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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

It’s unclear whether growing bipartisan support for President Biden’s Ukraine policies will help Democrats in the midterm elections. But the President’s Ukraine policies are on the right track for that possibility. From Amy Walter’s “United and Still Polarized” at The Cook Political Report: “Republican voters have also cooled in their embrace of Trump’s brand of nationalism and isolationism. For example, back in February of 2021, a Pew poll found that more than two-thirds of Republicans thought that the U.S. should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on our problems here at home, while just 32 percent said it’s best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs. Today, however, nearly three-quarters of Republicans (73 percent) say that working closely with allies to respond to the Russian invasion is the right approach….Republican opinions of U.S. cooperation with NATO, an institution that President Trump called ‘obsolete,’ are now overwhelmingly positive. The Pew poll found 75 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats agree with the decision to keep a large number of U.S. military forces in NATO countries near Ukraine. …Another reason for the bipartisan support for U.S. actions thus far is that it doesn’t involve American military personnel. Even as Americans are more supportive of cooperation with NATO countries, they have no appetite for sending American troops into another European land war. If Americans start fighting and dying overseas, opinions about America’s ‘role in the world’ are likely to shift.”

Ben Steverman’s “A Once Radical Idea to Close the Wealth Gap Is Actually Happening” at Bloomberg Businessweek explores the benefits of ‘Baby Bonds’ programs, which are “being embraced and implemented by governments across the U.S.” The idea, as championed by stratification economist Darrick Hamilton, proposes “to give each baby born in the U.S. a trust fund established and guaranteed by the federal government. The goal is to narrow the vast inequalities that exist at the moment of birth, particularly those related to the wide and persistent racial wealth gap. The bonds could give any disadvantaged 18-year-old resources to catch up to wealthier peers,” which they could use for education or starting a business. “The fundamental point is providing people with capital at a key point in their life, so they can get into an asset that will passively appreciate over their lifetime,” Hamilton says. And, because race correlates so closely with wealth in the U.S., the policy can be officially race-neutral while still giving a substantial boost to Black Americans who for centuries have been denied opportunities to build intergenerational wealth.” Steverman notes that “lawmakers in Connecticut and the District of Columbia recently established programs that will set aside money for thousands of babies. Washington state is taking steps toward a similar program that could launch in 2024. New Jersey’s governor has also pushed a plan to issue them. And Massachusetts’ treasurer is launching a “baby bonds task force” this spring.” The idea is winning bipartisan support. Democratic Senator Cory Booker was the first presidential candidate to propose the idea at the federal level.

Steverman notes that [Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn] “Wooden brought his baby bonds proposal to Connecticut’s legislature in early 2021, and by July it was law. The District of Columbia moved about as quickly, beginning debate in May and passing its law in December. Wooden says the combination of widespread pressure to tackle racial disparities and Hamilton’s “intellectual framework” prompted advocacy groups and legislators in Connecticut to line up swiftly behind an idea that was new to most of them. To broaden the coalition, proponents argued that baby bonds wouldn’t just heal racial divisions but regional ones, helping poor, largely Black and Democratic urban neighborhoods and poor, largely White and Republican rural areas alike. Wooden tried to demonstrate to lawmakers that there were families in every one of the state’s 169 towns, including Greenwich, that could qualify for baby bonds. “Part of the messaging around this is it’s not race-based,” he says. “This is a program that is antipoverty regardless of your race or ZIP code.”….Governments are keeping costs down by covering only the poorest children, those eligible for Medicaid. In Connecticut, that’s more than 16,000 babies a year, about half of all births in the state. They’ll start with $3,200, which could grow to more than $10,000 by the time they’re 18, depending on investment performance—the state will put the initial capital pool into a broad range of asset classes, much like a pension plan.”….The “baby” part of “baby bonds” may be what gives them uniquely broad political appeal, Hamilton says. The idea of granting a birthright to each child avoids the typical and often racially loaded debates about who’s deserving and undeserving of help. It’s hard to attack a baby for being lazy, he points out.”

With the Ukraine, inflation and Covid dominating the news, can health care reform help Democrats gain some traction that could help in November? In his Daily Beast article “Democrats Want to Party Like It’s 2018 and Push Health Care,” Sam Brodkey reports that Dems may embrace that strategy. “Asked about the party’s strategy on Obamacare, Chris Taylor, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the DCCC plans to remind voters frequently about the GOP’s stances on health care….“Democrats want to lower the costs of medicines, protect health care, and lower costs for families,” Taylor said. “We’re going to make sure voters know the difference between us and them.”….It’s a good time for Democrats to refocus on favorable turf, given that the current political landscape is bleak for the party as the midterm season heats up. And with the anniversary of the law coming up next week, national and state level Democratic Party organizations have a slate of events planned to keep it on the agenda….Democrats are now trying to talk about inflation, but through the frame of health care. Increasingly, Democrats are framing their health-care talking points in the kitchen-table language of costs. That might help bail Democrats out. One strategist with access to recent polling information found that voters have given Republicans a 5-point advantage on reducing inflation. But they gave Democrats a 10-point advantage on reducing the cost of health care….congressional Democrats tried for the better part of a year to give millions more people health insurance. Some, like Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), believe that the politics of the issue are so bad for Republicans that they wouldn’t even take a pass at Obamacare, or other key health-care programs, if they had the chance.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    The “baby bonds” plan is a good idea. It addresses the racial wealth gap without being a specifically race-based program. It should be a part of any future Democratic platform.


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