Monday, March 06, 2017

With Schumer And Van Hollen In Charge Of The 2018 Senate Races, It's Safe To Count On Disaster


Friday, David Sirota contrasted the lies Trump told on the campaign trail about bringing down the price of pharmaceuticals with his actions since moving into the Oval Office.
A week before his inauguration, Donald Trump said that when it came to drug prices, pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder”-- and he pledged to take decisive action to reduce the rising cost of medicine. Six weeks into his presidency, though, his government has moved to help drug companies block shareholder initiatives designed to help bring more scrutiny to drug price increases.

With drug prices skyrocketing in the United States, investor groups last year filed shareholder resolutions with 13 drug companies that-- if passed-- would force their boards to more meticulously detail their price increases for major medicines, and to provide “the rationale and criteria used for these price increases.” Days after Trump met with pharmaceutical industry CEOs at the White House, the Securities and Exchange Commission endorsed drug companies’ moves to block the resolutions from being voted on by shareholders at their annual meetings. The SEC move followed Trump promoting Republican SEC commissioner Michael Piwowar to serve as acting chairman of the agency.

...The SEC has not always helped drug companies squelch such shareholder initiatives: Under the leadership of President Obama’s appointees in 2015, the agency told Gilead Sciences and Vertex Pharmaceuticals that the companies were obligated to let shareholders vote on a separate proposal that would have forced the companies to disclose the risks they face from their pricing policies. The companies’ shareholders ultimately voted down the measures.
This cycle looks really bad for the Democrats. It goes beyond former DSCC executive director-- now lobbyist-- Tom Lopach running around and telling everyone what a micro-manager/always wrong asshole Schumer is. Even in Trump keeps on the self destructive track he's on for the next 22 months (likely) and even if McConnell and Ryan are viewed as his loyal henchmen (likely) and even if the Democrats win more than the 24 seats in the House they need to win power and dump Ryan (likely), the 2018 Senate elections are stacked up very badly for the Democrats. Remember, last cycle they were stacked out perfectly for the Democrats who would have had to make every mistake in the book to not win the majority. Lopach and many others say that's exactly what Schumer did-- every mistake in the book. By handpicking unelectable corrupt conservative candidates, Schumer lost Pennsylvania (Katie McGinty), Florida (Patrick Murphy), Ohio (Rob Portman), Arizona (Ann Kirkpatrick) and Iowa (Patty Judge). Lopach insists it was completely Schumer's fault that the Democrats lost Missouri as well and that he was overwhelmingly complicit in the defeat in Wisconsin to boot, two even I would't have blamed him for. The Democrats probably never had any real shot to win Indiana but that didn't prevent Schumer from wasting $7,833,646 of DSCC money plus another $5,083,309 in Senate Majority PAC money to try to elect his scumbag lobbyist conservative crony (Evan Bayh). Almost $13 million just flushed down the ole toilet for no reason at all (as Bayh wound up with a paltry 42.4% of the vote).

Anyway, excuse the tangent; what I was getting at was that Schumer wrecked the perfect set-up for Democrats. How's he likely to do with the toughest possible hand the Democrats could have been dealt. Let's forget for a minute that they have to play serious defense in 9 states Trump won (Indiana, Montana, West Virginia Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Michigan) as well as serious defense in Virginia, Maine and Minnesota and that they have a corrupt, sleazy incumbent in New Jersey (Menendez) who could be indicted or on trial around election time. The only natural opportunities are in Nevada, where Hillary won but where the Democrats don't have a candidate and will probably run the worst imaginable cowardly and worthless conservative, freshman Jacky Rosen, who barely scraped by in an open seat in November, winning 146,653 (47.2%) to 142,726 (46.0%). Rosen has gone on since then to distinguish herself as one of the worst Democrats in Congress, not just an ignorant and ineffectual backbencher, but with a voting record that brought her an "F" from ProgressivePunch low enough to make her someone Ryan and McCarthy know they can completely count on when they need fake-Democrats to help make their toxic agenda appear bipartisan. In a sane world, Democrats would be thinking about to get her to retire, not about how to move her into the only good shot the Democrats have on the board to replace a GOP incumbent. The other state where conventional wisdom says there's a chance is Arizona, where the GOP is in turmoil because Trump hates Jeff Flake, the incumbent, and will run a primary opponent against him, while Democrats, at least theoretically, keep registering more and more Hispanics, Asians and young voters.

Then there's the outside chance that Texans just can't stand Ted Cruz enough to elect El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke instead. The likelihood isn't great but the Democrats would have to hold every single at risk seat and win Nevada, Arizona and Texas to win back the Senate. Is it doable? Not with Schumer's hands all over everything.

In fact, the very first thing did was find a new DSCC chair, the worst possible loser you can ever think of, Chris Van Hollen, a numbskull from Maryland who presided over the loss of more Democratic House seats as DCCC chair than anyone who still draws breathe. And Schemer had to lure him into it with a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee! He bribed the least qualified Senate Democrat-- a man with "loser" imprinted onto his political DNA-- to run the 2018 campaign! It;s almost beyond comprehension. Nick Fouriezos gave it the ole college try today, writing for

Van Hollen told him that economic opportunity-- "revitalizing the ports and other infrastructure projects as part of the solution to the poverty, unemployment and crime"-- is "an important part of the strategy." I hope it took more than that to win Van Hollen-- "full of optimistic plugs for bipartisanship"-- the job. "[L]et’s just 'get everybody around the table,' he says. It’s part of his larger vision of the Democratic Party, at a time when party soul-searching seems to be at an all-time high. 'We need a big table,' he says, 'but we need to focus on kitchen-table issues.'" And yes, the likelihood is that the Democrats won't win back the Senate or even narrow the gap, but that between Schumer and Van Hollen the narrow gap will become a prohibitive chasm for 2020.
From his shimmering new office in the Hart Senate Office Building, still unadorned after a recent move up from the basement, Van Hollen lays out his operating philosophy for Democrats: Beyond resisting the “ugly parts” of the Trump agenda, which he says includes the immigration ban and eliminating the Affordable Care Act, they need to advance a vision. “Part of that is blowing the whistle on the fact Trump talks a populist game, but at the end of the day he’s delivering for his 1 percent.”

It’s here where the tug-and-pull personality of Van Hollen most shows, between truly liberal positions and yet a desire to find commonalities. He suggests a willingness to reform the ACA but not repeal it, to lead on the $1 trillion infrastructure investment Trump spoke about on the campaign and to consider some Republican financial efforts, including some variation of lowering taxes. Van Hollen “doesn’t appear ready to support corporate tax reform, which most fair-minded Democrats seem prepared to do,” says Maryland GOP chair Dirk Haire. For his part, Van Hollen says that’s a mischaracterization, citing a willingness to lessen part of the overseas corporate tax but also complaining about how Republicans “talk a good game about reducing the deficit but refuse to close a single tax break in order to do it.”

Goal Thermometer ...[W]hile Trump espouses a return to American nativism, Van Hollen sees an opportunity to raise the light of a global beacon-- a similar prognosis, but a separate prescription. For sure, his policies will seem Sisyphean in a Republican Senate, and the path to Democratic wins in 2018 seems riddled with potholes. But Van Hollen says he isn’t afraid of the challenge: “If you’re not pushing even at times when there seems no hope, then you’re never going to break down the door.”
The Senate Democrats elected Schumer to be their leader. They deserve the misery-- including the lame new DSCC chair-- he's bringing them. America doesn't. The ActBlue thermometer on the right is for progressive senators up for reelection in 2018-- because it's just way to important to leave it to losers like Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen.

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At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. America, by voting continuously for democraps, DOES deserve it.

After 40 years of betrayals of rhetoric and total fidelity to the money that buys policy, you'd think an electorate that cared about shit would have changed by now. Not in America.

We are governed by the money because we keep voting for government by the money.

Blue America, because their default position is always supporting DEMOCRATs, is part of that problem. Sorry to say.


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