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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Salena Zito takes a retrospective look at “The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump,” at The New York Post. The day in Zito’s article is September 19, 1977, which “would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day. The bleeding never stopped.” Zito’s article should be read as a cautionary tale, more than a lament, because, amazingly enough, Democrats still have failed to brand their party as the champion of keeping jobs in America and renewing the economic vitality of the rust belt. In the four decades that have passed since then, Democratic leaders have proposed legislation to penalize “runaway plants” and job-export, but none of them got much traction. Yes, a few  Democrats obstructed these reforms, but always it was the Republicans who 0verwhelmingly opposed them. For Dems, it’s been more a failure of branding than one of inaction. Dems have paid a heavy price for their lack of a profile as job-protectors, as Republicans escaped blame by laying low, very low. Into the void came psuedo-maverick Trump. Hard to blame workers in these communities for thinking “what the hell, let’s try something different. At least he talks about us.”

However, in his article, “The Minuscule Importance of Manufacturing in Far-Right Politics,” Jonathan Rothwell, senior economist at Gallup, notes puzzling polling data which conveys a different impression: “In fact, Gallup survey data from August shows that American adults who approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling the presidency are actually less worried than other Americans about how trade competition will affect their job. Just 6 percent of employed adults who approve of Mr. Trump say they are worried about their job going overseas, compared with 11 percent who disapprove…Exposure to trade competition played no apparent role in persuading Obama voters to switch to Mr. Trump. People who voted for President Obama in 2012 accounted for about 12 percent of all Trump voters, but again, these voters were not disproportionately involved in the manufacturing sector, either nationally or in swing states. Around 8.7 percent of Trump voters who also voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 work in manufacturing, compared with 9.5 percent of Trump voters who voted for Mitt Romney.”

On an optimistic note, Ronald Brownstein observes at the Atlantic: “…Demographic trends offer some guarded reasons for hope that the United States is living through peak years of discord over its growing racial and ethnic diversity—even if the temperature isn’t likely to lower very quickly. That sliver of good news is embedded in an otherwise sobering new study from PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California.” The study found that “The country today is simultaneously diversifying, especially among young people, and aging. While kids of color are expected to become a majority of the under-18 population by around 2020 (and already constitute most public-school students), nearly four-fifths of today’s senior population is white…Looking forward, the Census Bureau projects that minorities will increase their share of the youth population somewhat more slowly and steadily age into a growing portion of the elderly. The result, as the study observes, is that the racial generation gap already likely peaked around 2013, and will decline, albeit slowly, in years ahead…”

But John B. Judis, author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, writes at The New Republic about why he is now more skeptical about demographic change favoring the Democratic Party. But Judis does see a way for Democrats to win broader support in the near future. As Judis explains, “If Democrats try to win future elections by relying on narrow racial-ethnic targeting, they will not only enable the Republicans to play wedge politics, they will also miss the opportunity to make a broader economic argument…This thinking runs contrary to the “race-conscious” strategy touted by Democrats who believe that a majority-minority nation is a guarantee of victory. Sorry to say, but it’s not going to happen. The best way for Democrats to build a lasting majority is to fight for an agenda of shared prosperity that has the power to unite, rather than divide, their natural constituencies. There is no need, in short, for Democrats to choose between appealing to white workers and courting people of color. By making a strong and effective case for economic justice, they can do both at the same time.”

Casey Tolan of the Bay Area News Group outlines “Progressive Democrats’ counter-argument to Trump tax plan: a $1.4 trillion tax credit for the working class,” and explains: “As Congress starts to debate President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the tax code and cut corporate rates, a Silicon Valley Democrat is putting forward a radically different tax proposal. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, will introduce a bill Wednesday that would give low-income and working-class taxpayers a big tax credit — and have a massive price tag.  …The plan would drastically expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps people at the bottom end of the salary range. Low-income taxpayers without dependent children would see their credit rise from a maximum of $510 to $3,000, and families would see their maximum credit rise from $6,318 to $12,131, depending on their income and number of children. Economists say the increased credit would help compensate for the fact that working-class salaries have stagnated in recent decades even as the U.S. economy has continued to grow. While the proposal isn’t likely to gain traction in the Republican-dominated Congress, Khanna hopes it will become a Democratic rallying cry…“I think it’s going to be our party’s answer to Donald Trump on taxes,” Khanna said. “While he’s proposing tax cuts for the investor class, we’re proposing support for the working and middle class.”Khanna is introducing the bill alongside progressive Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who is widely seen as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.”

Amid worries about what Trump and the Republicans will eventually do about DACA and the Dreamers, William A. Galston writes at Brookings that a recent “A Politico/Morning Consult survey “found that 58 percent of Americans want the Dreamers to be allowed to stay in the United States and become citizens if they meet certain requirements. An additional 18 percent think the Dreamers should be allowed to become legal residents but not citizens. Only 15 percent think they should be removed or deported….The breakdown of the 76 percent who want the Dreamers to remain either as citizens or permanent legal residents is revealing. It includes 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents, 69 percent of Republicans—and two-thirds of self-identified Trump voters. 60 percent of the voters who “strongly approve” of Mr. Trump’s performance as president want the Dreamers to be allowed to stay, compared to 33 percent who want them to be deported…So this episode could turn into a win both for the president, who kept faith with his supporters by cancelling DACA, and for Congress—but only if Congress passes, and the president signs, a bill allowing the Dreamers to remain in the country legally and permanently…If Congress takes its bearings from the sentiments of the American people as a whole, it will send the president a bill that enshrines protections for the Dreamers into law, an action to which even Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to object.”

Ed Kilgore warms at New York Magazine that “The GOP Is Throwing a Hail Mary on Obamacare Repeal” and warns “With velocity one would not expect of a zombie, the last-chance GOP bill aimed at partially repealing and replacing Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy proposal, is suddenly being taken seriously by friends and foes alike. The main agent of propulsion was a Senate GOP luncheon yesterday after which Mitch McConnell expressed support for the measure and his deputy John Cornyn offered to get a whip count in place. Lindsey Graham says the bill if voted on right now would get “47, 48 votes,” which is of course dangerously close to the 50 needed to rescue the debacle of GOP health-care efforts…The key reason for guarded GOP optimism is the close friendship between Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who administered the coup de grâce for the July health-care push…if Graham-Cassidy is going to be passed, it will happen very quickly (the current plan is for a vote during the week of September 25, or in other words, at the very last minute)…There remains a very small but real possibility that the biggest regrets will be felt by congressional Democrats who cleared the Senate decks for Graham-Cassidy by cutting a fiscal deal with the White House.”

Progressives concerned that single-payer health care reform attempts to0 much too soon can take some comfort from Margaret Sanger-Katz’s post at NYT’s The Upshot, “Buried Inside Bernie Sanders’s Bill: A Fallback Plan,” which notes, “The provisions are tucked into Title X of the bill and describe the four-year transition between current policy and the Sanders bill’s goal of a Medicare-for-all system. During that interim, some younger Americans would be able to buy access to the traditional Medicare program, which is now mainly for those 65 and up. The provisions would also establish an option for Americans to buy access to a Medicare-like government plan that would be sold on the Obamacare exchanges…The Medicare buy-in section comes from Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who has introduced the provision as a stand-alone bill…The public option section was written by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a longtime proponent of the idea. As part of the Sanders bill, she said, a public option would help the government prepare to administer a full-fledged Medicare-for-all program.”

At Politico Edward-Isaac Dovere writes, “Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies conducted online polling of 1,000 Democrats and 1,000 swing voters across 52 swing districts for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Their advice to candidates afterward: Drop the talk of free college. Instead, the firms urged Democrats to emphasize making college more affordable and reducing debt, as well as job skills training, according to an internal DCCC memo…“When Democrats go and talk to working-class voters, we think talking to them about how we can help their children go to college, they have a better life, is great,” said Ali Lapp, executive director of House Majority PAC, which supports Democratic House candidates. “They are not interested. … It’s a problem when you have a growing bloc in the electorate think that college is not good, and they actually disdain folks that go to college.”

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