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Democrats Are Starting to Run Ads about the Inflation Bill

The ink with Joe Biden's signature is barely dry on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and already Democrats are betting big time that it will matter to the voters. They are gearing up to spend millions of dollars to tell everyone in the land what a great new law this is. The ads will be on television, radio and the Internet. The law will also be flogged at rallies and on bus tours.

Republicans say the new law is like Obamacare, which was unpopular at first (but is now fairly popular). Democrats say that is nonsense and point out that finally doing something about climate change is popular. Even the taxing part—which is normally any law's Achilles heel—is popular, since it targets the largest multinational corporations. The law also gives IRS another $80 billion for enforcement. The Republicans are screaming bloody murder about that, but the Democrats are going to point out that the money will be used to catch billionaire tax cheats, not ordinary people on a salary subject to withholding.

The League of Conservation Voters has already started a $2.2-million ad campaign. Organizers associated with the League plan to spend an additional $13 million going door-to-door in seven battleground states telling people that Republicans are pro-polluter.

A related group, Unrig Our Economy, is targeting four vulnerable House Republicans who voted against the bill: Don Bacon (NE), Ashley Hinson (IA), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), and David Valadao (CA). This is how control of the House will be fought: district by district. Combined with the CHIPS Act, which will create manufacturing jobs in multiple states, and abortion, the Democrats finally have something concrete to run on. Historically, the midterms favor the party not in the White House, but if Democrats can get their base engaged and rev up turnout, they have a fighting chance to hold the House and a good chance to hold the Senate. (V)

Planned Parenthood Will Spend $50 Million This Fall

One of the side effects of the Dobbs decision is that money came pouring into Planned Parenthood, like water from a broken water main. The group raised so much that it is going to spend a record $50 million supporting pro-choice candidates and opposing anti-choice candidates. Needless to say, nearly all of the former are Democrats and all of the latter are Republicans.

The money will largely go to races in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They will focus on gubernatorial, Senate, and House races. Of course, television ads will be made and broadcast, but the group will also run digital ads and make phone calls to voters. It also intends to knock on 6 million doors, talking to voters one at a time. It has set up a website,, to raise money and help coordinate volunteers. There will be a separate group set up specifically to target young people of color, many of whom are unreliable midterm voters. Planned Parenthood hopes it can use abortion to motivate these folks to turn out in November.

The group is going to emphasize that Democrats want to pass a law making abortion available nationally and Republicans want to pass a law banning it nationally, so every House and Senate race, even in deep blue states and deep red states matters (but the swing states matter the most of all, of course).

Abortion has come up peripherally in previous elections, but putting in $50 million, specifically on one issue that is much in the news now, could have a big impact, especially after the Kansas referendum. (V)

Trump's Stolen Documents Are Nothing Like Clinton's E-mails

One of the many arguments that Trumpist pundits and politicians are using to support the idea that Trump is the victim of a witch hunt is: "What about Hillary's e-mails?" The argument goes: She had classified documents stored privately, he had classified documents stored privately, and nothing happened to her, so why should anything happen to him?

Philip Rotner argues that this argument completely misses the point. Trump stole the documents. He had no right to possess them at any location. They were not his as of Jan. 20, 2021 at noon. In contrast, Clinton had every right to have and read the documents (e-mails). The only issue is where she was storing them, not her right to have them. She had a security clearance and was fully authorized to read top-secret documents. When he left the White House, Trump lost his security clearance and had no right to even read top-secret documents, not even in a secure room. The two cases are very different.

A better analogy with Trump is Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's NSA. In 2003, Berger stuffed five classified documents from a National Archives reading room in his socks and brought them home. This is theft of (classified) government property, the same thing Trump did. Berger got caught. He was fined $50,000, sentenced to 2 years probation, 100 hours of community service, and loss of his security clearance. He wasn't disbarred, but only because he voluntarily relinquished his law license. And note, because he still had his security clearance, he was allowed to read the documents in the first place, something Trump was not. But he was still punished for the theft. Republicans should be arguing that Berger stole classified documents and he got a fine and a slap on the wrist, so Trump should also get a fine and a slap on the wrist. Instead, they are arguing that he is a victim of the deep state. So far, no Republican of note has said Berger is a victim of the deep state.

Also relevant here is that when it came out that Clinton was using a personal e-mail server, she immediately turned all of the e-mails except (according to her) personal ones over to the FBI and let the FBI search her server. She also reasonably believed that having a personal e-mail server was legal since Republican Colin Powell had also used a personal e-mail when he was George W. Bush's secretary of state. When it came out that Trump had government documents in his house earlier this year, he gave up some of them and lied, saying he gave up all of them, which he hadn't.

When Berger and Clinton were caught, both of them yielded immediately and didn't lie about it. Hence, no search warrant or "raid" was needed with them. Trump hid documents after the first visit from the FBI, so a search was needed to see if he was lying, which he was. So the comparison with Clinton is completely off although a comparison with Berger (who admitted guilt and was punished for it) is more reasonable. (V)

Trump Has His 2024 Platform Ready

When Trump ran for president in 2016, he had no platform except "drain the swamp," which he never even tried to do. Or even explained what that meant. There was also "build the wall, and make Mexico pay for it," which was almost equally short on substance. And didn't happen.

Fast-forward to today, and he is not only planning a 2024 run, but he has a clear platform the second time. He talks about all the planks at all his rallies. Here is a short summary:

Some of these ideas are fairly radical and in a second term Trump would make sure to surround himself with officials who supported all these things. If the Democrats control the Senate in Jan. 2025, they might reject most or all of his appointees, in which case he would name acting cabinet officers, set them to work, and let a friendly Supreme Court deal with it in a few years. (V)

Pence Attacks Republicans Who Have Criticized the FBI

To prove their fealty to Donald Trump, many Republicans who used to support law enforcement are now condemning the FBI for executing a search warrant written by a federal judge. Mike Pence knows that many Republican voters still support law enforcement, however, and so sees an opening here. Yesterday, he criticized Republican officials who have been attacking the FBI for merely doing their job. Pence said: "The Republican Party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line at the federal, state and local level. And these attacks on the FBI must stop."

With that comment, the former VP is now in direct opposition to his former boss, who attacks the FBI daily. He is also in opposition to those Republicans calling to defund the FBI, which he says is just as bad as calling to defund the police. Trump hasn't hit back at his former bootlicker over this, but that can't be too far down the road.

It is obvious that Pence wants to run for president in 2024 and needs something to distinguish himself from Trump. Maybe he is planning to run in the conservative-but-not-crazy lane. Right now that lane looks very narrow indeed, but the campaign won't start in earnest for over a year. By then, Trump may have been indicted and even convicted, especially in Georgia, and that could make some Republican voters look for a Plan B for 2024. Pence wants to be that Plan B.

If Trump is badly wounded in a year, Pence and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) could both jump in, along with some others. Their strategies are completely different. DeSantis is offering Trumpism without Trump. Pence is a throwback to old-style conservatism, sort of like Ronald Reagan, except downbeat instead of upbeat. Will there be a market for that? We don't know but will eventually find out. In any event, Pence thinks there will be.

Pence also said yesterday that he will consider testifying before the Select Committee. So far, however, the Committee hasn't invited him. He could be a deadly witness because as the mob was chanting: "Hang Mike Pence," Trump was in the White House telling people he deserved it. Pence and Trump talked several times on Jan. 6, and if Pence testified that Trump ordered him to essentially break the law by unilaterally disqualifying some of the electoral votes, that could open up a whole new line of inquiry for the Committee and the Dept. of Justice. (V)

Cheney Hits the Ground Running

Some candidates, after being squashed like a bug in an election, stay in bed under the covers the next day or go off to a bar to cry in their beer. Not so Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). Instead, she announced the creation of a new PAC, "Great Task," whose purpose will be to see that Donald Trump is never elected president again. The Website,, features two famous Americans on the front page: Cheney and Abraham Lincoln. So far, it is just asking for money, but no doubt more content will appear in time. Cheney is breathing life into it by transferring her leftover campaign funds there and will start additional fundraising immediately, starting with the Website.

One of the people on hand for the announcement was James Goldston, a former president of ABC News, who has been working with the Select Committee (and Cheney) for months producing the dramatic footage the Committee has been showing at its hearings. If Goldston now starts advising Cheney's PAC, it's probably a good guess that it is going to produce some dramatic ads in the coming 2 years, both to raise money for the PAC and to hit Trump hard where he is weak.

Cheney has said repeatedly that she hasn't decided about a presidential run in 2024. Her situation is very different than that of Mike Pence (see above). Pence wants to be president. That's pretty simple. The hats in his Webshop could read: MAMA (Make American Moral Again). Cheney knows the chances of her actually becoming president are somewhere between nil and zero and so the White House isn't her goal. What she wants to do is rid the Republican Party of Trump and Trumpism and return it to its historic roots of just wanting to steal Iraq's oil. Challenging Trump in the Republican primaries is one way, but not the only one. She could run as an independent, run on the Libertarian or Constitution Party's ticket, or support someone else who is challenging Trump.

For the next 5 months, she will be putting most of her energy into her work as vice chair of the Select Committee, working to disgrace Trump as much as possible and probably helping to write the Committee's final report, which could become a best seller. (V)

State Supreme Court Races Are Suddenly Hot

This year, everything is upside down. Normally, nobody pays any attention to races for secretary of state or state Supreme Court justice, but this year they are on the front burner. We have already written about secretary of state races a few times, so now a few words about the state courts. Politico has a article on them; here is a short rundown of the situation.

With the U.S. Supreme Court punting on many issues, the state Supreme Courts take on new importance. For example, the Dobbs decision didn't ban any abortions. It simply said it is up to the states to deal with it. Many states will pass laws banning the procedure. This will lead to lawsuits in which the plaintiff claims the abortion law violates the state constitution. It will then be up to the state Supreme Courts to rule on that. Similarly, the constitutionality of gerrymandering is up to the state courts. Same-sex marriage currently isn't a state issue, but could soon become one, And on and on. The state Supreme Courts are going to be central in all these fights.

Thirty states will have state Supreme Court elections this year, four of which have already happened. Some are partisan elections, with candidates identified as (D) or (R). Some are nonpartisan elections. Some are retention elections in which sitting justices have to face the voters for an up-or-down vote on whether they should be rehired for another term or fired at the end of their current term. Here is the lay of the land:

State Seats up Method Election date
Alabama 2 Partisan November 8, 2022
Arizona 3 Retention November 8, 2022
Arkansas 3 Nonpartisan May 24, 2022
California 4 Retention November 8, 2022
Florida 5 Retention November 8, 2022
Georgia 3 Nonpartisan May 24, 2022
Idaho 2 Nonpartisan May 17, 2022
Illinois 4 Partisan/Retention November 8, 2022
Iowa 2 Retention November 8, 2022
Kansas 6 Retention November 8, 2022
Kentucky 4 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
Louisiana 1 Partisan December 10, 2022
Maryland 1 Retention November 8, 2022
Michigan 2 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
Minnesota 2 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
Missouri 2 Retention November 8, 2022
Montana 2 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
Nebraska 4 Retention November 8, 2022
Nevada 2 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
New Mexico 3 Partisan/Retention November 8, 2022
North Carolina 2 Partisan November 8, 2022
North Dakota 1 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
Ohio 3 Partisan November 8, 2022
Oklahoma 4 Retention November 8, 2022
Oregon 1 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022
South Dakota 2 Retention November 8, 2022
Tennessee 5 Retention August 4, 2022
Texas 6 Partisan November 8, 2022
Utah 1 Retention November 8, 2022
Washington 3 Nonpartisan November 8, 2022

The 800-pound gorilla in many of these races is gerrymandering, since that directly affects control of the state legislature and the U.S. House. Candidates try to act judicial and will never say: "If a case on X comes up, I will vote..." But they can make their views clear even without being so explicit. If a candidate says something like: "Drawing political maps is the job of the state legislature," don't expect the candidate to overrule the legislature's choices. If a candidate says: "Our state Constitution guarantees fair elections," it's not hard to imagine that candidate telling the legislature that its maps are not fair.

Here are some states where especially pitched battles are expected:

Many other states also have important elections. These four just stand out a bit. (V)

Are Hearing Aids Political?

Yeah, hearing aids are political. Everything is political these days. On Tuesday, the FDA finalized a rule allowing companies to produce over-the-counter hearing aids that can be purchased in stores just like reading glasses. Some big stores can't wait to start selling them. You go to the store, pick out a model you like, pay for it, take it home, and put them in. Currently, hearing aids range from $1,000 to $4,000 per ear, and that is exclusive of the fees of audiologists and doctors involved in the process, The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 30 million people could benefit from a hearing aid, but only 16% of people 20-69 who could use one have one and just 30% of seniors over 70 who need one, have one.

That is a huge number of people who will be very glad to have the opportunity to buy a much-cheaper hearing aid, and without all the hassle as well. In the early discussions of the Build Back Better bill, one of the items that both Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) were both strongly for was to include coverage for hearing care in Medicare. This new rule is vastly better politically because the devices will also be available for people not on Medicare.

The decision to allow cheap hearing aids wasn't a result of complex market forces, like gas prices. It was due to a decision by the FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, who was appointed by Joe Biden. Thus, Democrats can and will point out that all of a sudden, millions of people who don't hear well will be able to afford help due to a decision by a Biden appointee. Republicans will try to downplay this, but that will be difficult. If Sanders and Manchin had gotten their way, better hearing care would have been part of a government program and the Republicans would have attacked government programs as evil. But as soon as the new rule takes effect in October, it will be the free market that will be producing and selling the cheaper devices. The government won't be in the loop.

The Republicans are going to try to make inflation the main issue in the fall. This rule change allows Democrats to say that they brought down the price of hearing aids from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars. For people who either get one of the new ones before November 8 or at least start seeing ads for them before then, it could leave the impression that not all prices are going up and that Democrats are working to bring at least some prices down. Clearly, being able to tout huge savings and better hearing for 30 million people is a political win for the blue team. The Democrats might even team up with Best Buy (see link above) and other stores planning to sell cheap hearing aids and run cosponsored ads that mostly tell people about the availability of over-the-counter hearing aids and then have a final screen saying: "You can buy them at xxx, yyy, zzz, and other fine stores. (V)

Rick Scott: Don't Apply for a Job at the IRS

Republicans really don't like the IRS, as in REALLY DON'T. If they don't like the tax laws, the IRS isn't the place to complain about them. It's Congress that makes the laws. All the IRS does is enforce them. The Republican hatred of the agency is because some of their big donors push the envelope on what is legal, or else just out-and-out cheat on their taxes and would prefer a small weak IRS that can't catch them. So Republicans always badmouth the IRS, usually trying to scare people into thinking it will come after them. The truth is that the new funding for IRS is specifically aimed at allowing the agency to pursue big-time tax cheats, not bus drivers on a fixed salary. This is why Republicans are very upset about the new $80 billion for the IRS.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) can't do anything about the bill. It passed already. So, he thought of a new and unique way to try to cripple the Service: Try to make sure it can't hire the auditors it needs. Specifically, he has warned people not to apply for all the new jobs the IRS will soon be advertising. He said that when the Republicans get control of Congress next year, they will slash IRS' funding. So, if you get a job with IRS this year you will lose it next year, which means it's not worth the bother of applying. Rarely does a U.S. senator so openly try to sabotage an agency of the U.S. government. Imagine how the Republicans would react if some Democratic senator tried to openly sabotage a government agency that Republicans like, say the Dept. of Agriculture or the Small Business Administration. They would go nuts.

One thing in the new law that Scott can't sabotage so easily is the IT upgrade. The IRS uses an ancient computer system and the law has funding to replace it with a state-of-the-art IT system. That will be done by having the IRS put out a tender to let companies like Dell, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle bid for (parts of) it. They won't be scared off by a senator telling them not to bid.

But Scott's threats are just that. Even if Republicans retake the House and Senate, Joe Biden will still be president until Jan. 20, 2025, and will veto any bill that tries to muzzle the IRS or cut its funding. (V)

Even Conservatives Don't Like Mehmet Oz' Latest Ad

Yesterday, we had an item about a cruddy video Mehmet Oz posted to Twitter, featuring him shopping for veggies, calling them by a snobbish name, and misnaming the store he was supposedly shopping at. Another one of his videos is so bad the National Review, not known as a bastion of liberalism, is panning it harshly. Here is the ad (followed by some left-wing commentary, but you can skip that):

The ad shows an image of John Fetterman's head with screws coming out of it and a narrator talking about loose screws. Then a bunch of "prisoners" pop out, while the narrator says Fetterman wants to release one-third of all prisoners (which is not true). Then dollars come out, with the narrator saying Fetterman wants to raise taxes so everything will cost more. In reality, raising taxes does not make everything cost more. If anything, higher taxes tend to cool the economy, which lowers prices rather than raising them. And so it goes. National Review writes: "It's tough to envision the working- and middle-class Pennsylvanians that Oz will need to win being wooed by cartoon animation, circus music, and a baffling children's-show-style narration (That's crazy)."

So it seems that Oz isn't very good at making ads. Maybe the idea of people who know nothing about politics running for high office on their first try isn't such a great idea. In contrast, some of Fetterman's ads have been very clever, especially ones by famous New Jerseyites gently asking Oz to stop looking for work in Pennsylvania and come back to Jersey where he lives and where everyone loves him. They are subtle, but memorable, making the point that Oz is a carpetbagger who lives in New Jersey but without being childish or nasty at all. (V)

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