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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

If you were looking for a succinct critique of the ‘centrist policies are needed to drive prosperity’ meme, check out “Centrists Have No Right to Lecture Anyone on Growth” by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research. As Baker writes in a nut graph responding to NYT column by Bill Keller touting the virtues of centrism, “Keller may not remember, but his center-left were in the driver’s seat putting in place the policies that gave us the stock bubble in the 1990s and the housing bubble in the last decade. The collapse of the second bubble gave us the downturn from which the country is still suffering. It has cost us millions of jobs and already more than $5 trillion in lost output, more than $15,000 for every person in the country. This economic collapse is the opposite of growth.”
Michael O’Brien’s “Different election, same playbook: Why 2014 will look a lot like 2012” at NBC Politics points out that thus far the GOP House and Senate candidates are stuck with the strategy that failed them in the last election — “a referendum on the president and his health care law.” Granted, the Republicans were burdened with a weak candidate at the top of the 2012 campaign. But it could be a very big mistake to think that the same theme will produce different results next year, just because of roll-out glitches that are now largely fixed.
Obamacare has weaknesses than can be fixed. But, to get a good sense of what has changed for the better as a result of the ACA, when 2014 dawned on America yesterday, read Joan McCarter’s Daily Kos post, “Happy Health Insurance Day.” McCarter explains, “The law still has powerful enemies, like the Republican U.S. House of Representatives. But it also has more than six million new beneficiaries, by Kossack Brainwrap’s ongoing count: 2,104,332 in private plans and 4,002,609 in Medicaid/CHIP. For everyone in existing plans, annual and lifetime caps are gone. Some basic stuff–like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and mental health–now has to be covered…From now on, every attempt by Republicans to repeal the law means trying to take away those benefits and all the benefits that have already kicked in for millions of people. And that changes the politics of this law immeasurably.”
Meanwhile, The Plum Line’s Ryan Cooper reports that an estimated 5 million Americans are being denied health insurance because Republican-controlled states have opted out of Medicaid expansion, which TDS managing editor Ed Kilgore terms “the wingnut hole.” Cooper points out that ‘the wingnut hole’ amounts to “the combined population of Delaware, Vermont, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska…It could very well work out that refusenik states will not even save money because of additional spending on the uninsured in emergency rooms and elsewhere.”
At The New York Times Politics Jonathan Martin and Michael D. Shear report that “Democrats Turn to Minimum Wage as 2014 Strategy.” Shear and Martin note that Dems “have focused on two levels: an effort to raise the federal minimum wage, which will be pushed by President Obama and congressional leaders, and a campaign to place state-level minimum wage proposals on the ballot in states with hotly contested congressional races.”
John Hudak’s post “2014, a make-or-break year for legal pot” at CNN Politics doesn’t explore the political ramification of the marijuana legalization trend for the 2014 elections. But he believes that favorable experiences of states and localities with relaxation of pot laws could broaden the trend considerably moving toward 2016 — and that should help turn out pro-Democratic constituencies.
Froma Harrop has some really juicy economic stats in her San Antonio Express-News post, “Democrats have better economic record,” including “Suppose that in 1929, you put $100,000 in a 401(k) fully invested in stocks. Under the 40 years of Republican presidents, you would have ended up with $126,000. Under the Democrats, you would have amassed a retirement nest egg of $3.9 million!” Also, “The gap between the top 1 percent and bottom 99 percent widened 20 percent in the 40 years Republicans ran the Oval Office. In the Democratic presidential years, it narrowed 16 percent.”
“The Gallup Obama approval daily tracking poll reveals that the president’s approval rating has jumped five points since the days before Christmas from 39%-44%. Disapproval of the president has fallen from 54%-49%,” reports Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA.
From an A.P. report by Charles Babington and Jennifer Agiesta re a new poll by AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research: “On the economy, an area historically driven by the private sector, the poll finds a clear public desire for active government. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems….Even among those who say “the less government the better,” 31 percent feel the nation needs a strong government to handle those complex problems.”

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