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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

It doesn’t sound like Trump is making much progress in cobbling together enough House Republicans to pass Obamacare repeal. As Sam Frizell and Zeke J. Miller write at Time Magazine, “President Trump invited 15 moderate lawmakers to the White House on Tuesday to persuade them to vote for the Republican bill to replace Obamacare…Some members wanted to remove the provision in the Republican bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. Others had concerns about the cuts in Medicaid spending. Another asked what would happen to the hospitals in his district. Trump nodded and listened, but made no firm promises. He reminded them of the importance of getting the bill passed…By the time the meeting ended, no one had changed their vote.”

But Amber Phillips reports at The Washington Post that “Thursday’s vote on the GOP Obamacare replacement bill is going to be veeeery close,” and provides a summary of the views of the House and Senate members who are opposed or leaning against the bill.

Here’s a Marketwatch article by Emma Court, which illustrates the inhumanity of America’s privatized  health care system and why the pharmaceutical industry needs a choke collar leash; “Bernie Sanders thinks this $89,000-a-year drug should be $1,000 a year.” The drug in question, Emflaza, is a corticosteroid that improve the muscle strength of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As Sen. Sanders and and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to PTC Therapeutics, “We urge you to keep the price of this relatively common steroid at its current importation cost,” or about $1,000 to $1,200 a year, the letter said. “Doing so will allow patients to use deflazacort in combination therapies without going into bankruptcy.”

A little nugget from the Washington Post’s coverage of the Gorsuch hearings, as reported by Ed O’Keefe, Elise Viebeck and Robert Barnes: “The politics of the nomination again were at center stage. When Gorsuch said he did not think of judges as Democrats or Republicans, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) responded if that were true, the committee would be considering the man President Barack Obama nominated, Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans denied Garland a hearing and a vote on his nomination.” Gorsuch’s concern for an independent judiciary, such as it was, did not permit him to criticize the denial of hearings for his widely-respected colleague, and he is clearly all too willing to quietly support the Republican obstruction as their ‘replacement’ nominee, a sort of judicial scab.

It’s pretty bad for Republicans when their most widely-respected member, a former presidential nominee no less, states that he doesn’t believe his party has the cred to handle a serious investigation of Russian manipulation of a U.S. presidential election. Or, as Max Greenwood reports at The Hill, quoting Sen. John McCain, “the reason why I’m calling for this select committee or a special committee, is I think that this back-and-forth and what the American people have found out so far that no longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone,” McCain told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren. “And I don’t say that lightly.”

GOP denial that their party is more anti-worker than pro-working-class just got harder, because the “Senate voted on Wednesday to roll back an Obama-era safety regulation,” reports Jordain Carney at The Hill. “Senators voted 50-48 to nix the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule extending the amount of time a company can be penalized for failing to report workplace injuries and illnesses to five years…Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act to take a hammer to rules instituted under the Obama White House. The law allows them to overturn recently published regulations with a simple majority…With the House passing legislation overturning the regulation earlier this month, it will now head to President Trump’s desk, where it is expected to be signed.” Carney quotes Sen. Elizabeth Warren who said, “”The pattern that is emerging is pretty clear. Republicans have no plans to improve the lives of American workers. Quite the opposite. Republicans are increasing the odds that workers will be injured or even killed.”

According to a new Quinnipiac University national poll, “President Trump is losing support among key elements of his base,” including Men, who now disapprove 43 – 52 percent, compared to a 49 – 45 percent approval March 7; Republicans who approve 81 – 14 percent, compared to 91 – 5 percent two weeks ago; and White voters, who disapprove 44 – 50 percent, compared to a narrow 49 – 45 percent approval March 7…”Disapproval is 60 – 31 percent among women, 90 – 6 percent among Democrats, 60 – 31 percent among independent voters and 75 – 16 percent among non-white voters.” Further, “”Most alarming for President Donald Trump, the demographic underpinnings of his support, Republicans, white voters, especially men and those without a college degree, are starting to have doubts.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball Geoffrey Skelley compares data from exit polls and the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), and notes that 66 percent of whites with no college degree voted for Trump, according to exit poll data, while CCES data indicated that 61 percent of non-college whites voted for Trump. Exit poll data indicated that 61 percent of white noncollege women voted for Trump (compared to 71 percent for non college men), while CCES data pegged that figure at 60 percent (compared to 63 percent for non college men). The gender gap between college-educated women and men was significantly larger in both polls.

I used to like the idea of a fine for citizens who don’t vote, such as has just been proposed for the state of New York by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan.  It would likely play out, however, as a regressive tax on lower income people who are less likely to vote. It might be better for states to study and emulate the example of Minnesota, where “nearly 3 in 4 voters in Minnesota turned out to vote in November’s elections, a rate higher than in any other state. Last year marked the eighth time in the past nine elections that Minnesota notched the highest turnout in the nation.” Other states that supassed a 70 percent turnout in November included ME, NH, CO and WI.

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