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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In her article, “Democratic candidates are focused on issues such as health care, despite what pundits say” At mic.com, Emily C. Singer”notes that “A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll from early April found that health care is the top issue for voters in the midterm elections. Nearly a third, or 30%, of voters said health care is their top issue, while guns and immigration tied for second place, with 25% each…“In the polling, when you ask people what’s the most important issue, health care comes up at the top or near the top,” Peter Hart, a longtime Democratic pollster who helps conduct the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, said in an interview.”

Here’s a political ad focusing on health care for Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is running for Senate in Nevada:

Bloomberg’s Joe Nocera make a persuasive case that “The gaming of Hatch-Waxman is one of the two most important reasons why drug prices are so out of control. The other reason is that drug company executives — like executives in every other industries — began kneeling at the altar of “shareholder value.” And the easiest way to boost profits, and thus the stock price, was to raise prices relentlessly…But the single best way to get drug prices under control would be to put the teeth back into Hatch-Waxman. It would not be a particularly difficult thing to do. First, shorten the patent exclusivity period to 10 years. (Drug companies say they need the longer time to recoup their research and development costs, but the truth is most companies spend more on marketing than R&D.)..Second, outlaw the practice of paying companies to keep generics off the market and similar forms of gamesmanship. Third — and most important of all — don’t allow companies to extend the period of exclusivity beyond the original 10 years.” Democrats should do all of the above, while also making a strong case for “allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug companies over pricing. Given that Medicare spends over $400 billion on drugs, it would have tremendous negotiating power, that could yield billions in savings. Of course, that is exactly what the Republicans are afraid of, and why they persuaded the president to take it off the table.”

Washington Post business writers Erica Werner and Carolyn Y. Johnson note that “Democrats are trying to take back an issue Donald Trump effectively stole from them during the 2016 presidential campaign: the high cost of prescription drugs…Democrats are also promising to appoint a “price gouging” enforcer who would fine drug companies if their price increases surpassed certain thresholds — another piece they believe will show voters that Democrats are prepared to tackle the issue in a way Trump hasn’t…“There’s no question that it provides an opening for us,” said Rep. Richard E. Neal (Mass.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee…A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in March found that 52 percent of Americans said passing legislation to lower prescription drug prices should be a “top priority” for Trump and Congress. Nearly three-quarters of Americans said pharmaceutical companies have too much influence in Washington, a view shared by both Democrats and Republicans.”

Overconfidence that feeds complacency is always a bad thing, which Democrats should keep in mind, regarding their strong performance in special elections since 2016. Powerpost’s Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim report that “Trump’s improved standing, energized GOP voters worry Democrats,” and note “After months of confidence that public discontent with President Trump would lift Democrats back to power in Congress, some party leaders are fretting that their advantages in this year’s midterms are eroding amid a shifting political landscape…Driving their concerns are Trump’s approval rating, which has ticked upward in recent weeks, and high Republican turnout in some recent primaries, suggesting the GOP base remains energized. What’s more, Republicans stand to benefit politically from a thriving economy and are choosing formidable candidates to take on vulnerable Democratic senators.” Fair enough. But Dems should not do too much handwringing. The sky is more likely to fall on Republicans than Dems in the coming months, as the Mueller probe zeroes in on the Trump Administration’s unprecedented level of corruption, dragging Trump’s approval ratings downward. The blue wave may be smaller than expected a few weeks ago. But the smart money is still on Dems winning a House majority, with gains in state legislatures. Moreover, “Republicans still have messy intraparty fights to navigate in Mississippi and Arizona, with polarizing Senate candidates who party officials believe could lose to Democrats. They are plotting ways to elevate the more electable ones…If Democrats can flip one or both of those seats, their path to the majority will be easier, contingent on holding seats. Democrats also have a plum opportunity for a pickup in Nevada.”

The Trump Trade Hawk walkback begins. As Brett Samuels reports at The Hill, “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday criticized President Trump for directing the Commerce Department to assist a Chinese telecommunications company…“How about helping some American companies first?” Schumer tweeted in response to Trump’s earlier tweet on the matter…Trump earlier in the day said he’s working with Chinese President Xi Jingping to get Chinese company ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast.”…“Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump tweeted.

L.A. Times writer Christine Mai-Duc reports on a new strategy for California Democrats competing in ‘top two’ primaries: “Vexed for months over the prospect of getting boxed out of crucial House races after California’s primary, Democrats think they’ve found a way to fight back….The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week began airing television adsthat go after two Republicans running for retiring Rep. Ed Royce’s seat. The ads made no mention of a third, Young Kim, who has led polls, has the backing of Royce, and is widely seen as the Democrats’ most formidable potential opponent in November…By attacking two Republicans viewed as second-tier, Democrats are hoping to suppress GOP votes for those candidates while ensuring that Kim gets far enough ahead to be the only Republican in the general election. They also hope to avoid explicitly backing or attacking one of their own in the increasingly nasty intraparty fights in some districts.’

In Neil Rothchild’s “The Senate Democrats who keep saying no to Trump nominees” at Axios, he indicates that only 10 Democratic Senators voted against confirming Trump nominees in more than 70.3 percent of the 37 selected votes, and only two, Gillibrand and Warren, did so more than 90 percent of the time. Given Trump’s record of poorly-qualified and morally-dubious nominees, are too many Democratic senators giving them an easy ride?

“Today, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and its offshoot — the Black Women’s Roundtable — launched the Unity ’18 Black Voting & Power Building “Time4APowerShift” campaign in Atlanta, Georgia,” reports Donna Owens at Essence magazine. “The goal is to leverage the impact of the Black vote and collective leadership, with a special emphasis on the South, Black women, and young voters. Unity ’18 is phase one of a four-year campaign that includes developing and organizing a long-term Black political and economic power building strategy. It will encompass the 2018 midterms, the 2020 Presidential election and more, including the 2020 census and redistricting that help will determine the balance of political power for the coming decade and beyond…The new campaign, said organizers, will partner more than 60 national and state-based organizations and networks, that are primarily led by Black women…There will be an emphasis on getting out the vote in places where the Black vote will be key to shifting political power, such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.”

4 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    I’d be impressed with Kirsten Gillibrand were it not for the fact that she was formerly a gun nut, and before that a tobacco lawyer. When her people mention that at all, it is to excuse her as a low level flunky, not to say it was wrong or anything crazy like that.

    If she wasn’t herself a merchant of death, she enable the merchants of death to kill legally. She looks like the very model of a modern opportunist and I just don’t trust her at all, not when there are so many other candidates who don’t have such compromised pasts on such major issues.

  2. Victor on

    Where is Democrats’ “Contract with America” or First 100 days for this election?

    What candidates do is fine, but the Congressional leaders have a particular responsibility given that this is not a presidential contest.

    • Martin Lawford on

      As far as I can tell, Victor, the Democrats do not have anything like the “Contract With America” in this election. They do have the “Better Deal” platform but that is concentrated on jobs instead of the wide-ranging “Contract With America”, which offered many government reform proposals. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Senatorial Election Committee are, like the DNC, generally conducting negative campaign maneuvers like the lawsuit the DNC filed against the Russians, some Republicans, and defendants like Julian Assange.

  3. Victor on

    Good ideas to fix some of the issues with drug patenting.

    But whenever you read comments on social media about healthcare costs what people mention most often are deductibles, co-pays and specially bill shock.

    Drugs are only one part of the problem.

    Doctors practicing defensive medicine is another.

    Reforms to address Hospitals (and Ambulances) lack of ethics would probably get as much attention as never ending discussions about drugs.

    When Democrats address healthcare piecemeal by focusing on insurers and pharma they seem out of touch and ignorant/incompetent.


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