Monday, March 27, 2017

Impact of Healthcare Bill Failure

Passing bills is harder than opposing them. It’s easy for a congressman to find something they don’t like in a bill. Congressmen will get a lot more constituent opposition when they vote yes than when they vote no. Republicans are finding it hard to govern on the big stuff.

I don’t know if the GOP caucus is more ideologically diverse than the Democratic one, but Democrats have more of a tendency to fall in line behind leadership than Republicans do. I think it comes back to Democrats believing in collectivism and Republicans individualism. Republicans elect people who got things done themselves. Democrats elect people who worked as part of a group.

Not passing the healthcare bill might’ve been the best thing to happen to the GOP. Sure, they’ll take a hit for not getting things done but that’s better than passing a bad bill. I'm not going to judge whether the Republican healthcare bill would be good or bad for America. That won't be important for the 2018 election. What will be is how the voters perceive the bill. Quinnipiac showed 17% in favor and 56% opposed. The Democratic healthcare bill wasn't that unpopular and that killed them at the polls in 2010.

Democrats didn't do that well in 2012 when people knew what was in the bill and did even worse in 2014 when people actually saw it implemented. The lesson should be that a major health insurance overhaul is more likely to go badly than go well. And the Republican plan take an entitlement away from some people. You can win by not giving an entitlement but you can't when you take one away. Republicans need to accept that Obamacare is here and any alternative would be replacing Obamacare. Democrats had the advantage of replacing nothing and that went bad for them. The best Republicans can do is change Obamacare using Republican ideas that'd make the law actually work. That'd be unpopular with the GOP base, but if the law is perceived as positive then people outside their base might like it.

There's a lesson here for Republicans and it's not one they want to hear. It extends to tax reform. Republicans believe in smaller government and you get there by lowering taxes. But here's the thing. The people paying most of the Federal income taxes are rich. The top 1% pays 46% of all Federal income taxes and the top 20% pay 85%. The top 1% "only" earn 17% of all income. So they pay a disproportionate share of income taxes. If Republicans lower income taxes the people who pay them, the top 20%, would get the benefit. You can't cut taxes for people who don't pay them.

And cutting taxes for the rich is unpopular. If you're cutting taxes for 20% of people the other 80% are going to be unhappy and the 80% will always have more votes than the 20%. Doing anything that helps wealthier people is going to make Republicans look bad and they'll suffer at the polls. And really rich people aren't complaining too much. At least publicly. This is heresy to some Republicans. They believe that cutting taxes is always a good idea. Republicans don't need to raise taxes. They can cut taxes but they better be able to sell that they aren't just cutting taxes for the rich.

Democrats are in the minority in congress because they didn't adapt their ideology to what the voter wanted. If Republicans fail to do that, they'll suffer in 2018.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Predicts Doom if AHCA Doesn't Pass

I'm trying to understand Donald Trump's thought behind this statement. Is Trump threatening them with primary challenges? It's beyond imaginable if the President is threatening members of his own party with primary challenges if they don't support him. But Trump is Trump. The problem is that the idea is ill conceived. Donald Trump has no organization with candidates, money, and volunteers. I can't imagine Trump finding good candidates and then setting up an organization to beat Republicans.

Is he telling them that America will blame them for blowing something so great they'll elect Democrats? While that seems more plausible than a President threatening people in his own party it isn't clearly thought out. Even if not passing this bill would lead to a Democratic wave, Democrats aren't taking more than 40-50 seats in a landslide. That's not many of them since there are 241 Republican seats. And there really aren't that many vulnerable Republicans.

Most likely there isn't thought behind it. Trump believes the bill is great because he backs it and most people in America love him. So anyone who doesn't support him will lose because America will hate them.


I guess this answers the question. Trump probably doesn’t even know if there are 10 Democratic senators up for re-election, let alone which ones. He doesn't know if Republicans could beat 10 Democrats. He just knows that whatever he’s for is great and America will reward them if they support it. It is conceivable Republicans could win those 10 seats because Democrats have so many senators up in swing seats but it's unlikely that could happen.

Voters don't usually reward a party for passing a couple of bills. Voters imagine they'll pass a perfect bill and are usually disappointed by the bills' failures. And those are the supporters. Opponents are really energized by a bill passing.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Could Jimmy Gomez Miss the CA-34 Run-Off?

When Xavier Becerra resigned his congressional seat it appeared that stars aligned for assemblyman Jimmy Gomez to take it. L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo decided not to run and endorsed Gomez. Gomez got endorsements from politicians,, labor unions, and Planned Parenthood. Take it home. We're done.

Not so fast. Special elections are low turn out races, typically attracting 10%-20% of registered voters. The smaller the electorate the easier it is for candidates to rally a small amount of voters to the polls. We have VBM returns for the race. Only about 2% of registered voters have voted. Since even in a poor turnout special election 10% will turn out, this is only somewhere between 10 and 20% of the voters.

The District is 58% Democratic and 9% Republican but the VBMs are 58% Democratic and 14% Republican so far. Since this is the only election on the ballot, they are turning out to vote in this election. There is only one Republican on the ballot, while there are 19 Democrats. If William Morrison gets 15% of the vote he should be one of the candidates to go to the two person run-off.

Registered voters are 49% Latino/16% Asian but VBMs are 36% Asian/26% Latino. I don’t know the ethnicity of everyone on the ballot but it looks like 15 Latinos, 5 Whites, 1 African-American, and 2 Asians. The two Asians are Robert Lee Ahn and Steven Mac make the run off. Mac is a county prosecutor. If the Asian voters are voting for the Asian candidates one should easily get at least 15%.

Does Jimmy Gomez get the rest? Not so fast. Bernie Sanders won the district and three candidates are claiming to be cut from the Sanders cloth, including Arturo Carmona, Sanders’ deputy political director during the presidential campaign. Actor Danny Glover is endorsing him. The LA Times predicts Gomez will make the run off. I’m not ready to predict he won’t but I see the possibility that he won’t. If that happens it'll be a huge upset.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Democrats Challenging Southern California Republicans

Democrats have had the good fortune to pick up Republican congressional seats in San Diego, Palm Springs, Riverside, and Ventura county, places they haven't traditionally challenged the GOP. Now they're trying to pick up the next tier of Republican seats in Orange County. Like those, Democrats have no real bench of legislators or local politicians to rely on. They've usually not even bothered to recruit, leaving the races to anyone who can get their name on the ballot.

These some dude Democrats have never been able to raise money. A case in point is Doug Applegate, Darrell Issa's 2016 challenger for his North County San Diego based seat. Applegate raised almost nothing before the June primary. He finished close to Issa there and then the money poured in. He ended up raising $2 million. I'm guessing that little of that was due to his fundraising ability. It was a mix of PAC money, Democratic leadership raising money, and Internet donations. As the Sanders campaign showed there is a lot of money, even in small donations, if you can motivate people.

The Social Justice Warriors of the left are energized with Donald Trump in the White House and they see opportunity in Southern California. Democrat Harley Rouda is challenging Republican Dana Rohrabacher in a Fullerton based congressional seat. Rouda is a business man with no political experience. That's the type of candidate Democrats will have to run since they lack a legislative bench. Rouda lives in Laguna Beach. That's actually in the district. While a candidate who is from the district they seek to represent might seem obvious to some, it's been a struggle for Democrats. Several of their 2016 candidates weren't from the districts they sought to represent. Rouda has already seen strong fundraising and he could get a lot of internet donations without having to do much himself.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Healthcare Bill May Lead to Republican Election Losses

The healthcare bill in congress is likely to lead to dire electoral consequences for Republicans. I write this because the bill has been depicted as benefitting the rich and result in much higher expense for everyone else. If that’s what happens or people believe will happen, Republicans will be punished.

There’s an argument out there that if Republicans fail to pass a healthcare bill or the one they pass has flaws then Democrats will share the blame. After all, the ACA was their bill originally. It’s flaws are due to them. Democrats spent President Obama’s Presidency taking credit for any positives in the economy while at the same time blaming President Bush for any negatives. People assumed that eventually Democrats would “own the economy” because at some point it’d only be their actions that were affecting it. They never stopped blaming George Bush and the public accepted that.

I disagree with that reasoning. First, the press is usually going to depict Democrats positively and Republicans negatively. They supported the idea that the economy was “all Bush’s fault.” Republicans won’t be so lucky on healthcare. Articles are out already that they are ruining it and they haven’t done anything. Democrats were actually held accountable for a lot of their actions and didn’t fare well during the Obama years. Even if America didn’t blame them for the economy they blamed them for other things.

Obamacare is now in effect, a far different situation from 2009. Back then Democrats were taking no government involvement and created a system with a lot of government involvement. The baseline was nothing. The baseline here is real.

I’m aware of Obamacare’s negatives. It was promised as a way to control health insurance costs and premiums have skyrocketed. People who don’t get subsidies avoid the exchanges because the policies on the exchanges are pricey, have high deductibles, and cover fewer doctors and hospitals. Insurers keep pulling out of Obamacare exchanges and that’s going to lead to, in some counties, one or no insurers on the exchange. Prices will rise even higher or people won’t be able to get a policy at all.

That said, there are plenty of people either getting their insurance through the exchange or in Medicaid expansion. In 2009 Republicans could be against these handouts. No one was getting them, so people didn’t have a problem. Once people get handouts, however, they get very angry if you take them away. They don’t care if it’s a bad plan or if it’s collapsing. They want their free/discounted stuff.

Democrats have created entitlements going back to FDR and Social Security. The philosophy has been that it didn’t matter whether they did the entitlement well or if it was sustainable. Once people had the entitlement Republicans wouldn’t dare take it away and would have to fix it. That’s true. It doesn’t matter how negative people are about Obamacare. Take something away from people and they’ll vote you out of office.

This plan is getting savaged in the media. They don’t believe Republicans when they say this plan will be better for people. The Democratic plan was treated well and Democrats got creamed at the polls. I can’t see how hearing that your health insurance will either go away or become a lot more expensive won’t influence people.

The Republican plan repeals the Obamacare taxes. That fits Republican philosophy but doesn’t fit where America is now, because these taxes are on people perceived as rich. It doesn’t matter if these people aren’t paying taxes and the rich pay a huge share. The perception is that they’re paying too much and the rich aren’t paying their fair share. While Republicans might get support for not passing new taxes on the rich they won’t get much for repealing taxes on the rich.

The perception will be that the voter will have worse and more expensive healthcare while the rich will benefit. That’ll be a disaster for Republicans at the polls in 2018.

Is there a way to avoid it? Republicans would have to propose a completely different plan for it to be one people view as positive rather than negative. Not passing a plan at all might be better for them but if Obamacare continues to implode I doubt they’ll let the Republicans off the hook for not stopping it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schwarzenegger for Senate?

Politico has an article up with speculation that Arnold Schwarzenegger could run for the US Senate. It's been widely believed that Schwarzenegger was done with politics but he has gotten into a high profile feud with Donald Trump. And he seems to enjoy it. If he wants to continue that, he has no better platform than to run for the Senate. Well, the better platform would be to be in the US Senate. Consider how things have changed in the last eight years.

2010 Democrats: Arnold is an awful evil Republican
2018 Democrats: Anyone who could stick it to Trump is worth a look

2010 Republicans: Arnold is apostate
2018 Republicans: He'd be better than a Democrat. Why not?

I don't think Schwarzenegger could beat Feinstein but he could easily make top two and face off with her in November 2018. If Feinstein were to retire Democrats don't have anyone with a profile like Kamala Harris. Gavin Newsom, John Chiang, and Antonio Villaraigosa could abandon the governor's race but they couldn't transfer their huge war chests. Congressmen like Raul Ruiz or Ami Bera could run but neither has much of a statewide profile. And if Arnold ran as NPP Democrats who won't vote Republican might for him.

Hillary Clinton's Policy Free Campaign

Wesleyan University has a new study and blames Hillary Clinton's loss partially on "Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests." It's true that her slogan #Imwithher was about the candidate and not the voters.

Clinton couldn't run on issues like Barack Obama did. Obama was running against a 3rd term of George W. Bush. Clinton was running for Obama's third term. George H.W. Bush ran for Reagan's third term. SNL made fun of him for "stay the course," but it worked. Al Gore ran for Clinton's third term but then tried to distance himself from it. It created a jumble, but he did win the popular vote. John McCain was DOA because of George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton had no policy differences with Barack Obama until she came out against the Trans Pacific Partnership. People liked Obama and might've supported him for a third term if he ran. What they didn't want was someone who supported his policies that wasn't him. They didn't want a Washington insider. Yet Clinton was a Washington insider who supported Obama's policies. The server scandal and Goldman Sachs speeches reinforced all her negatives.

If she couldn't run on the issues or experience all she had was the woman card and Trump is awful. Clinton has never been comfortable as feminist icon and was clumsy with the woman card. Her efforts to paint Trump as awful led to her "Deplorable" speech. And there were enough people who disliked Trump enough to give her the popular vote. Just not where it counted.

Bernie Sanders ran a very different campaign. He had no problem running against Obama, even if he didn't say it explicitly, and the establishment insiders that Barack Obama was part of. Sanders said the economy wasn't working for people. No one said it was Barack Obama's economy he was talking about but the President owns the economy. Sanders is depicted too far to the left to win, but his far left stances were mixed with populism and struck all cords with the angry voter. Black and Hispanic Clinton voters might've stayed home but that wouldn't have cost Sanders states like New York and California. In the Rust Belt, however, he could've gotten white working class voters who felt that no Democrats was talking about the issues the way Trump and Sanders were and won the states Clinton didn't.

Clinton is derided for not going to Michigan and Wisconsin but I don't think that would've helped her. She spent time in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida and couldn't win the white working class votes in any of them. She wasn't going to win them anyway. Sanders could've won just enough to win the electoral college. Clearly Clinton couldn't.