It’s deadline day in California so we give our take on how we think things will play out for Governor Newsom and the rest of the field.
But first we start with the all too predictable big fight ahead on Capitol Hill for the Democratic agenda and give our take on the politics of President Biden’s COVID strategy.
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(cover photo credit: David McNew / Getty Images News)
Can The Democrats All Get Along?
So, the battle has now moved from Kabul to K Street as Democrats start to suss out the tax-raising side of their proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan. So, it’s gonna be one huge, rather old-school domestic politics fight, Gibbsy, and this one is going to be fun to watch. You've got the Left vs. Center fracture in the Democratic Party where the moderates are hugely outnumbered, but still have a lot of leverage in both the House and the Senate. So, it’s no surprise that GOP Man of the Year Senator Joe Manchin has shifted into high gear, making it clear that he will not support a full $3.5 trillion bill. Other mod Dem Senators like Warner and Sinema are also making cautionary noises about a huge, expensive Bernie Sanders Dream Bill. This week the House Progressives had a predictably gleeful time coming up with massive tax increases on the rich to help pay for the full $3.5T magilla (ignoring the political reality in the Senate, at least for their opening move).
Now Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have to put it all together into something that can hold their coalitions together and not let the Republicans make mid-term minced meat of their vulnerable House moderates. The Republicans, of course, are enjoying this; the GOP loves to play tax hike politics so look for a lot of offense coming soon. So, as we've said before, when you get to the details of a huge bill like this, it becomes a lot more difficult.
Murphy, I think this is the battle that both sides have been waiting for and are ready to have. I think we may have an honest to goodness fight on taxes for the first time in as long as I can remember where Democrats feel like they want to have this fight as much as Republicans do. Democrats are, with encouragement from the Biden White House, eager to have a battle about tax fairness and about how much the wealthy should pay.
Yes, there’s a lot of intramural warfare going on. You saw it this weekend with the dueling interviews with Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders on what this is all going to look like. But in reality, it's going to be above a trillion dollars funded by tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and companies, who aren’t paying their fair share. So, if Democrats frame this in the right way and are disciplined about it, this is the beginnings of a potentially successful strategy for not just making the economy more equitable, but a winning political strategy for 2022.
I think the challenge for the Democrats is: will the Progressives stay on board as this thing gets chopped down to a smaller size in the Senate (with the handful of key House moderate Dems cheering along as the hatchets swing) from its current astronomical size - ($3.5T is about 82% of the TOTAL cost to the U.S. Government of WW2 in adjusted for inflation dollars! And I don’t see any marching Germans or diving Zeros!) - that Bernie’s Senate budget committee has come up with. It is literally the biggest liberal domestic spending bill in the history of human civilization. (Get ready for more of this sort of howling from the GOP; thought I’d give you a taste). So where will it go, size wise? The easy revenue increasers, (that’s DC for “tax hikes”) like a slight increase in the corporate tax rates, and a run at a loophole here and a loophole there, probably will raise a bit over a trillion dollars in new money. So, the “paid for” version of the $3.5T bill is probably about 1/3 of what’s been proposed. That’s the real set of brakes on this thing. Of course those are fighting words to Progressives. My guess is the Senate will be hard pressed to get to $2T, if Manchin and Company mean what they say. As you say Mr. G, both sides are ready to have this fight and the proposed income tax increases on wealthier Americans, including higher cap gains taxes (“farm states on line one Senator…”) will be the central battleground.
I’m not even sure this rivals the massive tax giveaways of Bush or Trump and it’s going to be paid for too. The House and Senate Committees are working away. The House hopes to have their plan assembled this week as the Speaker knows that keeping the momentum moving forward is crucial as the legislative agenda has a lot to get done, namely funding government past the end of the fiscal year and somehow, somewhere, raising the debt limit. Oh, and the bipartisan infrastructure plan needs a vote in 2 weeks, too. Buckle up all, the fun is just starting.
The COVID Fight Worth Picking
Republicans, literally from the RNC on down, have talked about how they they're anxious to meet Joe Biden in court. I think what Joe Biden has done is, smartly, give businesses the cover they need to do the things that many of them would want to do, but don't want to get in the middle of having to mandate themselves. That's now off their plate, and I think President Biden’s speech, in and of itself, and the plan he laid out were good moves for both the public health of the country and the political health of the president. Frankly, more people simply agree with the vaccinated and were tired of waiting for the unvaccinated to come along and do their part.
I think a COVID war with a lot of clear offense is a good move for Biden; he owns COVID anyway and needs to deliver progress. All of his voters are for vax mandates, and it splits the Republicans. Plus polling shows the hard core no-vax/single helix percentage of the population has been slowly declining; it’ll never go away, but the GOP’s worst hard-heads on this issue are fighting their battle from a slowly melting and shrinking ice flow. The politics of my body, my vax only really work in GOP primaries. In the wider arena, it’s good for Biden and, as we’ve both said, he really needs to get on offense on a winning wedge issue post Afghanistan. I think the White House is also executing well on this, at least so far. All that said, I don't think this COVID war is going to have a lot to do with the House outcome (too many GOP tailwinds there), but it could be material in the Senate races where winning the suburbs are going to be really important to the side that eventually prevails.
It’s been jarring to watch, but I think you're totally right, while Biden has made some tough decisions that will play well, broadly and in the long-term, Republicans seem to be making decisions to appeal to somewhere between 25 and 33% of the country. It mystifies me that Ron DeSantis thinks the long-term political message for him is taking the decision-making away from a local superintendent about whether or not masks should be worn in a classroom in an environment where COVID has gone crazy in his state.
DeSantis is much more interested in the politics of the 2024 South Carolina GOP primary than the politics of winning the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race.
Are The Odds in Newsom’s Favor?
Well, the vote is almost in. It’s the big day. All the polls say Newsom will comfortably avoid being recalled. It's funny, if you look at the polls, they're predicting eight to 10 plus point win for vote No on the Recall, but living here in Los Angeles when you talk to people, including a lot of college educated Democrats, it feels a lot closer. I’m surprised at how many such D’s have told me they voted Yes on the recall. Still, I'll stick with the data and continue to predict the recall will fail, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a little bit of a tighter margin than the wildly expanding Newsom landslide echo chamber CW that has peaked this last week.
The Newsom campaign is doing the easiest thing in the history of politics, which is beating a Trump Republican in California. So, I don’t think they ought to get a medal for this, but I do they’re going to win and it will not be a squeaker.
So, if I have to bet, I’ll go a bit tighter and say high single-digit win for Gov. Newsom.
Okay, well, I'll take that bet and say Newsom wins this by double digits! It’s on!
I do think one of the things that the Newsom campaign should get a lot of credit for, is they have successfully turned, over the last four to six weeks, a referendum on the governorship of Gavin Newsom into the choice of a much more conventional election between two candidates. And, in this case, the choice is between Gavin Newsom and Larry Elder/Donald Trump. And so, I think, in many ways, this became a very conventional gubernatorial election.
We’ve talked about the fact that Gavin Newsom and Democrats are far better suited to win that than they might have had this come down to a referendum on the person that was absorbing everything that could be blamed on somebody, including Mother Nature, in California. So, they smartly turned this around in a way that I think will be a big benefit to them today. They’ve always known the math advantage they’d have in Democrats dominating California and they successfully turned the race into a question where that advantage was the answer.
But, wait folks there’s more. Nothing, it seems is simply explained anymore. Both Larry Elder and Donald Trump are setting up what will interestingly be a question Republicans are going to have to confront from here on out and that is: is a losing election for them, a fraudulent election? As my bet indicates, I don’t think that this race is going to be particularly close, and the idea that Larry Elder and Donald Trump are propagating now is massive fraud. Elder has repeated the claim and Trump put out a statement on it Monday.
This is a dangerous development for democracy, and I think every Republican is going to have to answer if they think the 2020 election was stolen and do they think this 2021 California recall was stolen? Because it's going to be the thing they blame every loss on at least in the foreseeable future.
We’ll see how the chips fall!
And see you all on Friday.
Murphy and Gibbs