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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “‘Go on offense’: Inside Democrats’ strategy to try to undercut GOP investigations and protect Biden” By Lauren Fox, Alayna Treen and Jeremy Herb AT CNN Politics: “Congressional Democrats are betting that a coordinated offense is their best defense against the coming Republican investigative onslaught….Democrats on Capitol Hill, at the White House, in agencies and in outside political groups are gearing up to do battle with the Republican committee chairs probing all corners of the Biden administration as well as the Biden family’s financial dealings….The significant effort at the outset is a sign of the danger the GOP investigations and their subpoena power pose to Biden’s political prospects heading into his reelection. The stakes of knocking down the GOP probes have only grown over the past month as Biden is now grappling with a special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents found at his private residence and office….Even before the first subpoena or hearing, Democrats have enlisted polling firms and focus groups to try and undercut the coming investigations and protect Biden with the 2024 campaign approaching….Their plans include launching sustained attacks against the two Republicans expected to lead the most aggressive probes: Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is also leading the new so-called weaponization of government subcommittee with a wide investigative mandate. Meanwhile, outside groups are planning to bring the fight local and visit more than a dozen Biden-leaning congressional districts to go after vulnerable Republicans involved in the investigations.”

In their article, “Democrats Hold Trifecta Power in Over a Dozen States. Will They Actually Use It? Republicans have used legislative majorities at the state level to undermine their opposition, but the Democratic Party has often failed to fight back. This is a chance to change that” at In These Times, Mark Engler and Paul Engler write: “On January 11, Michigan’s 148 state legislators took their seats to begin a new session, with Democrats enjoying a historic reversal of fortune. As recently as 2018, Republicans led all branches of state government. This situation has now flipped with Democrats controlling the state’s House of Representatives for the first time in a decade, and the State Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years….Last year’s elections presented other bright spots for progressives as well: Democrats also hold new trifectas in Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota. In total, the party now fully controls governments in 17 states, with combined populations that account for 140 million Americans — compared to the 137 million people living in the 22 states controlled by Republicans. This represents enormous progress from just over four years ago, when, prior to the 2018 midterm elections, 26 of the 34 states with trifectas were under Republican control….Democratic leaders in Michigan and beyond are now in a position to pursue a strong governing agenda. The question is: Will they take advantage of the opportunity? More specifically, will they use their power to enact changes that increase democratic participation and build progressive power for the long term?….With the new trifectas in place, Democrats have an opportunity to eschew a neoliberal vision of winning by moving to the center and instead pursue a strategy that creates the kind of grassroots power which can pay dividends for years to come. Such an approach would include repealing ​right to work” laws and pursuing reforms that expand labor rights, support social movement organizing and bolster democratic participation….We got ALL the gavels,” Michigan state Sen. Polehanki stated when Michiganders voted Democrats into power. ​Get ready for some cha-cha-cha-changes here in Michigan.” Or as Ken Whittaker, executive director of the progressive group Michigan United, told Politico, ​The people are on offense.”

“Any Democrat who thinks the party’s better-than-expected November midterm-election outcome was an affirmation of President Biden and the Democratic Congress policies and accomplishments will have a rude awakening reading the just-released NBC News poll,”  Charlie Cook writes at The Cook Political Report. “Conversely, any Republicans seeking support for their agenda would be equally hard-pressed to find it in the poll….Americans continue to be deeply pessimistic about how things are going in the country. Just 23 percent of adults nationwide say the country was headed in the right direction, while 71 percent say it is on the wrong track. Richard Wirthlin, President Reagan’s pollster, used to call this question “the Dow Jones indicator of American politics.” In eight of the last nine NBC News polls since October 2021, the wrong-track number has been at 70 percent or more, the longest period of sustained pessimism in the 34-year history of the poll (formerly the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll) since its inception in 1989….This pessimism should not be surprising as many people see themselves straining financially. While economic data show that the rate of inflation in the U.S. is slowing down, the public hasn’t yet felt it in their own lives. When asked how their family’s income is doing compared with the cost of living, just about 1 in 20 see their incomes rising faster than the cost of living, about a quarter (28 percent) feel they are staying even, and almost two-thirds (64 percent) feel that they are falling behind. In politics, given the choice between reality and perception, it is always wiser to go with perception….Given this, it should not be a surprise that Biden’s job-approval ratings are poor. Biden’s overall rating sits at 45 percent (18 percent strongly approve and 27 percent somewhat approve), while 50 percent disapprove (10 percent somewhat disapprove and 40 percent strongly disapprove).”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Arguing over raising the debt limit is dumb. Arguing over how to make the economy grow for everyone is smart. President Biden hopes to use his State of the Union message on Tuesday to move the debate to the right question and make the case for the quiet revolution he has championed in our nation’s approach to future prosperity….Yes, Biden, the middle-of-the-road lover of compromise, consensus-building and comity, is a revolutionary — Ronald Reagan in reverse, if you will. He’s turning the nation away from the economic assumptions that took hold in the 1980s….The words we’ll hear on Tuesday about a move from “trickle-down” to “middle out” and “bottom up” economics are the sales pitch — but they are also a reasonably accurate description of policies that see robust government investments, worker rights and a green tech economy as the path to a new American century….Biden’s job Tuesday is to expose the contention that’s dominating the news right now as evasive shadow boxing — while bragging a bit about the record-breaking 12.1 million jobs created in the past two years. He can push Republicans (and the media) to talk not only about budget cuts and culture wars but also about whether the GOP’s agenda would do anything to solve immediate problems facing families or offer a plausible vision for long-term flourishing….The Biden blueprint, the outgoing director of the White House National Economic Council, Brian Deese, told me, involves “investing in high return areas of the economy like innovation and clean energy, reducing families’ costs in areas such as child care and elder care, and reducing the deficit by raising taxes on large corporations and the wealthiest.”

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