DNC Sets Dates for 2020 Convention

The Democratic National Committee has scheduled its next national convention for the week of July 13, 2020. According to a statement, the convention is scheduled to begin eleven days before the star of the Summer Olympics to allow the party’s presidential nominee “maximum exposure heading into the fall.” The earlier date also gives the nominee earlier access to general election funds, which are restricted until after the candidate has formally accepted the party’s nomination. Because Republicans control the White House, the Democrats will hold their convention first. According to the Washington Post, the 2020 convention will be the earliest since 1976.

According to CNN, the committee has narrowed down its choice of host city for the convention to eight possible contenders:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Houston, Texas
  • Miami Beach, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • New York, New York
  • San Francisco, California

Each city has its pros and cons. With the exceptions of Birmingham and Milwaukee, all have hosted previous Democratic conventions.

  • Atlanta: It is one of the most Democratic cities in the south, in a state Democrats have wanted to flip for years that Hillary Clinton lost by five points. If gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams wins the governor’s race in the fall, she will be a rising star in the party and be able to make a strong case for Atlanta as the convention’s host city. She would probably be a contender to deliver the keynote address, which historically has been a springboard for future stars of the party. Having the convention here would also be a boon to the Democratic nominee running against incumbent Republican senator David Perdue. Picking Atlanta would also reaffirm Democratic commitment to trying to compete and win in the south, an area that geographically has trended Republican for years.
  • Birmingham: Incumbent senator Doug Jones, who won an upset victory in the Alabama Senate race last year and would be running for reelection, would at the very least be considered for a prime-time speaking slot, if not the keynote address. His reelection campaign and the state Democratic party would likely benefit a great deal from having the convention in Alabama. Like Atlanta, choosing Birmingham for the convention would be a reaffirmation of Democratic intentions to compete in the south. However, the state is still solidly Republican.
  • Denver: The Mile High City hosted Barack Obama’s first convention in 2008, and the state has voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections. Hosting the convention could be a boon to the Democratic challenger running against incumbent Republican senator Cory Gardner. Democrats have found success in the Mountain West in recent years, particularly Colorado and New Mexico. Democratic candidates in purplish states like Arizona or Montana could benefit from having the convention in Denver.
  • Houston: Democrats have dreamed of turning Texas blue for years, a state dominated by Republicans up and down the ticket since the mid-1990s. Hillary Clinton had the best performance of a Democratic presidential candidate in two decades, losing by nine points. Beto O’Rourke is seen as a long-shot candidate to beat incumbent Senator Ted Cruz this November, though the state’s growing minority population could help Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives this year. Texas won’t be voting for a Democratic presidential candidate any time soon, but hosting the convention in Houston would be an affirmation of the party’s commitment to making that a reality.
  • Miami Beach: Hosting a convention in the perennial and all-important swing state of Florida is never a bad idea for either party. If all the Trump-Nixon comparisons weren’t enough already, here’s another one: the last time the Democrats held their convention in Miami Beach was in 1972 – a few weeks after the Watergate burglary.
  • Milwaukee: Wisconsin has had one of the most successful Republican state parties in the country in recent years, thanks arguably to Governor Scott Walker. Having the Democratic convention in Milwaukee would be a form of making amends, both to rebuild the state party and to not repeat Hillary Clinton’s disastrous failure to campaign in the Badger State in 2016.
  • New York: The Big Apple has all the existing infrastructure to host a convention, and has done so for both parties many times over the years. It would be geographically convenient for many of the party’s fundraisers, as well as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The city also appeals to the party’s young, minority, and LGBT base. It would also let Democrats take the fight directly to Donald Trump in his hometown, although Trump lost the city and the state handily in 2016. Besides practicality, there is little advantage to doing it here.
  • San Francisco: Like New York, it has all the existing infrastructure and has hosted previous conventions.  It would be geographically convenient for many of the party’s fundraisers, as well as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.  The city also appeals to the party’s young, minority, and LGBT base. The city and state are solidly Democratic. Again, like New York, San Francisco offers little more than practicality.

Millions of Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Under Republican Health Care Proposal

Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration had 24 million reasons to be unhappy on Monday: that’s the number of Americans who would lose their health insurance under the Republican-crafted American Health Care Act by 2026, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  The major findings of the CBO estimate:

  • The AHCA would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017-2026.
  • The biggest savings would come from reductions in Medicaid and the elimination of subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.
  • The biggest costs would come from repealing changes to the Internal Revenue Code caused by the ACA.
  • In 2018, there would be 14 million more uninsured people than under the current ACA law.
  • This figure will continue to increase by 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026.
  • By 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be without health insurance, compared to 28 million people for current projections under the ACA.
  • The reduction in insurance coverage between 2018-2026 would be in large part from states discontinuing the Medicaid expansion program offered under the ACA.
  • In 2018 and 2019, average premiums for single policyholders would be 15-20 percent higher than under the current law. Average premiums would start to decrease in 2020.
  • By 2026, average premiums for single policy holders would be 10 percent lower than under the current law.
  • However, the savings on premiums (or lack thereof) vary by age:
    • For a 21-year-old: 20-25 percent less
    • For a 40-year-old: 8-10 percent less
    • For a 64-year-old: 20-25 percent higher
  • Medicaid spending would decrease by $880 billion from 2017-2026.
  • By 2026, Medicaid spending would be 25 percent less than what the CBO estimates currently under the ACA.

Republicans – who had previously cited CBO estimates as evidence to attack the ACA – had been preemptively attacking or trying to question the credibility of the agency in the days leading up to the estimate’s release. Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, told Fox News, “We will see what the score is, in fact in the past, the CBO score has really been meaningless.” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters, “We disagree strenuously,” with the CBO’s findings.

Not all Republicans were optimistic about the proposed law, even before the CBO estimate was released. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned House Republicans that they would be risking their majority if they voted for the AHCA, and told them, “Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.”

Opposition to the bill is not limited to Democrats. A variety of organizations ranging from the left, right and center have all publicly come out against the AHCA. They include the AARP, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, Moveon.org, and the Center for American Progress.

Democrats attacked the AHCA almost immediately after its unveiling last week, because it finally gave them a concrete Republican policy proposal to target after nearly seven years of a vague and undefined “repeal and replace” pledge Republicans offered as an alternative to the ACA.  The CBO estimate will provide them with quantifiable data for campaign ads and talking points to target Republicans running for election or reelection in the 2017 and 2018 cycles.

In a statement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “Donald Trump’s ‘insurance for everybody’ pledge was a big fat lie.”

“The CBO, which is headed by a Republican-appointed director, just made it clear that Trump’s health care plan will cause up to 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. At the same time, the plan slashes Medicaid, drives up the cost of care for older Americans, and defunds life-saving services provided by Planned Parenthood. The only winners here are Trump, and the corporations and rich people who get to pocket new tax breaks.”

“Of course, instead of admitting that the bill would leave millions without health insurance, Republicans are desperately trying to discredit the CBO with more ‘alternative facts.’ The American people are smarter than that.”

Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued a statement saying, “Every single House Republican owns this catastrophic bill and should be prepared for backlash at the ballot box, particularly given the anticipated loss of coverage for 14 million people as early as next year.”

UPDATE: Politico viewed a White House assessment of the AHCA which estimated 26 million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 – two million more than the CBO estimate. The explanation for the document from White House Communications Director Michael Dubke was, “This is OMB trying to project what CBO’s score will be using CBO’s methodology.”

Media Moguls Reconsidering Presidential Run for 2020

This double whammy could have Democrats salivating or give them heartburn.

First, this Hollywood Reporter story saying that Disney CEO Bob Iger is reconsidering running for president as a Democrat in 2020. The story notes that his current contract expires in June 2018, which means that if he were so inclined, that would give him a few months to mount a political operation before jumping into the Democratic presidential primary beginning in 2019. Beyond that, the story also reports that he has consulted with Michael Bloomberg about the transition from business executive to political executive. Bloomberg is another media mogul who made the jump into politics, serving as New York City mayor despite no previous record of public service.

Second, this interview with Oprah Winfrey on Bloomberg’s The David Rubenstein Show:

Rubenstein: Have you ever thought that given the popularity you have, we haven’t broken the glass ceiling yet for women, that you could actually run for president and actually be elected?

Winfrey: I actually never thought, I’ve never considered the question, even a possibility. I just thought, “Oh! Oh!”

Rubenstein: Because it’s clear you don’t need government experience to be elected President of the United States…

Winfrey: That’s what I thought! I thought, “Gee, I don’t have the experience. I don’t know enough.” Now, I’m thinking, “Oh!”

Trump’s victory has billionaires and business executives from both parties rethinking about political ambitions and entering public service. However, if one or possibly both of these entertainment industry moguls who are more than capable of self-financing a run – at least to a point – enter the race with a presumably crowded Democratic field of governors and senators, they will probably suck a lot of the media oxygen out of the race early on.  It should also be noted that Winfrey herself was an early and prominent backer of Barack Obama during the 2008 primary.

One Month Into Trump Presidency, the Democrats’ 2020 Field Is Beginning to Take Shape

I had been meaning to flag this good piece a few days ago from Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti on the Democrats’ ever-growing list of possible candidates who want to run against Donald Trump in 2020, potentially as many as two dozen senators and governors who are more or less openly pondering their White House ambitions.

A lot of this interest comes from elected officials and operatives who had cleared the field for Hillary Clinton in 2007 and again in 2015 expecting her to win.  If she had been elected last November, that would have meant there wouldn’t be an open Democratic primary until 2024, assuming she had been elected to serve two terms. Her loss – combined with Donald Trump’s turbulent first month in office – means that many are sensing an opportunity that might not have been there even as recently as early January.

It should also be noted that some of these would-be candidates probably have little or no chance of getting the nomination. The question now is whether Democrats will follow the Republican model of running for president, in the sense that long-shot candidates don’t run with the expectation of actually winning, but rather to raise their profile and grow their email and donor lists to do something else: get a TV pundit or book deal, or set themselves up to run for another elected office in the future.  Then again, in the age of Trump, long shots from either party are now probably thinking they do have a chance of winning.

John Kerry Hasn’t Ruled Out Another Presidential Run

Buried in the final two paragraphs of this New York Times article about John Kerry’s new gig at Yale University is this little gem:

While Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, emphasized that the Kerry Initiative is “not a political platform — it’s a teaching platform,” Mr. Kerry, who is also writing his memoirs, has not ruled out a run for president in 2020.

“I haven’t been thinking about it or talking about it,” he said. “I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out.”

Keep in mind, for a time leading up to the 2008 cycle, Kerry left the door open for another possible run. That door closed in no small part because of his poorly chosen comments about troops being stuck in Iraq if they didn’t get an education, the subsequent controversy which neutralized him as a surrogate during the closing days of the 2006 midterms.  In addition to that, he discovered in early 2007 that the money just wasn’t there for him, particularly in a field that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Things may be different in 2019, depending on the field of candidates, the state of the country, the results of the 2018 midterms, and public opinion of the Trump administration as it prepares to defend its record and run for reelection. If he has to compete against someone like Elizabeth Warren for the nomination, it could be very difficult. On the other hand, he would also have to stand out and consolidate support from the  establishment wing of the party, in a field that could include Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo or John Hickenlooper.

One thing Kerry would have going for him in his second run is his experience as Obama’s secretary of state, which may give him ammunition to criticize the Trump administration on its handling of foreign affairs.

Becerra Confirmed as California Attorney General

The California state Senate voted to confirm Rep. Xavier Becerra as the state’s next attorney general on a party line vote of 26-9.  Becerra will be sworn into office tomorrow after his resignation from Congress, some time before Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State address.

In a statement, Becerra said, “I’m deeply grateful to the State Senate for voting, like the State Assembly, to confirm me as California’s Attorney General.

It is humbling and exciting to assume responsibility for vigorously advancing the forward-leaning values that make California unique among the many states.”

Politically, the California attorney general job is a much bigger platform for the national stage for Becerra than if he had remained in the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives. As the state’s top law enforcement officer, he will most certainly be involved in litigation with the Trump administration on issues ranging from immigration, the environment, and civil rights. If he wants to run for the Democratic nomination in 2020 or wants to be a strong contender in a future Democratic administration, being in the legal trenches fighting against the Trump administration would probably make for a very good credential, particularly if he can get legal victories in federal court or the Supreme Court.