The State of the Union speech punctuated the end of the Trump Administration’s first year. The President called for unity, but pushed a Republican agenda which Republicans predictably cheered, while leaving Democrats in the chamber looking distinctly unenthusiastic. He unsurprisingly touted economic and job growth (trends which were well underway during the Obama Administration), the Republican tax cut claiming that members of the middle class would be better off, and the historical highs of the stock market which has gained $8 trillion in value during the last year. Yet we know that 84% of stocks are owned by 10% of the population, inequality is growing in U.S. society, and that the overwhelming majority of the benefits of the new tax bill go to the top one percent and corporations. The tax overhaul will drive up the deficit by $1.7 trillion, and will raise taxes on many middle class families by the end of the decade. Moreover, those families whose healthcare costs are increasing will be additionally squeezed. When it came to immigration reform, the President talked of a path to citizenship for Dreamers over a 12-year period, while none-too-subtly linking immigrants to gangs like MS-13 and crime.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III was eloquent and animated in giving the Democratic response. He spoke to unity, inclusion, diversity and the Democratic “better deal” agenda of good paying jobs, paid family leave, and affordable medical care. He spoke at a vocational technical high school before a live audience in Fall River, Massachusetts, a former mill town setting designed to show Democrats in touch with real people.
Continuing Chaos in Washington
In the lead-up to the State of the Union speech, we have been through another chaotic month in Washington entwined in shut-down politics. Notwithstanding that the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the executive branch, they have been unable to manage to run a budget process smoothly. With 700,000 dreamers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 9 million children hanging in the balance, on January 19, the Administration and the Congress found its way through the third continuing resolution/shutdown crisis since December 8th. It had appeared a Senate deal on DACA had been struck that the President hinted he would support, but subsequently backed away from in a cloud of expletive-deleted words which gratuitously denigrated a number of countries from which immigrants come. Democrats voted to join the Republicans in reopening government and Congress passed a fourth continuing resolution until February 8, and concurrently agreed to six years of authorization for CHIP. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a clean vote on DACA, but $31 billion in tax cuts related to the Affordable Care Act were also part of the deal. But this only achieved three more weeks of continuing resolution funding ... so on February 8, we could see the continuing resolution/shutdown playout again.
In the background the Mueller probe continued to loom throughout the month. FBI Deputy Director McCabe left office precipitously, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes (CA-25) has once again thrown the Committee into bipartisan divide by moving to release a confidential memo drafted by Republican staff about FBI surveillance practices over the “grave concerns” of the FBI and all Democrats on the Committee.
Upcoming Elections Looking Good for Democrats
We Democrats will be working hard around the country to win the 24 seats needed to gain control of the House, and recent polls indicate that goal could be in reach. Eight GOP House Committee Chairs, and a total of 23 House Republicans have now announced they will not run again. Close to home, two of the most endangered Republicans in the California Congressional delegation have announced they will not run again. Thirteen-term Orange County representative Ed Royce and nine-term representative Darryl Issa have both decided against running in districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
Upcoming State and County Events
We are all looking forward to the California Democratic Party Convention being held on February 23-25 in San Diego, as an opportunity to meet with our Democratic colleagues across the state, exchange ideas, and be inspired by our leaders as we gear up for the 2018 election. The Ventura County Democratic Party Central Committee will be opening an office in the UCFW Orchid Building (where we have our DCC meetings), and I know they will welcome volunteers from our club to help staff that office.
Club Events including our Ready-to-Run Fundraiser
Our club is looking forward to holding our Ready-to-Run fundraising event on March 10 at the Channel Islands Art Studio from 1-5 pm. I hope we will get a good group of local and statewide candidates to attend, and that many of you will also be able to support the event and attend.
I look forward to seeing you all this coming Thursday, when we will hear from Dr. Yongping Chen, PhD, Lac, and Dr. Kristofer Young, DC, about the role that Chinese medicine and functional medicine can play in the U.S. medical system.