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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

What, you may wonder, will Trump’s shutdown end up costing taxpayers? In his article “The Government Shutdown Will Cost More Than Trump’s $5 Billion Border Wall Funding, According to Experts,” Brad Tuttle shares some possibilities at Money: “The economic costs of the government shutdown may already exceed the $5 billion President Donald Trump is demanding for a border wall, according to some analysts’ estimates…First off, federal workers who are not paid during a government shutdown typically receive back pay once the shutdown is over, whether or not they were furloughed. So there is no money “saved” through a drop in federal employment payroll…Foregone services include things like permits and fees which the government cannot collect during a shutdown and therefore amount to lost revenues.” Tuttle notes also that “analysis of the October 2013 government shutdown, which lasted 16 days, researchers estimated that the shutdown lowered real GDP growth by 0.2% to 0.6%. That amounted to somewhere between $2 billion and $6 billion in lost economic output.” Also, “Standard & Poor’s estimated that the costs of the 2013 government shutdown actually came to $24 billion after incorporating the impact of the shutdown on hard-to-pin-down factors like decreased consumer and investor confidence — components that aren’t tabulated in the OMB analysis…in late 2017, Standard & Poor’s analysts said that a government shutdown threatened at the time would cost the American economy roughly $6.5 billion per week.”

Scott Clement and Dan Balz report on some findings of of a new WaPo/ABC news poll: “By a wide margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans in Congress than congressional Democrats for the now record-breaking government shutdown, and most reject the president’s assertion that there is an illegal-immigration crisis on the southern border, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll…Support for building a wall on the border, which is the principal sticking point in the stalemate between the president and Democrats, has increased over the past year. Today, 42 percent say they support a wall, up from 34 percent last January. A slight majority of Americans (54 percent) oppose the idea, down from 63 percent a year ago…Concerning the allocation of blame, 53 percent say Trump and the Republicans are mainly at fault, and 29 percent blame the Democrats in Congress. Thirteen percent say both sides bear equal responsibility for the shutdown…The president faces sizable opposition from the public were he to do so. By more than 2-1 (66 percent to 31 percent), Americans say they oppose invoking an emergency to build a border wall.”

In “How House Democrats can advocate for a fairer, more effective tax system,” The Editorial Board of the Washington Post argues that “Democrats can use their platform in the House to advocate a fairer system that brings in more revenue than the current one…Their focus should be on eliminating or reducing the biggest source of favoritism toward the rich in the current code: the preferable treatment of capital gains and dividends. These forms of income are accrued overwhelmingly by the highest-earning households and reward activity that is, in principle, no worthier morally, or useful economically, than laboring for a wage or salary. Yet the top marginal rate for ordinary income is now 37 percent, while it is only 23.8 percent for capital gains and dividends…Certainly, the 2017 bill’s near-elimination of the estate tax, which affected precious few households in the first place, should be a high priority for reversal by the Democrat-controlled House…Eliminating a mere two percentage points of the differential between the tax rates on capital gains and ordinary income, and adjusting tax brackets, could raise another $81.4 billion over 10 years, CBO says. Meanwhile, increasing the Internal Revenue Service’s enforcement budget by $500 million from its fiscal 2018 level of $11.4 billion would net the government $35.3 billion over 10 years. Most of that would probably come from wealthy taxpayers who can afford to game the system.”

“The New Deal is back. Nearly a century after President Franklin D. Roosevelt began his effort to revive the American economy through government programs, Democrats are once again becoming fans of Roosevelt and his legacy,” writes Cornell professor Lawrence B. Glickman in his article, “The left is pushing Democrats to embrace their greatest president. Why that’s a good thing” in The Washington Post. Glickman traces the history of Democratic attitudes toward FDR’s New Deal, and explains, “It is too soon to say whether the Democratic Party as a whole will follow the lead of its left flank. But growing support for a Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all, progressive taxation and corporate regulation suggests that many members of the Democratic Party are once again embracing the Rooseveltian vision of activist government that promotes freedom, opportunity and justice for ordinary Americans. After half a century of consensus that the Age of Roosevelt was history, today’s Democrats are reclaiming the mantle of the party of ideas by reembracing the New Deal as a vision of positive governance.”

At The Plum Line, Paul Waldman explains “Why Democrats will not tear themselves apart from the inside,” and notes that, “unlike the white guys who made up the tea party, the Democrats who just came to Washington represent not only the Democratic Party coalition as it exists today, but also the coalition that is most likely to allow it to prosper in the future.” Waldman adds that “the things the progressive Democrats are pushing for — action on climate change, a higher minimum wage, universal health coverage — are all quite popular. That doesn’t mean there won’t be vigorous debates about them, but despite Republican cries of “Egad, socialism!”, their agenda strikes most Americans as pretty reasonable.”

“…Many in the party believe that proving oneself as the antidote to Mr. Trump and his brand of incendiary politics will become the ultimate litmus test in 2020, more than demonstrating policy purity. Yet some activists want both: fierce resistance to Mr. Trump and unwavering fidelity to the left’s catechism of issues…To strategists who worked on the 2018 midterms, however, the enormous attention being paid to a handful of outspoken liberals like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York misses the nonideological approach of many of the party’s successful candidates for governor and Congress…“There wasn’t a demand among Democratic primary voters for litmus tests,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster…And Ms. Greenberg, who is working for former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, a possible 2020 candidate, contends that electoral viability will be more central in the coming Democratic presidential primary than in any recent election.” — from Jonathan Martin’s “Democrats Want to Run on Issues in 2020. But Does Beating Trump Matter Most?” at The New York Times.

Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin probe Democratic prospects in the largest swing state in their article, “Stung by Florida Midterm Losses, Democrats See a Swing State Drifting Away” in The New York Times. “What is so agonizing for Democrats is that 2018 did little to clarify the best path…The party put forward Mr. Gillum, a 39-year-old black progressive, and Mr. Nelson, a 76-year-old white moderate who had been in elected office for nearly half a century. Mr. Nelson lost by about 10,000 votes and Mr. Gillum didn’t fare much worse, losing by about 32,000 votes…In other words, the party pursued two differing approaches in the same state and the same year — nominating a progressive who could mobilize voters difficult to turn out in midterms as well as a moderate who would appear more amenable to persuadable voters — and both failed.” Also note Mazzei and Martin, “Democrats started organizing Latino voters too late, didn’t tailor their message for an increasingly diverse community and ultimately took Latino support for granted, a Florida pollster told about 50 members of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Broward County…Democrats will lose again in 2020 if they don’t move swiftly to win over Hispanics, the pollster, Eduardo Gamarra, told the group. “You just need to start now,” he said…The question looming over the state going into 2020 is the same one Democrats are wrestling with elsewhere: How can the party narrow its losses with voters who are older — and in many cases white — without alienating younger, nonwhite voters?”

In “The more women in government, the healthier a population” at The Conversation, Edward Ng and Carles Montaner write, “Our findings, published recently in the journal SSM – Population Health, support the argument that yes, women in government do in fact advance population health…we examined whether there’s a historical association between women in government and population health among Canada’s 10 provinces. Between 1976 and 2009, the percentage of women in provincial government increased six-fold from 4.2 per cent to 25.9 per cent, while mortality from all causes declined by 37.5 per cent (from 8.85 to 5.53 deaths per 1000 people)…we found that as the average percentage of women in government has historically risen, total mortality rates have declined.” In the U.S., there are currently 106 Democratic women in the U.S. Senate and House, compared to 21 Republican women, and there are 9 Democratic women governors, compared to 3 Republican women, according the The Center for American Women in Politics. (CAWP).

CAWP also notes that there are 1,431 Democratic women and 660 Republican women serving in the state legislatures of the U.S. The states that have the ten highest percentages of women serving in their legislatures include: Nevada (50.8%); Colorado (45.0%); Oregon (41.1%); Washington (40.8%); Vermont (39.4%); Maine (38.7%); Alaska (38.3%); Rhode Island (38.1%); Arizona (37.8%); and Maryland (37.2%). The states with the ten lowest percentages are all “red” states.

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