Monday, June 17, 2019

Coming Attractions

Who Is the “Biden Alternative”?

Expect Buttigieg to have a big fundraising quarter.

My take: This weekend’s New York Times story is essential reading for understanding how smartly Mayor Pete has turned his first-quarter momentum into bankable dollars.  The piece focuses on Wall Street money, but Buttigieg continues to be a strong grassroots raiser as well.

With Biden still riding high, no one else can today plausibly argue they have a path to the Democratic nomination.  But the establishment will be looking for an alternative if Biden falls, in part to stop Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren from winning a majority of delegates. 

Kamala Harris is well positioned to win the Biden-alternative sweepstakes as well.  Who will raise more overall in the second-quarter, Harris or Buttigieg? That is one of the most important questions in the Democratic nomination battle right now.

Pelosi Continues to Hold off Impeachment

Speaker’s iron hand remains strong.

My take: This Washington Post story, also essential reading, chronicles Pelosi’s methods for bending the caucus to her will.  With the House’s Democratic first-termers still largely opposed to opening formal impeachment proceedings, the Speaker is determined to keep the focus on health care and not the Mueller report.  If Pelosi can make it to summer holding off impeachment, she is probably home free.

Speaking of Health Care…

The New York Times says Trump wants to put out a new plan.

My take: Republican congressional leaders don’t want the White House to give the Democrats a pre-election target to shoot at on an issue of great strength for the opposition. Nothing would make Pelosi happier than to have a Trump health care plan to unify her caucus and to take at least some of the focus away from the single-payer plans being offered by some of her party’s presidential candidates. 

Don’t Expect Progress Anytime Soon

Wilbur Ross plays down the prospect of imminent China trade deal in Wall Street Journal interview; congressional leaders of both parties blame Mick Mulvaney for lack of movement on budget, debt ceiling talks.

My take: Trump is consumed with re-election; Pelosi is consumed with beating Trump for re-election; Trump and Pelosi are on horrible terms; Trump’s tariffs so far haven’t given him the leverage over China he needs for a deal; the Chinese are now distracted by Hong Kong; voters think Washington is dysfunctional; voters aren’t demanding action on the debt or deficit; every day is one day closer to Election Day, making serious policy action more difficult.

So if you are wagering, bet on “no action” over “action” when it comes to DC.

Except that the debt ceiling has to be raised and the budget spending caps probably have to be lifted. Political physics demand that there will eventually be a budget deal, but things are going to be sprawling and ugly, with many twists and turns, before those things happen.

Big Four


Sen. Joni Ernst criticizes tariffs but links her race to President Trump’s re-election.

Terry Branstad, in Iowa court, says he didn’t discriminate when he cut gay official’s pay.

Pete Buttigieg says being gay is ‘not the only thing that defines me’.

New Hampshire

Gillibrand says her path to a 2020 victory goes through New Hampshire.

Medical marijuana bills advance to governor’s desk.

Independent redistricting panel bill sent to governor.

South Carolina

22 candidates. 4,400 pounds of fish. Clyburn preps for epic ‘World Famous’ fish fry.

Key takeaways from Beto O’Rourke’s visit to Greenville and South Carolina.

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