Open Thread

The Open Thread for June 5, 2017

“Washington is consumed by anticipation this week ahead of an expected Capitol Hill appearance by James Comey, with speculation across town focused on whether the ousted FBI director’s remarks could further damage President Trump,” Politico reports.

“Comey hasn’t spoken publicly since Trump abruptly fired him on May 9, nor has he commented on a series of subsequent reports about his interactions with the president. In addition to the allegations about Flynn — who Trump fired in February amid questions about his relationship with Russian officials — news reports also said the president solicited a loyalty pledge from the then-FBI director. Comey, who reportedly did not make the pledge, is said to have kept detailed memos on the encounters.”

Der Spiegel obtained a copy of secret meeting notes from the G7 meeting last week:

Until the very end, they tried behind closed doors to get him to change his mind. For the umpteenth time, they presented all the arguments — the humanitarian ones, the geopolitical ones and, of course, the economic ones. They listed the advantages for the economy and for American companies. They explained how limited the hardships would be…

But Donald Trump remained unconvinced. No matter how trenchant the argument presented by the increasingly frustrated group of world leaders, none of them had an effect. “For me,” the U.S. president said, “it’s easier to stay in than step out.” But environmental constraints were costing the American economy jobs, he said. And that was the only thing that mattered. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

At that point, it was clear to the rest of those seated around the table that they had lost him. Resigned, Macron admitted defeat. “Now China leads,” he said.

NBC News: “An analysis of Gallup polling data comparing the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency to the month of May shows that Trump’s job approval in military counties dropped sharply in the last month – from an average 51% approval and 41% disapproval in the first 100 days to 43% approval and 52% disapproval for May.”

“Taken together that is a 16-point swing, from a net +7 in the first 100 days to a net -9 in May. That’s far greater than the overall change in the Gallup data and it may be a sign of an important shift in those places.”

The news from GA-6 is getting better, as indicated by Pema Levy’s “Nearly 8,000 New Voters Registered Ahead of Georgia Special Election: It’s enough to make the difference in a close race—and potentially put Democrat Jon Ossoff on top.” at Mother Jones.” Meanwhile the Marietta Daily Journal Reports that “Turnout Tuesday [first day of early voting] was more than four times greater than the first day of early voting for the original race on April 18, which only saw 160 Cobb voters vote in person.” But Levy cautions, “The district has more than 521,000 registered voters, so it’s unclear whether another 7,942—or about 1.5 percent of that total—will make a difference.” And there is also the problem of Republican control of the Secretary of State’s office, so Dems must remain vigilant in monitoring late GOP voter suppression efforts. In addition, Republicans are very worried about this race, because and Ossoff win will encourage Democratic challengers in similar districts across the country.  Those who want to help Ossoff can visit his ActBlue page right here.

Jeff Stein writes at Vox: “At least three House Democrats are backing a new political organization that aims to give progressive candidates in the Midwest and Appalachia a new form of support that isn’t dependent on the Democratic Party’s coastal financial elite…The People’s House Project, founded by former MSNBC host and 2010 Virginia congressional candidate Krystal Ball, has begun interviewing candidates and recruiting donors for the new political action committee. The organization, which will go public on Tuesday, will provide money, guidance, and political connections for the candidates it chooses to run under its banner…

They’ll try to fundraise for the PAC’s candidates, recruit candidates that fit the bill, and give them a slogan to use to try to distinguish themselves from the national party. “It will allow them to say, ‘I’m a different kind of Democrat,’” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), one of the House Democrats backing the project, in an interview. “It’s hard to convince people around here sometimes how toxic our brand is. But, clearly the brand is damaged, and we need to see if something else can work.” A couple of Democratic officials interviewed by Stein “view the project as complementary, rather than in conflict with, the existing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Similarly, and “don’t intend for the new organization to serve as a rebuke to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…This has to be a movement with a lot of hands rolling in the same direction,” [MI Rep. Dan] Kildee said.”

Moderate and liberal Democrats who participate in Pelosi-bashing may be getting suckered by Republicans, who have repeatedly attacked her and linked Democratic candidates to her (“the Pelosi Factor“).  She was re-elected House Minority Leader by a large margin, and will likely continue to serve as speaker, should Democrats win back a House majority. And let’s not forget that she did an outstanding job of rallying the House votes needed to enact Obamacare, and later protected it from GOP “replacement” scams. Internal criticism of Democratic leaders should be made welcome, but it should also be made in a constructive spirit.  As MLK once put it, referring to internecine bickering in the Civil Rights Movement, “Our enemies will adequately deflate our accomplishments. We need not serve them as eager volunteers.”

Thomas B. Edsall explores a question on the minds of many in his NYT column, “Has the Democratic Party Gotten Too Rich for Its Own Good?,” and notes: “As the Democratic elite and the Democratic electorate as a whole become increasingly well educated and affluent, the party faces a crucial question. Can it maintain its crucial role as the representative of the least powerful, the marginalized, the most oppressed, many of whom belong to disadvantaged racial and ethnic minority groups — those on the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder?…This will be no easy task. In 2016, for the first time in the party’s history, a majority of voters (54.2 percent) who cast Democratic ballots for president had college degrees. Clinton won all 15 of the states with the highest percentage of college graduates.” Even today, however, Democratic office-holders, coast to coast, are far more supportive of economic reforms benefitting working people than are their Republican adversaries. The perception problem has more to do with the way many Democrats raise money and cozy up to Wall Street.

“For years, Republicans savaged Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act, branding the law — with some rhetorical license — as a government takeover of health care,” the New York Times reports.  “Now, cast out of power in Washington and most state capitals, Democrats and activist leaders seeking political redemption have embraced an unlikely-seeming cause: an actual government takeover of health care.”

“At rallies and in town hall meetings, and in a collection of blue-state legislatures, liberal Democrats have pressed lawmakers, with growing impatience, to support the creation of a single-payer system, in which the state or federal government would supplant private health insurance with a program of public coverage.”

“It’s a nightmare. They don’t know what their jeopardy is. They don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t know if they’re a part of a conspiracy that might unfold. They don’t know whether to hire lawyers or not, how they’re going to pay for them if they do. It’s an unpleasant place.”  — Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, on what it must be like to work in Trump’s White House.


Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “The Open Thread for June 5, 2017

  1. This is from Delaware Liberal, here we go again!

    Representative John Kowalko
    From: Joanne Cabry
    Sent: Sunday, June 4, 2017 10:09 PM
    To: Joanne Cabry
    Subject: Fwd: Delmarva wants more $$$ — Time to speak out against corporate greed.

    Delmarva wants to add another surcharge to our bill. And some of our legislators are ready to give them the increase without checking with us.
    Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 80 (SS1/SB80) will allow Delmarva to impose a Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC) between the regular rate increases that happen about every two years.
    This DSIC is a surcharge and has nothing to do with the amount of electricity we use. It will produce approximately $17 million for Delmarva’s parent company, Exelon — whose revenue in 2016 was over $30 billion.
    We are already paying a number of surcharges, including the one to Bloom Energy that was supposed to bring 900 jobs to Delaware. (900? Not even close!) We Delmarva customers have paid Bloom $130 million in the first four years of ‘our’ contract, and we’ll keep paying Bloom until 2033. News Journal
    And let’s not forget the surcharge facing us when the Artificial Island project starts. Delaware customers are slated to pay 60% of that one.

    Back to the current corporate greed issue…

    We are grateful that the Public Advocate for Delaware, Drew Slater, opposes SS1/SB80. He is fulfilling his “role is to advocate for the lowest reasonable rates for consumers consistent with the maintenance of adequate utility service and principally on behalf of residential and small commercial consumers.”

    Please speak out now against SS1/SB80. The lobbyists for Exelon and Delmarva have been in Legislative Hall for weeks building support for this bill. Talking points below.
    1. If your senator or rep is a sponsor, contact them and ask them to take their names off SS1/SB80.
    Sponsors: Senators McDowell (primary), Poore, Cloutier, Hocker
    Representatives: Paradee, Longhurst, Brady, Carson, Heffernan, Hudson Q. Johnson, Smyk and Wilson

    Testify at the Senate Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy Committee hearing for SS1/SB 80 on Wednesday, June 7 at 1:30 in the Senate Majority Caucus Room. Prepare a maximum two-minute speech.
    If you cannot be at the hearing and your Senator is on the Committee, please contact him or her and ask that they represent you, not Exelon.
    Committee members are
    Harris B. McDowell
    Stephanie L. Hansen
    John Walsh
    Gerald W. Hocker
    Ernesto B Lopez
    Pass this on to other Delawareans.

    If you are a member of the Delaware Electric Cooperative, please contact your legislators in support of your neighbors who are forced customers of Delmarva.

    Talking Points
    Some of the arguments you will hear from Delmarva are:
    1. The need for less rate cases, which are costly
    2. Less volatility in consumer bills
    3. The water utilities have a DSIC
    In a News Journal article, Delmarva Power’s vice president, Glenn Moore said, “If the plan were implemented this year Delmarva would postpone a request for a full rate increase from this August until next year.” (Notice that Delmarva still plans to ask for a rate increase. But they’ll be nice and wait a year if they get the surcharge this year.)

    Public Advocate: “Exelon says it is only asking for what the water utilities have had since 2001; however, it is my opinion that the water utilities companies should not have a DSIC either.”

    (Artesian, the largest water company in Delaware, has had a DSCI since 2001 and yet they still come in for rate cases every 2.5 years.)

    Public Advocate: “Exelon is not requesting this legislation because it needs more money for reliability investment; if it really needed the DSIC funds for that, it would not have agreed to cap its reliability spending from 2015-2019 to $225 million. Rather, it is requesting this legislation because DPL is not currently earning its Commission-approved 9.7% return on equity, but instead is earning around 7%…. I do not believe that company and shareholder profit should be subsidized by Delaware’s captive residential, small commercial or industrial consumers.”

    Public Advocate: “This generous grant of money would come with significantly less oversight and examination….The base rate increase is an important way for regulators to make sure utility companies have a justification for increasing rates. And the process sometimes leads to companies getting less than they asked for. In its last electric rate increase, Delmarva asked for an increase of $64 million but settled for about half that amount.”

    Public Advocate: Regulated utilities are given the opportunity to earn the returns on equity awarded by the PSC, but they are not guaranteed they will earn it. Allowing any utility to collect revenues from captive customers without the oversight that comes through the rate case proceeding is the antithesis of good regulatory policy and serves as a disincentive to control costs in the manner that competitive businesses do. Delaware already has some of the highest rates in the south-Atlantic region. Delaware’s high electric rates deter large commercial and industrial concerns from considering Delaware. Moreover, there is a very real likelihood that DPL’s ratepayers’ rates will increase substantially when the Artificial Island project commences. If this legislation passes, DPL’s low-income residents will be even less able to afford their bills, and economic development opportunities will be further stifled – to the benefit of the Chicago-based headquarters of Exelon Corporation.

    Contact information attached.

    Thank you!

    Joanne Cabry
    Progressive Democrats of Sussex County
    302.228.4210 (cell)
    302.226.5019 (home)

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