Saturday, November 17, 2018

Something’s Happening in Texas - Final 2018 Midterm Results


Congratulations Democrats and Progressives — You Won. Do not accept any narrative other than one of a big win from hard-fought campaigns.

Democrats elected an unprecedented number of women, including two Muslim women, turned at least 6 state legislatures bluedemanded the Medicaid Expansion to Obamacare in three red states, and passed referendums in favor of recreational and medical marijuana and an increased minimum wage in several states.

More than half of eligible voters in the U.S. turned out to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, a record-high in modern history. Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, estimates that 118 million people voted in the midterms, about 50.1 percent of eligible voters. That turnout is about 11 points higher than the average for midterm turnout of 39.4 percent in at least the past three decades, since 18- to 20-year-olds became eligible to vote. In 2014, 83 million people turned out to vote. That’s the highest recorded rate for the midterms since 1914 when turnout was 50.4% and women didn’t have the vote.
Update: As of Thursday, November 22, 2018, with only one House not yet called — where the Democrat trails by fewer than 500 votes in California's 21st congressional district, with 15,000 votes left to be counted — Democrats lead Republicans by more than 8.9 million popular votes in U.S House race across the nation. Democrats have flipped 39 U.S. House seats.

Democratic candidates have earned 59,351,147 votes in House seats across the country in the 2018 midterms, compared to Republicans’ 50,438,143, according to raw data compiled by the Cook Political Report, an independent, non-partisan political analysis website.

That means Democrats have won 53.1 percent of all votes counted so far, while Republicans have only 45.1 percent of the vote.
In 2018, Democrats earned a new record turnout victory in a midterm House election, surpassing the Democratic Party’s win over Republicans by more than 8.7 million votes in 1974, just months after President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. The national House vote margins in the midterm wave years of 1994, 2006 and 2010 were R+7 points, D+6.4 points and R+6.6 points, respectively. Democrats also rolled up nearly 16 million more votes in U.S. Senate races nationwide.

25 states recorded 50% turnout or higher with Colorado (62.2%), Minnesota (64.3%), Montana (62.1%), Oregon (61.3%) and Wisconsin (61.2%) exceeding 60%. Historically, the midterms have always had a weaker turnout than presidential elections — but not so much this year.
Catalist estimates of voter preference shows substancial preference shifts from the 2016 Presidential to 2018 Congressional election. These shifts go a long way in explaining the scale of Democratic wins noted through this article:
  • Young voters (18-29) supported Democrats by 44 points in 2018, up 18 points from 2016. Moreover, white young voters gave Democrats an impressive 26 point margin in 2018. For that matter, Democrats were also +9 on white voters 30-44. That means Democrats carried all white voters under 45 in 2018 and quite easily at that!
  • As polling sources suggest, Democrats carried white college voters in 2018 (+5) with a solid shift relative to 2016. Both white college women and men contributed to this shift but the largest contribution was by white college women. White noncollege voters, on the other hand, continued to be a problem at -26, only a slight improvement over the previous election.
  • Among nonwhite groups, Asians showed the largest support gains for the Democrats. But, contrary to the exit polls, Hispanics showed a slight slippage in support.
  • Democrats carried suburban white college voters by 7 points, representing a strong 12 point shift over 2016 in the Democrats’ favor. This is more less as expected.
  • But by and large, the strongest shifts in the Democrats’ direction were within rural areas! Comparing overall urban vs. suburban vs. rural areas, the respective pro-Democratic shifts were 1, 5 and 7 points. You see roughly the same pattern when comparing urban whites vs. suburban whites vs. rural whites. You even see a 7 point shift toward the Democrats among white noncollege rural voters!
  • Even more amazing, the Catalist data show a 25 point shift toward the Democrats among rural 18-29 year olds and a 17 point shift among 30-44 year olds. Most mind-blowing of all, Democrats actually carried rural 18-29 year olds in 2018 by 8 points.
While final results from across the nation have been slow to finalize, they show that Democrats had perhaps less of a blue tsunami wave election and more of a rising blue tide that will continue to rise through the 2020 election and beyond.

It was clear on Election Night Democrats would win control of the U.S. House, but the scale of the victory was initially under reported by the mainstream media. Why did the media initially report Democratic wins were underwhelming? Mainly, several marquee Democratic candidates the media had built up in the final weeks leading to election day did not score election night victories.

Beto O’Rourke, the most hyped Democratic candidate of the cycle, lost his U.S. Senate race against the incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. O’Rourke's loss wasn’t unexpected — an O’Rourke win would have been an epochal surprise — but that loss in particular took some wind out of hopeful Democrats' sails. In Florida, polling showed the gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Senator Bill Nelson both with an edge, but when election night results came in, they were down. Neither race is officially called yet, and the Senate contest is headed to a hand recount, but Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott lead in those two races, for governor and Senate, respectively. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams also trailed Republican Brian Kemp in a close, and closely watched, race.

Even so, the blue tide of Democratic midterm wins keeps rising.

Democrats have gaining at least 37 U.S. House seats as of this writing, for a total of 232 seats — 14 more than is needed for a majority — with three competitive races; where Democrats lead in the ballot counts not yet called. Heading into the November 6, 2018, midterm election, Republicans held a 235-193 advantage over Democrats in the 435-member U.S. House. All 435 seats — including seven vacancies — were up for election, with Democrats needing to add 23 seats to win majority control of the chamber.

In winning control of the U.S. House, Democrats flipped congressional districts long-held by Republicans. Lucy McBath turned in a win over Republican Karen Handel — who had beaten Jon Ossoff in the heavily covered 2017 special election in Georgia’s Sixth, a long held Republican district.

Texas Democrat Colin Allred, a former NFL player making his first run for elected office, stunned incumbent Republican Pete Sessions to win his long held 32nd Congressional District in Texas. In another Texas-sized flip, Texas Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher unseated 18-year-incumbent Republican Rep. John Culberson in the Houston-area race for Texas Congressional District 7, a district held by Republicans since George H. W. Bush took over the district in the November 1966 election.

The very cradle of Reagan Republican conservationism and the birthplace of Richard Nixon, California’s Orange County, turned blue with Democrats wining all seven congressional districts within or that overlap into that densely populated county, including stalwart Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's 48th District.

Republicans no longer hold any House seats in New England, Axios reports, indicating that the party’s shift to the right since President Donald Trump’s election has pushed out more moderate conservatives. The final GOP representative was unseated by Democrat Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District Thursday. Golden was declared the winner by about 3,000 votes, NPR said, after taking into account Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Of all New England’s U.S. Senate seats, Republicans hold just one: Susan Collins of Maine, who faces a reelection in 2020. Some Democrats, including Obama’s former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, are already considering a run against Collins. Last month, the senator disillusioned many of her more liberal constituents when she cast a vote vital to putting conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.

Arguably the biggest win for Democrats since Donald Trump was elected is Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s come-from-behind win in the Arizona race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the Republican Jeff Flake. For the past fifty years, Arizona has been the anchor of the Sun Belt pro-business, anti-tax libertarian conservatism that Barry Goldwater pioneered. Sinema is the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Arizona since 1988, and the first Democrat to win an open Senate seat in the state since Dennis DeConcini was elected, in 1976. The firsts don’t stop there. Sinema, a forty-two-year-old congresswoman for Arizona’s Ninth District, will also be the first female senator from Arizona, and the first openly bisexual senator from anywhere.

Last week, in a multi-candidate field, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith for Mississippi finished with 41.5% of the vote, to Democrat Mike Espy’s 40.6 percent. Espy is an African American former congressman who just might take that Senate seat from the Republican. Because neither candidate reached the 50% threshold in the November 6th election, there will be a special election on Nov. 27, which is just a few days away. Hyde-Smith is noted for making a statement on the campaign trail that it might be a “great idea” to make it harder for some people to vote, and, in an implied reference to her African-American opponent, said, “If he [referring to a local white rancher] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Mike Espy taking this Senate seat would overshadow Sinema’s Arizona Senate seat win.

Democratic Party Decline 2009—2018
States With Unified Party Control 2017-2018
Nationally, Democrats lost a lot of ground in statehouses under Barack Obama’s presidency, with about 1,000 legislative seats across the nation flipping to Republican control from 2009 through the 2016 election.

After the 2016 election, Republicans controlled a record 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation — 36 senate chambers and 31 house chambers — more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats had majority control, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

During 2017 and 2018, Republicans held more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats held total control of just 13 state legislatures. Republicans held state government trifectas — where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house — in 26 states, and Democrats held trifectas in only 8 states, with divided partisan control in the remaining 16 states.

From 2009 through the 2016 election, Republicans had gained control of the gubernatorial office in 33 states, a record high last seen in 1922, and flipped 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House seats to Republican control, and flipped 13 Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate to Republican control.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats started to get some of it back — but the party still has a lot catching up to do in 2020.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Unprecedented Midterm Election Early Turnout - Is It Enough?


Americans cast in-person and absentee ballots during early voting this year at rates unprecedented for midterm elections since early voting was instituted. With the conclusion of early voting, almost 35 million ballots have already cast nationwide, with Election Day still to go.

In 22 states, including Texas, and Washington, D.C., with an early voting period more people voted early than did so in the last midterm election, reports the New York Times. That means more people have cast a ballot over 12 days of early voting in those counties than turned out for the entire 2014 midterm election. And early voter turnout has surpassed that from the 2012 presidential election.

In Texas, both Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) say the state’s unprecedented early turnout gives their campaigns the advantage. Texas is historical a deeply conservative state because more progressive Texans seldom if ever vote - particularly in midterm elections. Because Democrats rely heavily on the votes of younger people and minorities, who are less consistent in their voting than are older whites, Democratic Party candidates usually benefit from higher turnouts.

As a result, Democrats hope the record early turnout supports their much-hoped-for blue wave. Early voter turnout in this midterm surpassed early turnout for the 2012 presidential election across Texas and in Collin County. In the entire early voting period, 5,808,588 (36.8%) of Texas’ 15,793,257 registered voters cast early ballots, according to TargetSmart. That’s 1.1 million more votes than were cast during the entire 2014 election. The rate of early voting turnout for this midterm rivals presidential year early turnout and far exceeds total midterm year turnout rates since 1994 for Texas and Collin County.

In the entire early voting period, 4,514,930 Texans cast in-person ballots and 369,598 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 Texas counties with the highest voter registration counts, where 78 percent of the state’s registered voters live. Durning early voting, 39.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties cast their ballots. There are 16,628,103 people over age 18 living in these 30 counties.

The early voting numbers are giving a boost of optimism to O’Rourke supporters, who are seeing it as a sign that he may very well come out on top in the closely watched race against Cruz.
“If this continues, we win,” O’Rourke said Friday after a rally. “I feel very good about our prospects, not just on Election Night, but on being able to deliver for the next six years that follow on every priority, from health care to education to immigration to criminal justice reform. Texas is going to be the leader that this country has been waiting for.”
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website predicts as many as 7.14 Texans will vote in the this midterm election, which would be 2.4 million more than voted in 2014. But, if current trends hold, some 3 million more people will vote this year in Texas than did during the last midterm, in 2014.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 8 - Blue Wave Yet?

Going into the second week of early voting, it has become increasingly clear Texas is in the midst of an unprecedented turnout midterm election. Texans in some Texas counties have waited in lines for hours to cast their votes. The result has been record-breaking midterm vote totals across the state.

As of Monday, day eight of early voting, 3,354,029 Texans have cast in-person and by-mail in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That preliminary turnout has surpassed the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014. So far this year, 27.4 percent of the 12.26 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted.


We still have too little data to predict the specific election outcomes or the long-term effect of this unprecedented outpouring of voter interest, but we know for certain that Texans are fired up and ready to vote. This state generally sees fewer than 39 percent of registered voters regularly participating in midterm elections.

Voter participation in this year is nearly three times that of the 2014 midterm and is near the pace set during the 2016 presidential election. assuming turnout will continue at the pace set during early voting, total turnout for this election will likely top 60 percent of record high number of registered voters

Historically, midterms have been viewed as a referendum on the party occupying the White House. This political axiom seems magnified this year as Donald Trump has made every effort to nationalize this midterm. Trump’s name is not on the ballot, but the president clearly is casting a big shadow on this election.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 4 - Blue Wave Yet?


Early voting in 2018 midterm general election turnout and enthusiasm are unusually strong among both Republicans and Democrats across the U.S., including Texas.

As of day three of early voting, 1,344,741 Texans have cast in-person ballots and 240,601 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That turnout equals 79 percent of the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014.

So far this year, 12.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted. If turnout rates remain at these levels, we could see presidential election year turnout levels across Texas and the U.S., which would be virtually unprecedented.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

What A Texas Blue Wave Might Look Like


Texas Democrats have been losing midterm elections by more or less a two-to-one turnout margin since Ann Richards lost her 1994 Gubernatorial re-election to George Bush. Democrats can chalk up their long losing streak to one thing: Only about one in three Texans registered to vote have cast ballots in midterm elections over the last quarter century, and it's Democrats who haven’t been turning out at the polls.

Texas is tied for lowest voter turnout in the nation with Washington D.C., a non-state where residents have no representation in the Congress. Turnout is depressed because the lion’s share of more progressive-minded younger Texans have grown up with a mindset Texas is such an overwhelmingly red conservative Republican State that has been so gerrymandered by Republicans their vote will never count, so they don’t vote. That’s why Texas Democrats have adopted the saying, “Texas is not a red state. It's a non-voting one.”
With a crush of last minute voter registration applications submitted to county election offices in last 30 days before the October 9th registration deadline, a record 15,793,257 Texans are registered for this midterm election. That is a 4 percent increase over the 15.2 million who were registered for this year’s March primaries and an increase of nearly 13 percent (1.8 million) over the last midterm year of 2014. The registration increase for this midterm outpaces the 6 percent (1.4 million) overall voting age population (VAP) increase across Texas.
In the last four midterm elections, between 33.6 percent and 38 percent of registered voters actually showed up to vote. If this year’s turnout is within those bounds, 5.2 million to 5.9 million Texans will vote.

That would break the 5-million-vote mark for the first time, but it would still mean that 9.7 million to 10.4 million registered voters in the state of Texas — slightly less than two-thirds of them — signed up to vote without actually getting themselves to the polls. And that would be bad news for Democrats, because it means their voters stayed home for yet another election.

To win Texas, Democrats must get their voters to turnout in a midterm election year for the first time. Beyond the traditional turnout levels of 33.6 percent to 38 percent of registered voters, Democrats must change the electoral math to get more than one in ten registered voters to vote for Democrats rather than their usual Republican choice, or stay home and not vote Republican as usual, or vote for the first time in a midterm, or be a first time ever voter — or all the above.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Trump Distracts While Appointees Sledgehammer Government

With nearly every utterance, Donald Trump affirms the conclusion we reached two years ago that he is temperamentally and intellectually unfit to serve as president of the United States. But there he is, a year after his inauguration, waging a war of words with the world from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. He has denigrated fellow citizens and international allies; threatened nuclear war; undermined public faith in the judiciary, Congress, and the media; found some “very fine people” at a gathering of neo-Nazis; and dispensed utterly with the idea of presidential gravitas.

In fact, there’s been so much public attention paid to his tweets, to his character and temperament, to the ongoing investigations into how he came to power, that close scrutiny has sometimes lagged into what this administration has actually done.

Click here to read the rest of the story at the LA Times:


Trump Promised To Defend Forgotten Americans - Then He Forgot Them

The Donald Trump presidency is now one year old and in many respects ― the unhinged tweeting, the contempt for democratic norms, the potential collusion with a hostile foreign power ― it has been unlike any presidency in history.

But there is one respect in which Trump’s tenure in office has been rather ordinary: his administration’s year-long effort to push familiar Republican initiatives that shift money and power towards corporations and the rich, and away from everybody else.

No, this is not the kind of presidency that Trump promised. As a candidate, he portrayed himself as a different sort of Republican, one who would attack the financial industry, govern independently of wealthy special interests, and protect public programs on which poor and middle-class Americans depend.

Click Here to read the rest of the story:


Ten Ways Trump And Congress Have Hurt Workers

The tax cut law that President Trump boasts will make his wealthy friends “a lot richer” is just the latest in a series of betrayals of working people by the administration and Congress since Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017. In addition to passing a massive tax cut for wealthy business owners, Trump and Republicans in Congress have rolled back important worker protections, advanced nominees to key administration posts who have a history of exploiting working people, and taken other actions that further rig the system in favor of corporate interests and the wealthiest Americans.

Click Here for the 10 worst things Congress and Trump have done to undermine pay growth and erode working conditions for the nation’s workers.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Key Voting Law Faces Big Test At U.S. Supreme Court

In November of 2015, Larry Harmon, a software engineer then in his late 50s, went to the polls to vote against an Ohio ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.

It had been a few years since Harmon voted. He cast a ballot for President Barack Obama in 2008, but didn’t particularly care for the candidates in 2010, 2012 or 2014, so he didn’t vote. When he went to the polls for the marijuana initiative in 2015, officials said he couldn’t vote. He had been removed from the voter rolls. Even though he had lived at the same address for well over a decade, officials wouldn’t let Harmon cast a provisional ballot and so he left his polling place without voting, went home and later wrote an angry letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R).

Ohio officials removed Harmon from the voter rolls in part because he failed to vote in federal elections over six consecutive years. One of the ways Ohio polices its voter rolls is by sending a confirmation notice to anyone who fails to vote in a federal election after two years. If the person fails to respond to that notice and also fails to vote over the next four years, they get removed from the rolls.

That process is being challenged in a consequential case the Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday: Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. Harmon and civil rights groups argue the Ohio process violates federal law, which explicitly says people can’t be removed from the rolls just because they haven’t voted. Husted and others who defend the law say Ohio’s process is reasonable because people aren’t removed just for not voting ― they have to fail to respond to the mailer as well.

A Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the process could help clarify how aggressively states can purge their rolls and the limits the federal government can set on how states maintain lists of eligible voters.

Read the full story at Huffington Post

Monday, January 8, 2018

Decline of the American Middle Class

The nation's middle class, pillar of the U.S. economy and foundation of the American dream, has declined over the last 38 years to the point now where it no longer constitutes the majority of the adult population. As families increasingly struggle to pay the bills from month to month the American middle class is continually shrinking. It has become exceedingly clear that “the American Dream” is dying and the future is dimming for ordinary hard-working Americans.

Republicans loudly tell American voters they want to “make American great again.” But it is the conservative trickle down Reaganomics agenda that has increasingly enriched the rich by relentlessly reducing the ability of government to provide a fair and level economic playing field for American middle class workers. Government now works for the wealthiest Americans and multinational corporations, not American middle class workers.

Over the last 38 years, Americans have been working harder, producing increasing levels of economic growth, but they’re not getting rewarded with any extra pay.

Between then and now, productivity, or the amount of economic output generated by an average hour of work, grew 72.2 percent. On the other hand, pay for the typical worker rose just 9.2 percent.

Things have gotten even worse since 2000: net productivity has grown 21.6 percent since then, yet inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker grew just 1.8 percent.

How the GOP Tax Cut Will Shrink Your Paycheck

When Republicans cut taxes, wages go down or stay flat for working people. Ultra-rich billionaires who own the Republican Party know that when working/middle-class people get a tax cut, it means that over time working-class wages will go down – which is why they’re more than happy to give us all a temporary tax cut.

This is what wealthy people know that most Americans don’t: Tax cuts for truly wealthy people increase their income and wealth; tax cuts for working people actually decrease their income and wealth over time. This is because of what economist David Ricardo referred to as the “market for labor,” as well as the different ways working class versus rich people use their “extra money.” Here’s how it works: Read the rest of the story at AlterNet: How the GOP Tax Cut Will Shrink Your Paycheck

Is Manufacturing’s Future All Used Up?

Of all the titans of our new Gilded Age, the only one to attain the status of culture hero was—and still is—Steve Jobs. This wasn’t simply a function of his personal magnetism, though he certainly outshone such apparently amiable schlubs as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and the cipher that is Jeff Bezos. It was also because, unlike his fellow creators of cyberspace, Jobs produced the tactile, palpable portals into cyberspace. He made things—handheld objects that changed people’s lives.

And yet, few of his fans think of Jobs as a manufacturer. Certainly, his biographer, Water Isaacson, doesn’t. In his lengthy 2011 biography of Jobs, there’s only one glancing reference to the massive Chinese factories where iPhones and other Apple products are assembled—a stray remark that Jobs once made to President Obama, saying that “Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China.”

If those 700,000 were employed directly by Apple, of course, then Apple would be the world’s largest manufacturer. Instead, Apple conceals its factories—and responsibility for the working conditions there—behind two Chinese walls. First, it subcontracts its production work to Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company. Second, as Joshua Freeman notes in Behemoth, his fascinating history of factories from 18th-century Lancashire to 21st-century Guangdong, the massive factories of Foxconn City in Southern China are off-limits to journalists and other prying eyes. It was only the wave of worker suicides there in 2010 (many committed by workers hurling themselves from the roofs of their dormitories, which Foxconn sought to counter by installing nets beneath the roofs) that brought, however briefly, this immense complex of factories to public notice.

Read the full story at The Prospect - Is Manufacturing’s Future All Used Up?

Telling Voters What Democrats Stand For

Democrats stand for many things that are popular with a majority of Americans. They oppose cutting tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers and multinational corporations. They oppose changes to Medicare and Social Security that would reduce future benefits or notably alter eligibility requirements. They oppose laws that disenfranchise voters and restrict reproductive healthcare access and choices. And they want some immigrants, known as "dreamers," to be able to stay in this country.

But there are hard questions for the Democrats.

What exactly is their health-care policy likely to be in the future? Expand Medicare and Medicaid benefits for senior citizens? Stand pat with the 2010 Affordable Care Act that still leaves at least 30 million Americans without healthcare, or move toward a Medicare-for-all type of plan.

What is their economic policy, other than rhetoric about helping working families? What is their response to concerns among many workers about the impact of automation and globalization that leaves increasing numbers of Americans without employment. What is their response to the weight of student load debt carried by so many, and tution costs that put college and trade school access increasingly out of reach of young Americans.

Democrats see a divided Republican Party led by Trump as an easy target for criticism. For now, that will remain the principal focus heading into the midterm elections. But as they begin what amounts to a three-year campaign cycle of midterm elections followed by a critically important 2020 presidential race, will Democrats be forthright in assessing and dealing with their own vulnerabilities?

Read more at WaPo - Democrats think 2018 will be a good year, but are they realistic about their own problems?

The 7 Most Pressing Issues Facing Rural Texas

In 2017, rural schools lost crucial funding, two hospitals closed and natural disasters wreaked havoc in what some regard as “flyover country.”

Read the full story at the Texas Observer

The Formula for a Blue Texas

A formula you say? There’s a formula for a blue Texas? Well, sort of. I mean this in the sense that a sober quantitative accounting of the challenge Democrats face in Texas provides a useful guide to how the blue Texas goal can actually be attained. More useful I think than the countless breathless accounts of grassroots Democratic organizing in Texas, which make little effort to explain which groups have to move and by how much to be successful.

So here’s the “formula”. In 2016, Clinton improved over Obama in Texas, reducing his 16 point deficit in the state to 9 points in 2012. How did she do this? The dataset developed at CAP for our Voter Trends in 2016 report indicates that Clinton improved over Obama among both white non-college-educated and college-educated voters. The Democrats’ deficit among Texas’s white non-college-educated voters fell from 60 points in 2012 to 55 points in 2016. The shift toward Clinton among white college graduates in the state was even larger—from a 30-68 percent deficit in 2012 to 37-57 percent in 2016, a margin improvement of 18 points. The white college-educated improvement cut Clinton’s deficit in the state by about 4.5 points and the white noncollege improvement moved things in her direction by about 1.5 points, for a total shift of 6 points toward Clinton from better performance among whites. The rest of Clinton’s gains relative to Obama were accounted for by improvements in Latino turnout and support.

Secure Elections Act

A bipartisan group of six senators has introduced the “Secure Elections Act,” to eliminate insecure paperless voting machines from American elections while promoting routine audits that would dramatically reduce the danger of interference from foreign governments.

The bill reads like a computer security expert’s wish list. Computer scientists have been warning for more than a decade that these machines are vulnerable to hacking and can't be meaningfully audited. States have begun moving away from paperless systems, but budget constraints have forced some to continue relying on insecure paperless equipment. The Secure Elections Act would give states grants specifically earmarked for replacing these systems with more secure systems that use voter-verified paper ballots.

Click Here to read “New bill could finally get rid of paperless voting machines”

Planning For 2020 Democratic Party Primaries

The Democratic National Committee Unity Reform Commission was created by the delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The Commission was chartered to review the Party’s presidential nominating process.

The commission held meetings through 2016 and adopted a report of recommendations during its final meeting in December 2016. These recommendations on how the Party will select delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, who will select the Party’s next presidential nominee, will now proceed to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for consideration.

The rules committee will meet through 2018 and create its report of 2020 delegate selection rules to the full body of DNC members by August 2018. Those rules will specify how the Party will conduct 2020 state primaries and caucuses, and to what extent superdelegates will have a role in selecting the Party’s next presidential nominee.

Click Here For URC’s report details:

Dems Wonder: Is Opposing Trump Enough To Win Primaries?

One of the most significant questions facing Democratic candidates and voter in House races this year is whether running against Donald Trump — something nearly every House Democratic candidate will promise to do — will be enough to secure primary victory when two or more Democrats are running for the same congressional seat, or state legislative seat? Can congressional and legislative hopefuls win over primary voters on criticism of Trump alone, or are the increasingly influential (millennial) progressives right when they say Democratic voters demand something more?

The 2016 presidential campaign generated a daily Republican reality show of theatrics that drove up voter registrations and turnout in Texas that year. In Texas, a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote before the November 2016 presidential election. According to the Texas Secretary of State, that was 78 percent of our voting-age population, and more than 1.3 million additional registered voters than four years earlier.

Voter turnout for the 2018 Texas Democratic Primary likely will exceed turnout numbers of past midterm primary years. If the more progressive millennial voters really care about their issues, they will have to register and vote for primary the candidates who support those issues. If millennials don’t bother to vote in the 2018 Texas Primary, they are likely to end up with “me too conservative” Democrats on their November 2018 ballots.

February 5th is the last day you can register to vote in Texas primaries. Early voting for the Tuesday, March 6, 2018 primary election will begin on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 and run through Friday, March 2, 2018.

Read more here: McClatchyDC - Dems wonder: Is opposing Trump enough to win primaries? 

Decline and Fall of Neoliberalism in the Democratic Party

From the late 1980s to 2016, “centrist” neoliberal ideas held hegemonic sway among the Democratic elite. But the economy created by this ideology — and the ensuing crises — is a major reason why Clinton lost to Trump and the party is completely out of power today. This obvious failure has provided an ideological opening that the American left has been eager to fill.

Now Democrats must decide how to move forward. Should it follow Elizabeth Warren's lead and promise a return to the trust-busting ways of the early 20th century? Or should it emulate the more sweeping, Nordic-style politics of Bernie Sanders? Or perhaps the Democratic Socialists of America are right and something even more extreme is needed. The Week is publishing a four-part series to examine the Democratic Party‘s failures and analyze the potential for Democrats to transform the country.

Click Here to read part one of The Week’s four part series:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Collin County 2018 Primary Ballot

Early voting for the Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Democratic and Republican primary elections will begin on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 and run through Friday, March 2, 2018. All of Texas' state executive officers and state representatives, and half of the state senators will be up for election, as well as a United States Senate seat, and all of Texas' thirty-six seats in the United States House of Representatives. A number of county level offices will also be on 2018 ballots.
March 6, 2018 Primary Election Information
Additional Election Information
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In the final weeks of 2017, voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama turned out in record numbers for off-year and special elections that, perhaps, forecast the mood of voters nationwide for 2018 midterm elections. Voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama altered the United States Senate. Lone Star State Democrats and Republicans will next test the mood of voters with the earliest primary election in the nation. Only one other state, Illinois, holds a primary in March, two weeks after Texas' primary.

Texas Democrats will decide who will carry the Democratic party's banner into the battle for governor and a record number of other congressional, statewide and legislative, and county offices in the nation's biggest GOP stronghold. Texas has 10 Democrats running to determine who will take on Gov. Greg Abbott, who himself faces minor opposition from two Republicans in the GOP primary. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White, are two of the best known names in the race for Democrats.

At the federal level, Democrats have the opportunity to remake the state's Congressional delegation with 8 open congressional seats up for grabs, even though most are in districts heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans.  Democrats are running in all 36 of Texas' U.S. House races, for the first time in 25 years. One of the most watched races in Texas will be for the U.S. Senate where Ted Cruz faces his first re-election test since his stunning 2012 victory against Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. Four lesser known Republicans are running against Cruz in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, El Paso Democrat Beto O'Rourke first needs to get through a primary with two other Democrats to get to his highly anticipated battle with Cruz.
Many races up and down Democratic and Republican primary ballots across Texas have multiple Democrats and multiple Republicans running against each other. At least one, and often two or more, Democrats are running for 133 of the state's 150 House of Representatives seats and 14 of the state's 15 state Senate seats.

More than 346 Young Democratic Texans have filed to represent Texans in county courts, county parties, the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and U.S. Congress. Of the more than 346 Young Democrats running: 36 are running for Congress, 55 are running for the Texas House of Representatives, 5 are running for the Texas Senate, and Many other offices up and down the democratic ticket. Young Democrats are poised to run the largest youth targeted voter turnout plan for 2018. We know that young voters are more progressive and will soon be the largest voting block- we’re prepared to get folks voting now, not later.

Most of the races with 3 or more Democrats running for the same office are likely to go to a runoff election on May 22nd, when no candidate gets above 50 percent of the vote.

What the turnout looks like in the Texas primary will tell a lot about what lies ahead for Republicans and Democrats in Texas and the nation in 2018. If there is big Democratic voter turnout — traditionally low in Texas gubernatorial cycles — it could signal that the higher than expected turnout among those Democratic voter cohorts for Doug Jones in Alabama’s special election to fill that state’s open U.S. Senate seat is in fact a developing trend nationally that could have significant impact on the November election.

Similarly, primary turnout among suburban white men and women, with and without college degrees, who helped elect Donald Trump in 2016, will tell Republicans, and Democrats, much. If those traditional Republican voters turnout in numbers for the the primary, it signals they will likely turnout again in November to help Republicans comfortably carry that Election Day. But if those Republicans don’t turnout, Republicans on November ballots face an usually tough midterm year, not just in Texas, but nationwide.

For the 2016 primary election, Collin County had 501,000 registered voters. Registrations increased to 540,000 for the November 2016 election. Projecting from historic averages, Collin County will likely have about 560K registered voters for the 2018 primary election and 585K registered voters for the Nov. 2016 election.

High Democratic voter enthusiasm this year, combined with higher voter registration numbers and Democratic primary ballots packed with candidates,  will likely drive record turnout numbers for the Democratic Party of Collin County's 2018 midterm primary election. With the exception of the 2008 Primary election, Republican Primary Election turnout has far outpaced Democratic Primary turnout in Collin County for the past quarter century.

But Democratic Primary turnout this year could well approach Republican turnout numbers of past midterm elections. Republican Primary turnout for the last midterm election in 2014 generated 46,459 Republican ballots cast. That's compared to 9,584 Democratic ballots cast in the Democratic Primary that year.

Total primary election turnout could top 80,000 with about 40,000 ballots cast by Republicans and an equal number of ballots cast by Democrats - and it could be more. That would equal or exceed the 40,185 ballots cast by Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Primary Election.
My assumption is this is a Democratic wave year. Wave elections have that special designation because like a tsunami swamps land they swamp voting trends set by past elections. Like a tsunami, they are driven by energy generated from a major seismic event in national politics. This year, Trump is that seismic event. We can’t look at Collin in isolation.

Exceptionally high Dem turnout and lower GOP turnout for all the 2017 special and uniform elections around the US suggests 2018 is a Dem wave year.

Consider 2010 GOP wave election turnout in context to prior midterm elections. GOP Primary turnout that year was more than triple prior midterm years. 2010 GOP turnout was even higher than 2008 GOP primary turnout. GOP turnout jumped an energy state in that wave year.

Consider too Collin’s jump in registered voters since the 2014 midterm. The registration count for the Nov 2017 Election was 540K - and that was after the county purged 40k registration records preparing for the 2018 Registration Card mailing. I think the registered voter count will increase to 560K before the Feb 5th cutoff date. (Our 2014 primary registration count was a lackluster 435K.) Our registration count on Feb 5th and last minute registration application activity during January will be predictive of turnout too.

Total primary turnout of 15 percent lines up with the last few primary years, including the 2010 GOP wave year. I think that is reasonable, and perhaps low in context of election turnout trends through 2017. Turnout of 15 percent pegs our total primary turnout at 84K ballots cast. I’ll be shocked of that skews mostly to GOP ballots cast.

And, more Dem candidates are on primary ballots for more offices in Collin, and across TX, than any time in nearly a generation. If all those candidates are actually out campaigning and canvassing voters to GOTV, (like Republican tea party activist did in Collin 2010 like republicans never had before) that will add to Dem turnout enthusiasm already generated by the Trump effect.

I think GOP turnout enthusiasm will be generally down this year, as it was through all the 2017 elections. And, I think Dem Primary turnout will at least equal 2016 Primary turnout, just as 2010 GOP wave Primary turnout more than equaled 2008 Primary turnout.
There isn’t much time for candidates on primary ballots to gain name recognition  —  early voting starts on Tuesday Feb. 20th. Half or more of in person voters cast their ballots during early voting in Collin County and other suburban counties around the state. Thousands of senior Texans and Texans in the military and overseas, will begin marking their absentee mail ballots by mid-January. Military and overseas ballots must be out by Jan. 20th according to the Texas Secretary of State's election calendar.

Offices on the 2018 primary ballot in Collin County

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Texas Voter Registration Certificates For 2018


by Michael Handley

Pursuant to Texas state election law, new Voter Registration Certificates are mailed to all "Active Status" registered voters in December of odd numbered years. “Suspense Status” voters do not receive a new certificate.

New yellow color certificates were printed by the election registrar office of each Texas county and mailed between November 15th and December 5th. Voters whose renewal certificates are returned to the registrar as undelivered will be placed in "suspense" by January 2, 2018, following the mailing.

The certificates are valid for two years beginning January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019.

Certificates must list jurisdictional numbers for seven designated territorial units: Congressional & State Legislative Districts, County Commissioners’, Justice of the Peace precincts and the City and School District precincts, if defined. In addition to the aforementioned, counties may include 3 additional districts for a total of ten jurisdiction.

You MUST be registered to vote in the county in which you currently reside, and have a currently dated government issued photo I.D., to vote in any Texas election. You must be registered, or have mailed your registration application to be postmarked, no later than midnight of the thirtieth day before the election date. And, as of the date of this article, you are still required to present photo I.D. at the polling place to vote in person. The last day to register to vote in any election is the 30th day before Election Day.

Every registered Texas voter should have received their new 2018-19 yellow Voter Registration Card (VRC) by the first part of January 2018, or within thirty days after you submitted your registration application. If you asked to register to vote while updating your driver's license with the Texas DPS, and you never received a VRC, your registration application may not have been processed.
If you have not received a new VRC, you may NOT be properly registered to vote. You should immediately check your registration status and take action to properly register, if you find you are not registered to vote in the county where you reside.

To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application for Collin Co. by clicking here or any county by clicking here. For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Al Franken: The Obvious Setup and Liberals Took the Bait

Last Thursday, Los Angeles conservative radio host and Fox News Sean Hannity guest regular Leeann Tweeden charged that Franken forced her to kiss him, mistreated her when she rebuffed him, and took a photo with his hands grabbing her breasts when she was asleep—all when they were both touring Iraq and Afghanistan with the USO, entertaining American military personnel, back in 2006.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Will Tax Repatriated Earnings Boost American Economy?

Brookings Institution: As the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans attempt to overhaul the U.S. tax code, one focal point will be how to “repatriate” the $2.6 trillion of overseas profits accumulated by U.S. corporations. Given how we talk about these earnings, you could be forgiven for thinking U.S. companies have stashed their cash inside a mattress in France. They haven’t. Most of it is already invested right here in the U.S.

To clear up a common misconception, ”repatriation” is not a geographic concept, but refers to a set of rules defining when corporations have to pay taxes on their earnings. For instance, paying dividends to shareholders triggers a tax bill, but simply bringing the cash to the U.S. does not. Indeed, nearly all of the $2.6 trillion is already invested in the U.S.

Proponents of the Republicans’ Big 6 Framework are fond of arguing that “bringing earnings home” will increase funds available for domestic investment and growth. That’s not only illogical—it’s disingenuous. Here’s why:


Monday, July 24, 2017

Democrats Offer America A Better Deal

"When you lose an election with someone who has, say, 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say what did we do wrong?" Schumer said, speaking on ABC's This Week Sunday. "And the No. 1 thing that we did wrong is ... we didn't tell people what we stood for."

The simple truth is, Democrats haven't talked much about the fact that America is no longer working the way it should for "We the People" Americans. Democrats haven't been talking about incomes and wages not keeping up with the cost of living.  Democrats haven't been talking about wage stagnation, underemployment, the exploding cost of a college education and the erosion of pensions are leaving many without hope. From rural towns to inner cities, Democrats haven't been talking about the millions who can no longer achieve the American dream. Meanwhile, the American people have watched as Washington special interests, millionaires and billionaires at home and foreign, and powerful multinational corporations acquire more and more wealth and power to dominate America's citizens and democratic institutions from local school boards to the federal government.
"In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there," wrote Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a New York Times op-ed. "We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake. This is the start of a new vision for the party."
On Monday, House and Senate Democrats unveiled their A Better Deal legislative agenda that will again make America work for "We the People."

The "Better Deal" campaign strategy is modeled after the GOP's 1994 "Contract With America" legislative agenda campaign that resulted in Republicans gaining 54 House and 9 U.S. Senate seats.

The "Better Deal” message also plays off the title of President Trump’s first and best-known book, “The Art of the Deal.” It is true that Trump has so far shown himself to be one of the worst dealmakers ever to reside in the White House, unable even to get his own party to agree on something it has been promising for seven years, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. It is also true that Trump has reneged on all of his populist promises, instead following the standard GOP game plan of tax cuts for the rich and entitlement cuts for everyone else.
But if there is one lesson Democrats should have learned from 2016, it is that opposition to Trump is not by itself enough to win elections. If Democrats use the "Better Deal" simply as a stick with which they beat Trump's in ability to close any legislative deal, they could lose more Congressional and state house seats the 2018 midterms.
The Monday morning Better Deal rollout focused on three broad parts of the “A Better Deal” legislative agenda: creating new jobs; lowering prescription drug costs; and restraining the power of corporations:
1) Pharmaceutical companies can without restraint  raise the price of lifesaving drugs without justification. Democrats demand rules to stop prescription drug price gouging and further demand drug companies justify price increases to the public. Democrats will also pass legislation to allow and mandate that Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for older Americans.

2) Current antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors while sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care. Democrats will pass legislation to again level the competitive free market playing field by breaking up corporations that have bought up all their competitors to create single seller market monopolies, and by reinstating FTC and SEC regulations to make sure big multinational corporations can not - through acquisition of all competitors - become a market's single seller of goods and services.

3) There are millions of unemployed and  underemployed Americans, particularly those without a college degree.  Democrats will pass legislation to foster secure full-time, living wage jobs. Democrats will pass legislation to give employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train American workers for unfilled jobs. This will have particular resonance in smaller cities and rural areas, which have experienced an exodus of young people who aren’t trained for the jobs in those areas.
In the coming months, Democrats will roll out additional legislative agenda proposals, from rebuilding rural America, to guaranteed healthcare availability, to fundamentally changing our trade laws to benefit American workers, not multinational corporations.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mike Collier Officially Announces For Texas Lt. Gov.


Incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is getting a Democratic challenger when he seeks re-election in 2018. Mike Collier officially announced he is running for the state office at a campaign stop in Round Rock, Texas.

A crowd of supporters gathered at the Sharon Prete Main Street Plaza in Round Rock on Saturday, June 17, 2017, to hear Collier announce he will challenge Patrick in 2018. He told the crowd they need a lieutenant governor that will bring Texas together, not apart.

Many in Texas Politics consider the lieutenant governor to be the most powerful person in state government because the person holding that office sets the legislative agenda for the state senate. Nothing passes the Texas Senate without the lieutenant governor’s approval.

Collier has criticized Patrick for not prioritizing legislation to fix Texas' public school funding, which places heavy property tax burdens on Texas home owners.
"We're very different in terms of public education," Collier said Saturday. "I'm pro-public education. I'm pro-teacher and retired teacher and he's not. We have very different points of view in terms of tax policy. I attribute high property taxes to republican fiscal policies. I'll show that on the campaign trail."
Collier announced in March of this year he was preparing to run for Texas Lt. Gov. in 2018. At the time, Collier said he planned to travel around the state and listen to voters to gauge support for his campaign before making a final decision to run for the office. "I will make an official announcement to run when I am confident I can run a winning campaign," Collier said in March.

In an email sent to supporters in March, Collier said, "Our Lt. Governor simply isn’t living up to our expectations," Collier said in the letter. "Texans want someone to fix our broken politics. It starts with sending Dan Patrick back to the radio entertainment business and putting someone serious in charge of the Senate." Collier wrote:
I love Texas and I’m proud to be a Texan. We're no nonsense, we love our families, and we have a generous spirit.

We expect our leaders to reflect these values, and when they don't, it's time to make a change.

Our Lt. Governor simply isn’t living up to our expectations. Instead of solving problems, bringing Texans together, and showing genuine compassion, he’s playing political games and pitting Texan against Texan.

Like you, I’ve had it.

That’s why today, I’m assembling a campaign team to run against Dan Patrick for Texas Lt. Governor. I'll be traveling the state, listening to Texans, raising money, building grassroots support, and when I am confident that I can run a winning campaign, I'll make a formal announcement.

We need a Lt. Governor that brings Texans together, not an ideologue that chases headlines and drives us apart.

Over the last few years, I’ve traveled all over Texas, talking to Texans who love our state and are worried about our future. Texans want someone to fix our broken politics. It starts with sending Dan Patrick back to the radio entertainment business and putting someone serious in charge of the Senate.
Collier ran an unsuccessful campaign for Texas Comptroller in 2014, losing to Republican Glenn Hegar in the lowest turnout election since 1942, during WWII.

Mike Collier, served the Texas Democratic Party as its finance chairman, from early 2015 to March 2017. He resign that post in March to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.
“Over the past year, Mike Collier has dedicated his time and talent to help build the permanent party infrastructure necessary to win,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the state Democratic Party’s chairman. “In no small part due to his efforts, Texas Democrats had the resources and vision to earn the best election cycle in two decades.”

Mike Collier Speaking At 
A 2016 Collin County Town Hall
Should Collier, a Houston-area resident, win the Democratic nominating primary in March 2018, he will challenge Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was elected to his first term in 2014. Patrick said early this year he would run for re-election in 2018. While the GOP holds a clear advantage in statewide elections, Patrick has become a key lightening rod for Democrats as they focus on the 2018 midterms.

Collier says his number one legislative priority as Lt. Gov. will be strengthening Texas' public K-12 schools and universities. His number two priority, which is related to his goal of strengthening Texas' public schools, will be the state's tax policies. Collier says the tax scales in Texas have been tipped to place the mounting burden to fund Texas' public schools on Texas homeowners, as Republicans have increasingly eliminated business taxes paid by corporations doing business Texas. Collier says corporations, who depend on a well educated workforce, should pay their fair share of educating their future work force.

Collier's number three priority is corruption. He believes the one-party system in Texas, where Republicans have controlled the state's financial decisions through one party control of the state legislative, executive and judicial branches of government since George Bush was governor, has left the state's public education and transportation systems in decline.

Mike Collier joined BlogTalkUSA's Eyes Wide Open DemBlog Talk talk radio program co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Rheana Nevitt Piegols on several occasions over the past two years. Listen to these programs to get to know the new candidate running for Texas Lt. Gov.




Mike Collier joined BlogTalkUSA's Eyes Wide Open DemBlogTalk co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Nevitt Piegols on May 30, 2017 to talk about how his campaign for Texas Lt. Gov. is shaping up.

Program Link

Mike Collier joined co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Nevitt Piegols on April 11, 2017 to talk about his just released book, in which Mike relates stories about his experiences running for statewide office in 2014, and traveling the state since talking to Texans.

Program Link
Find Mike Collier's book, "Out of Comptrol: A Converted Democrat's Improbable Quest to Save Texas Politics," at the following links:
Mike Collier joined co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Nevitt Piegols on March 7, 2017 to discuss his decision to run for Texas Lt. Gov.

Program Link

Mike Collier joined co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Nevitt Piegols to talk about Texas' state budget and economy on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.

Program Link

After the 2014 election, Mike Collier embarked on a 2015 Texas "listen tour" talking Democrats across Texas for Texas Democratic Party Chair, Gilberto Hinojosa. Mike joined co-hosts Michael Handley and Rheana Nevitt Piegols on a September 2015 program to share what he learned on his listening tour.

Program Link



Mike Collier Speaking At A 2014 Campaign Stop,  When He Was 
Running For Texas Comptroller

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders Responds To Pres. Trump

Senator Bernie Sanders recorded a 14-minute long video response to President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
“Tonight, President Trump once again made it clear he plans on working with Republicans in Congress who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million Americans off of health insurance, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts in Medicaid, raise the cost of prescription drugs to seniors, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, while at the same time, he wants to give another massive tax break to the wealthiest Americans,” Sanders said. ...“Let me be very clear in stating that I think those priorities are wrong.”
He also brought up the numerous contentious town halls that took place across the country recently.
“As a result, the Republicans are getting very, very worried,” he said. “They’re not so cocky anymore about simply repealing Obamacare. And they should be worried.”
Sanders also called upon Americans affected by the health care act to “keep showing up, keep calling Congress and continue the fight. The Republicans are now on the defensive, and we have to continue to push them back.”


Senator Bernie Sanders

Watch former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear deliver the "official" response to President Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress for the Democratic Party.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Democrats: Talk To Older Voters About GOP Plan To Repeal Medicare Benefits

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)  not only provides affordable access to health insurance for working-age Americans and their families, it also provides older Americans covered by Medicare and Medicaid a list of additional covered benefits. The ACA, a.k.a.Obamacare, improved Medicare coverage, boosted taxes and reduced program spending. Older Americans on Medicaid also would face a significant loss of benefits, because any effort to repeal Obamacare would affect the law’s major expansion of Medicaid, including how Washington pays states for administering the program.

For starters, the ACA greatly expanded the roster of tests and procedures that Medicare enrollees can get with little if any cost to make sure enrollees are healthy and to help them stay that way. Medicare’s list of so-called wellness provisions includes many items added by the ACA:
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Bone mass measurements
  • Breast cancer screening (mammograms)
  • Cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy)
  • Cardiovascular disease screening
  • Cervical and vaginal cancer screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Depression screening
  • Diabetes screening and self-management training
  • Glaucoma tests
  • Hepatitis C screening test
  • HIV screening
  • Lung cancer screening
  • Medical nutrition therapy
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Prostate cancer screening
  • Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling
  • Shots (flu, pneumococcal, and Hepatitis B)
  • Tobacco use cessation counseling
  • “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit
  • Yearly “Wellness” visit
Good health does cost money, of course, but so does having to treat people who have not been taking care of themselves. Perhaps all of these measures would survive the repeal process. However, considering that some of these benefits might disappear, Medicare enrollees ought to work with their doctors right now to make sure they’re taking full advantage of these wellness benefits.

Another main Obamacare feature has been its reduction in out-of-pocket spending in Part D Medicare prescription drug plans. This has been accomplished through the elimination of the so-called “donut hole” by 2020. Medicare says enrollees have saved more than $2,000 per person, on average, because of this single change.

It’s quite possible, of course, that the donut hole will be totally gone by the time the “replace” components of “repeal and replace” actually have taken effect. Given the shouts from both parties about high drug prices, it seems unlikely that Republicans would have much appetite for being tagged with efforts to make people spend more money on prescription medicines.

Obamacare’s other big Medicare impact came via financial improvements it put in place to help the program. It raised a bunch of taxes, including requiring high-income wage earners to pay higher Medicare payroll taxes and stiff premium surcharges for Medicare Part B and D premiums. Health providers and Medicare Advantage insurance plans were also willing to accept lower payment levels from Medicare in exchange for the law’s provisions that would expand their access to more insurance customers.

Before the passage of the ACA, the Medicare trust fund that pays claims for Part A hospital and nursing home expenses had been projected to run short of funds by 2017. The ACA has pushed that date out more than 10 years.

Republicans reportedly want to do away with many of these taxes. Unless other funding streams are created to replace them, the longer-term finances of the program would be at greater risk. Ironically, these actions would “force” Republicans to cut health care spending to curb runaway deficits.

As actual GOP plans come into sharper focus, sharp Medicare battle lines will form for politicians and the public alike.  Expect the proposals to come coated in friendly sounding packages that tout health care improvements. But it will be crucial to look inside the packages to get an understanding of whether the Medicare program that would emerge from their enactment is one you want to have.

READ MORE: How plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act could affect Medicare

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Race For DNC Chair Tightens

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley announced Saturday he has decided to withdraw his bid to be the Democratic Party's next national chairman and back Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to lead the party.
"While it was a tremendous honor to run for DNC Chair over the past few months, I am proud to throw my support behind Keith so we can ensure that the next Chair of the DNC is dedicated to investing in and strengthening state parties and ensuring that the DNC is an accountable organization," New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement today. "As I've talked to the DNC membership, it's clear Keith has widespread support, and I know as our next DNC Chair Keith will successfully unite and grow our party."

Ellison said he is "proud" to have Buckley's support. He added that he asked Buckley to "lead our effort to provide the support and resources the state parties need in a new and innovative 57 state strategy." (There are 50 state parties and seven in the territories and the District of Columbia.)
Ellison has the backing of many Democratic Party leaders, including U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Al Franken (MN),  and numerous other party leaders including members of Congress and state Democratic Party leaders.

CNN announced Friday it will host a debate next week for the candidates running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The event in Atlanta is being called "Debate Night: Democratic Leadership Debate" and is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, just days before Democratic officials vote on a new chairman at the DNC's meeting in the same city Feb. 23-26.
"CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and New Day anchor Chris Cuomo will moderate the primetime event live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia just days before the Democratic Party chooses a new national leader," the network said in a press release. "The candidates will debate their visions and strategies for the 2018 midterm elections, how to rebuild the Democratic Party and the role of the DNC under the Trump administration."
Since mid-January, the DNC chair candidates have participated in four "DNC Future Forums," the last of which was last weekend, as well as several additional forums host by various activist groups.

More:

Monday, February 13, 2017

DNC Chair Candidate Forum In Baltimore

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) held it's fourth and final regional day long 'Future Forum' in Baltimore last Saturday, in advance of its February 23rd-26th meeting to elect new party leadership. As with the first three forums, DNC Chair candidates, DNC members, guest speakers, and other Democrats discussed how the party goes forward after losing to Republicans, over the last 8 years, more than 1,000 state and federal level legislative and executive branch seats held by Democrats.  

Ten candidates for DNC chair lined up on stage for 90 minutes to discuss their views on how the party goes forward:
  • Sally Boynton Brown, Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party
  • Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
  • Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Keith Ellison, U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota 5th District
  • Jehmu Greene of Texas, Democratic strategist, Fox News political analyst, and former Rock The Vote president
  • Jaime Harrison, Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
  • Tom Perez, 26th United States Secretary of Labor
  • Peter Peckarsky, a Wisconsin attorney and Democratic progressive activist
  • Sam Ronan of Ohio, activist and Air Force veteran
  • Robert Vinson Brannum, Veterans Committee chair of the NAACP’s Washington D.C. branch
When they meet on February 23–26, 2017, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee will elect a new Chairperson and other party officers.
The DNC chairperson candidates offered opinions during their 90 minute discussion forum on why over 1,000 of the party's incumbent office holders lost elections to Republicans during the 2010 - 2016 election years.

GOP Bill To Repeal ACA - Obamacare

Republicans in the House (Tea Party) Freedom Caucus voted among themselves Monday night to band together and support only a 2017 Affordable Care Act (ACA) "Obamacare" repeal bill that is at least as comprehensive as the repeal bill passed by the Republican controlled House and Senate in 2015.
“If it’s less than the 2015 [bill], we will oppose it,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told a small group of reporters Monday night.
By insisting the 2015 repeal bill effectively be copied as the initial 2017 repeal bill, the GOP again confirmed the party's hard line intent to repeal affordable healthcare for millions of Americans.

The 2015 ACA repeal bill was passed by the Republican controlled House and Senate in late 2015, but was not signed by President Barack Obama when it reached his desk in January 2016.

The 2015 repeal bill rolled back Medicaid expansion funding to pre-2010 levels and ended the mandate for businesses over a certain size to offer group health insurance to employees along with the subsidies that helped pay for the mandated insurance, plus more...

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Repeal Bill of 2015 (December 7, 2015 @ healthaffairs.org).