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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s a trend that provides a problem and perhaps an opportunity for Democrats: “After a tumultuous year in the markets, America’s preparedness for retirement has gotten shakier, Axios’ Erica Pandey writes….By the numbers: More than half — 52% — of Americans are not on track to comfortably pay for their retirement, according to a new report from Fidelity, the nation’s largest provider of 401(k) plans….401(k) accounts lost 23% of their value last year, compared with 2021, per another recent Fidelity report….And 55% of those between the ages of 18 and 35 have put retirement planning and saving on hold, Fidelity notes….Between the lines: “Roughly half the workforce, we’re talking 50 plus million people, work for an employer that doesn’t offer a retirement plan,” said David John, a senior policy adviser at AARP. That could mean a small business or gig work….And millennials and Gen X-ers are far less likely to have traditional pensions than their Boomer counterparts, John said….What to watch: Gen Z is more prepared for the future than previous generations, said Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement at Fidelity. Gen Z’s creation of new IRA savings accounts was up 30% in 2022, compared to 2021….The bottom line: Retirement preparedness among young people, especially millennials, isn’t where it should be, Assaf notes. “The good news is they still have time.” The big problem is that a lot of older voters are quite shaken that their retirement assets tanked an average of 23 percent in one year, and along with inflation at the gas pump and grocery market, they may want to blame the incumbent President. That’s not an easy fix. But Biden can at least propose a significant tax break for retirees. There is another opportunity – loudly propose irresistible tax incentives for employers, plus self-employed workers – that half of the workforce who are not in a retirement plan – to enroll in one. The big idea is for Biden and the Democrats to become the unrivaled champions of a decent retirement for all workers. It could help. Trump got 52 percent of voters over age 65 in 2020, compared to 48 percent for Biden. Census data indicate that voters over age 65, about one-fourth of all voters, had the highest turnout rate — 74 percent, in 2020.

Is ‘No Labels” a GOP front? According to Daniel Strauss at The New Republic, “For many years, Third Way and No Labels have been thought of by inside Democratic observers as peas in a pod. Both are moderate groups—Third Way explicitly Democratic, No Labels avowedly bipartisan—but both occupy, too many observers, the same general space on the ideological parking lot. Both groups are close to or involved with some of the same senators and House members, and both certainly have suffered their share of scorn from groups to their left….So it was awfully interesting Thursday when Third Way executive vice president Jim Kessler wrote an email to friends and colleagues lambasting No Labels: “The group No Labels is holding its nominating convention in Dallas to select a 3rd Party candidate that most assuredly would hurt Biden and elect Trump or whoever wins the GOP nomination. They have already raised $70m. They are already on the ballot in a bunch of states. And in a map they recently published showing their absurd path to 270 electoral college votes, they’ve targeted 23 states for victory—19 won by Biden and 4 won by Trump. That gives you an idea of what they’re up to and who they really want to elect. And as a reminder, No Labels endorsed Trump in 2016.”….As Kessler’s missive indicates, No Labels has set out to get on the ballot as its own political party in a number of states….on Friday, Third Way co-authored an op-ed in The Washington Post with a couple of unlikely allies among the constellation of Democratic groups: the Center for American Progress Action Fund and MoveOn. The effort really covered the waterfront. Third Way is centrist, CAP mainstream liberal, and MoveOn represents the party’s more progressive wing. The Post op-ed was co-bylined by the three group leaders: Third Way’s Jonathan Cowan, CAP’s Patrick Gaspard, and MoveOn’s Rahna Epting….“We understand the sentiment that has driven donors to the No Labels banner,” the three wrote. “But there is simply no equating a party led by Biden to today’s MAGA Republican Party. One side believes in American democracy, while the other has attacked it. One is governing from the mainstream, while the other champions extremism. One seeks to work collaboratively on the issues; the other has given way to conspiracy theorists and cranks”….This isn’t the first former friend No Labels has lost. William Galston, the respected centrist scholar at the Brookings Institution, said in late March that he would separate himself from the group over its plans for a third-party challenge.”

Strauss also profiles “The Democrat Who’s Betting Her Senate Bid on Gun Control” at TNR, and writes that Rep. Elisa Stotkin “has been an important centrist envoy to the Great Lakes State. The 7th Congressional District she represents, in the south central part of the state, has a population of less than 800,000, and she had won her first congressional campaign in 2018 by threading the needle between her farm-life experience in the district (she grew up in rural Holly, population less than 6,000) and her bipartisan foreign policy background: She was recruited by the CIA after graduating from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2003. She spent five years in Iraq with the CIA, and later, at the National Security Council, serving in both the Bush and the Obama administrations. (Subsequently, Slotkin worked at the State Department, then Defense.) It didn’t hurt that the Slotkin name was well-known in Michigan: Her grandfather, Hugo, ran Hygrade Food Products, the company behind Ball Park Franks. Slotkin is also a member of the New Democrat Coalition and the Problem Solvers Caucus, groups that liberal Democrats occasionally feud with—a fact that may endear her to some of her constituents. (Like some in the moderate caucus, she declined to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker in 2021, but she’s been a reliable vote on the House floor….Now, she’s taking aim at guns. “I’ve had friends close to me be killed by rockets,” she said back in February, referencing her time in Iraq, but “our schools and our communities are not war zones….These are civilians.”….Although Congress passed, and President Joe Biden signed, compromise gun control legislation last year, passage of any further restrictions in the current Republican-controlled House is hardly likely. Still, she is pushing ahead. By late March, her office was preparing to help roll out a new set of proposals in Congress, such as $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to finance gun violence research (co-sponsored with Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts), mandatory waiting periods for firearm purchases, and prohibiting those convicted of misdemeanors involving guns to own firearms for three years….“I think I’m the only congressperson to now have had two school shootings in their district,” Slotkin said. “I hope I’m the only one.”

At ‘The Downballot’ at Daily Kos, David Nir observes, “We took a look at which states could amend their constitutions to guarantee the right to an abortion. It’s quite a few. Last year, California, Michigan, and Vermont all voted in favor of amending their constitutions to guarantee abortion rights. They were the first states to do so. It turns out that, at least at the moment, another 23 states could do the exact same thing. There’s a reason why amending your constitution really is so important both in blue states, but especially in purple or red states. It’s the most permanent, longest-lasting way of guaranteeing abortion rights. It’s more difficult than simply passing a statute, but sometimes it’s your only option….In fact, there are two ways to go about getting an amendment on the ballot. In every state, the legislature can refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. Since we know that Republicans, of course, will never support such a thing, that means we can expect that only blue states are going to be able to have their legislatures put an amendment on the ballot. That’s what happened in California and Vermont….In some states, you only need a simple majority of the legislature. In some states, you need a two-thirds supermajority. There are even some blue states where the legislature doesn’t have enough votes to put an amendment on the ballot….But there are 18 states where voters themselves can put amendments on the ballot. They can do so by using the initiative process, which means that they gather a sufficient number of signatures from voters across the state, and then voters get to vote on that amendment if they qualify with enough signatures. This really opens up a lot of doors because it gives abortion rights advocates the chance to amend constitutions in purple and red states that are otherwise hostile to abortion or have even banned the practice….There are, in fact, two efforts underway right now that we know of in Ohio and South Dakota to qualify measures for the ballot….Florida also allows citizen initiatives on the ballot. They are expensive, they take a lot of time and effort, you have to gather large numbers of signatures. But with the courts so hostile in so many ways to abortion rights, it really is a smart move for Democrats to pursue….And also, as we saw in 2022, it’s not just the blue states where abortion rights are popular. In, once again, Montana, but also Kentucky and Kansas, voters rejected restrictions on abortion rights. Now asking them to vote for guarantees of abortion rights, a positive measure as opposed to voting against a negative restrictive measure, that’s something different….this is really an area that advocates and Democrats need to be focusing on.”

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