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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“In the outpouring of commentary on President Trump’s first 100 days in office, his greatest single achievement is almost never mentioned, which is itself a sign of what a major triumph it is: We are not talking much about whether Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign to help elect him…Our distraction was not inevitable. Recall that just a little over a month ago, FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau was investigating possible cooperation between Trump’s team and Russia’s hacking and disinformation campaign to undercut Hillary Clinton. As the New York Times wrote, Comey’s testimony “created a treacherous political moment for Mr. Trump…Given the substantive emptiness of Trump’s presidency so far, his greatest achievement is that he is still standing there, making pronouncements as if he means them and moving noisily but without any clear plan from one thing to the next. Every day he can postpone his reckoning with Russia is a victory.” Yet the president slipped by.” — from “Trump’s greatest single achievement almost never gets mentioned” by E. J. Dionne, Jr.

Slate’s Michelle Goldberg has a slight vaiation on Dionne’s take: “The president’s main 100-day accomplishment—besides sticking a reactionary on the Supreme Court—has been to make previously inconceivable levels of corruption and staggering breaches of national security appear normal…One could list 100 things that Trump has done—one for each debased day of his wretched presidency—that would be enough to impeach a Democrat. (Not all of Trump’s violations involve Russia, of course, though a bizarre number of them do.)…Trump’s presidency, like his campaign, is a lowlife carnival; there are so many macabre sideshows and freakish violations of normal political behavior that we’re left stunned and dazed. Much of the mainstream media, and almost all elected Republicans, act as if the horror of this presidency were less than the sum of its parts. The outrages cancel each other out rather than accumulating. This massive inflation in what constitutes a scandal has the potential to be permanently corrupting…Already, because of Trump, America is a more cynical, corrupt, lawless place than it was 100 days ago. There is only one way back from this, and that is to make sure that someday, when Democrats retake at least one chamber of Congress, they investigate every shady thing that Trump, his cronies, and his relatives have done either in achieving or using public power, even if it takes decades. ”

In their Washington Post op-ed, “Trump’s FCC chairman wants to hand the Internet over to big corporations,” Sens. Al Franken and Ron Wyden and former Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler writwe: “For as long as the Internet has existed, it has been grounded on the principle of net neutrality — that what you read, see or watch online shouldn’t be favored, blocked or slowed down based on where that content is coming from. Net neutrality means that cable companies can’t reserve the fastest Internet speeds for the biggest companies and leave everyone else in the slow lane. That’s what ensures a website for a local pizza place in rural Oregon or Minnesota loads as quickly as the website for Pizza Hut or Domino’s. Or why a social network built in a garage is available to the same people as Instagram or Twitter…That’s why it’s so alarming to see that the Federal Communications Commission, a federal agency that’s expected to help protect the Internet, is planning to roll back net neutrality rules…So with powerful forces pushing to get rid of net neutrality — Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and other multibillion-dollar companies — it’s going to take Americans speaking up to protect the Internet that we depend on. In 2014, nearly 4 million Americans contacted the FCC, with an overwhelming majority sending a very simple message: protect net neutrality. And as a result of those efforts, we got policies put in place to do just that. But now those very policies are on the chopping block. Unless people fight back, these deep-pocketed corporations will upend how we get our news, watch our favorite shows, use social media or run our businesses…Small businesses shouldn’t have to outbid massive conglomerates just to get their product in front of consumers’ eyes.”

From Ed Kilgore’s “Here’s Another Good Omen for Democrats in 2018” at New York: “To the gradually but steadily increasing body of evidence that Democrats are likely to have a solid performance in the 2018 midterm elections comes another factor: the so-called “generic congressional ballot,” which means polling of which party voters are likely to prefer in upcoming U.S. House elections….FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten notes that in generic congressional balloting Democrats are in the best position at this early stage of the midterm election cycle of any opposition party dating all the way back to 1942. They currently lead the GOP by a 45 percent to 40 percent margin in the polling averages…Midterms are almost always about the president. Voting for Congress in midterm years is essentially just a mechanism for passing judgment on the White House. In 2018, unlike 2014, the House and presidency will be controlled by the same party.”

Trump’s walkback vs. “My first 100 days” promise, as nailed by CNN:

David Siders notes an innovative strategy against Trump’s border wall idea in his post, “Democrats turn the screws on border wall builders: The idea is to punish businesses that work on Donald Trump’s project” at Politico: “Democrats in cities and statehouses across the country are pressing forward with a calculated, long-range effort designed to undermine Trump’s plan by turning the screws on the businesses that work on the project….In California, Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a measure to bar the state from awarding contracts to any company involved in the wall’s construction, while a bill to prevent the state’s massive pension funds from investing in those companies stands pending. Lawmakers introduced similar measures in New York and Rhode Island. The city of San Francisco is considering a blacklist, and Berkeley adopted one last month.”

Talking Points Memo’s Alice Ollstein presents a couple of insightful quotes about Trump’s trickle-down tax cut proposals: “I want a tax reform proposal that works for working families, not just for the people who can hire a lot of accountants and lawyers,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who sits on the Senate’s Taxation and Budget committees, told TPM. “Today, if you’re a cop or a nurse, your taxes are compulsory. They come out of your paycheck once or twice a month. No Cayman Islands thing for you. But if you’re someone who can afford lots of lawyers and accountants, you can pretty much decide what you’re going to pay, when you’re going to pay, and maybe if you’re going to pay any at all.” As for the outcome of Trump’s tax plan, Ollstein notes, “Blumenthal predicted, as have former lawmakers, staffers, and tax experts, that Republicans will find it difficult—potentially impossible—to pass any tax reform this year as they have promised. “I have a feeling this proposal will meet the same fate as their Trumpcare plan: imploding in divisions among themselves.”

The Atlantic has a good video on the hottest congressional race of the moment, Jon Ossoff’s quest to win the GA-6 Runoff:

At Maddowblog, Steve Benen highlights what will likely be the howler of the week by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In his post, “Laughable White House claim: Trump has ‘rebuilt’ US global standing,” Benen quotes Spicer: “The world is responding to the leadership that the president is bringing under this – bringing to Washington. In all, during his first 100 days, the president has made 68 calls with 38 different world leaders, and hosted a total of 16 bilateral meetings. The president has rebuilt America’s standing in the world.” I mean, he’s only pissed off Mexico, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Sweden, Australia, China and the U.K. in his first 100 days.

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