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Study: Gmail's Manipulation Cost GOP $2B Since 2019

Real Clear Politics -

Google's Gmail cost Republican candidates over $2 billion in donations since 2019 by flagging most fundraising emails as spam, according to research shared exclusively with Fox News Digital by the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senate Committee.

Jan. 6 Hearings Look Like the Show Trials in Soviet Union

Real Clear Politics -

Listen now (19 min) If there is one thing I learned watching the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial it's this: you can't just hear one side of the story. Because of social media, apparently, convictions in the Court of Opinion have now replaced due process and the presumption of innocence. Had Depp never sued Heard, we would never have known Heard was the abuser.

Republicans who backed Trump Jan. 6 probe face fierce backlash at the polls

Politico -

Never in nearly 42 years in Congress has Rep. Chris Smith had a primary quite like his last — when he spent the final weeks getting bombarded by angry constituents who felt he crossed President Donald Trump.

The New Jersey Republican won renomination with his lowest primary vote share ever, after he voted to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. And his opponent seized on it, stoking an angry and anti-incumbent mood sweeping through Republican primaries around the country.

Republican members from Utah to Texas to South Dakota who also voted for the Jan. 6 commission have had a similar experience, marking an especially intense primary season for the GOP. The bottom has dropped out for the Republicans who did support a Jan. 6 investigation: They are running 13 points weaker than their average colleague in their primaries, according to a POLITICO analysis of 2022 primary results so far.

But even Republicans who didn’t take that vote are running into stronger primary opposition than in the last midterm, the analysis shows. The average incumbent House Republican pulled 88 percent support in party primaries four years ago. That’s dropped this year to 75 percent for GOP members who didn’t vote for the Jan. 6 commission — and cratered to 62 percent for the incumbents who did back it.

Altogether, the numbers paint a portrait of an angry base sending a message to its ambassadors in Washington: Don’t step out of line, or else.

"Simply being an incumbent puts you in those crosshairs," said Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah).

POLITICO's analysis averaged results of all of the completed vote counts in House GOP primaries so far this year.

The current House Select Committee on Jan. 6, which has grabbed the spotlight with televised hearings this month, is not the commission that 35 House Republicans supported. That proposed investigative body died in the Senate, but that nuance is often lost on voters — and ignored by opponents eager to exploit an angry GOP electorate looking to punish any whiff of disloyalty to Trump.

"The irony is the commission that I voted for would have avoided this current commission," said Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), who won his primary — but, with votes still being tallied, has less than 60 percent support from GOP voters. "My challenger looks at this as an opportunity, thinking he can disingenuously persuade people otherwise. It's just not accurate."

Five of the 35 Republican members who voted for that investigation had primaries on Tuesday night. One, Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), prevailed after being forced into a runoff in which his opponent continued to weaponize the commission vote. Another, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), lost to Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) in a redistricting-created clash where Miller leaned heavily on Davis's Jan. 6 vote.

The stats for the commission voters are stark. Heading into Tuesday's primaries, more than half (eight out of 15) of the members who voted for the Jan. 6 commission got less than 60 percent of the vote in a GOP primary — dangerous territory for an incumbent. For comparison: Of the 102 House Republicans who had GOP primaries earlier this year, only 15 of them fell under that threshold.

So far only three members who backed the commission have lost, all under additional difficult circumstances. One of them also voted to impeach Trump, and two others faced fellow incumbents in redistricting-fueled primaries.

But the specter of costly, months-long primaries and too-close-for-comfort winning margins, which dozens more House Republicans are facing this year, could ultimately deter others from bucking party orthodoxy or taking a tough vote of conscience in the future.

In TV ads, debates and mailers, challengers seized on the Jan. 6 commission vote to cast the incumbents as insufficiently conservative. Some were even inspired to launch bids because of the vote.

The perils of the vote were apparent from the start of the primary season. Rep. Van Taylor (R-Texas), one of the 35 Republicans to back the commission, drew several opponents for his March 1 primary and was ultimately forced into a runoff. (He announced plans to retire shortly after the primary, after admitting to an extramarital affair with the widow of a former member of ISIS.)

"Every time I talked, [I] brought it up," said Keith Self, who won a runoff slot with Taylor and is now the GOP nominee.

"It was the central point," Self said. "There were other votes. There were other things. But that was a big one. I mean I'll admit that was a big one. It was a big meaningful one here in the district."

In Idaho, GOP Rep. Mike Simpson had to beat back a rematch from an attorney who previously ran against him in 2014 and launched a second bid zeroing in the commission vote. Simpson won with 55 percent, after spending nearly $1 million in the run-up to the primary.

Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) also faced another matchup with the same candidate he faced during his first run in 2014. He prevailed, but with less than 60 percent of the primary vote, a notable dip for the incumbent.

Some of the lower-than-usual victory margins could be ascribed to redistricting. Nearly all members inherited some new voters amid changes to the lines of their districts. But Democrats are also dealing with redistricting, and their average incumbent's performance in party primaries hasn't shifted compared to the last midterm, holding steady at 90 percent.

Plus, many Republicans had only minor tweaks to their constituencies — and at least one didn’t see any change.

In South Dakota’s at-large district, GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson got just under 60 percent after a serious primary challenge from state Rep. Taffy Howard, who took aim at the incumbent for backing the commission and for voting to certify the election results.

A pro-Howard super PAC went beyond Jan. 6 in its attacks on Johnson, running a spot warning that Johnson "denies that the communists stole the election from President Trump."

“I do think you see a lot more primaries," Johnson said. "I think that there are so many disagreements within the Republican Party that people feel like they need to litigate those in primaries.”

But Johnson said he didn’t regret any of his votes, either for the commission or to certify the election results.

“I'm a big believer in the Constitution — that's generally an important characteristic of a Republican,” Johnson said. “A clear and plain reading of the Constitution is: Members of Congress will be witnesses to a ceremonial event, not super-judges.”

It's not just Republicans who backed the Jan. 6 investigation that have had primary trouble.

Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and William Timmons (R-S.C.) all got under 55 percent of the vote. None backed the commission, though Mace faced a Trump-endorsed challenger anyway.

“They are very polarized, very angry,” said Rep. Tom Cole, a former GOP campaign chief, of the electorate. “So that's a high-risk time for an incumbent."

"There's always a frustration when you're the minority," Cole said, adding that reality is often ignored. "You can fight awfully hard, but you're still going to lose given the vote total."

In interviews, many of the GOP members said they were forced to repeatedly explain that the Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attacks is not the version of the investigation they supported. The proposal they backed would have been an independent commission modeled after the one that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with equal say for GOP members — and not just Trump foes Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

But when that proposal died in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unilaterally created a new committee. And after some partisan bickering, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy yanked all five of his picks from serving on the panel and refused to participate

That kind of distinction is often lost on voters.

"When they hear what I voted for, they're fine with it," said Curtis, who sailed through his Utah primary on Tuesday despite his support for the commission. "But the assumption is that I voted for the one that we're actually seeing right now, so it takes some explaining."

In Smith's New Jersey seat, the distortion was even greater. He said he was fielding constant questions from voters on why he voted to impeach Trump — which he didn't. And he accused his opponent of spreading that falsehood.

“Frankly, there were more lies in this race than I ever had in 23 races. I first ran in ‘78,” Smith said in an interview after his primary.

His defeated GOP challenger, Mike Crispi, said he never accused Smith of that — but added that voters were so angry at his Jan. 6 commission vote that they "look at it as a third impeachment."

"People are connecting a Jan. 6 vote to impeachment, I can't help that they do that," Crispi said. "I can't help that they look at his record that is so left and then correlate it with being anti-Trump."

Crispi hasn't ruled out another challenge — and he believes he's already had an impact on Smith, after receiving grateful calls and texts last week when the incumbent declined to support Congress’ new bipartisan gun safety package.

"He definitely is voting more carefully," Crispi said. "That gun control bill shows that we're in his head because in any other circumstance, he would have voted yes on that."

Trump is in Trouble and He Knows It

Politico -

At first blush, the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade doesn’t have much to do with the startling revelations produced by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Thanks, then, to Donald Trump for helping us get quickly to second blush: The ex-president himself seems to understand that the two are linked in a profound way, going well beyond the coincidence that not one but two monumental stories came crashing down near-simultaneously.

Both stories move the national debate into arenas in which tactics that Trump has used so often and so skillfully in the past are far less likely to be effective. These tactics include denial, distraction and counter-accusation — all harnessed to the reality that modern political culture has trouble distinguishing big matters from small or staying focused on any matter for very long.

This time seems different because both subjects are qualitatively different. Trump’s own words suggest he knows it.

He has complained publicly that pro-Trump House Republicans erred in boycotting the committee, leaving no one on the panel to defend him or dilute the impact of a well-documented and devastating narrative about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He has also let it be known, in ways he evidently expected to be publicized, that he fears the overturning of Roe will have a negative political rebound for Republicans.

Skepticism is warranted for any predictions that this or that controversy spells doom for Trump. There have been countless such controversies and predictions in the seven years since he first announced he was running for president and began his domination of national discourse.

But there is a specific way the Jan. 6 revelations, and even more so the Roe v. Wade repeal are different than scores of earlier uproars and obsessions. Both represent clear forks in the road on matters of fundamental national policy. People are being asked to walk one path or the other, with a vivid awareness that to walk down one path or the other will have large and lasting consequences for the nation, and even for themselves as individuals.

This was not true for most of the controversies of the Trump years. It was often said—usually as a metaphor but increasingly as a literal comparison—that Trump and Trumpism put the nation in a “new Civil War.”

Most times, the comparison failed. As in modern times, the actual Civil War was a time when large swaths of Americans looked at each other with mutual incomprehension and contempt. At the time, however, no one was in doubt about the question at hand: One side believed slavery was a positive good that should be extended as the nation grew with new states; the other believed slavery was an evil institution that should not be extended into new but instead placed on a path to gradual extinction. And so, as Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, the war came.

The same is true of other great moments of national conflict. In the 1930s, people who hissed FDR knew exactly why they were angry: He was shifting in lasting ways the federal government’s reach into the private economy. So, too, did the protesters of the 1960s know why they were on the streets: to end legal segregation and the Vietnam War.

The signature of the Trump era is that it produced indignation and contempt without, in most cases, a concrete question of national policy that was plainly to be resolved by the outcome of the conflict. The question of border crossings, and the spectacle of children being detained in cages, was one exception. But for many of the arguments of Trump’s presidency, the argument itself—and the way it divided one tribe from the other—was the primary point. Were you thrilled by Nancy Pelosi ripping up a copy of Trump’s State of the Union address, or appalled by it? Were you more outraged by Trump’s galling effort to tie aid to Ukraine to his personal political ends, or by the fact that Hunter Biden was making lots of money in Ukraine trading on his family name? On and on and on.

The two issues now before the country are unmistakably in a different category.

The Supreme Court’s declaration that there is no longer a constitutional right to abortion now puts the issue squarely in the political realm, where it is likely to remain for years to come. About one in five pregnancies in the United States ends in abortion. The country is now in the midst of a debate involving basic questions of rights and values in an intimate sphere of everyday life. What’s more, the fact of this national debate is understood, by all sides, to be a central part of Trump’s legacy—it would not have happened without the three justices he appointed contributing to a 5-4 decision.

The outrages Trump perpetrated in the wake of the 2020 election, leading to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol, do not intersect with everyday life in the same intimate way as the abortion issue. But they do similarly present a vivid national choice, of a sort that can’t be easily dismissed by blurring the question or asserting that it is all just politics as usual. Any schoolchild knows that a departure from the peaceful transfer of power is not usual. There are very few Trump supporters eager to support the argument that it is okay for a president to continue asserting fraud when his own Justice Department appointees have told him they looked and found none. The root of Trump’s appeal was that his diverse outrages were all part of “owning the libs,” and driving opponents to distraction. White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified this week of an enraged Trump hurling a plate in the wall. She cleaned the ketchup stain off the wall. Trump will not so easily erase the image of impotent rage—the opposite of the blustery self-confidence that was the essence of his appeal to supporters.

One way to measure Trump’s predicament is to view it through the eyes of someone who supports his ostensible agenda. If you are a sincere opponent of abortion rights, you might be grateful for what Trump did to change the Supreme Court. But would you regard Trump—who for years boasted of his promiscuity, who once asserted “I am very pro-choice” and who is now uneasy about the ramifications of the court’s ruling—as the right person to carry the fight forward into its next, long-term phase? Let’s say you are genuinely concerned that efforts to make voting easier through vote-by-mail could dilute election integrity. Is Trump, with his reckless allegations and obvious self-absorption, really your ideal spokesman?

Two breathtaking developments—one at the Supreme Court, the other across the street at the House select committee—have sent American politics into a whole new realm. By experience and temperament, this is not a realm in which Trump is well-equipped to prosper.

What Dems can — and might — do in Congress to fight the end of Roe

Politico -

Democrats are grappling with what may be the most immediate question of post-Roe politics: Is it even worth having more votes on abortion rights that aren't going anywhere?

Over the past year-plus, Congress has sent several high-profile House-passed bills straight into a Senate GOP filibuster, from a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission to elections reform. Democrats aren't too eager to replicate that stalemate on abortion rights, aware that they can't pass much with their paltry majorities in Congress — but that doesn't mean they won't vote on abortion at all.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are under intense pressure to use some of their legislative leverage on abortion this year before a November election where the GOP is set to romp. Pelosi telegraphed her caucus’ first steps on Monday, outlining a list of bills the House could take up in the coming weeks despite having no path to passage in the upper chamber.

An approach that might go further is pushing abortion protections in Congress' must-pass bills this year, including the annual defense policy and government funding packages. Yet it's not clear how far the party will — or can — go on that strategy, given that any major moves would still run into a GOP roadblock. And a contingent on the left is mostly ready to dispense with show votes, homing in on the midterms.

“We've already voted on the codification bill,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “And we don't have the votes. That's why I'm so focused on November. If we pick up two more senators, we can ditch the filibuster and make Roe the law of the land.”

The outcome she outlined requires keeping the House in Democratic hands next year, however, and that's a long shot at best. Congressional Democrats, aware of the tough task ahead of them, are trying to turn the demise of Roe v. Wade into a base-motivating issue for the fall and attempting to nudge the Biden administration for new federal action to improve abortion access.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.), whose schedule this week is packed with public events, said her main strategy for protecting abortion rights post-decision is to “use the bully pulpit that I have.”

“That may be the most important thing we can do right now ... to not let this go away, to not let this be a blip,” Jayapal said. One of her messages to activists back home is the power of protest — recalling how women in Iceland went on strike to flex their political muscles four decades ago.

“It’s going to take the ballot box to change the Senate," she added.

On the Hill, Democratic leaders have yet to formally announce a legislative strategy after the Supreme Court overturned a nationwide right to abortion last week. One senior aide said the party is also looking at "non-legislative options to help women impacted by the SCOTUS decision.”

Here are the potential steps Democrats could take to force a Roe debate this year, even as they lack the votes to pass anything right now:

repeating a big swing

The Senate held a big one of these last month on legislation that would codify Roe while banning states from enacting many types of abortion restrictions. Pelosi suggested in her Monday letter that the House could bring that bill up again, but Senate Democratic aides are privately skeptical about Schumer holding another vote on legislation that’s already failed twice this year.

The entire GOP conference, as well as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), opposes that codification-and-access bill.

Democrats and outside groups see an advantage to holding those kinds of messaging votes and argue that doing so will put Republicans in both chambers on the record — painting a clear contrast ahead of the November midterms. But there’s tangible risk in further highlighting the current limits Democrats face legislatively, and it’s not clear how much the broader public is paying attention to the House or Senate floor.

a bipartisan approach

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine.) are working together on a proposal that seeks to codify Roe, though they have yet to release details about how it would work. A Kaine spokesperson said he is “engaged in efforts to find bipartisan support to federally protect reproductive freedom."

A vote on a Kaine-Collins bill, once it's complete, could demonstrate that a bipartisan majority of senators support protecting abortion rights — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also has said she favors a simple Roe codification. A 52-vote showing for their measure would present a stark contrast to the Democratic bill that failed in May.

"The codification of Roe does not have to be a partisan issue," Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), one of the House's vulnerable incumbents in this fall's midterms, said in an interview. "The reality of the filibuster means we need to continue to build coalitions beyond one party here, one party there."

But abortion-rights groups and Democratic women senators have privately expressed concern about whether the Kaine-Collins proposal would be effective, according to aides who spoke on condition of anonymity. And as progressive Democrats see it, without weakening the filibuster there's little value in proving again that the Senate can't muster 60 votes to codify abortion rights.

narrower proposals

Shortly after POLITICO published a draft majority opinion that indicated Roe was in peril, some congressional Democrats discussed holding messaging votes on narrower bills, like carveouts from abortion restrictions for pregnancies as a result of rape and incest. But most Senate Republicans favor exceptions for abortion when it comes to rape, incest or life of the mother — potentially complicating any Democratic attempt to use that issue as a wedge.

Another potential area to vote on is contraception: While Democratic lawmakers want to focus on abortion in the immediate aftermath of the court's decision, some have expressed interest in voting on access to it, warning that the ruling could endanger other precedents.

Pelosi indicated this week that Democrats are considering legislation to ensure an individual’s right to travel to another state for an abortion, as well as address privacy concerns for women using reproductive health applications. Spanberger said she supports both of those moves.


While they mull their voting strategy, Democrats also plan to press their abortion-rights message through congressional hearings. Both the Senate health and Judiciary Committees have hearings scheduled about the implications of overturning Roe for when the chamber returns to Washington in mid-July.

“I do think hearings help,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), recalling the powerful, painful testimony in the wake of last month's mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “I don't think votes on the floor help because people don't look at the votes. They only care about them when a bill passes and gets signed into law.”

More pressure on the administration

Democrats are urging the Biden administration to take strong executive actions to address the overturn of Roe, including increasing access to abortion medication, covering expenses for federal employees traveling out of state for an abortion and opening federal lands like military bases for abortion services. But White House officials have expressed concerns about putting providers and women seeking abortions at risk.

Administration aides have further suggested that using federal money to protect employees seeking an abortion could run into Congress' long-standing ban on federal dollars going toward abortion services, known as the Hyde Amendment. That response suggests, should the idea remain on the table, the White House may put the ball back in Congress' court.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

Democrats push for campaign reset in the most pro-abortion rights swing state

Politico -

Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is hitting the airwaves with a direct appeal to New Hampshire voters after the end of Roe v. Wade: Return her to office or risk a nationwide abortion ban at the hands of Mitch McConnell.

“I will fight and never back down,” Hassan says in the 30-second spot, shared first with POLITICO. “Protecting our personal freedoms isn’t just what’s right for New Hampshire. It’s what makes us New Hampshire.”

It’s the start of a refocused midterm campaign in the libertarian-leaning state, which is now set to feature Democrats up and down the ballot leaning hard into abortion rights. But even New Hampshire — perhaps the most pro-abortion rights purple state in the country — will test just how much Democrats can rely on the issue amid deep voter concern about the economy.

Six in 10 New Hampshire voters Roe","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1694&context=survey_center_polls","_id":"00000181-b42e-db17-adc5-b53e20850000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-b42e-db17-adc5-b53e20850001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">oppose overturning Roe, one of the highest levels of any state. In the days since the Supreme Court ruling, Hassan and New Hampshire Democratic Reps. Ann Kuster and Chris Pappas have blanketed social media and email inboxes with pledges to defend access to abortion — and dire warnings of what could come if anti-abortion Republican rivals win. Their campaigns say more volunteers are now showing up to knock on doors in the past week.

They also say that reproductive rights alone can’t win their campaigns for them. In press calls and interviews, Hassan, Kuster and Pappas have each been adamant that the economy and rising prices remain the top issue.

“The notion that this Supreme Court, a radical group on this Supreme Court, has taken away rights from half the population is devastating to people and they are very, very concerned about what this means for our country moving forward,” Hassan said on a call with reporters this week. “So it is very much on the minds of voters I am talking to — as are other issues like gas prices and prescription drug prices.”

Abortion policy has been central to all three Democrats’ campaigns for years: Pappas ran for New Hampshire’s Executive Council after the Republican-led board rejected funding for Planned Parenthood in 2011. EMILY’s List, Democrats’ flagship pro-abortion rights group, has been with Hassan since she was elected to the state Senate in 2004.

New Hampshire also ranks as one of the most pro-Roe states nationwide. A late-May Granite State Poll — taken after POLITICO published a draft Supreme Court decision mirroring the opinion released last week — showed virtually all Democrats and 61 percent of independents opposed such a move.

And, crucially for a party dealing with a voter enthusiasm gap, 21 percent of respondents said ending Roe would make them more likely to vote in November.

“We’re seeing that abortion and access to abortion is a turnout driver,” said Ronja Abel, a spokesperson for EMILY’s List, which has aired TV ads touting Hassan’s efforts to uphold access to the procedure. “It might just drive enough turnout that it puts this really close contest over the edge.”

In a debate between five of Hassan’s Republican rivals hosted by the conservative NH Journal earlier this week, all but one sidestepped a question on whether they would support a federal abortion ban. Bruce Fenton, a bitcoin businessperson, said that while he’s “against abortion,” more federal laws are “the last thing we need.”

Donald Bolduc, a retired U.S. Army general, called the ruling a “necessary constitutional correction.” Chuck Morse, the state Senate president who helped pass a budget provision prohibiting abortions after 24 weeks and has opposed efforts to add exceptions for rape, incest and fatal fetal anomalies, defended the ban and touted his “pro-life” record.

So did Kevin Smith, the Londonderry town manager and former director of a conservative advocacy organization, who has repeatedly attacked Hassan for opposing the 24-week abortion ban in the state.

Several of the Republicans running against Kuster and Pappas have expressed similar views on the Supreme Court’s decision or stayed silent in the wake of its ruling — a sign of the complicated politics. Instead, New Hampshire Republicans have quickly returned to hammering their Democratic rivals over inflation and rising fuel prices.

“We’ve got commonsense laws here regarding abortion and that’s not the focus going forward,” New Hampshire GOP Chair Steve Stepanek said in an interview. “The focus is, how do we get this Biden inflation under control? And I think most people are concerned about their future, concerned about putting food on the table.”

Democrats contend that reproductive rights are fueling voters’ uncertainties just as much as the economy — and in an interview, Kuster connected the two.

“It’s fine by me if [Republicans] miss the moment and misunderstand what’s happening,” Kuster said. “Of course people are concerned about lowering costs. But those very people know that they probably can’t afford another child if they have two or three children. And they want to control their future, their autonomy. They want to continue their schooling. They want to stay in the workplace. … They don’t want the government mandating a pregnancy that they do not intend.”

Support for abortion rights is on the rise in New Hampshire and at an all-time high among voters nationally. Yet some of those same polls, and many others, show the economy is still top of mind for voters, with gas prices recently topping $5 a gallon on average in New England and the prices of food and other goods rising along with it.

Those concerns, coupled with President Joe Biden’s approval numbers and U.S. inflation numbers moving in opposite directions, have given Republicans in New Hampshire and elsewhere plenty of fodder against their Democratic rivals.

“Regardless of the abortion issue, the Democrats will still have a lower voter turnout than Republicans, because people are so frustrated with Joe Biden and the Democrats in Washington who are doing absolutely nothing to help our economy,” said Mike Dennehy, a veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist.

Democrats dismiss that charge. In conversations and press calls, Hassan, Pappas and Kuster were all quick to describe efforts to lower gas prices and prescription drug costs. Hassan has for months been pushing to suspend the 18 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax — a call that hasn’t generated much enthusiasm in Washington, and which her Republican rivals have dismissed as an “election year gimmick.”

“I know there are a number of economic challenges that we’re facing in New Hampshire,” Pappas said in an interview. “We’re working hard on gas prices, and lowering prices at the grocery store and addressing inflation.”

While Democrats are trying to leverage abortion as a major campaign issue, they have to give equal weight to inflation and cost of living concerns.

“Obviously, the pocketbook issues, that’s top of mind for voters,” Kuster said. “But I would not underestimate particularly the decision in Roe that hits so close to home and affects people’s personal lives.”

Ruling on Roe sparks debate over impact on struggling workforce

Politico -

The demise of Roe v. Wade is raising alarms among abortion rights advocates that historic gains for lower-income women in the workplace will be in jeopardy.

Some economists — including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — argue that access to abortion opened up opportunities for many of the most financially vulnerable women to enter the labor force and earn higher wages. They fear that new limits on the practice will not only hurt those people but the overall economy as well at a time when inflation is raging and low workforce participation looms as an obstacle to the recovery.

“It’s clear that women have already been facing barriers to full participation in the economy,” said Kate Bahn, chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive think tank. “Overturning Roe imposes more barriers.”

While the likely impact of the ruling on the labor force isn’t clear-cut — some conservative economists say it could be minor — a wave of academic studies in recent decades suggest that the option to terminate a pregnancy increases economic freedom, especially for women of color.

Yellen said at a Senate hearing last month that banning abortion “would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” limiting their involvement in the workforce by making it harder to balance career and family. That drew a rebuke from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican senator, who said framing the abortion debate around labor force participation “feels callous to me.”

Yet Yellen said avoiding poverty and enhancing quality of life were also at issue.

More than 2 million fewer Americans are actively connected to the labor market than before the pandemic, which has fed worker shortages, contributed to production and transportation delays and fueled inflation, hitting lower-income people the hardest. The drop in labor force participation was particularly acute among Black and Hispanic women as well as people with young children, according to Federal Reserve researchers.

“A single woman, earning an average wage, living with a child aged 0 to 5 was 5 percentage points more likely to exit the labor force relative to a similar woman with no children at home,” according to a Fed paper by Katherine Lim and Mike Zabek.

Labor force participation had already been declining for women since the turn of the century when it peaked at 60 percent, a factor in the Biden administration’s recent failed push to increase government spending for affordable child care.

Decreased access to abortion could further hurt employment opportunities for those women, abortion rights advocates say, though the full net effect is hard to calculate at this point.

“It’s not cut or dry; we can generally say there might be some marginal impacts on labor force participation,” said Rachel Greszler, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. She said some women are likely to take greater precautions to avoid getting pregnant and cited the relatively high number of women who have gotten abortions — 60 percent — who already have kids.

“In general, most women do continue to participate in the labor force after having children,” Greszler said.

Meanwhile, many people who get abortions are already more likely to have less economic opportunity, regardless of whether they are parents, she said.

According to a 2016 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, roughly three-quarters of people who get abortions have low incomes and half are below the poverty line. Advocacy groups are warning that those people could see a further hit to wages, whether from needing to take time off work to travel to another state, carrying a pregnancy to term or caring for an unplanned child.

The ability to terminate a pregnancy has also led to higher educational attainment and earning potential for women in the years since Roe, research shows.

More than 150 economists and researchers filed a brief with the Supreme Court before the decision saying “abortion legalization had large effects on women’s education, labor force participation and earnings,” especially for Black people.

A 2021 paper from American University professor Kelly Jones echoed that point. Black women who had access to abortion before age 24 went to school on average for 2.5 to 3 years longer and were two to three times as likely to finish college.

Research from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth suggests that women in states with more restrictive abortion laws were 7.6 percent less likely to go into a higher-paid occupation. And a paper from Ohio State University researcher Ali Abboud found that postponing motherhood for one year increased wage rates by 11 percent.

“Over time, teenage mothers did somewhat worse economically than their classmates who had not become parents in their teen years,” said Frank Furstenberg, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted a 30-year study of more than 300 teen moms.

Asha Banerjee, an economic analyst at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, argued that the financial consequences for some women could be particularly large because states that are likely to ban abortion also tend to have fewer social services.

“This decision is hitting first in the states where it is as economically difficult as possible to support oneself, let alone carry out a pregnancy and raise a child,” she said in a webinar this week on the economic fallout from the reversal of Roe.

Greszler of the Heritage Foundation said that those opposed to abortion are thinking through the need for help in those states.

“This is now the focus of some in the pro-life movement: how to support women and children in states where there is no longer access to abortion,” she said.

Opinion | A Grand Compromise on Abortion

Politico -

A decade ago, there was talk of a “grand bargain” in Washington to resolve sharp differences on taxes and government spending. But Democrats and Republicans could not agree, and the effort collapsed. Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s momentous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s time for Congress to consider a grand compromise on the issue of abortion.

It won’t be easy. If lawmakers couldn’t reach a deal on economic matters, how can we expect them to resolve deep-seated claims about reproductive liberty and human life? And there are good political reasons for both Democrats and Republicans to keep fighting. Rather than compromise, each side may hope that electoral success in the midterms and in 2024 will allow them to ignore the other party and resolve the abortion issue as they please soon enough — with, say, either a national abortion ban under GOP rule or Roe reinstated with legislation if Democrats prevail.

But a one-sided solution would not be a lasting solution. Without something close to a consensus, abortion laws would always be ripe for reversal if the next election went the other way. A compromise would permit both parties to lock in some of their policy and political goals. At the same time, it would stave off a further breakdown of our divided society.

A national abortion compromise, to be effective, would require bold congressional action. It would recognize a right to abortion, nationwide, but it also would impose new and significant restrictions on this right, also applicable in every state.

As things stand now, the emerging national landscape is disturbing: a patchwork of wildly disparate abortion policies. Some states are moving to ban all or most abortions. Others are poised to become abortion sanctuaries, welcoming and supporting people seeking abortions from other states.

This, our current reality, will lead to conflict and litigation between states. Corporations will be pushed to take sides, adding to the politicization of commerce. Partisan polarization will be exacerbated, and the risk of abortion-related violence will grow. Our precarious social fabric will be torn apart, further imperiling our already weakened sense of commonality and nationhood.

To avoid these consequences, lawmakers will have to meet in the middle. They will have to give up the more categorical positions that might prevail in “pro-life” or “pro-choice” states. Even so, and equally important, they will be able to advance their positions to a significant degree — on a nationwide basis, and therefore even in states that fall on the opposite side of the political divide.

To be potentially viable, a national compromise would include four elements. First, it would permit abortion during a specified period of gestation, without restriction, during the few first months of pregnancy. Second, it would prohibit abortion later in pregnancy. Third, even after this point in pregnancy, there would be exceptions to the abortion prohibition. And fourth, the congressional compromise would be national in scope, with federal law controlling the issue of abortion and preempting state law to the contrary.

The fourth element, federal preemption, bears emphasis. It means that the congressional compromise would displace and nullify state abortion policies. There would be the same right to abortion in red and blue states alike, subject to the same limitations.

Congress clearly has the constitutional power to effect such a compromise. Under well-settled judicial doctrine, Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce permits it to regulate medical services, including abortion services. And Congress can expressly preempt — that is, replace and supersede — inconsistent state laws, whether more or less restrictive than Congress’ own.

Achieving a national compromise would require political courage and intense negotiation.

As a starting point for determining a newly drawn line between permitted and prohibited abortions, Congress might consider 15 weeks, a period approved by the Supreme Court in last week’s decision and defended by Chief Justice John Roberts in his separate concurrence. Or it might consider 20 weeks, as proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans who have urged a federal abortion prohibition. (As it stands, the Graham proposal does not include the critical fourth element of a viable compromise: a preemption provision declaring that the federal law would replace and supersede state law, including more restrictive approaches.)

In crafting exceptions to a federal abortion prohibition, Congress could draw in part upon its experience with the Hyde Amendment, a budgetary provision that varies from year to year but that generally forbids federal funding for abortions. Congress always has included an exception for abortions that are necessary to save the person's life, and it sometimes has included other exceptions as well — for pregnancies endangering the person's health (even if not their life) and for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Needless to say, the stakes are heightened in the context of a prohibition not merely on funding but on abortion access. But Congress is capable of hammering out a compromise — and crafting the language of exceptions — if it has the will to do so.

During his time on the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia argued for a state-by-state approach to abortion, contending that it was far more difficult to find agreement at the national level. Scalia was right about the difficulty but wrong in his conclusion.

Yes, federalism plays an important role in our democracy, and yes, a congressional resolution of this issue will be exceedingly difficult. But the right to abortion — and its limits — are properly seen as American questions, too fundamental to be resolved by a patchwork quilt of divergent state approaches.

Congress might not achieve a grand abortion compromise. But it should try.

Meet the lawmaker Big Tech lobbyists rely on

Politico -

It’s hard to find lawmakers willing to publicly side with the big tech companies these days. But Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have a powerful champion left on Capitol Hill: Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington state.

And as Congress gets increasingly close to a vote on an anti-monopoly bill that would rein in the tech titans’ power, the lawmaker from Amazon and Microsoft's home state could be a major reason that it fails.

DelBene has used her perch as chair of the business-friendly New Democrats caucus to push back on some of the most aggressive efforts to regulate or restrain Silicon Valley, which she claims would hurt the economy and hamstring the tech industry.

Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are under pressure to hold a vote this summer on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, S. 2992 (117) — a bill that would prevent tech companies from using their gatekeeper power to disadvantage competitors.

And the tech industry has DelBene in their corner, leading opposition in the House.

“We love Representative DelBene,” said Rob Atkinson, founder and president of the tech-funded think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. (DelBene is an “honorary co-chair” of the think tank.) Atkinson said DelBene is a key proponent of policies that favor “innovation.”

Behind her back, some of DelBene’s congressional colleagues, both moderates and progressives, gripe that she is an apologist for large tech companies that are some of her most important donors.

But DelBene — who has also condemned antitrust efforts in Europe against tech companies and spent years pushing privacy legislation backed by industry — argues she is an even-handed lawmaker with a special understanding of the tech industry from her 12 years as an executive at Microsoft, and startups before that.

“This is something I have a lot of understanding on and want to make sure we have strong, durable policy for the long term,” Delbene said in an interview. “I think that’s important on privacy and that is important on antitrust.”

Asked about her critics, DelBene said: “It’s unfortunate when, instead of engaging, people question folks’ integrity.”

DelBene denies that she follows the lead of the biggest tech companies. She was one of the first lawmakers to introduce legislation that would protect online privacy and supports an increase in funding for the country’s major antitrust enforcers, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department antitrust division.

And, DelBene’s office pointed out, she’s recently pushed for privacy-related sections that industry does not support, referring to provisions of a bill currently in the House Energy and Commerce committee that would require companies that are “large data holders” to conduct compliance audits and provide the results to the FTC.

DelBene, who has a serious demeanor and the professionalism of a former corporate executive, is known on Capitol Hill as friendly but persistent. She has a habit of lecturing her colleagues on how certain parts of the tech industry, such as e-commerce and online advertising, operate.

Nick Martin, DelBene’s spokesperson, said the congresswoman isn’t opposed to antitrust reform in general, but she has specific concerns about the multiple antitrust bills under consideration right now, which she has agitated against since they passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last year.

That includes the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which Schumer has pledged to put on the floor as soon as this summer. If it moves through the upper chamber, the companion bill in the House is likely to quickly follow.

In interviews, half a dozen lobbyists for big tech companies said they see DelBene, with her key position of power in the House, as the tech industry’s most effective champion on Capitol Hill.

“She is playing a key leadership role in the House, elevating the unintended consequences of antitrust reform to small businesses, to our national security, to privacy and the cyber protections that the targeted companies provide both at home and abroad to consumers,” said Carl Holshouser, senior vice president for operations and strategic initiatives at TechNet, a trade group that represents large tech companies including Google, Facebook’s parent company Meta, Amazon and others.

DelBene has particularly rubbed several of her fellow New Democrats the wrong way with her advocacy. When she spearheaded a letter last year calling to delay the committee markup of the House Judiciary antitrust bills, a number of the New Democrats’ 98 members expressed frustration and claimed it did not speak for the whole caucus.

Since then, DelBene has made personal appeals to several lawmakers who are considering supporting the antitrust legislation, at various points approaching lawmakers on the House floor during votes to try to convince them not to support the bills, according to two aides familiar with the interactions. The aides were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

DelBene said she and others have “continued to express concerns” about the bills. Many members of the California delegation have raised their own qualms with the legislation targeting their home state companies. And beyond them, DelBene noted that a group of Senate Democrats argued in a recent letter that the legislation could affect the platforms’ ability to take down hate speech and misinformation. The co-sponsors of the bills, including House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), have said those allegations are untrue.

During a private meeting earlier this year with Cicilline, DelBene, who has many Amazon employees in her district, was one of only two members of the New Democrats to raise concerns about the bills’ “narrow focus on a few select companies,” said a House aide familiar with the call, who was granted anonymity to speak about a private conversation. Only 12 members of the centrist New Democrats attended the call, along with an assortment of staffers.

“DelBene has not been shy in her resistance to regulating the tech platforms and creating more competition in the ways that the House antitrust subcommittee is intending to do,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the anti-monopoly think tank American Economic Liberties Project.

Staffers with the House Judiciary Committee who are advocating for the legislation have hit back by encouraging members of the New Democrats to sign onto the bills as co-sponsors. Ten members of the caucus have signed onto one of the antitrust bills in recent months, according to the most recent list of cosponsors.

“The top line is, DelBene has said she has spoken for a coalition of moderate Democrats with one voice, as anti-tech regulation,” said one of the congressional aides, who works for a member of the New Democrats. “But she is not speaking for all New Dems. That’s obvious by the co-sponsorship of the bills.”

DelBene's rejection of the antitrust legislation does differ from that of Microsoft, her former employer which has headquarters in her district. (She was a corporate vice president for Microsoft’s mobile communications business for several years. Before that, she worked on marketing and product development — including on Windows and Internet Explorer.)

Microsoft, which faced years of antitrust-related lawsuits, has lobbied in favor of the antitrust bills, claiming that the tech industry should be regulated.

Adam Kovacevich, a former Google lobbyist who now heads the Chamber of Progress, a trade association funded by companies including Google and Meta, said DelBene is a “moderate pragmatist” focused on representing the views of her pro-tech constituents.

Many of DelBene’s detractors point to her financial backers as proof that she is excessively aligned with the tech industry. DelBene’s individual donations list reads as a who’s who of the tech industry’s Washington influence machine. She has received $144,534 from tech executives and lawyers, including Amazon’s top lobbyist Brian Huseman, Google’s chief legal officer Kent Walker, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. (DelBene is one of a handful of lawmakers that Nadella has donated to, including California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna and Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith).

She has also received around $129,500 from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and tech trade groups Technet and the Consumer Technology Association since she came to Congress — a sum much larger than lawmakers overseeing tech-heavy districts like California Democrats Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). Still, that’s much less than Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who has received more than $270,000 from the big tech companies’ PACs. Lofgren is one of the other major lawmakers speaking out against the antitrust bills in the House.

DelBene said her campaign contributions do not influence her policy decisions. “People support me because they believe in me and the job that I’m doing,” she said.

DelBene argues the tech issue Congress should be focusing on is data privacy rather than antitrust. It’s an argument that the tech industry has turned to as well. While the largest players in the tech industry can likely handle the barrage of new costs and regulations that privacy regulation would create, overhauling antitrust laws could mean fundamentally changing the companies’ business practices and seriously hurt their bottom lines.

DelBene was one of the first lawmakers to introduce privacy legislation back in 2018, just as the tech industry was beginning to push for a light-touch federal privacy law. Her legislation, which would give users control over whether companies can share or sell their private data, has drawn support from industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Some privacy advocates say her legislation, the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act, doesn’t give consumers enough rights and would undercut tougher state laws. But DelBene says the legislation is a compromise that protects consumers’ rights while helping small businesses stay afloat.

“The important thing on privacy is that we have a consistent policy across the country so peoples’ rights are protected everywhere,” DelBene said. “We have five different state laws now and they’re all different. That makes it incredibly difficult for small businesses and others to be able to keep up with different policies and how to apply those different policies.”

It’s unclear whether the American Choice and Innovation Online Act will go to a vote over the next few months. But either way, DelBene has staked out a position as a lawmaker who’s willing to support the tech industry’s efforts.

“She looks at policy questions and she really tries to call them as she sees them,” said Atkinson, of ITIF. “In this case, she firmly believes that these innovations are going to be critical to our country’s future. She’s willing to stand up and say that.”


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