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Tuesday, May 9 2017

NEW STRATEGY MEMO: Leveraging the Health Care Debate to Build a Political Tidal Wave

May 09, 2017

David Brock and James Carville are distributing the strategy memo below to progressive leaders across the country. In their memo, Brock and Carville outline how Democrats can best leverage opposition to Trumpcare at the ballot box in 2018 with a specific focus on discrediting Trump’s alleged “populism.” 

TO:         Interested Parties
FROM:   David Brock and James Carville
DATE:    May 9, 2017
RE:         Leveraging the Health Care Debate to Build a Political Tidal Wave

“The mover on health care loses.” – James Carville, Democratic Strategist

Even with the best intentions, the mover on health care loses. Republicans are about to come face to face with that reality, and they’ve revealed their intentions are far from honest. Taking their marching orders from Donald Trump, last week Republicans in the House voted to dismantle the American health care system and undo crucial progress in helping ordinary Americans have access to life-saving and affordable treatments. And in the words of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, they did it just to “cut the hell out of taxes” for the richest Americans.

It’s not hyperbole to say that this bill, if signed into law, will destroy millions of lives. It’s a transfer of wealth from the working class to the wealthy. Trumpcare will kick 26 million off of their health insurance, effectively deny coverage to people who need it the most, burden families who are already struggling to make ends meet, and hollow-out Medicaid while also scaling back Medicare funding.  And while Trumpcare is creating new burdens for working class Americans – people who are already struggling – by taking their health care away, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are turning around and tilting the playing field to favor the wealthy even more than it does now.

Now, Democrats must channel the anger directed at Trumpcare​ into a political tidal wave that our party can use to win in 2018.

Democrats have to marshal this outrage, as well as the energy Donald Trump’s attacks on working and middle class Americans have created, in an organized, grassroots fashion, as it provides an opportunity to strengthen the progressive movement nationally. We must explain how Trump sold them a bill of lies and is now selling them out, and how our party will do better.

This is the first in a series of forthcoming memos outlining a path forward to leverage public disgust with this cruel and reckless effort into action at the ballot box.  There, Americans will hold Republicans accountable and vote for new leadership.

The Background:
Donald Trump was elected because he convinced demoralized Americans he would help their circumstances. These are people who feel opportunity is slipping out of their grasp, who are seeing their paychecks decline as the country leaves them behind, and who want nothing more than to provide a better future for their families. Donald Trump lied to all of them. His agenda abuses them – takes from them – in order to heap benefits on the wealthiest and himself.

Americans deserve the truth, as well as an agenda that will actually provide the American dream and a competent government that does its part to ensure that hard work pays off.   That’s not what Republicans are offering, in fact they never have, and Trumpcare uniquely puts this all into perspective.

The Facts:
Trumpcare is the most disastrous piece of legislation to make its way through Congress in a generation. It is being fought by the largest health care and patient advocates in America, such as the American Medical Association, the AARP, the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, and the American Heart Association, as well as faith groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and more.

Here are the worst truths about Trumpcare the public must know and which we must highlight throughout the coming election cycle. It must be communicated under the banner that Donald Trump is selling Americans out and that the country deserves better, competent, leadership:

  • Trumpcare TAKES health insurance from 26 million Americans.
  • Trumpcare GUTS coverage for Americans with any pre-existing medical condition – such as cancer and heart disease – by undoing Affordable Care Act coverage and cost guarantees. It takes us back to an era where getting sick itself was a financial death sentence for families.
  • Trumpcare BREAKS campaign promises Republicans made by rushing it through without even understanding what was in it – and many Congressmen are now openly admitting they never read the bill.
  • Republicans in Congress tried to EXEMPT themselves from Trumpcare.
  • Trumpcare JEOPARDIZES the quality of employer-based health care, by letting insurance companies shop for states that allow the worst kind of insurance industry abuses.

And Trumpcare does all of this to fund tax cuts for the richest Americans$144 billion over the coming decade to those making $1 million or more annually. The Wall Street Journal found that Trump himself stands to win big here.

The Republican tax agenda – big cuts for the wealthiest – has never been less popular with voters. But by combining their desires to cut taxes for the wealthiest of Americans in the name of stripping health care away from 26 million Americans, what’s left is toxic for anyone who is facing voters next year.  Democrats cannot shy away from bringing that message home, and it has to be made consistently and repeatedly between now and next November.

The Opportunity:
It is essential that Democrats be the party that exposes the truth to the American people and shows brighter, alternative leadership.  Many of the Americans who are likely to suffer most at the hands of the Republican health care bill are the same people who had previously supported Democrats as recently as 2012.  These Obama/Trump voters are one of the main​ reason​s​ why we lost in 2016, and they make up enough of the electorate to swing critical off-year elections in our favor due to backlash to this bill.

Polling conducted by American Bridge underscores the opportunity that this health care bill presents to win back these voters.  The research found that out of more than a​ dozen items from Trump’s agenda that were tested, the three most concerning elements of Trump’s policies for the Obama/Trump voters just so happen to be the crux of Trumpcare. They are:

  • Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which will cause millions of Americans to lose their health care coverage, increase out-of-pocket costs and allow insurance companies to again deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Trump wants to totally defund Planned Parenthood, which would make it more difficult for millions of women to access critical health care services like cancer screening, contraception and prenatal care.
  • Most of Trump’s tax cuts would go to the wealthiest, while those earning $50,000 would get just a few hundred dollars. And his tax plan would increase the national debt by $10 trillion over ten years.

Other key findings include:

  • By a 20% margin, Obama/Trump voters viewed Obamacare favorably (58% favorable; 38% unfavorable);
  • By an 11% margin, Obama/Trump voters opposed defunding Planned Parenthood (53% oppose; 42% support);

This bill presents a real opportunity for the Democratic Party to earn back key voters’ support, if we act now.

The Path Forward:
The playbook we must now run as an opposition party begins with a public education effort; in the coming weeks, we must make sure Americans are fully aware of the disastrous consequences of the Republican bill.  Then, we must ensure their anger is rightfully targeted at Trump Republicans who rubber stamped this bill without bothering to consider its consequences or even read it in many cases.  That means a massive, sustained messaging effort laser focused on holding these Republicans accountable at the ballot box in 2018.

The first step in this effort must focus on localizing Trumpcare’s negative consequences. For every single person who stands to lose their health insurance, and every person who is going to pay higher health care bills moving forward, the public needs to know those are direct results of Trumpcare.  Simultaneously, we must never lose sight of the contrast at the crux of this legislation – Republicans inflicted all these terrible policies on Americans solely in the name of cutting taxes for millionaires to the tune of nearly $144 billion.

Taking Our Message Straight to Voters:
The effort is already underway. The DSCC and DCCC have been smart; they began a digital advertising blitz moments after the vote. Continuing this effort and starting with the congressional recess this week, American Bridge is launching a new digital advertising campaign in 24 districts ​held by ​vulnerable House Republicans – targeted to Obama/Trump voters – and hammering the point that Donald Trump is betraying them to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest, the antithesis of the bill of goods he sold them.

To make this campaign as effective as possible, it is being directed at the most competitive House races in 2018 and will be followed by similar campaigns again and again until Election Day.  We cannot afford to let up – we must continue highlighting the disastrous consequences of this law, the people who are hurt, and the way​s​ they can channel their anger into action at the ballot box next year.

Trumpcare has the potential to be the defining issue that brings Democrats victory in 2018, but it will not do so on its own.  We have to make it happen with relentless work.  By connecting these dots comprehensively, we can make sure voters are rightfully holding Trump Republicans accountable for this reckless plan.  ​

Published: May 9, 2017

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