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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

For another take on William A. Galston’s article noted yesterday, read “Why Trump Still Has Millions of Americans in His Grip,” by NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall, which notes: “In “The Bitter Heartland,” an essay in American Purpose, William Galston, a veteran of the Clinton White House and a senior fellow at Brookings, captures the forces at work in the lives of many of Trump’s most loyal backers: Resentment is one of the most powerful forces in human life. Unleashing it is like splitting the atom; it creates enormous energy, which can lead to more honest discussions and long-delayed redress of grievances. It can also undermine personal relationships — and political regimes. Because its destructive potential is so great, it must be faced….Galston has grasped a genuine phenomenon. But white men are not the only victims of deindustrialization. We are now entering upon an era in which vast swaths of the population are potentially vulnerable to the threat — or promise — of a Fourth Industrial Revolution….This revolution is driven by unprecedented levels of technological innovation as artificial intelligence joins forces with automation and takes aim not only at employment in what remains of the nation’s manufacturing heartland, but also increasingly at the white-collar managerial and professional occupational structure.” Edsall goes on to document the threat of A.I., automation, “foreign-trade-induced job loss and other adverse consequences of technological change” as a politically-disruptive force, and concludes with a couple of pertinent questions: “If fully enacted, could Biden’s $6 trillion-plus package of stimulus, infrastructure and social expenditure represent a preliminary step toward providing the social insurance and redistribution necessary to protect American workers from the threat of technological innovation? Can spending on this scale curb the resentment or heal the anguish over wrenching dislocations of race, culture and class?”

In “The Republican rebrand, exposed: The Republican Party’s “working class” rebrand is a cruel hoax,” Robert Reich writes at Salon: “The Republican Party is trying to rebrand itself as the party of the working class. Rubbish. Republicans can spout off all the catchy slogans about blue jeans and beer they want, but actions speak louder than words. But let’s look at what they’re actually doing….Did they vote for the American Rescue Plan? No. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits needed by millions of American workers….So what have they voted for? Well, every single one of them voted for Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, of which 83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent over a decade. They claimed corporations would use the savings from the tax cut to invest in their workers. In reality, corporations used their tax savings to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost share values. And some corporations then fired large portions of their workforce. Not very pro-worker, if you ask me….What about backing regulations that keep workers safe? Nope. In fact, they didn’t bat an eye when Trump rolled back child labor protections, undid worker safeguards from exposure to cancerous radiation, and gutted measures that shield workers from wage theft….Do they support overtime? No. They allowed Trump to eliminate overtime for 8 million workers, and continue to repeat the corporate lie about “job-killing regulations.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley explains why “Biden isn’t polling well on immigration,” and notes thata new Pew Research Center report suggests immigration could prove challenging for the Biden administration….The trouble for Biden stems from the difficult conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge in the number of people crossing into the U.S. has reached a 20-year high. Given this situation, 68 percent of Americans told Pew that the government was doing a very or somewhat bad job of handling the number of asylum seekers at the border. Concerns about unlawful entry into the U.S. have also shot up, with 48 percent of Americans saying that “illegal immigration is a very big problem,” the highest share since 2016….overall support for giving undocumented immigrants a path to legally remain in the U.S. dropped from 75 percent in June 2020 to 69 percent in the new survey. While the drop in support was driven largely by Republicans (support fell from 57 percent last June to 48 percent) and not Democrats (support barely changed, from 89 percent to 86 percent), Democrats did show a slight increase in support for restrictive policies on other questions. For instance, the share of Democrats who said it was important to reduce the number of asylum seekers at the southern border rose from 61 percent in August 2019 to 68 percent in the new poll, and the share who wanted to make it harder for these asylum seekers to gain legal status rose from 32 percent to 39 percent in that same period….Such polling shifts are due in part to the current situation at the border, but they also reflect that public opinion is often thermostatic — that is, the public tends to become less supportive of views associated with the party in power. So we would expect, on some level, a reduction in pro-immigration attitudes because Democrats control the government right now, just as pro-immigration attitudes ticked up while Trump was in office. The question is how much immigration will once again become a driving force for Republicans — or matter for Democrats.”

Writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Ladan Ahmadi and David Kendall explore  “The Can’t-Miss Way to Expand Obamacare: The next logical step is a universal cost cap, guaranteeing people that they’ll never be socked with unpayable medical bills,” and write: “The solution, then, is a Universal Cost Cap that would put a limit on the out-of-pocket and out-of-paycheck costs for everyone based on their income no matter where they get their insurance. That means whether a person gets insurance through their employer, the exchanges, or Medicare or Medicaid, their deductibles, co-pays, and premiums would be capped as a portion of what they earn. The impact on Americans would be huge. It would be a major expansion, and the benefits would be unprecedented….A 2021 study published in Health Affairs found that low-income families who had ACA exchange plans with full cost caps spent 17 percent less on health-care costs and had a 30 percent less chance of having catastrophic health-care costs that could add up to decades of debt. Can you imagine how working and middle-income families would feel if the amount they paid for health coverage and care was 17 percent less than they had been paying? For a typical person with coverage through her employer, it would amount to a savings of $1,842 a year….Implementing a Universal Cost Cap would permanently end people’s financial vulnerability on health care. It would allow all families to budget their health-care costs for the year. They would have peace of mind over never having to pay more than a set amount that is affordable – no matter what….In addition to solving the cost problem for families, a Universal Cost Cap has a series of attributes that make it easy to explain to voters. It’s big and bold but builds on what we have by improving a now decade-old law that people like, with 53 percent of the public now holding a favorable view of the ACA compared to 34 percent unfavorable.”

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