Beto O’Rourke, long expected to step into the race for the Democratic bid, has finally announced he will. The young Texan lost a close race to Ted Cruz in Texas in November, but is aiming to ride his surge in popularity to the White House. Unlike many other contenders from the Democratic party, he is more of a centrist, not adopting the now-common socialist platform. Commenting on his candidacy, Beto says “The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater. They will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America”.
FINSUM: Outside of maybe Bernie Sanders, we think Beto is the biggest contender to Trump because he may be able to simultaneously get voters on the far left and some of Trump’s more centrist supporters.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is set to hold his first and only public hearing on Thursday, when he will testify in front of the House about his dealings with President Trump. Cohen is reportedly going to directly accuse Trump of criminal activity in addition to testimony regarding “lies, racism, and cheating”. He will not be speaking about Russia matters under the purview of the Mueller investigation. The White House commented that “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same … It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies”.
FINSUM: This is either going to be a media firestorm or a dud. If Cohen doesn’t say anything new, it will be hard for the media to make much of it.
Next week is going to be a media circus, as the odds of real Trump fireworks look likely to surge. The reason why is that Michael Cohen is going to testify at an open public hearing before the House Oversight Committee next Thursday. The committee, seemingly defending its actions, commented that “Congress has an obligation under the Constitution to conduct independent and robust oversight of the Executive Branch, and this hearing is one step in that process”. The questions Cohen will answer will concern hush money payments, potential Trump conflicts of interest etc, but will not touch on Mueller’s probe into Russian interference.
FINSUM: No matter how you feel about Cohen, or whether you think this is just political theatre, the odds of a media bombshell, true or not, seem high.
The pool of Democrats keeps moving left. In what comes as a no surprise (but was not a sure thing), Bernie Sanders has just announced his candidacy for the 2020 election. His platform is going to be built around three pillars: free education, Medicare for all, and a $15 minimum wage. Sanders narrowly missed the Democratic nomination in 2016 and has a particularly strong following among the young.
FINSUM: Politics could not be more polarizing right now, so in many ways it makes sense that the Democratic candidates are quite far left. The difference between now and 2016 is that those leftist narratives have more popular traction than the more centrist position Hillary Clinton adopted then.
The Democrats are mulling one their biggest risks heading into 2020. That huge decision is whether to make Medicare for all part of their platform for the next election. The House currently has no less than eight proposals for how to make Medicare available to all. None of them are likely to pass in the next two years as the Republicans have control of the Senate. However, adopting the goal of Medicare for all would be a major signal about the direction of the Democratic party headed into the future. The idea is popular with liberals, but more contentious with swing voters.
FINSUM: This is a high risk/high reward strategy. It could either become a major rallying cry or another reason for those in the middle to abhor the left-most leanings of the Democrats. Speaking from a politically neutral position, we do think this would be a good strategic move for the left, as one of the big challenges for the party is that President Trump and the right have grabbed the reins on shaping the vision for the future of the nation. This would be a chance for the Democrats to start to put forth their own cohesive vision.