writes at New York Magazine that “From a pure political standpoint, the Democrats have a win-win choice. They’ll gain if Trumpcare fails in Congress, and they’ll gain even more if it is signed into law. The only way they won’t score political points off the issue is if they join with Republicans to patch up the system. And yet many and perhaps most Democrats are probably willing to make this sacrifice for the same reason they took the risk of voting for Obamacare in the first place: They care a lot about health-care policy outcomes, and are willing to sacrifice seats to pursue them.”

Democrats, including former President Obama, have long been open to bipartisan amendments to Obamacare. Thus far, the only GOP leaders who are genuinely open to bipartisan twesking of Obamacare are some Republican governors. As Alexander Burns reports at The New York Times, “A once-quiet effort by governors to block the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act reached its climax in Washington on Tuesday, as state executives from both parties — who have conspired privately for months — mounted an all-out attack on the Senate’s embattled health care legislation hours before Republicans postponed a vote...More than half a dozen Republican governors, including several from states with Republican senators, expressed either grave reservations or outright opposition to the bill…”

Writing at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein sheds light on a facet of the Republican health care bills that could cost them substantial support from, senior voters: “…As the Kaiser Family Foundation shows in a powerful new interactive map, premiums under the Senate bill would soar almost everywhere for working-class 60-year-old adults. That’s partly because the Senate bill allows insurers to charge older consumers five times as much as younger ones—the ACA set a maximum three-to-one disparity—and also because the proposal provides less generous tax credits for coverage…The cumulative effect is overwhelming. For 60-year-olds earning $30,000, Kaiser calculated, premiums would rise relative to the ACA in every county across the nation except for two in Ohio. (Those exceptions reflect a statistical quirk related to current pricing, Kaiser said.) Premiums would likewise increase for 60-year-olds earning $40,000 in every county except for one of those in Ohio. Even for 40-year-olds earning $30,000, premiums would rise in over four-fifths of counties, Kaiser found…For 60-year-olds, the biggest rate increases would fall on many of the blue-collar, predominantly white counties that powered Trump’s victory…”

But, “Don’t be fooled: the Senate’s Obamacare repeal effort remains very alive,” warns Sarah Kliff at vox.com. “McConnell and his fellow Republican senators view this delayed vote as a temporary obstacle, not a death knell for Obamacare repeal. Senate leadership has reportedly set a Friday deadline for a new draft of the bill. The Congressional Budget Office could score it next week, setting up a mid-July vote..”

Some nuggets from “It’s Time for Medicare for All” by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich: “Some background: American spending on healthcare per person is more than twice the average in the world’s thirty-five advanced economies. Yet Americans are sicker, our lives are shorter, and we have more chronic illnesses than in any other advanced nation…Why is healthcare so much cheaper in other nations? Partly because their governments negotiate lower rates with health providers. In France, the average cost of a magnetic resonance imagining exam is $363. In the United States, it’s $1,121. There, an appendectomy costs $4,463. Here, $13,851. They can get lower rates because they cover everyone – which gives them lots of bargaining power.Other nations also don’t have to pay the costs of private insurers shelling out billions of dollars a year on advertising and marketing – much of it intended to attract healthier and younger people and avoid the sicker and older…ccording to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare’s administrative costs are only about 2 percent of its operating expenses. That’s less than one-sixth the administrative costs of America’s private insurers…”


Political Strategy Notes

“Many of the party’s existing economic priorities play well in both spheres of underdevelopment, the urban and the rural, and among groups found in both places, such as millennials. Reducing costs or eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities is popular everywhere. The public’s level of support for Medicaid, which congressional Republicans’ proposed ACA repeal seeks to slash, is overwhelming: A Quinnipiac Poll from March found just 22 percent of Americans favored cuts to Medicaid while 74 percent opposed them; among white working-class respondents, 29 percent favored the cuts and 66 percent didn’t. The declining incomes of white workers and the rising eligibility thresholds of the ACA have combined to increase the number of Medicaid recipients within the white working class—a development that Paul Ryan and his ilk failed to anticipate…unless and until the Democrats devise compelling programs for these Americans—programs that not only help revive their economy but make clear that they are as much a part of the Democrats’ vision of America as any other group—Democrats’ electoral prospects in district after district and state after state will remain dim. And the Democrats’ ability to deliver for their base will continue to be thwarted by basic electoral arithmetic.” — from Harold Meyerson’s “Place Matters” in the Roundable on The White Working Class and the Democrats in The American Prospect.

Democrats field a glut of House candidates in 2018 but remain divided on how to win,” report Ed O’Keefe and David Weigel at The Washington Post. “The largest number of Democratic congressional candidates in decades is putting into play dozens of House districts across the country, raising the possibility of a bitterly contested midterm election cycle next year as the party and its activists try to take advantage of President Trump’s unpopularity to win a majority in the House.” Despite differences across a liberal-moderater political spectrum, “Democrats can exceed their past performance in at least 70 House districts across the country controlled by Republicans, primarily because more Democrats registered to vote, said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a memo to his colleagues last week…“In recent cycles, candidate recruitment meant dialing the phone and asking people to run. This cycle, it’s about answering the calls when they come in,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, a nonpartisan newsletter that tracks congressional races.”

“To win again,’ writes Franklin Foer in The Atlantic, “the Democrats don’t need to adopt an alien agenda or back away from policies aimed at racial justice. But their leaders would be well advised to change their rhetorical priorities and more directly address the country’s bastions of gloom. The party has been crushed—not just in the recent presidential election, but in countless down-ballot elections—by its failure to develop a message that can resonate with people beyond the core members of the Obama coalition, and by its unwillingness to blare its hostility to crony capitalism. Polling by the group Priorities USA Action shows that a stunning percentage of the voters who switched their allegiance from Obama to Trump believe that Democratic economic policies favor the rich—42 percent, nearly twice the number who consider that to be true of Trump’s agenda…The makings of a Democratic majority are real. Demographic advantages will continue to accrue to the left. The party needs only to add to its coalition on the margins and in the right patches on the map. Doing that does not require the abandonment of any moral principles…”

In his Washington Post article, “Beyond opposing Trump, Democrats keep searching for a message,” DanBalz writes, “Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, writing in the American Prospect, sees a problem that goes beyond white working-class voters to those within the Democratic base who also were left behind by the post-2008 economic gains. He argues that the party’s problem is with working-class voters of all types, not just whites…Greenberg has long been critical of the tepidness of the party’s economic message and puts some of the blame on Obama. He believes the former president’s economic message in 2012 and 2016 focused on progress in the recovery largely to the exclusion of the widespread pain that still existed. “That mix of heralding ‘progress’ while bailing out those responsible for the crisis and the real crash in incomes for working Americans was a fatal brew for Democrats,” he argues.”

If you had to pick a state that had the most to lose under Trumpcare, it shouldn’t take long to settle on West Virginia. Michael Tomasky explains why in his Daily Beast post, “If She Votes for Trumpcare, Her Home State Gets Mauled: No senator who has yet to come out for or against the health care bill faces a more open-and-shut case than Shelley Moore Capito.” As Tomasky elaborates, “…It’s estimated that about 150,000 West Virginians, maybe more, gained coverage under the ACA (see page 9 of this Urban Institute report). That study is a little bit old. It may now be 170,000. That’s in a state with a population of about 1.8 million; so, nearly 10 percent…A policy brief to be released this week by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policynotes that the health care industry accounts for more than 10 percent of the state’s GDP and estimates that 10,000 West Virginians could lose their jobs, and the state could lose $1 billion in GDP. Health care jobs have been one of the few growth sectors in the state. A lot more than coal…Medicaid pays for 72 percent of nursing-home care for the state’s seniors, provides $20 million in school-based services for young people, and brings in $110 million for drug treatment. All that would be gone…with Rand Paul voting no on one side and Nevada’s Dean Heller doing the same on the other, it might come down to Capito. Of all of them, she represents the state that would most clearly just get mauled by this GOP bill.”

Conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt explains why “Replacing Obamacare is a make-or-break moment for Republicans,” and notes ‘If the GOP defaults on its core promise, it is doomed as a party to minority status, probably as early as 2018 and certainly in 2020…It will forfeit every other Republican goal because failing to deliver on the central promise of eight years of debates and campaigns will shatter the credibility every Republican, not just those who block the bill. The party as a whole will be gravely wounded, perhaps beyond healing for a generation or more.”

“The most glaring weakness in the modern Democratic coalition is the decline of white working-class support that once provided a major pillar of the Democratic Party,” Andrew Levison writes in “Winning (Some) Middle-of-the-Road Working-Class Whites” in the Roundtable on The White Working Class and the Democrats at The American Prospect. “In 2008, even in the midst of a massive and terrifying economic crisis and an unprecedented military fiasco, Barack Obama still received only 40 percent of the white working-class vote. In 2012, Obama’s share declined to 36 percent and in this year’s election, Hillary Clinton suffered an unprecedented 8 percent additional drop to an abysmal 28 percent of white working-class support, according exit polls…For 40 years, polls have repeatedly shown that majorities of white working people support quite a substantial range of basically progressive economic policies but, oddly, never vote for the Democratic politicians who promise to enact them…Even in predominantly white working-class communities, where a larger segment of the common-sense, middle-of-the-road white workers might be open to Democratic candidates, the simultaneous emergence of grassroots independent candidates would in many cases still be a net benefit to Democrats. Such candidates would tend to draw more support from Republicans than Democrats, helping the latter…Because it would split the GOP vote, a three-way race that included an independent candidate would still provide a greater opportunity for the Democrat to win a plurality than a two-way race against a Republican would provide the opportunity for winning an outright Democratic majority.”

E.J. Dionne, Jr. spotlights “The Senate’s three big lies about health care“: They are “Lie One: Democrats and progressives are unwilling to work with Republicans and conservatives on this issue…In fact, Democrats, including President Barack Obama when he was in office, have said repeatedly that they would like to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer’s office put out a list of such offers, including a June 15 letter from Schumer to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for a cross-party meeting to “find a way to make health care more affordable and accessible.”Lie Two: This bill is primarily about improving health care for American families. No, this effort is primarily about cutting taxes…Lie Three: The Senate bill is a “compromise.” Really? Between whom? The House wants to destroy Obamacare quickly, the Senate a bit more slowly while also cutting Medicaid more steeply over time. This is only a “compromise” between two very right-wing policies.”

At The Guardian, Lauren Gambino details the scope of Medicaid, which would be subjecgted to “deep cuts” under Trumpcare: “Medicaid is the nation’s largest public insurance program, providing health benefits to nearly 74 million Americans including low-income adults and children, seniors and people with disabilities. It has unparalleled reach: about half of all babies are born on Medicaid and four in 10 children are covered by Medicaid or its sister benefit, the Children’s Health Insurance Program…Those programs also cover roughly three in 10 people suffering from opioid addiction. Medicaid has also become a critical benefit for elderly Americans whose medical needs are not covered by Medicare, including six in 10 residents in nursing homes.,,The Senate healthcare plan, like the House bill that narrowly passed last month, would phase out Medicaid expansion under the ACA, under which 31 states and the District of Columbia added more than 11 million low-income adults to the program.”