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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Alex Seitz-Wald has a sneak preview of possible Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 at nbcnews.com, including: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tammy Duckworth, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Murphy, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown and Kamala Harris; Govs. Andrew Cuomo, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Dan Malloy, and Terry McAuliffe; former Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Vice President Joe Biden; along with business leaders Sheryl Sandberg, Howard Schultz and Mark Cuban and film actors George Clooney and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. A few House Democrats, including Tim Ryan (OH-13), Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and Adam Schiff (CA-28) have recently demonstrated impressive political gravitas, party commitment and media skills that merit inclusion on such a list. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, current chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, may also be interested.

Protestors Call Out Trump for Hiding Taxes, Breaking His Promise:

Speaking of taxes, check out “New poll shows what Americans really think about taxes: the rich should pay more” by Matthew Yglesias who notes at Vox: “Americans’ top concern about the tax code is that they want corporations and wealthy individuals to pay more taxes. Even among rank-and-file Republicans, soaking the rich is at least moderately popular…That’s according to a new report out from the Pew Center that takes a deep dive into public opinion on taxes. It reveals that there is extraordinarily little public support for the main thrust of GOP tax reform efforts that aim to “simplify” the tax code and deliver lower rates for businesses and high-income households…upward of 60 percent of the public says they are very worried that some corporations and wealthy individuals aren’t paying their fair share.”

Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist for nola.com, reports that Alabama’s Republican ‘Luv Guv’ Robert Bentley’s diddling with a staffer may have screwed up his voter suppression initiative. As Deberry writes, “According to the impeachment report, Mason – nicknamed Flim Flam by the rest of the governor’s staff – was leading the governor around by the nose.  According to the impeachment report, “the Bentley-Mason relationship evolved to the point that nothing could be done in the Office without Mason’s sign-off.”  That press secretary stated that “Governor Bentley’s typical reaction to any advice given without Mason present was, ‘What does Rebekah think about it?'”…Well, apparently Rebekah thought it would be just swell for Alabama to shut down driver’s license bureaus in majority black counties after a photo ID became a necessity for voting.  Secretary of Alabama Law Enforcement Spencer Collier, who the report says “ultimately assented to the closure plan” was concerned enough about it that he told the state’s Attorney General’s office that he thought it may represent a violation of the Voting Right Acts…From AL.com: “The closures sparked a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which determined that the stoppages disproportionately affected black residents. The DOT determined that ALEA’s plans were a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” Thus, the plan was thwarted.”

The latest GOP plan to weaken America’s health security is not going to inspire much support from consumers. In his New York Times article, “G.O.P. Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Suits Harder to Win,” Robert Pear reports, “Low-income people and older Americans would find it more difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by medical malpractice or defective drugs or medical devices under a bill drafted by House Republicans as part of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act…The bill would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act. The limits would apply to some product liability claims, as well as to medical malpractice lawsuits involving doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.”

The Washington Post editorial, “Does Trump want to be the president who broke health care?,” puts it this way: “More desperate than clever, Mr. Trump’s talk of annihilating Obamacare, for which he would be justly blamed, is unlikely to coerce Democrats into supporting anything like the House Republican repeal-and-replace plan he backed, which failed to attract enough GOP support to pass the House. The indecency of Mr. Trump taking millions of Americans’ health care hostage is compounded by his suggestion that repeal-and-replace is about freeing budgetary space for Republicans to tinker with the tax code rather than about fixing health care. Even posing his threat, meanwhile, is astonishingly reckless.”

Can Trump Take Health Care Hostage?,” asks Paul Krugman in his syndicated column. “Mr. Trump promised health care that would be “far less expensive and far better”…all he and his allies had to offer were surging premiums, higher out-of-pocket expenses and mass loss of coverage…And on Wednesday, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he openly threatened to sabotage health care for millions if the opposition party doesn’t give him what he wants…“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” he declared, referring to cost-sharing subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket expenses for low-income families, and are crucial even to higher-income families, because they help keep insurance companies in the system…Mr. Trump is trying to bully Democrats by threatening to hurt millions of innocent bystanders — ordinary American families who have gained coverage thanks to health reform…Maybe Mr. Trump believes that he could somehow shift the blame for the devastation he has threatened to wreak onto Democrats. “See, there’s the death spiral I predicted!” But that probably wouldn’t work even if he hadn’t effectively proclaimed his own guilt in advance. Voters tend to blame whoever holds the White House for bad things, and in this case they’d be right: If there is a death spiral, it will have Mr. Trump’s name on it, and deservedly so…But here’s the thing: Even if Mr. Trump wimps out, as he is doing on so many other issues, he may already have done much of the threatened damage. Insurers are deciding right now whether to participate in the 2018 Obamacare exchanges. Mr. Trump’s tough talk is creating a lot of uncertainty, which in itself may undermine coverage for many Americans.”

The Times also has a devastating editorial calling out “Mr. Trump’s 10-Second Convictions” as he “caters to the oligarchs who surround him, builds his personal fortune and stirs the darker passions of his base. Why else would he break his promise to release his taxes or relinquish control of his business? Mr. Trump now surrounds himself with the bankers he once lambasted; he’s lagged behind on promises of infrastructure jobs, manufacturing revival and health care, while opening up bidding on the wall. He’s decried Syria’s gas attack on “beautiful babies” but continues to bar Syria’s children from America…To attribute the president’s pirouettes to personal growth would also require ignoring what’s actually staring us in the face — that there is no foundation to this presidency. With his all-important ratings tanking, the reality-TV maestro is rewriting the script, enthusiastically swapping out any position in pursuit of a “deal.” He is revealing himself to be a tactical, transactional president, with no guiding convictions or principles beyond “winning.” Not winning for everyone, as he so famously promised. Winning for Mr. Trump…Democrats or House Freedom Caucus members, NATO members or Middle East dictators, potential allies or adversaries — all must be deeply unsettled by the one clear pattern emerging here, a pattern that is consistent with Mr. Trump’s treatment of others in private life, from his stiffing of his creditors to his swindling of students at Trump University: betrayal.,,And where does that leave the working-class voters who pinned their hopes on this man? They can live with what Mr. Trump calls successes, and hope that his interests align enough with theirs to achieve some peripheral benefit. Or they can press their legislators, and demand from Mr. Trump himself, that he stop spinning and start delivering.”

Tuesday’s jungle primary in GA-6 is drawing wide interest, primarilly because Democrat Jon Ossoff is doing exceptionally-well in the polls, and has demonstrated impressive prowess in fund-raising that is driving Republicans to distraction. The Washington Post opinion staff is running a little contest, “Guess the result of the Georgia special election (and win a prize).” So far, The Post has the following guestimates from four pundits: David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, Jon Ossoff’s first round vote share: 48 percent, Runoff: Karen Handel 51 percent, Ossoff 49 percent. Hanna Hope, chief of staff at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, Ossoff’s first round vote share: 44 percent, Runoff: Bob Gray 58 percent, Ossoff 42 percent; Matthew Towery, managing partner of Opinion Savvy, Ossoff’s first round vote share: 47 percent, Runoff: Ossoff 52 percent, Handel 48 percent; Tom Davis, former representative (R-Va.), now director of federal government affairs for Deloitte, Ossoff’s first round vote share: 43 percent, Runoff: Handel 54 percent, Ossoff 46 percent.” Beat the pundits and “Submit your own guesstimates for this question below. (If the form is not displaying, click here.) The reader with the best guesstimate will receive a free “Democracy Dies in Darkness” T-shirt.

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