•The Must-Reads returns from vacation to find much anxiety-provoking detail in the news, from the Trump-Cohen fight to the indictment of a Russian spy with connections to the NRA and its efforts to aid Trump. We expect our readers have already digested the news that former Trump fixer, Michael Cohen, is inching closer to turning on Trump, in what looks for all the world like a bad mob movie. You will have heard that Cohen claims to have knowledge of a meeting where Trump was present and approved the now-legendary Trump Tower Russian agent meeting. (For a good summary of the real dangers of this revelation, see Greg Sargent’s Washington Post column on July 27, where he states, “this revelation, if true, would directly implicate Trump himself in an effort to conspire with a foreign power to tip the election to him, and a subsequent effort to cover that up.”)
But we will pause for a while to let it all sink in, and recall that so far nothing has been substantiated, and the fallout has yet to fall. We suggest reading some broader analyses of the current news, which has become frenetic this week as Trump’s rage Tweets have multiplied and charges are flying.
So, before we get into more detailed stories, we turn this week to look at some of the themes and broader issues, of the damage being done to the social and political order, by the current administration, indeed by undivided and all-branch conservative Republican government. There are, in the press, some general themes, which we will enumerate this way:
1) The Supreme Court, and its new conservative majority;
2) The damage to the environment;
3) The damage to the ecosystem of North America;
4) The damage to political discourse;
5) The betrayal of Trump’s own voters: the enrichment of the rich and the immiseration of the poor.
1. The most enduring change in American life may in fact come not from Trump or his presidency, but rather from his appointment of judges, across the federal system and of course to the Supreme Court. In an excellent review of the issues at stake in the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor at Harvard Law School, writes in the July 19th issue of The New York Review of Books that “A conservative jurisprudence, aggressively applied, would reshape American law and politics. It would reinterpret fundamental issues of individual and privacy rights, health care, employment, national security, and the environment. These changes would in turn affect electoral politics. The range of conservative legislation that could survive judicial review would expand, while the range of progressive legislation that could do so would narrow.”
Feldman details several threats to our social progress, and points to two serious rollbacks of established rights. First, of course, is Roe vs. Wade, and as he points out, “[f]or pro-choice advocates, the fall of Roe would be a disastrous defeat. Brown v. Board of Education was controversial when decided but gained wide acceptance over time. The Roe decision has never achieved a similar consensus. Many Court observers, including Ginsburg, have suggested that it generated lasting controversy because the Court decided it without first laying the foundation with prior incremental decisions.” Sending the abortion laws back to the states would be a disaster on many levels, with southern states moving to complete bans, and elections all over the country having abortion as an issue for years to come.
Second, it may not be obvious, but one thing the Court may do is start to roll back environmental regulations, which it can do, since the application of legislation that governs, for example, the EPA is usually left to the federal agency itself. “An activist conservative Court could make life difficult for a Democratic EPA by blocking regulation directly, declaring it ‘arbitrary and capricious’ under the Administrative Procedure Act. The courts are only supposed to use this tool to block actions that are genuinely irrational or that exceed the agency’s legal authority; but the Court could deploy it much more aggressively than has been done in the past.” And a conservative court could start to interpret statutes in ways different from the agencies, which it usually does not do.
Feldman also discusses such issues as executive power, the ACA, and national security. Of course, progressives could push back by demanding new legislation from Congress, but that is obviously dependent on political developments. We urge readers interested in the coming legal battles to read Feldman: https://www.nybooks.com/
But the damage does not end there. Trump is already putting his stamp on the federal courts, as The New York Times points out in an essay on Tuesday. “With another judge confirmed Tuesday by the Senate, President Trump and Senate Republicans are leaving an ever-expanding imprint on the judiciary, nudging powerful appeals courts rightward through a determined effort to nominate and confirm a steady procession of young conservative jurists,” says The Times. For example, “Of the 167 spots on those courts nationwide, Trump nominees will now occupy one of every seven, though the majority of those nominees replaced judges who were also appointed by Republican presidents…. Judge John K. Bush of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, whom the Senate also confirmed last year, mused about politics in blog posts written under a pseudonym. One of Judge Bush’s missives cited abortion alongside slavery as ‘the two greatest tragedies in our country.’ Another suggested that a reader of the blog from Kenya was a relative of Mr. Obama’s.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
2. Which brings us to perhaps the most enduring harm that Trump and his allies in Congress can do: the attacks on our environment, on the planet itself, even as California burns and the Northern Hemisphere undergoes a scorching summer. Said The Guardian: “Across much of the northern hemisphere, intense and prolonged heatwaves have triggered disruption and devastation as North America, the Arctic, northern Europe and Africa have sweltered in record-breaking temperatures. In Africa, a weather station at Ouargla, Algeria, in the Sahara desert, recorded a temperature of 51.3C, [124° F] the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Africa. In Japan, where temperatures have reached more than 40C [104° F], people were last week urged to take precautions after the death toll reached 30 with thousands more having sought hospital treatment for heat-related conditions.” But, as they point out, the strangest weather may have been in unprepared Canada, where 33 people died of heat-related causes in Québec, where heat indices rose to 104° F. https://www.theguardian.com/
While global warming is not the only factor in this summer’s heat, it has exacerbated the effects of seasonal variations in the jet stream: “And as global carbon emissions continue to rise and predictions suggest the world will be unable to hold global temperature rises this century to below 2C above pre-industrial levels, widespread heatwaves are very likely to get worse and become more frequent, scientists warn.” https://www.theguardian.com/
So it is with alarm that we report on the efforts of the Trump administration to roll back the fuel efficiency standards and emissions limits put in place by the Obama administration.As Bloomberg News summarizes this, “The Trump administration will seek to revoke California’s authority to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions — including its mandate for electric-car sales — in a proposed revision of Obama-era standards, according to three people familiar with the plan. The proposal, expected to be released this week, amounts to a frontal assault on one of former President Barack Obama’s signature regulatory programs to curb emissions that contribute to climate change. It also sets up a high-stakes battle over California’s unique ability to combat air pollution and, if finalized, is sure to set off a protracted courtroom battle. The proposed revamp would also put the brakes on federal rules to boost fuel efficiency into the next decade, said the people, who asked to not be identified discussing the proposals before they are public. Instead it would cap federal fuel economy requirements at the 2020 level, which under federal law must be at least a 35-mile-per-gallon fleet average, rather than letting them rise to roughly 50 mpg by 2025 as envisioned in the Obama plan, according to the people.” https://www.bloomberg.com/
California has sued to stop this, along with 17 other states. However, The New York Times reported on July 27 that the administration is divided on the plan. “Senior administration officials are clashing over President Trump’s plan to roll back a major environmental rule and let cars emit more tailpipe pollution, according to 11 people familiar with the confrontation, in a dispute over whether the proposal can withstand legal challenge…. [T]he Environmental Protection Agency’s acting chief, Andrew Wheeler…has tried to put the brakes on the plan, fearing that its legal and technical arguments are weak and will set up the Trump administration for an embarrassing courtroom loss.” The Department of Transportation wants to go ahead and face the courts; as The Times points out, they feel that the new Supreme Court will be sympathetic: see point 1 above. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
The new rules were indeed made public on Thursday this week, as summarized by The New York Times: “The proposal would freeze rules requiring automakers to build cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, including hybrids and electric vehicles, and unravel one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to combat global warming. It would also challenge the right of states to set their own, more stringent tailpipe pollution standards, setting the stage for a legal clash that could ultimately split the nation’s auto market in two.” Read the report on the rules, and the legal issues it opens up, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
3. But what kind of planet will we be leaving future generations, even if we escape climate disaster? A planet with fewer species, and unknown effects on the ecosystem, if the Trump administration has its way. We continue the litany of assaults on the environment by reporting on the administration’s attempts to severely weaken the Endangered Species Act. As The Washington Post summarized the proposal, “The Trump administration unveiled a proposal Thursday [July 19] that would strip the Endangered Species Act of key provisions, a move that conservationists say would weaken a law enacted 45 years ago to keep plant and animal species in decline from going extinct. The proposal, announced jointly by the Interior and Commerce departments, which are charged with protecting endangered wildlife, would end the practice of extending similar protections to species regardless of whether they are listed as endangered or threatened.
“If the proposal is approved, likely by year’s end, protections for threatened plants and animals would be made on a case-by-case basis. In another rollback of a key provision, the administration wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to strike language that guides officials to ignore economic impacts when determining how wildlife should be protected.” If economic impacts are not ignored, then any economic interest could go to court to challenge provisions that, over the years, have protected the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, the gray wolf, and the humpback whale. Read the summary here, as well as the fears of environmentalists that the act would effectively be gutted, here: https://www.washingtonpost.
[Note: it seems that The Washington Post has dropped its paywall. We cannot confirm this on all browsers, or explain why.]
As Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says in an opinion piece in The Guardian on Monday, “[i]f the overblown rhetoric of lobbyists and trade groups were to be believed, the US oil and gas industry has been brought to its knees by environmental regulations of totalitarian scope. They haven’t. But conservatives in Congress, echoing these talking points, love to claim that the ESA has been a failure and blocks economic development. The chairman of the House of Representatives natural resources committee, the Utah Republican Rob Bishop, has said he would ‘love to invalidate’ the Act. This administration and Congress want to change ESA rules so that political officials evaluate evidence, not scientists, and economic considerations are given greater weight in deciding whether to save a species.” The entire essay is well-worth reading: https://www.theguardian.com/
Last Thursday, in a scathing report, The Guardian named six species that could immediately be threatened, including gray wolves, polar bears, coho salmon, and grizzly bears: https://www.theguardian.com/
4. The surreal quality of Fox-news discourse reflects the bizarre justifications and defensive fabulations of elected Republicans in Congress. But even for Fox News, their defense of conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones hits a new low, and reflects a growing trend of right-wing conspiracy theory edging into our political discourse. The Jones story begins when Facebook banned Jones over dangerous posts. Here is Michael Gerson in The Washington Post on the larger significance of Fox’s reaction:
“One of the current complaints of the Trump right concerns the treatment given to Alex Jones by Facebook, which has temporarily banned the Internet radio host for videos that violated ‘community standards.’ According to Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network, ‘freedom of speech [is] under attack.’ Fox News television personality Tucker Carlson has also come to Jones’s defense, saying sarcastically, ‘I know we’re supposed to think Alex Jones is way more radical than, like, Bill Maher.’
“Well, yes, that is precisely what we should think. At various points, Jones has promoted the belief that 9/11 was an ‘inside job,’ that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizzeria, that NASA had built a child slave colony on Mars in order to harvest blood and bone marrow, that the Oklahoma City bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook school shooting were government ‘false flag’ operations, that some shooting survivors were ‘crisis actors,’ that ‘globalists’ are intent on committing genocide and that Democrats are on the verge of launching a second civil war.” [Note: on Wednesday, an Austin court heard lawyers for two of the Sandy Hook parents “seek to convince a Texas judge that they — and by extension the families of eight other victims in the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults — have a valid defamation claim against Mr. Jones, whose Austin-based Infowars media operation spread false claims that the shooting was an elaborate hoax.”]
Gerson argues that this is a sign of a larger moral issue, what amounts to a personality cult around Trump, who has supported Jones, if only because Jones is loyal to him: “[Trump] has appeared on Jones’s Infowars program and assured Jones that his ‘reputation is amazing.’ The White House briefly gave Infowars a press credential. And Donald Trump Jr. has retweeted Infowars stories.” What this adds up to, says Gerson, is a kind of nihilism that infects political discourse: “Trump is not a dogmatist; he is an egotist. He judges others not by their convictions, or even by their hold on reality, but by their fidelity to his person. It is a form of identity politics in which all that counts is one man’s identity. So Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), being faithless to Trump, is an enemy. And the revealer of child slavery on Mars is a friend…. The president has a nearly impossible time criticizing his fans, even when they are guilty of hate crimes and violence. In Trump’s own private creed, they are absolved of guilt by their loyalty to him. This commitment transforms their cruelty into the proof of passion; their prejudice into an expression of patriotism; their lawlessness into the embrace of his higher order.” Read Gerson’s analysis of the implications of this poisoned atmosphere, here, in the July 30 Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.
[Trigger warning: Trump supporters acting strangely] If you wish to descend to the truly bizarre—and you can be forgiven if you don’t—you may wish to learn about “Q,” or “QAnon,” the extremist right-wing conspiracy theory whose adherents believe that Trump is a savior fighting the “deep state.” (Which consists, of course, of the usual suspects, Soros, international bankers….) QAnon is the outgrowth of the Jones “pizzagate” conspiracy theory, and developed a life of its own in the corners of social media and the Internet. But this would not be notable if it were not for reports that “Q” supporters are showing up in force at Trump rallies, says The Washington Post in an article on Wednesday “‘We are Q’: A deranged conspiracy cult leaps from the Internet to the crowd at Trump’s ‘MAGA’ tour.” The headline tells us what we need to know. Or not. https://www.washingtonpost.
5. A. And finally, in this section, we discuss the fraying of the social fabric that comes with the treatment of the poor, and the increasing enrichment of the wealthiest. Our readers may have heard about the new proposal by the Treasury Department to further enrich the wealthiest Americans: a new way to calculate capital gains that would put billions in their pockets. The New York Times editorialized against the plan with the headline, “Trump’s Crony Capitalists Plot a New Heist: The Treasury secretary floats a plan to hand $100 billion in capital gains tax savings to his moneyed friends. It’s almost certainly illegal.” The Times editors say that “Mr. Mnuchin has directed his department to explore allowing investors to take inflation into account when calculating their capital gains tax bill…. Fans of the move argue that it would benefit the wide swath of middle-class Americans who own stocks, along with all those older Americans whose homes have appreciated in value over the decades. And, indeed, many middle-class Americans could wind up with a sliver of savings. But not all investors are equal. Independent analyses say that a whopping 97 percent of the savings from Mr. Mnuchin’s plan would go to the highest 10 percent of income earners….
“So in rough dollar terms, the administration is looking to hand $66 billion-plus to the ultrarich like — just to name a few — Mr. Mnuchin, who did very, very well during his years at Goldman Sachs (and already has a net worth estimated at $252 million); Wilbur Ross, the loaded secretary of commerce (estimated net worth: $506.5 million); Betsy DeVos, the even richer secretary of education (about $1.1 billion); and, of course, the extended Trump-Kushner clan.”
As The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, “An analysis earlier this year by the Wharton School found the proposed cut would reduce tax revenue by more than $100 billion over 10 years. [emphasis added] Sixty-three percent of that money would flow to the pockets of the top 0.1 percent of income earners, those who had adjusted gross incomes of at least $7.31 million in 2015, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Another 23 percent of it would go to the next 0.9 percent, those with adjusted annual gross incomes of more than $1.48 million.” The plan, as many media reports have said, would probably face court challenges, as it changes capital gains calculations without congressional approval. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
B. The above is strange, considering Trump’s “populist” appeal. One does wonder how long his base will continue to see him as an ally. Paul Krugman, in a column in The Times on Monday, says this assault on working people in favor of the wealthy will be exacerbated by the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He reminds readers that “By now, it’s almost a commonplace to say that Trump has systematically betrayed the white working class voters who put him over the top. He ran as a populist; he’s governed as an orthodox Republican, with the only difference being the way he replaced racial dog-whistles with raw, upfront racism….
“[The media emphasis on Trump’s authoritarianism] is important in the face of a lawless president with authoritarian instincts. But the business and labor issues shouldn’t be neglected. Kavanaugh is, to put it bluntly, an anti-worker radical, opposed to every effort to protect working families from fraud and mistreatment.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
And in his Thursday column, Krugman elaborates on this, titling his essay, “Stop Calling Trump a Populist.” He says, “[H]is administration has been relentlessly anti-worker on every front. Trump is about as populist as he is godly — that is, not at all.” https://www.nytimes.com/
C. Krugman, above, also makes the macroeconomic point that “[Trump’s] betrayal matters much more for workers than, say, Trump’s trade bluster. There’s growing evidence that wage stagnation in America — the very stagnation that angers Trump voters — isn’t being driven by impersonal forces like technological change; to an important extent it’s the result of political changes that have weakened workers’ bargaining power.” This point is elaborated in an excellent brief essay by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, in a Sunday Guardian opinion piece. Reich says, “The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year. But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. [emphasis added] Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.”
Amid all the glowing and crowing about the job numbers, Reich makes the important point that “Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.”
Why have wages stagnated even as unemployment drops? Reich concludes that “Simply put, the vast majority of American workers have lost just about all their bargaining power. The erosion of that bargaining power is one of the biggest economic stories of the past four decades, yet it’s less about supply and demand than about institutions and politics.” This includes the drop in union representation and the increasing power of monopoly capitalism. Read this excellent summary, which warns that already the political effects are being felt, as we face a “more lasting consequence: an angry working class vulnerable to demagogues peddling authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.” [emphasis added] https://www.theguardian.com/
D. [Trigger warning: Trump legislators acting evilly ] And how do we treat the most vulnerable among us? On June 25, The Washington Post reported that “If Republicans succeed in their multi-front campaign to cut back on food stamps, the burden will fall heaviest on the working-class, rural white voters on whom President Trump has staked the future of their party. [emphasis added] House Republicans on Thursday passed legislation that would require Americans ages 18 through 59 to either work part time or spend 20 hours a week in workforce training to receive food stamps. On the same day, the White House unveiled a proposal to consolidate the public safety net — including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — under a revamped health department. The program, The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein and Caitlin Dewey write, ‘has an explicit aim of building standardized requirements that people must work or prepare for jobs to qualify for government help.’” https://www.washingtonpost.
The Senate version of the Farm Bill, passed on June 26th, did not include the work requirement, and a fight is looming over reconciling the two bills.
The New York Times editorialized, on June 21 with the simple headline, “G.O.P. Wants Hungry Kids to Fund Tax Cuts.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
E. So you think the hungry can huddle together at home for warmth, or maybe plant a garden in their backyards? You need a home for that. How do we treat the homeless and house the poor in America? On July 27, The New York Times published a report, “As Affordable Housing Crisis Grows, HUD Sits on the Sidelines.” They open this way: “The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need.
“The Trump administration’s main policy response, unveiled this spring by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development: a plan to triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, with the goal of moving longtime tenants out of the system to make way for new ones.”
The story, as you can imagine, does not get better as you read: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
6. The Trump administration is seeking a change to the 2020 Census that would have far-reaching consequences for how states are apportioned representatives, and for the Electoral College map itself. As The New York Times reported, “A citizenship question on the 2020 census has already drawn challenges from states that fear an undercount of immigrants and a loss of federal funds. But demographers say there could be even deeper consequences: The question could generate the data necessary to redefine how political power is apportioned in America. [emphasis added] Republicans officials, red states and conservatives behind a series of recent court cases have argued that districts historically allotted based on total population unfairly favor states and big cities with more undocumented immigrants, tilting power from states like Louisiana and Montana to California and New York. Congressional seats and state legislative districts should equally represent citizens or eligible voters, they say, not everyone.
“Until now, their arguments have faced a logistical challenge. The government doesn’t currently count citizens as thoroughly as it does the total population, tallying every person on every block. ‘If the day comes that one of these suits succeeds in court, the 2020 count would provide the data to allow states to implement a redefinition of “the people,”’ Taeku Lee, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in an email.” Consult the article to see maps detailing how the electoral balance could shift if only “citizens” are counted. (Note: the Supreme Court two years ago ruled that a state could count all “persons,” not just “citizens,” but it did not rule that a state must count this way. More court challenges are pending.) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
7. We will generally not get into the Mueller or Manafort news this week, but one story does need to be covered. Trump on Wednesday tweeted that Jeff Sessions “should” shut down the Mueller probe. As The Times reported it, “President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday to end the special counsel’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, issuing a strikingly unambiguous directive on Twitter to shut down an investigation that even now is scrutinizing his tweets for possible evidence of obstruction.
“The White House and Mr. Trump’s lawyers moved quickly to minimize the president’s statement, dismissing it as merely a case of venting and opining by a president who has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with an investigation that he considers illegitimate — and not a direct order to a cabinet secretary to interfere with a continuing federal law enforcement matter.
But in saying that Mr. Sessions, the United States’ top law enforcement official, should take specific action to terminate the investigation, the tweet crossed a line that Mr. Trump has until now, by design or otherwise, never explicitly crossed.” Trump’s lawyers said, in effect “nothing to see here, Trump was just expressing an opinion.” But as The Times continued, “Whether or not the president had given his attorney general a direct order, legal experts said that urging Mr. Sessions to end the inquiry was an unprecedented move, one that amounted to Mr. Trump asking Mr. Sessions to ‘subvert the law,’ according to Matthew S. Axelrod, a longtime prosecutor who served in top roles in the Obama Justice Department. ‘What he’s saying here is that there’s no one who ought to be able to investigate his actions and, if necessary, hold him accountable for those actions,’ Mr. Axelrod said.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
Moreover, in an exclusive report, investigative journalist Murray Wass says, in an essay in The New York Review of Books on Tuesday, that there is actually a memo, which he has seen, that shows conclusively that Trump was told about the FBI investigation of Flynn just days before he asked Comey to drop the matter. Trump’s lawyers have denied that he fired Comey to stop an investigation that Trump did not know about. But Wass has also interviewed principals and concludes that this is strong evidence that Trump knew about the FBI inquiry and was certainly trying to stop it. The memo, prepared as a record of the meeting with Reince Priebus and his White House counsel Don McGahn, is in the hands of the special prosecutor. Stay tuned for developments. https://www.nybooks.com/daily/
•Perhaps we should leave further details of the Manafort / Cohen / Giuliani drama (or dark comedy?) sit for a week or so. Like your favorite soap opera, you can come in in a week and not have missed much. But Giuliani’s antics are, admittedly, always worth a peek and a smile. Though Giuliani does make you understand why clowns can be scary, very scary. This will all shake out, of course, as summer goes on. There will be blockbusters to come. But for now, perhaps it is best just to read about the long-term damage this administration is doing to America. We hope we have given you lots here to ponder.
8. Last week’s debate between IL-6th representative Peter Roskam and challenger Sean Casten was widely reported in the local press. Here is The Chicago Tribune: “’Anyone who discounts Peter Roskam as a campaigner will wake up and realize that he is not to be underestimated,’ said Kirk Dillard, the Regional Transportation Authority chairman and a veteran of DuPage County politics. And not to be discounted is Roskam’s ground game, Dillard said. The campaign has a robust apparatus full of volunteers willing to knock on doors and make phone calls. Roskam relies on a base of evangelical Christians and ‘plain old conservatives,’ Dillard said, but he’s also trying to thread the needle to appeal to suburban independents who may be irritated with Trump.
“Casten, meanwhile, could be bolstered by the national Democratic tailwinds that may accompany the midterm elections. As a businessman, he could appeal to more conservative Democrats, and he has tried to play up his inexperience in politics as a benefit at a time when people are generally distrusting of politicians.
And while campaign fundraising can be more difficult for challengers than sitting congressmen, Casten has been able to use his personal wealth to help pay for his campaign so far. Records show he’s put $630,000 into his bid before the primary but hasn’t given his campaign money since February. He raised about $790,000 in the second quarter of the year compared to $932,000 for Roskam. The incumbent had $2.3 million in the bank at the end of June, while Casten has $647,000. National money could flow into the district as the race goes on, as the American Chemistry Council has already aired TV ads in support of Roskam.” Read the Tribune report here: www.chicagotribune.com/news/
A good balanced report is in July 27 Daily Herald, where Marie Wilson writes, “The two suburban candidates squaring off in a battle called ‘one of the most-watched congressional contests in America’ debated Thursday before a live audience and a TV replay, each trying to point out ways the other is obscuring the truth of his views on hot-button issues.
“Incumbent 6th District Republican Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Democratic challenger Sean Casten of Downers Grove spent an hour at the Union League Club of Chicago taking questions from Fox 32 Political Editor Mike Flannery as well as suburban audience members and social media users.
“Roskam, who has held the seat since 2007, said words and actions matter as he accused Casten of misrepresenting his positions on topics such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Violence Against Women Act. ‘It’s very important that we get the facts right,’ Roskam said. Casten, who said the campaign comes down to ‘facts and character,’ said the district needs to elect a representative who acknowledges the truth of climate change and will work to fix it.
“He said Roskam is not in step with the district’s values on gun control or health insurance, especially the Affordable Care Act. ‘Peter voted to repeal the ACA, which would eliminate coverage for people with pre-existing conditions,’ Casten said, referring to a vote Roskam took in May 2017 to, as Roskam’s office put it in a news release, ‘responsibly repeal, replace Obamacare.’ Much of the health care discussion Thursday centered on a bill Roskam supports to expand access to health savings accounts. The measure passed the House Wednesday….
“Roskam said the addition of pretax health savings accounts will help counter one of the main problems of the health care law: high premiums and deductibles. Casten said the savings accounts will do little good for those who need help paying for coverage the most.” https://www.dailyherald.com/
9. And in a new development in the Illinois campaigns, former President Barack Obama has issued endorsements for local Democratic candidates. He endorsed J.B. Pritzker for Governor, and, says Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, “[a]mong the Illinois candidates seeking election this fall, Obama also said he was endorsing Democrats state Sen. Kwame Raoul, who’s facing Erika Harold in the attorney general’s race; and Sean Casten, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam.
“Raoul tweeted his thanks for the nod: ‘I appreciate the endorsement of @BarackObama, a great president and my predecessor as state senator for the 13th District. Yes we can!’
“Obama also endorsed Democrats Brendan Kelly in the 12th Congressional District and Lauren Underwood in the 14th. Pritzker, Casten and Underwood each released statements saying they were ‘honored’ by Obama’s endorsement.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/