Thursday, May 25, 2017

People For the American Way Launches The Next Up Victory Fund


Progressives like Keith Ellison, Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin-- as well as other Democrats-- joined the folks at PFAW this week at an event introducing the launch of their newest in a series of progressive bench-building initiatives the Next Up Victory Fun. the purpose of the new program is to elect young progressives to state and local offices.
Next Up will support young progressive candidates running for state and local office across the country by providing endorsements and direct contributions, as well as a platform and greater access to the broader progressive community. PFAW has focused on young people as a major part of its work for more than a decade through its c3 affiliate, PFAW Foundation, which runs Young People For (YP4), a training program for college-age activists and the Young Elected Officials Network. PFAW also has an extensive track record in electoral politics, and this program will be an extension of its state and local work.

In particular, Next Up will target critical races in states where Democrats are poised to regain control of state legislatures—including states where legislatures can impact 2020 redistricting—and in helping candidates win races that will allow them to make credible runs for higher office in years to come.
Crisanta Duran is the Speaker of Colorado's House and a member of the Next Up advisory board. She said that "in order to transform our political system, we need to be working on the local and state levels to elect progressive leaders nationwide. If we want strong, progressive candidates to run for Congress and the presidency in five, ten or fifteen years, we need to make sure they’re getting elected to city councils and the statehouse right now. We’re going to fight for change from the bottom up. This work is critical to building power in the progressive movement and I am proud to be a part of its launch."

Michael Keegan, the PFAW president, made the point that "Republicans have methodically taken complete control of 32 legislatures and control every branch of government in 25 states-- half of the entire country, allowing them to ram through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and attacks on the rights of women, workers, LGBTQ people, and others unchecked... The goal of Next Up is to significantly shift the map within the next few election cycles to retake power in the states, win vital Democratic control over the redistricting process, and nurture a crop of progressive officeholders well positioned to win in their districts, statewide, and in future pursuits of federal office."

Despite all the anti-Trump energy, if we take off our blinders we can see that the landscape in the states is still dismal for progressives. I bet you agree with PFAW that that has to change, not the kind of phony DCCC one-cycle-- elect our sheathed instead of the other shithead-change, but a long-term infrastructure building change that PFAW has been doing for 3 decades. Keegan went on to say that "The Next Up Victory Fund is the next step in our deep, long-term investment in youth leadership development. It’s the continuation and expansion of our former Young Elected Progressives program. Our nonpartisan affiliate People For the American Way Foundation has supported young leaders for over a decade, through Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network and Young People For (YP4). PFAW has more than 30 years of expertise and a proven track record of success in helping strong progressive candidates win tight races. This is going to be one of our most important endeavors of the next several election cycles-- including elections taking place this year, in advance of the all-important 2018 midterms."

If you'd like to contribute to their efforts, you can do that here.

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Is The CBO Score A Death Sentence For The Republican Congressional Majorities?


The CBO sums up their report on the new version of TrumpCare with one sentence: "CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law." The original version would have kicked 24 million off their health insurance but it would have reduced the deficit by $150 billion. The NY Times reported that the Senate Majority Turtle (R-KY) looked at it and sniffed "I don’t know how we get to 50 at the moment... but that’s the goal."

Congressional Republicans spent the day running around quacking out their focus group-tested talking points: "The status quo under Obamacare is completely unacceptable and totally unsustainable... Prices are skyrocketing, choice is plummeting, the marketplace is collapsing and countless more Americans will get hurt if we don’t act." Snd doing all in their power to undercut, sabotage and destabilize the Affordable Care Act, regardless of how much it hurts people in need of healthcare.
Democrats say much of that instability stems from Republican efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, harshly criticized House Republicans for voting on their revised repeal measure without an updated analysis from the budget office.

“Republicans were haunted by the ghost of C.B.O. scores past, so they went ahead without one,” Mr. Schumer said. That action, he said, was reckless-- “like test-driving a brand-new car three weeks after you’ve already signed on the dotted line and paid the dealer in full.”

The House repeal bill was approved on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213, without support from any Democrats. It would eliminate tax penalties for people who go without health insurance and would roll back state-by-state expansions of Medicaid, which have provided coverage to millions of low-income people. And in place of government-subsidized insurance policies offered exclusively on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, the bill would offer tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 a year, depending on age.

A family could receive up to $14,000 a year in credits. The credits would be reduced for individuals making more than $75,000 a year and families making more than $150,000.

Senior Republican senators say they want to reconfigure the tax credits to provide more financial assistance to lower-income people and to older Americans, who could face much higher premiums under the House bill.

The House bill would roll back a number of insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans say have driven up the cost of coverage.

In the weeks leading up to passage of the House bill, Republican leaders revised it to win support from some of the most conservative members of their party.

Under the House bill, states could opt out of certain provisions of the health care law, including one that requires insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits and another that prohibits them from charging higher premiums based on a person’s health status.

Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) emphasized in a statement to his constituents that the new version is even worse than the old version. "Twenty days ago, House Republicans turned their backs on millions of Americans by passing the American Health Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office’s score released today confirms what we had known all along; dismantling our healthcare system will leave millions uninsured, roll back basic coverage, and increase premiums for the most vulnerable populations. It will send costs skyrocketing for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions in order to provide financial windfall to millionaires and billionaires... Instead of dismantling the progress that has been made to improve health care in this country, we should work together on behalf of our constituents to make common sense improvements to the ACA. We should pass a public insurance option to ensure plan prices are competitive, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices to reduce the costs of prescriptions, reduce deductibles and make premium tax credits more generous. Unfortunately, the majority is interested in nothing more than political gamesmanship, but a game that risks American lives is one that must never be played."

Progressives in Congress agreed with Grijalva and his no Progressive Caucus co-chair, Mark Pocan (D-WI), said in his own statement that "this latest CBO score confirms that Trumpcare is a terrible proposal and people will pay more for less coverage, if they can even afford it. What’s really alarming is that less healthy people, like those with a preexisting condition, could face extremely prohibitive costs for coverage and essentially be priced out of buying insurance. This means people with diabetes or a heart condition could wind up uninsured, which would be devastating for many families. On top of that out-of-pocket expenses for essential health benefits such as maternity care and prescription drugs would skyrocket. This is just a bad bill that was never intended to help people, only to give $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest in this country, insurance companies, and Big Pharma."

Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), who seems likely to run for the Nevada Senate seat held by Republican Dean Heller next year, pointed out that the CBO score reaffirms that Trumps and Ryan’s "vision for healthcare reform is completely off the mark... hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act no matter the cost, even if it means 23 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums for those nearing retirement could increase 800%, and that a 64-year-old making $26,500 would go from paying 6.4% of their income towards their insurance premiums to a whopping 60.8%. That’s indefensible and immoral! This new CBO score is further evidence of what we already knew to be true-- the American Health Care Act is a bad deal for all Americans, but especially Nevadans who have benefitted immensely from the Affordable Care Act.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the House decided to pass this bill without seeing its true cost. I hope they read this report and think long and hard about who they really serve: their leadership in Congress or their constituents back home." In fact, one last stat: In the old version of TrumpCare (pre-Meadows/MacArthur), a 64 year old worker making $26,5000 a year would have had an unbelievable premium of $14,600 per year to be covered. After Mark Meadows and Tom MacArthur worked their magic, that same worker's premium would go up to $16,100 annually. Was that what they were trying to do? Was that what Paul Ryan was trying to cover up when he rushed the House vote through without a CBO score? These people are disgusting-- and an existential threat to our families and our nation.

Goal Thermometer Matt Coffay is the candidate running in western North Carolina against the Republican who managed to make TrumpCare even worse-- by eviserating the provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions (that candidate Trump solemnly pledged to keep)-- Mark Meadows, the Freedom Caucus chair. There are few races anywhere in the country that would send an "enough is enough" signal to the GOP than seeing Coffay defeat Meadows in 2018-- and you can help him do that by tapping on the thermometer on the right. This is what Matt told NC-11 residents after the CBO score was published:
Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report on the AHCA: the disastrous bill that Mark Meadows crafted in secret with other Republican leaders, and pushed through the House several weeks ago.

CBO’s report confirms all of our worst fears. Meadows’ health care bill will kick 23 million Americans off of their health insurance. Over $800 billion will be cut from Medicaid, involving caps on Medicaid payments and termination of federal matching funds-- which we desperately need in North Carolina, a state that failed to expand Medicaid. Further, CBO determined that nationally, one in six people live in an area where private policies will be “destabilized” as states-- like North Carolina-- opt out of Essential Health Benefits, and allow insurance companies to charge more to people with pre-existing conditions. People in these areas will suffer under this law.

Western North Carolina is one of these areas.

CBO concluded that “less healthy people” will face “extremely high premiums.” And because of the rush to get this report out-- because Meadows chose to ram this bill through the House-- CBO hasn’t even had time to assess the wider reaching macroeconomic effects on the U.S. economy.

This report is clear: Mark Meadows has crafted and passed a bill that will hurt the people of this district. This bill will take away health insurance for thousands of folks in Western North Carolina. It’ll make health care unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions.

And it cuts over $800 billion from Medicaid, funding that is critical here in Western North Carolina. We’ve already seen Angel Medical Center in Franklin shut down its labor/delivery services, and Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva do away with its hospice and palliative services, because of Medicaid cuts.

How many more people have to lose access to health care before Meadows is satisfied?

Let’s put an end to this insurance company, profit-driven madness. When I’m in Congress, I will support H.R. 676: Medicare for All. It’s time for universal health care. Let’s send Meadows home, and put a progressive in his place.

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Is Tom MacArthur's Self-Financed Political Career Crumbling Before Our Eyes?


The biggest group of mainstream conservatives in the House, the Tuesday Group felt betrayed by one of its leaders, New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, who worked with radical right extremist Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus to help pass TrumpCare. Officially, on Tuesday he resigned from the Tuesday Group. But 2 Republican staffers have told me, he was pushed out of the group by angry members who feel that his TrumpCare betrayal will cost dozens of Republicans their seats in the 2018 midterms. "That bill is going to cost [Leonard] Lance and [Mike] Coffman their seats... that's what [MacArthur] accomplished. He's a pariah around here now."

Officially, the DCCC has included NJ-03 on their list of targeted districts but they haven't recruited a candidate yet and I was told that the district isn't a priority because Trump beat Hillary there 51.4% to 45.2%-- more typical backward-looking DCCC "strategy." (Obama beat Romney there 51.8% to 47.2% and beat McCain by about the same margin.) NJ-03 is a South Jersey swing district. Most of the voters live in Burlington County, primarily in the suburbs northeast of Philly, like Mount Laurel, Cinnaminson and Willingboro, although the district's biggest city is Tom's River in Ocean County on the other side of the Pine Barrens.

The DCCC has insisted on running Republican-lite candidates and the last Democratic congressman to represent the area was Blue Dog John Adler who won the seat in 2008, running as a normal Democrat-- and with a bigger archest than any other Democratic non-incumbent in the country. But he voted with the Republicans so frequently that when the 2010 midterms rolled around his 52-48% win turned into a 53-47% loss as Democratic voters refused to even bother turning out for the DCCC's idea of a candidate (not their own). And this despite Adler spending $3,285,638 to Republican Jon Runyan's $1,518,073.

In 2012 the DCCC ran Adler's widow, who lost by 10 points and 2 years later they ran another conservative-leaning Dem, Aimee Belgard, who did even worse (for what was then an open seat) against rich carpetbagger MacArthur. At that point the DCCC gave up on the district. The "Democrat" who took MacArthur on in 2016, Frederick Lavergne, billed himself as a Democrat-Republican, wasn't supported by the DCCC and reported raising only $600 and spending nothing. MacArthur spent $1,910,489.

But there's some good news on the horizon. Progressive Andy Kim, a Rhodes Scolar who worked in the Obama White House, is strongly considering running in 2018. The founder and Executive Director of RISE Stronger, a grassroots group whose mission is "to build a dynamic, strategic movement of politically engaged communities that demand a responsible and accountable government which serves the interests of the people." Their story:
In the days following the 2016 presidential election, Andy Kim, a former White House Director for Iraq at the National Security Council, gathered several hundred people to a meeting in Washington, D.C. to lay out a vision for a new wave of citizen engagement in this uncertain and tumultuous political landscape in America. That meeting launched RISE Stronger, which has since grown to become a citizen watchdog organization of nearly 30,000 members across the country who are ready to ensure elected officials and government are both responsible and accountable to the people.

In that first meeting, people said they felt paralyzed-- unable to think about how to move beyond the uncertainty, disappointment, and fear. Participants struggled to think of actions that regular citizens could take beyond voting, calling their representative, and donating money to a cause. Dissatisfied with these limited options, RISE Stronger emerged to reinvigorate what it means to be a citizen and to empower Americans across the country to find new ways to engage in the American democracy.

The goal of RISE Stronger is simple: capture the political energy of Americans, sustain it, and focus it towards action that will ensure that the government and its leaders are accountable to its citizens, transparent in their actions and policies, and guided solely by the interests and values of the American people.

Keeping grassroots activism at the heart of its work, RISE Stronger draws from a vast network of former White House and government officials and other policy experts to inform and augment the work of its members throughout the country. A network of local and state chapters, and an active online hub will serve as an incubator to new ideas and initiatives that propel forward the work of members and increase the engagement of Americans.

RISE Stronger is made up of passionate people from all walks of life who are committed to protecting and advancing freedom, equality, and justice, and ensuring a transparent, responsible and accountable government for all.
"MacArthur has become Trump's biggest supporter in New Jersey," wrote Kim, "and is the main author and lead negotiator for TrumpCare 2.0 that jeopardizes care for people with pre-existing conditions while blatantly protecting the health care plans of Congress from these changes."

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All-Electric Air Travel Is Not an Impossible Dream


A brief 2015 video report from the WSJ about the Airbus all-electric airplane, the E-Fan. Airbus is not the only company doing this. Go here for an interesting video about Pipistrel's electric plane.

by Gaius Publius

A brief follow-up to our recent piece on the coming death of Big Oil as a business (see "The Dying Fossil Fuel Industry"). One argument against the demise of Big Oil is that "there will always be a need for oil, somewhere." The most often-used examples for "somewhere" are in the global transportation industries — air travel and international shipping.

We've looked at these industries before and agreed that they do represent a problem. For example, from a 2015 piece: "Independent of the [Paris Agreement] pledges of the various nations — which are proving to be entirely inadequate to meeting even the modest goals of the U.N. — pledges by nations aren't the entire solution. In fact, the pledges by a number of nations would be entirely wiped out by the emissions of two international industries. These are international shipping and international air travel."

Take the Canadian climate pledge, for example. Canada has promised to cut its pollution by 30% below 2005 levels (a peak year) by 2030, and by 16% below the benchmark year of 1990, from 690 MtCO2e to 579 MtCO2e (megatons of CO2-equivalent emissions). Over the same period, 1990 to 2030, international aviation and international maritime emissions are expected to more than triple in a business-as-usual scenario, for a combined increase in emissions that's more than ten times the promised emissions decrease from Canada (pdf, page 42).

When most people think about how to cut global emissions to zero, that's were they get stuck, with an unsolvable problem when it comes to international travel and shipping. Those who don't get stuck there posit a world of less capitalism, less "buying for the sake of buying" — which is needed to feed the capitalists' constant need to "sell for the sake of selling." As admirable as that sounds as a goal, it also sounds impossible to achieve, at least voluntarily. Besides, less capitalism, defined as production of consumer goods, would certainly require less global shipping, but wouldn't solve the problem of global air travel.

Can these two industries, international maritime and international aviation, every be freed from the grip of fossil fuels?

All-Electric Planes Are Here Today

It turns out that all-electric airplanes are not that far from the horizon, and what works for air travel could well be adapted to shipping, given the right advances in energy storage. Consider this, from Scientific American in 2014:
"Impossible" Electric Airplane Takes Flight

The Berlin Air Show witnessed a silent, clean test flight by Airbus's E-Fan two-seater aircraft, which is entirely propelled by electricity

...The fully electric E-Fan aircraft, engineered by Airbus Group, made one of its first public demonstrations here last week following it's first-ever flight in France on March 11.

The novel two-seater aircraft was designed from the outset for electrical propulsion, from its energy management system to safety features. In developing this technology, Airbus aims to one day reduce the aerospace industry's carbon dioxide emissions by an order of magnitude.

"It's a very different way of flying," said Jean Botti, chief technical and innovation officer at Airbus Group, "absolutely no noise, no emissions."

A series of lithium-ion batteries fitted into the wings of the plane are the sole power source for the E-Fan's two 30-kilowatt electric motors. A 6 kW electric motor in the main wheel provides extra power during acceleration and taxiing to reduce electrical power consumption on the ground.
The obvious problem is range. The 2014 version described above had a one-hour range, which means it didn't stray far from the airport. The 2015 version of the same plane (see video above) performed a Channel crossing.

The plan, though, is ambitious: "Airbus will make a next-generation two-seater electric plane, set for launch in 2017, and a four-seater electric plane with a gas-powered range extender, set for launch in 2019."
These advances are steppingstones toward realizing Flight Path 2050, the European Union's aggressive goal to reduce the aviation sector's nitrous oxide emissions by 90 percent, noise pollution by 65 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent by 2050.
What's holding these projects back is the current pace of advancement in battery technology. But changes are coming faster and faster, spurred by both economic and environmental motivation. (Imagine the payoff to the inventor who develops a reliable, light-weight, quick-charge, slow-drain battery cell. Imagine how many inventors, investors, and companies are looking for it — the battery and the payoff.)

In the meantime, it's not hard to imagine the day when air travel will be freed from the need to pollute in order to operate. When that day comes, one more barrier to fossil-free living will fall.


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Election Day-- Today... In Montana


Today's the day. A quarter million people have already voted in Montana but whatever analysis of that available shows that neither side has any advantage so far in the early voting. [For comparison's sake-- even if it's an apples-to-oranges comparison-- the June 6 special election in CA-34 has had 14,820 early votes and the expected total for the entire race is between 40 and 45,000.] This is going to be close and it's totally about getting out the vote. So, if you're in Montana, or you know anyone in Montana... your country needs you today.

Rob Quist has raised over $5 million from over 200,000 donors. Gianforte raised around the same amount but from only a tenth as many people-- and includes $1.5 million from himself. In the last week, spending has gone through the roof as internal GOP polls have shown Quist having caught up with Gianforte. Helena's Independent Record reported that "Republicans are significantly outspending Democrats," meaning outside groups... GOP outside groups have ensured that Republicans have a spending advantage, though, airing more than $7 million worth of TV ads, versus about $3 million from Democrats. House Majority PAC, Democrats’ main House outside group, on Tuesday added a last-minute $125,000 TV ad buy to the race, on top of $25,000 announced last week." That's Pelosi, who's decided to spend big in GA-06 and just pretend to be helping in Montana to pacify Berniecrats, many of whom are too new to politics to understand the difference between Pelosi spending $150,000 and Ryan spending $3 million.
In the past 20 days, outside groups have spent $228,061 in support of Quist. Groups supporting Gianforte have spent $356,476. Much of that money is being spent on getting out the vote. The Progressive Turnout Project, for example, has spent $14,825 on employees to get out the vote for Quist. The Republican National Committee spent $16,939 on Gianforte phone calls May 20-21.

Turnout in rural Montana counties, where Republicans do well, has been strong with more than 70 percent of absentee ballots returned by rural voters, according to Montana’s secretary of state. Turnout through Monday had absentee ballots from rural counties comprising 30 percent of the state’s absentee vote. That’s better than the normal absentee turnout, which is 25 percent, said Craig Wilson, Montana State University Billings political science professor emeritus.

Combined, the rural county absentee vote is higher than the turnout in Missoula and Gallatin counties, Montana’s second and third largest counties for absentee ballots. Anchored by the state’s two largest universities, those are counties where Democrats need higher turnout, Wilson said.

Money spent against the candidates is more lopsided. Republican groups have spent almost four times as much targeting their opponent as Democrats have. That's $1.93 million against Quist and $442,450 against Gianforte in the past 20 days.

...The campaign committees of Quist and Gianforte have raised at least $10 million combined, while outside groups have spent more than $7.1 million thus far.

The Quist campaign announced Tuesday that it had topped $6 million in contributions, noting that it had generated about $1 million in small donations over the past five days.

That amount could not be immediately verified because it had not yet been reported to the Federal Elections Commission.

Gianforte's campaign said it has raised about $4.6 million, including a last-minute loan of $500,000 from Gianforte. He had previously lent his campaign $1 million. The combined total in direct contributions is a record haul for a Montana congressional race.

...The money flowing into the campaign from independent outside groups, which can spend unlimited amounts of money, has mostly benefited Gianforte. Groups supporting the Bozeman entrepreneur have spent more than $6.3 million, according to FEC records, including $2.4 million from the Congressional Leadership Fund.

The fund has also spent heavily to influence another special congressional election in Georgia, as have the Republican Party committees.

The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have combined for more than $3.1 million.

While Quist has gotten most of his money from individual donors, he has also benefited from independent campaign committees, such as Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was responsible for about half of the roughly $800,000 in spending on Quist's behalf.
Today, the question is whether or not the surge in grassroots Quist contributions will equate to a surge in grassroots Quist voters. Does the national enthusiasm translate to Montana voter enthusiasm? Are Trump and Ryan as toxic for Republicans in Montana as they are in other places? After the two big wins for Democrats in very Republican legislative districts in New Hampshire and Long Island Tuesday, Republicans are freaking out today about Montana. Gianforte complained to his supporters that "This race is closer than it should be." Elena Schneider, writing for Politico yesterday reported "recurring nightmare of a pattern for Republicans around the country, as traditional GOP strongholds prove more difficult and expensive for the party to hold than it ever anticipated when President Donald Trump plucked House members like Ryan Zinke, the former Montana Republican now running the Interior Department, for his Cabinet. Gianforte is still favored to keep the seat red, but a state Trump carried by 20 percentage points last year became a battleground in the past few months."
Republicans have called on Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. to calm their nerves about turnout and prevent Democrats from having the only energized voting bloc in the special election. Both have rallied voters with Gianforte, and Pence recorded a get-out-the-vote robocall. Gianforte, who said little about Donald Trump when Gianforte ran for governor and lost in 2016, has cast himself as a willing and eager partner of the president this time around.

On Tuesday, surrounded by Trump stickers-- and some Trump hat-wearing supporters-- Gianforte said he was eager "to work with Donald Trump to drain the swamp and make America great again," invoking two of the president's campaign slogans. Pence's robocall may give another boost to Republican turnout efforts.

But the environment has changed since Trump’s presidential win last fall. One senior Republican strategist warned that, based on the party’s performance in special elections so far, if Republicans “cannot come up with better candidates and better campaigns, this cycle is going to be even worse than anybody ever thought it could be.”

“The fact that we're talking about Montana-- a super red seat-- is amazing,” said John Lapp, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 cycle. “It's also amazing how much money Republicans have to pour into these seats to defend them. It's still a steep climb in Montana, but we know that the reaction there means that there's a tremendous amount of Democratic energy across the country, a tremendous amount of fundraising that will then feed into races that are much fairer fights."

Democrats hope the passage of House Republicans’ health care bill just three weeks before the election will put the wind at Quist’s back. It has been the subject of Quist’s closing TV ads, and he has called the plan “devastating” to Montana.
It's been called devastating for Montana because it is-- more so than almost any state that voted for Trump. Because the state expanded Medicaid, 9.3% of Montanans stand to lose their health insurance if TrumpCare becomes law-- 96,317 people, a very significantly higher percentage than Texas' 3.0%, Georgia's 3.4%, Kansas' 2.3%, Alabama's 2.6%, Idaho's 4.4%, Tennessee's 2.4%, Oklahoma's 2.5% or Mississippi's 2.2%. That should help boost turnout today. As will the fact that even "Republicans acknowledge that Gianforte has flaws Democrats exploited mercilessly in last year’s gubernatorial race, likely cementing negative feelings about him from some voters. Gianforte is dogged by reports that he sued Montana to block access to a stream in front of his ranch, kicking up a public lands dispute that hits home with Montana voters and has “probably followed him into this House race,” said Jeff Essman, the state’s GOP party chairman."

Last night, over-entitled, right-wing crackpot Greg Gianforte went completely insane and beat up a reporter. No wonder both Montana and national Republicans think Gianforte is the worst possible candidate they could have been saddled with today. Listen below. Despite the witnesses and the audio, Gianforte made up a whole lie about how the reporter attacked him because... "liberal journalist." The Fox News reporters in the room had something to say about that.
The race to fill Montana's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives took a violent turn Wednesday, and a crew from the Fox News Channel, including myself, witnessed it firsthand.

...Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of "I'm sick and tired of this!"

...To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies.

As for myself and my crew, we are cooperating with local authorities. It is not clear if charges will be filed against Gianforte at this time.

Overnight, Montana's three most influential newspapers-- the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian and the Helena Independent Record-- withdrew their endorsements of Gianforte... and he was charged with misdemeanor assault. Voters are waking up to that today! And this:


Montana has same day voter registration. People waking up are seeing some incredible news about the Republican dirt-bag-- who has strong ties to neo-Nazi organizations-- who they are being asked to vote for today. From last night's Missoulian:
Greg Gianforte should not represent Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican candidate for Congress not only lost the endorsement of this newspaper Wednesday night when, according to witnesses, he put his hands around the throat of a reporter asking him about his health care stance, threw him to the ground and punched him-- he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.

...The Gallatin County sheriff’s office found probable cause to cite Gianforte for misdemeanor assault Wednesday night. We will leave it to the legal system to determine his guilt or innocence.

But there is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office.

And in case critics say this is just fake news from the liberal media, let us repeat one fact again: The eyewitness account of Gianforte’s actions came from a Fox News reporter.

We hope our fellow Montanans who haven’t already cast their ballots will say loud and clear at the polls Thursday that Greg Gianforte is not the man we want representing us in Washington. He does not represent Montana values and he should not represent us in Congress.

We’re putting our trust in your good sense.

The whole country is.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump Ready To Get His Revenge Against Iowans


On February 1, 2016, the day of the Iowa caucuses, Trump was still just a joke. He was sputtering that Iowa Republicans had brain damage from too much fertilizer after polls started showing him losing to Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. On the day of the caucuses Cruz won-- with 51,666 (27.6%). Trump came in second with 45,429 votes (24.3%), much closer to Rubio's 43,228 (23.1%) than to Cruz. Trump, who did beat Carson-- currently his Secretary of Housing-- was still basically a stand-up comic back then:

Though Obama won Iowa both times he ran-- 54-44% against McCain and 52-46% against Romney-- Hillary couldn't have been a worse fit for the state. She lost the state's 6 e;sectoral votes by almost 10 points-- 800,983 (51.1%) for Trumpanzee to 653,669 (41.9). Trump has still never apologized to the state's rural voters for repeatedly accusing them of being stupid and brain-damaged. And his new budget is particularly devastating for Iowans.

Forget for a moment how TrumpCare will be catastrophic for a state that has already utterly sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. And lets not think about what the draconian cuts in food stamps will do to Iowa's farmers. The Trump budget, if ever enacted, will completely eliminate 66 federal programs, several of which are vital for Iowa's economy and well-being. For starters Mulvaney has slashed the Agriculture Department mercilessly and completely eliminated nearly a billion dollars by ending 4 programs that benefit Iowans: the Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, the Single Family Housing Direct Loans, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education. Other programs being eliminated include the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, the Labor Department's Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Training and their Senior Community Service Employment Program, Health and Human Service's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program-- for those cold Iowa winters-- even Homeland Security's Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program. Also the over $4 billion cut from the State Department's aid programs will be disatrous for farmers, since much of that aid is in the form of surplus agricultural products that will otherwise flood domestic markets driving down prices. Trump manages to save $43 million by shutting down the Treasury Department's Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

And, as you've probably read, some of ind independent agency's Trump and Mulvaney are targeting for elimination especially serve rural communities, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Even as much a knee-jerk Trump supporter as Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is, even he admits he's concerned about some of the Trump cuts that target farmers and rural communities. Iowa Public Radio reported that Grassely is bitching that, although he doesn't especially care about Trump and Mulvaney further squeezing the food stamps program, "reducing crop insurance subsidies would leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for farm damages from natural disasters... Isn’t it better to have the farmers pay part of it and the taxpayers pay part of it instead of the taxpayers paying 100 percent, like they do for other natural disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes?"

Dave Loebsack, the only Democrat left in Iowa's delegation to Washington said "this budget is a direct attack on Iowa’s hardworking families, rural communities and small businesses, all while giving more and more to those who are wealthy and well." Although all of Iowa's Trump puppets in DC have taken an uncomfortably supportive posture towards the budget, other Republicans around the country are denouncing it. Nevada Republican Dean Heller is already using it as a piñata in his reelection campaign. "From slashing funding for important public lands programs to its renewed effort to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the President’s budget request contains several anti-Nevada provisions." That's strong stuff. John Cornyn, the Senate's #2 Republican pronounced it "DOA-- dead on arrival." By the end of the week, expect frightened Republicans in Iowa-- Rod Blum and David Young-- to start cautiously backing away, especially once local polling shows how unpopular Trump's proposals are.

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Which GOP Garbage Will Be Swept Away In The Great Wave?


The wave that's forming up now could well be an anti-Trump/anti-Ryan tsunami by 2018. When Republicans say there are 18 months and a lot can change they are sweating under their suit jackets because they know the intensity of voters' reaction against the Republican agenda is intensifying, not dissipating. It won't just be Republicans in the blue districts that the DCCC has botched who get decimated but Republicans in districts who represent districts with R+4 and R+5 PVIs, seats that are normally considered "safe." I was struck by a conversation between Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Chris Hayes Tuesday night. Merkley, who makes a point of visiting every county in his state, including the blood red ones where he's lost massively-- like Wallowa (34.4%), Lake (30.9%), Grant (32.8%), Malheur (27.6%), Linn (42.5%) and Klamath (36.3%). Merkley recalled that in the past he has been booed and heckled in some of these rural counties where people get their information from Hate Talk Radio and Fox. This year, he said, he's walking into town halls and getting standing ovations. "They are looking for champions to stop this craziness, this destructive set of strategies that trump is putting forward." Watch the last couple of minutes of the video above.

While Hayes and Merkley were chatting on MSNBC results were starting to come in from special election to fill red legislative seats in New Hampshire and on Long Island-- results that help explain why it isn't just Republicans like Carlos Curbelo (FL), John Katko (NY) and Erik Paulsen (MN) in districts Hillary won, but also Republicans like Steve Chabot (OH), Mark Amodei (NV), Steve King (IA), Tom Reed (NY) and Paul Ryan (WI), who the DCCC traditionally declares too red to contest, who are in trouble.

Both the legislative districts last night were won by Romney and Trump. The Long Island district-- right in the heart of Peter King's congressional district (Massapequa, West Babylon, Babylon Village, West Islip and West Bay Shore)-- had gone to Trump with a massive 23 point margin over Hillary! Last night, progressive activist, Berniecrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Conservative sociopath Tom Gargiulo 5,590 (57.89%) to 4,049 (41.93%). In a victory statement Pellegrino made it clear she isn't just another garden variety Democratic hack politician. "This is a thunderbolt of resistance," she said. "This is for all the supporters and voters who understand a strong progressive agenda is the way forward in New York." She had been a Bernie delegate to the Democratic National Convention last year.

In New Hampshire, GOP state Rep. Harold Parker had resigned to join the Sununu administration, triggering the special election in Wolfeboro (Carroll County). Democrat Edith DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache 811 (52%) to 755 (48%), the first time a Democrat had ever won the seat.

Every time Ryan and Trump do something to further undermine working families, the enthusiasm to defeat Republicans ticks up, even in "safe" Republican districts like these two. Once again, the DCCC has adamantly refused to target Steve Israel-crony Peter King. But there is no doubt there will be a grassroots candidate running against him in 2018, with or without assistance from Pelosi and her clueless DC Democrats.

The most important lesson to remember from last night is that these candidates do NOT fit the DCCC candidate profile which results in the recruitment of loser candidates who are wealthy self-funders and Republican-lite conservatives. This morning DNC chair Tom Perez may have been happy but he wasn't particularly inspiring in his remarks: "To rebuild the Democratic party, we need to win from the school board to the Senate. No seat is too small, and to be competitive we have to get back to the basics of grassroots organizing as a party. Last night, two Democratic women won upset victories in down-ballot races where Trump won by a large margin, and held on to a key Democratic seat in New York. They did it by talking to every voter. As President Trump and Republicans across the nation push budgets and policies that help the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of America, Democrats are focused on lifting people up and on the issues that matter to working families. As we saw last night, the Democratic Party continues to turn this moment into a movement and this movement into votes." He should have let Keith make the statement.

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Why Are The Imbeciles At The DCCC Boycotting Wisconsin This Cycle?


There are 16 House Democrats with perfect scores from ProgressivePunch for the current session-- a score of 100. One, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is a freshman, which means her lifetime crucial vote score is also 100. The other freshmen with eye-popping great scores are Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA). ProgressivePunch is a very imperfect tool but where it fails in precision, it excels in relative direction, especially over long periods of time. My gut tells me that Pramila at 5 months in will still be a super-progressive champion at 5 years in. Meanwhile, though, the non-freshman-- so people with a longer and more complicated voting record-- with the best voting record in the House is Mark Pocan from Madison, Wisconsin. Pocan has a 98.99 crucial vote score, almost unbelievable for someone elected to Congress in 2012.

And the voters back home in Wisconsin know it. In November, Mark out-performed Hillary in his blue collar Midwest district, scoring 69% of the vote against his Republican opponent. Yesterday Mark was elected co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, taking over for Keith Ellison who is now Deputy Chairman of the DNC. Pocan is one of the Democrats in Congress insistent on the Democrats presenting a positive agenda ago voters, not just a list of complaints about Trump and Putin. He bridges the gap nicely-- something his colleagues should try to incorporate into their own presentations: "With the Trump Administration attacking both the values we hold dear and the programs which provide vital services to people across the country, it is my goal to help make the Congressional Progressive Caucus the voice of the resistance. All we need to do is take a look at the devastating cuts proposed in the budget President Trump released today to see the clear distinction between progressives and this Administration and Congress. I am proud to help lead the charge in Congress for progressive ideas that lay the foundation for our resistance in this era of Trump. The CPC will fight the fights against bad policies and offer positive alternatives which demonstrate progressives have a pulse on the will of the people and a plan forward.

"As a lifelong progressive, I will continue to fight for the kitchen table issues we all care about and put forward pragmatic, progressive policies to combat Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s radical agenda," he emphasized. "House Republicans think they can get away with passing a health care bill that will cause 24 million Americans to lose coverage, but the CPC will work with outside groups to ensure people understand what Congress is doing. We know progressives have a winning message across the country and in America’s heartland. I hope to help the Congressional Progressive Congress make sure the voices of the American people are heard in the halls of Congress."

As we mentioned yesterday, the DCCC announced their expanded list of target districts for the 2018 midterms. Not a single one was in the great progressive bastion Wisconsin has been and will be again, despite the fact that several of the congressional districts are true swing districts and that one, in particular, WI-01, is occupied by the most obvious target in the whole Congress: Paul Ryan. These are all Wisconsin districts Obama won and have been abandoned by a DCCC incapable of thinking beyond the newest shiniest object (red suburban districts Trump managed to lose in Texas and Orange County, CA). The percentage was Obama's winning number against McCain.
WI-01 (Ryan)- 51%
WI-06 (Glenn Grothman)- 49%
WI-07 (Sean Duff)- 53%
WI-08 (Mike Gallagher)- 54%
Maybe worth the effort? Especially in a year when Tammy Baldwin will be at the top of the ticket asking voters to send her back to the Senate.

Virtually all of the Democratic campaign managers operating independently of the DCCC web of corruption have uniformly negative opinions of the DCCC and their capacity to win races. Rahm was seen as pure evil but Chris Van Hollen, Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan are sad-sad laughing stocks who have eviscerate the Democratic Party and crapped on its brand. We asked one of the most respected and coveted of those managers what he thinks of the DCCC boycott of Wisconsin. I swear I could sense steam coming out of his ears as he exploded into a stream of vituperatives. When he calmed down he said that "Given the blue collar nature and partisan make up of Wisconsin 1, there is not a more winnable seat for a Democrat in Wisconsin currently held by a Republican (not to mention the fact that having Paul Ryan as the incumbent most likely means more grassroots money than is necessary to win). Not only is Wisconsin 1 winnable, it is a seat that is necessary to win in order to gain real momentum heading into 2020's battle for the presidency. The Democratic Party can go all over the country looking for GOP-held seats in suburban America, but the fact is that if we don't start winning the blue collar worker back, any presidential math will be difficult. Sweeping Orange County congressional seats would be nice, but let's face it, California is a Democratic stronghold on the electoral map. But if we can show that hard working men and women in good union jobs can articulate strong Democratic values in areas like southeast Wisconsin, Donald Trump (or incoming president Pence) should probably give up and head back to their local Klan meeting or Billy Graham circus spectacular." He gets a little carried away.

We asked one of the smartest Wisconsin politicians we know, state Senator Chris Larson, what he thinks of how the DCCC has left his state out of their plans this cycle. He told us that "Wisconsin was a leading state in the progressive movement and we will be a part of the resurgence. Folks thinking of writing off Wisconsin should spend some time on the ground here first. They'd discover what we all know: there are amazing people getting ready to run on a progressive vision and there's a grassroots army ready to to get behind them."

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Florida Democratic Party Continues To Aim Low, Enabling GOP Dominance


Looking at the cluelessness, the incompetence (and, yes, the corruption) of the DCCC, we often worry if they will, once again, wreck the chances of Democrats to take back the House. Between Trump's unpopularity and Ryan's draconian anti-working family agenda, it should be hard for Republicans to hold onto their House majority in 2018. But if there's anything that will make it possible for them, it's Pelosi's ever-putrid DCCC.

Here in California, where Ted lieu was elected DCCC regional vice chair, recruitment and candidate support are actually working the way they should. No matter how unlikely to win a candidate is, when I call them I'm finding Lieu or his chief of staff, Marc Cevasco, have already touched bases and been generously sharing advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, I'm not finding anything like that in any of the other regions. I've yet to find a candidate in the South, the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain states (and Texas) or the Northeast who have even heard that Don McEachin, Betty McCollum, Jared Polis or Joe Kennedy are regional vice chairs. I'm not sure what they're waiting for-- or why they bothered running for the positions. Sad. Tiny Update: When I was complaining to one of the top party leaders in the House about this yesterday, this is what I was told by e-mail: "Confidently [I think they meant confidentially]-- those new DCCC titles were a part of when Nancy was challenged by Tim Ryan, and they were handing out titles. Not sure if they actually do anything..." True dat! (Except Ted Lieu, one of the real heroes in a House that needs more heroic figures.)

Yesterday, the new chairman of the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, asked me to be part of his circle of advisors. My first advice to him was to work with Ted Lieu to make sure California is no longer at the mercy of the vision-free imbeciles Rahm Emanuel puked up to run the DC Dems. I hope I can get him to understand what I'm talking about before the midterms.

This week, Jerry Iannelli, writing for Miami's New Times, showed why the problems Democrats have go beyond the clueless lunkheads at the DCCC and have permeated into the state parties as well. "There is truly no defeat the Florida Democratic Party will avoid snatching from the hands of victory," he wrote. "Donald Trump has turned the Republican Party radioactive. His polling numbers are plummeting right alongside the GOP as a whole. And the nation is seeing a groundswell of progressive activism at levels not witnessed since the 1960s.

So how does the new, incoming brass running the Florida Democratic Party respond? By telling constituents that 'issues' don't matter and that it's not the party's job to focus on policies that will actually help anyone, like single-payer health care." Ah... yes, welcome to the party of Debbie Wasserman Schultz!
Last night, the party's new second-in-command, Sally Boynton Brown, spoke in front of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County. And throughout the exchange, she steadfastly refused to commit to changing the party's economic or health-care messaging in any concrete way.

"This is not going to be popular, but this is my belief of the time and place we're in now: I believe that we're in a place where it's very hard to get voters excited about 'issues,' the type of voters that are not voting," Brown said.

Brown, the former executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, was hired last month to take over for the outgoing executive director, Scott Arceneaux. Last night was her first encounter with local progressives, who are already disgruntled after [Wasserman Schultz puppet] Stephen Bittel-- a billionaire real-estate developer, gas station franchiser, environmental dredging company executive, and major political donor-- was elected to serve as party chair earlier this year. Many progressives accused him of buying his way into the job via campaign donations.

And Brown's speech perfectly illustrates why the Florida Democratic Party (and the party in general) can't seem to get out of its own way and actually win elections.

How important is it for candidates to concentrate on "issues" like health care or economic equality, one audience member asked. Her answer? Not very. She said candidates moving forward should focus on "identity messages" instead, which she didn't actually define.

In a follow-up question, she also warned party members not to get too excited about turning districts from Republican to Democrat and said the best we ought to hope for is that Florida becomes more "purple." (She also said she was proud about not supporting either candidate in the 2016 Democratic primary, which is an odd sort of thing to boast about as a Democratic Party leader.)

Later in the meeting, she then said that people who are struggling to make ends meet-- and often decline to vote because they say it doesn't matter-- do not vote based on "issues" they care about and instead vote because they are "emotional beings." She added that people apparently skip voting because they've somehow forgotten about the "power of democracy," whatever that means.

She also said that taking money from large corporations such as Florida Power & Light could somehow be a good thing-- and that the "relationship" created when gigantic corporations give thousands of dollars to political candidates can somehow make it easier for politicians to push back against corporations when they are "raping our country."

"It's not so much about the money controlling the conversation; it's about the people controlling the conversation," she said. "And right now, unfortunately, we live in a system where you have to have money to work the system."

(That system seems to be working pretty well in Florida as it is.)

Brown then attempted to explain what she believes the party's strategy ought to be instead. She contradicted herself multiple times and wasted a lot of air deflecting the fact that she wouldn't commit to forcing candidates to pushing for progressive changes that could help people-- and perhaps excite them to get to the polls. Here's her nonsensical answer in full:
"At the end of the day, what really matters, is what our candidates decide to do. So, two things to that. One, I believe that the FDP needs to have an overarching 'identity message' that we are making sure that we are driving out to everybody. And, in that identity message, we identify key issues, health care definitely being one of them, and then we educate our candidates to be able to go talk about those with the best of their ability. So, I believe that the way that we have those conversations needs to be drastically different than the way it has been. As Democrats, I think we continue to try and connect with voters' heads around 'issues,' and 'facts,' and 'truth,' when we are now in an era of emotional politics, where people are scared, and we have to figure out how to connect with their hearts. And I think we have a lot of experimentation to do on how that happens. And I am not prepared to try and say 'issues' don't do that. Because I know there's a lot of people who think differently. What I would like to do is test different 'scripts' that really talk about that, and what I know is that health care and having accessible health care for all is one of the number-one issues that we have."
Brown was right, in that her viewpoint didn't get anyone excited. After she finished her answer, the man who asked the question literally walked right out of the room as she was answering the next question.

The answer was so confusing that at roughly 35 minutes into the clip, an elderly black woman asked Brown to clarify her point. She brought up the fact that poor people of color don't get motivated to vote for Democrats because both major parties haven't done much to help those communities prosper in decades.

"You're not touching their issues," she said to Brown. "The platform has to come from issues. Can you explain that to me so I can get unstuck?"

Brown then explained that, as a person in charge of party "staffing," she's not in charge of what policies her candidates push. And then she contradicted herself a split-second later by admitting it's her job to "elect Democrats."

"My job is to elect the Democrats who go do the governance and then go figure out the policies and issues," she responded.

And then yet another audience member chided her for her answer.

"You sort of hinted when you first answered that you felt that what got people out to vote wasn't really issue-oriented," the man said. "The evidence is that that's not really true at all. Voter participation tends to crash, but when somebody tends to bring out issues, that's when [people] come out. We saw that with Bernie Sanders. And so I think you have a contradiction there."

At this point, Brown argued that poor people are simultaneously struggling to make ends meet but also don't vote based on what policies will benefit them.
"I believe that what we saw with Bernie was a phenomenon that did not just have to do with issues he was talking about. I believe it was much more than that. Trump had a similar phenomenon. And frankly from Justin Trudeau all the way to the future around the globe, we have seen similar phenomenons. The issues have not been the same everywhere. So, I believe that people are emotionally reacting to the emotion. I believe, and again I don't have the data to back this up, but is that Bernie found a core group of people who were excited about 'issues,' and their passion, and enthusiasm, and energy created an emotion that more people reacted to. That's what I saw from an outside perspective."
She added that "they are emotional beings who are struggling to make a living, and they need to know that somebody's going to be on their side and be able to help them."

"They're struggling to make a living over issues," the audience member responded. "Those are economics."

"I'm not going to get into the hard-head debate," she said. "I'm just sharing my perspective and that we absolutely will do data testing to see which scripts work best [and then share that with our candidates]." (So now Brown's job does include deciding policy? What?)

It's worth noting that Hillary Clinton's campaign relied on data testing to an almost extreme degree in 2016 and lost catastrophically after much of that data turned out to be wrong.

Let's pause for a second: Who is not an "issues person"? Politics is entirely about issues. The basic reason you vote for anyone is because you want that person to accomplish things that make your life better. Who are these "emotional beings" that get excited about candidates but don't care about policy?

The rest of the meeting didn't inspire much more confidence. Brown was also asked about the party's plan to convert formerly red states or counties to blue ones-- and her response was that she had spent the past six years working to instead turn Idaho "purple," and that's the best we ought to hope for in Florida (which voted twice for Obama).
I think they need Sally Boynton Brown back in Idaho-- and pronto! Perhaps she could do Florida Democrats one real, honest-to-goodness favor on the way out-- by taking Stephen Bittel and Wasserman Schultz with her. And just in case that doesn't happen for some reason... please consider helping Tim Canova remove Wasserman Schultz from her poisonous perch when he battles her again for the Broward/Miami-Dade congressional seat in the 2018 midterms. (Always remember, not all the villains are Republicans.)

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Will Montana And Georgia Special Election Voters Help Stop Trump? Lookin' Good


A new poll of GA-06 voters is a dire warning to congressional Republicans. Paul Ryan's SuperPAC has put more money into the campaign on behalf of Karen Handel than any outside group has ever spent on any congressional race in history. And those millions and millions of dollars appear to have been wasted as Jon Ossoff has pulled ahead:
Jon Ossoff- 51%
Karen Handel- 44%
At the same time, tomorrow's at-large race in Montana is looking so close that no one can call it-- again, after massive expenditure from Ryan and the GOP on behalf of billionaire self-funder Greg Gianforte.

In his NY Times column yesterday, David Leonhardt emphasized that "while the rest of the country has been transfixed by Trumpian chaos, members of the Senate have spent the last two weeks talking about taking health insurance from millions of Americans... The effort to take health insurance from the middle class and poor and funnel the savings into tax cuts for the rich is a little like mold. It grows best in the dark. That’s why Republican leaders in the House handled their bill as they did. They did not hold a single hearing, because they knew that attention would have been devastating."

But the Republican posture towards healthcare-- which has largely driven the polling numbers up for Ossoff in Georgia and for Quist in Montana-- will now be reinforced by the Republican posture towards Social Security. As the NY Times explained, the $4.1 trillion budget Señor Trumpanzee proposed "cuts deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities." The Republicans are trying to redefine "Social Security" to leave out of the definition the parts they want to cut-- aid to people with disabilities.

Yesterday, Chuck Todd hammered Trump on the broken promise to protect Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare from his fellow Republicans whose grasp on power makes them think they have a mandate to destroy all three. Mantra-like, Trump always claimed during his campaign that he wouldn't allow that to happen. "Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it," he said. "[T]wo subjects-- seizing on immigration/race and protecting entitlements-- eventually made him the first Republican since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania and Michigan, and the first since 1984 to win Wisconsin. So it's striking that President Trump's first budget cuts Medicaid and a part of Social Security, arguably hurting many of the voters who helped him win in 2016." Will Montana and Georgia special election voters take it out on Gianforte and Handel? They should-- and more important, midterm voters should decimate the GOP ranks in Congress next year. The Regime "proposes reducing spending on Medicaid programs by more than $600 billion over the next decade, a massive cut that appears to go on top of $839 billion in Medicaid cuts included in the House bill... [Señor Trumpanzee] opposed cuts to Social Security during the campaign, but the new budget would make cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance, which covered over 10 million recipients as of December 2015. It would save about $72 billion through changes to disability programs over the next ten years. Asked about the discrepancy, Mulvaney suggested that the president intended his promises to apply only to retirement benefits. 'If you ask 990 people out of a thousand, they'd tell you Social Security disability is not part of Social Security,' Mulvaney said."
[W]hat's extraordinary about this Trump budget-- released just six months after his presidential victory-- is how it undercuts a central campaign promise... [I]t more reflects Mulvaney's values as a former House Freedom Caucus member than what Trump campaigned on in 2016. "This is, I think, the first time in a long time the administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people paying the taxes," Mulvaney told reporters yesterday, per Sarlin. That sounds a lot more like Ayn Rand and the Tea Party than Trump and Steve Bannon, no?

...The National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican National Committee and the Paul Ryan-affiliated super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund have already spent more than $15.5 million combined on a trio of unexpectedly competitive races in deep red congressional districts, according to independent expenditure and disbursement reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. More: "[N]ational Democratic groups have spent only a fraction of what their Republican counterparts have pumped into competitive races so far. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DNC and the House Majority PAC have spent about $4.2 million combined on the three special elections in Georgia, Kansas and Montana, according to FEC reports and statements from the organizations."
And who gets hit the hardest by this budget? Trump's own base. According to Politico, "Rather than breaking with Washington precedent, Trump’s spending blueprint follows established conservative orthodoxy, cutting taxes on the wealthy, boosting defense spending and taking a hatchet to programs for the poor and disabled-- potentially hurting many of the rural and low-income Americans that voted him into office."
The budget proposal underscores the wide gulf between campaigning and governing, even for a president who promised to rewrite the presidential rule book.

The president’s budget plan calls for more than $1 trillion in cuts to a wide range of social programs with millions of beneficiaries, from farm subsidies to federal student aid. That includes a $600 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years, despite Trump’s repeated promises on the campaign trail not to cut the program. The budget also takes an ax to the federal food stamp program and Social Security Disability Insurance.

Trump also proposes some of the deepest cuts to agriculture subsidies since Ronald Reagan, squeezing out nearly $50 billion over 10 years.

Trump’s budget would drastically cut domestic programs controlled by Congress, slashing $1.7 trillion over 10 years. At the end of the decade, the U.S. would spend nearly twice as much on defense as on other domestic programs. Domestic discretionary spending would be capped at $429 billion per year, below 2004 levels, while military spending soars to $722 billion.

...Trump’s budget would tighten the belt on programs for low-income families ranging from cash assistance to the child tax credit. Nearly $200 billion in cuts will come directly from the federal food stamp program, which helps feed 44 million people each year.

Trump would also slash $72 billion by tightening the rules for programs for people with disabilities-- programs that Trump’s advisers have described as riddled with fraud and abuse. A federal watchdog, however, found last year that 17 anti-fraud programs already exist.

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Vice Ranking member of the House Budget Committee, responded to the release of Trump's budget in way that doesn't augur well for House Republicans headed into the 2018 midterms. "There is only one way to describe the Trump budget-- cruel. It pulls the rug out from under people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Simply put this is a $54 billion assault on Americans living on the brink. This budget proposal continues the trend of transferring taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of our nation’s working families. It attacks women’s health care by defunding Planned Parenthood, destroys Medicaid, cuts funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and guts nutrition assistance programs that help families put food on their tables. This budget continues down the path of tearing apart families by proposing funding for a billion dollar border wall, and it neglects the health and safety of everyone by making a 31 percent cut to EPA funds that keep our air and water clean. A budget is a statement of our values. My values and the values of the people of Washington’s 7th District could not be more different from those expressed in this proposal. I believe our budget should invest in jobs and opportunities for working families who are desperately in need of support. This budget, in total contradiction to the populist platform that the President campaigned on, does exactly the opposite. It guts investments in working people to give tax cuts to the wealthy. That's just wrong. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I am determined to fight against this budget and protect our communities from harm."

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