Leventhal and Trone Duke It Out: Both Lose

George Leventhal and David Trone, two prospective candidates for county executive in 2018, made comments seemingly designed to make news–and they did in Bethesda Beat–as they debated the issue of pay-to-play politics. Leventhal charged that Trone’s contributions amount to pay-for-pay politics while Trone called Leventhal “a fool, F-O-O-L, and a bully.”

Trone’s Contradictory Statements

Leventhal’s attack centered on Trone’s political contributions:

“[T]he Trone brothers made enormous political contributions in order to get access to the Wisconsin market for their product,” Leventhal said. “They’re indicative of just one trend in the industry of paying off politicians to get what they want. The Trones have done that over a long period of time.”

Indeed, during his congressional campaign, Trone admitted bluntly “I sign my checks to buy access.” Now, he’s trying to walk it back:

Trone said he and his brother make donations to elected officials whom they believe have an interest in furthering “the common good” and who support economic initiatives that benefit the consumer.

Not Leventhal’s Best Issue Either

Leventhal attacks Trone for making supposedly corrupting donations to buy access. However, Leventhal has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from business:

Leventhal says that he has never allowed any contributor to “buy access” but is well known for his support of development interests. While he contends otherwise, Leventhal’s situation is no different from that of any other person who accepted money from the Trone brothers.

Now, George Leventhal sidesteps this past showering in funds from business and touts his participation in the public campaign finance system as evidence of new purity:

“That’s precisely why I’m so delighted to participate in the public finance system,” Leventhal said. “That option wasn’t available to me previously, but I believe it will take the influence of big money out of politics.”

Except that not all of his colleagues took as much “big money” in the past as Leventhal. Marc Elrich, another rival for county executive, received very little from business. The 32% share of Elrich’s contributions from individual donations under $150 was also twice as high as the 16% of Leventhal’s contributions.

Leventhal’s Lurch Left

Following the debate on raising the minimum wage, this is now the second issue in a very short period on which George Leventhal has hugged Marc Elrich tightly. Abandoning his past business ties, Leventhal touts a $15/hour minimum wage with the fervor of a convert, and regularly plugs his embrace of public financing.

The strategy of imprinting himself in the media as the true progressive tribune is not a bad one. In recent weeks, his combination of abrasive outspokenness has gained him more media attention than his rivals. As Trump showed in the Republican primary, that can work wonders.

On the other hand, Leventhal has a long record. Will his new embrace of a much higher minimum wage and attacks on major campaign contributions gain him progressive support? Or will it just leave primary voters wondering why they should vote for mini-Marc when Marc is also on the ballot?

Hogan’s Transportation Scam

By Adam Pagnucco.

A looming crisis threatens to devastate Maryland’s transportation program.  As much as one-third of the state’s transportation project spending could be at risk.  Key projects will be delayed, perhaps some indefinitely.  Is this because of the transportation transparency law that Governor Larry Hogan wants repealed?

No, not at all.  The real problem is something much more mundane, something Hogan does not want to talk about: a gaping budget hole.

The Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is a segregated fund used to finance Maryland’s transportation programs.  Its largest sources of revenue are motor fuel taxes, titling taxes, registration fees and other Motor Vehicle Administration fees.  It also receives a substantial amount of federal funding.  Its proceeds are used to finance the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) operating expenses as well as MDOT’s debt service and six-year capital program.  This means that funding for transportation capital projects is subject to variations in TTF revenue as well as changes in MDOT’s operating costs and debt service.

Page 43 of the Fiscal Briefing reviewed by the General Assembly last week shows a substantial deterioration in the TTF over the last year.  The briefing states:

The six-year State capital program in the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) fiscal 2017 through 2022 Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) forecast is $1.5 billion lower than in the prior year’s six-year program. Lower estimated revenue attainment, primarily motor vehicle fuel tax revenue, accounts for about half the decrease with higher projections for debt service and departmental operating expense spending accounting for the other half of the reduction in the capital program.

The briefing continues:

MDOT did not use the five-year average annual increase in operating expenses to calculate out-year operating expenses as directed in the 2016 Joint Chairmen’s Report. As a result, MDOT’s forecast likely understates operating expenses by $585 million over the forecast period, or just under 5%, and overstates the amount available for the capital program by $1.7 billion.

Translation: $1.5 billion in forecasted transportation spending, or 15% of the state’s six-year total, has disappeared in one year.  And the administration’s underestimating of MDOT’s operating expenses could cause the capital program to drop another $1.7 billion.

That’s right, folks: one-third of all funding for state transportation projects could be evaporating.

Now let’s be fair.  Governor Hogan does not control revenues for transportation, which are chiefly determined by the state of the economy.  Their substantial drop suggests that the economy is not doing as well as Hogan says it is.  The economy could get even worse if Republicans in Washington repeal the Affordable Care Act – something that would cost Maryland tens of thousands of jobs – and push through substantial cuts to federal agencies.  The Governor is also only in partial control of MDOT’s operating expenses, which include substantial amounts of materials and supplies purchased from private vendors.  Those expenses are squeezing money for transportation along with the revenue shortfalls.

But one thing the Governor does control is his own behavior.  A reasonable Governor acting in good faith would go to the General Assembly and say, “Look folks.  We have a problem here.  Let’s get together and figure out how to deal with it.”  That would be in line with the Governor’s regular calls for bipartisan cooperation.

Instead, the Governor has launched a Holy War against the General Assembly’s transportation transparency law, which merely requires him to justify the projects he chooses to fund.  He falsely claims that the law would require him to cancel projects when it does no such thing and even announced funding for one project a week after he said it would be killed.  Instead of working with members of the General Assembly to remedy a real budget problem that threatens transportation projects, he assaults them on Facebook about a fake problem that he has made up.

One of several Facebook posts the Governor is using to target state legislators.

It’s a scam, folks.  This Governor does not want to deal with an impending transportation crisis that is happening on his watch.  Instead, he is trying everything in his power to shift blame to Democrats in the state legislature.

Don’t fall for it.

Leventhal Lurches Left on the Minimum Wage

As he prepares to run for County Executive, Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At Large) is taking a no-one-to-my-left approach on the minimum wage. He has heartily embraced the legislation by fellow Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At Large) to raise the county’s minimum wage to $15/hour.

The legislation, recently vetoed by County Executive Ike Leggett after passing the Council by 5-4, would have indexed the minimum wage. Consistent with his position, Leventhal came out strongly on Facebook against a proposal by Del. Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s) to limit the abilities of local jurisdictions to legislate on the minimum wage, and pointed out that the County’s current minimum wage law is not indexed for inflation:

His campaign consultant, Karen Murphy, then posted the first comment applauding Leventhal and attacking both Davis and Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1), who voted against the legislation to increase the wage:

Berliner is a likely rival to Leventhal for the open county executive post in 2018.

At this point, my fellow blogger Adam Pagnucco, who formerly worked for the Council, pointed out that Leventhal had voted for an amendment sponsored by Berliner to strip indexing from the county’s minimum wage in 2013:

(Here is the link to the meeting in the screenshot of Adam’s post.)

George agreed that Adam is correct but then noted that Adam has done work for Berliner as a campaign consultant. Irrelevant but fair enough. On the other hand, it was only at this point that it was revealed that Karen Murphy, who earlier posted the SHAME on Berliner comment, works for Leventhal.

Can we look forward to Karen Murphy revealing her employer and pay in future political posts? (Note: Adam says he was paid less but the debate over the amount is not important here.)

George later explained his evolution on the issue:

The proposed new minimum wage of $15.00 is a 30 percent increase over $11.50. Councilmembers who voted no expressed concerns that a minimum wage set above a certain point could crimp the county’s economy. Councilmember Leventhal argued this point passionately during the 2013 debate. So this new lack of caution is a real shift.

The politics of this debate are interesting. The county’s Democratic Party continues to shift left, so taking a vocal, hardline pro-minimum wage stance may be politically advantageous. This should benefit Elrich, yet another candidate for county executive, and Leventhal would hope he too would reap the benefits, or at least mend relations with unions who didn’t endorse him 2014.

In theory, this leaves business oriented Democrats open for Berliner, or another potential candidate like David Trone. However, Leventhal has had strong developer and business support in the past and would likely try to win their support again, if only as clearly preferable to Elrich from their point of view.

(Note: I am not a consultant to any campaign or a supporter of anyone for county executive at this time. I have actively supported both Elrich and Berliner in some of their past Council races.)

2018 Maryland Senate Ratings, Part II

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Part I discussed ratings for safe and toss-up seats in the Maryland Senate. Today, 7S focuses on the six Lean and Likely Democratic districts.  All are currently held by incumbent Democrats.

Lean Democratic

District 3 (Frederick County). Sen. Ron Young had a real scare in 2014, winning just 50.8% of the vote after defeating incumbent Alex Mooney with 51.1% in 2010. Mooney has since fled to West Virginia where he is now a U.S. Representative.

This part of Frederick has been trending Democratic. Clinton carried D3 by 8. Hogan won by 15, a good margin but less impressive than in several districts held by Democrats in Anne Arundel and Baltimore. As this district has the best Democratic territory in Frederick, Young ought to be able to win a third term.

But Frederick has been hotly contested between the two parties of late and this former Frederick Mayor has sometimes been a controversial figure. My current expectations remain for the GOP to have another go at Young but fall short, though they will force Democrats to scramble to retain the seat.

Likely Democratic

See the map at the bottom of the post for the locations of the five Likely Democratic districts.

District 8 (Baltimore County). Sen. Kathy Klausmeier won an impressive victory in 2014. Though her district went for Hogan by 36 points, she not only won but took 61.2% of the vote. In 2016, Hogan’s impressive margin evaporated as Trump carried D8 by seven-tenths of one percent.

This is an interesting district because, though the incumbent has demonstrated popularity, it remains marginal turf. If Republicans want to make gains, they will have to look here, even if Klausmeier is clearly no easy mark. The district could become competitive with the right Republican candidate and favorable political winds.

District 11 (Baltimore County). Sen. Bobby Zirkin was unopposed for reelection last time around, so what is he doing on this list? Zirkin represents a cross-pressured district that supported Hogan by 14 points even as it then went for Clinton by 24 points.

Zirkin is an active legislator who champions several popular, easy-to-explain causes, such as stronger anti-domestic violence legislation. Nonetheless, if Maryland’s political climate turns against Democrats, this seat could be a surprise domino to fall. The district bears watching even if Zirkin should be in good shape.

District 12 (Howard and Baltimore Counties). Another cross-pressured district, D12 went for Hogan by 11 but Clinton by 17. Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Ed Kasemeyer won reelection with a convincing, albeit a tad lower than Klausmeier, margin of 58.6%.

Kasemeyer has an impressive electoral history (59% in 2014, 59% in 2010, 62% in 2006, 63% in 2002, 57% in 1998, 51% in 1994, 54% in 1986) that will make it difficult for Republicans to break through in increasingly Democratic Howard.

Howard has shown itself willing to vote for particular sorts of Republicans, including County Executive Allan Kittleman, who is liberal on social questions, and Gov. Larry Hogan, who relentlessly ignores them. Can the Republicans find one to challenge Kasemeyer or win the open seat should he choose to retire?

District 27 (Southern Maryland). Mike Miller entered the House of Delegates in 1971, the Senate in 1975 and became the Senate President in 1987, which makes him the longest serving legislative body leader in American history. Sen. Miller has led the Senate for so long that when I interviewed him over the telephone for my college senior thesis in the late 1980s, he was already Senate President.

The Senate President represents a politically diverse district that includes big chunks of Calvert and southeastern Prince George’s Counties as well as smaller bits of Charles and St. Mary’s. The Calvert portion of the district is much more Republican than the portions in Charles or Prince George’s.

Republicans would love to defeat this pillar of the Democratic Party. While he attracts complaints of being too conservative from the left, he fights very hard for members of his caucus, raising a lot of money and directing broader organizational efforts to retain a robust Democratic Senate majority.

This district is also far from totally hostile territory. While Clinton won it by 5 points in 2016, Hogan also carried it by 6 points in 2014. This divergence is a lot smaller than many Maryland legislative districts and is suggestive of tighter partisan loyalties, especially among its sizable African-American minority.

Republicans have not come close to defeating Miller. He won 63% in 2014, 75% in 2010, 70% in 2006, 72% in 2002, 69% in 1998, 68% in 1994, 84% in 1990, and 82% in 1986. (The State Board of Elections has not put the stone tablets with earlier election results online yet.) Despite receiving his lowest percentage since at least the 1980s in 2014, my guess is that Sen. Miller is not going to be beat. Still, the turf is marginal and remains Likely Democratic.

District 32 (Anne Arundel). Yet another cross-pressured district that bears a more than passing resemblance to its nearby counterparts in Baltimore and Howard Counties, this district went for Hogan by 17 but for Clinton by 12.

Moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange would seemingly be a good fit for this district. Except in these highly partisan times, some will argue that an outspoken liberal would do more to stir the troops. Like others listed here, he possesses real electoral experience, winning his seat by 59% in 2014, 60% in 2010, 61% in 2006, 59% in 2002, and 52% in 1998.

The remarkable consistency since his first reelection does not look like the record of someone about to lose his seat. Nevertheless, if Republicans are to make gains, they will look to Anne Arundel and to this district along with District 30.

2018 Maryland Senate Ratings, Part I

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Today, 7S unveils its first set of ratings for Maryland Senate races for the 2018 election. We’re still in the middle of our four-year cycle for state races but politicians are already thinking about 2018 based on the number of fundraising solicitations I received prior to the start of the General Assembly session.

Safe Democratic

Anthony Brown in 2014 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 carried all of the seats classified as safe Democratic. Hogan lost two Montgomery (14 and 15) districts and one Howard (13) district by five points or less, though Clinton won all by large margins. Democrats easily won these legislative districts in 2014 and Republicans lack experienced candidates to challenge them.

By my estimation, Democrats start the cycle with 24 of the Senate’s 47 seats safely in the bag. For Democrats and Republicans, the fight is not about party control by whether the Republicans can gain enough seats in either house to sustain a veto should Hogan win reelection, as Democrats have been happy to override.

Safe Republican

Both Larry Hogan and Donald Trump carried all of the districts designated as safe Republican. Democrats lost several of these Senate seats in 2014 but these were low-hanging fruit for the GOP. In D6 (Baltimore County), for example, the miracle in 2014 wasn’t that Del. John Oleszewski narrowly lost the open seat but that he came close at all, as Hogan won by 51 and Trump by 25.

Despite Hogan’s victory in 2014, Republicans performed relatively poorly in Senate races. Democrats won every single district that Hogan won by less than 37 points (!) and two more where Hogan won an even higher share of the vote. No doubt these are the seats where Republicans will concentrate their efforts.

Republicans have just 14 safe seats. However, as the Democrats hold the other 33, they have more potential targets. All of the seats that could flip are currently held by Democrats.

Toss Up

Three seats held by Democrats will be toss-up races from the start. Democrats will need to hustle to retain these seats.

District 30 (Anne Arundel County). Sen. John Astle has already announced that he intends to run for mayor of Annapolis. If he wins that office, Democrats will have an opportunity to help his replacement to settle into the seat. Otherwise, Astle could run for reelection or retire.

This seat behaved far differently in 2016 than 2014. While Hogan ran away with the election by 29 points, Trump finished ahead of Clinton by a mere six-tenths of a percent. Incumbent Sen. Astle won with 51.4% in 2014, suggesting a vulnerable incumbent or a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans if he should retire.

Hogan will unquestionably outperform Trump but we just don’t know if by less or more than last time, or if he will show any willingness or ability to translate his own vote prowess down ballot. Nevertheless, this is one Democrats will have to fight to keep even if, on paper, it is less vulnerable than District 38.

District 38 (Lower Eastern Shore). Sen. Jim Mathias is the only white Democrat elected to the General Assembly from the Eastern Shore due to his incredible political skills and repeated heavy investment by Democrats who just refuse to let go of this seat. Hogan defeated Brown by 40 points and Trump beat Clinton by 28 points in this conservative district.

Mathias always faces a tough race and won with just 51.7% in 2014 against one of his delegates. If this popular former Ocean City Mayor won in extremely tough 2014, it’d be an epic mistake to count him out in 2018’s very different political climate. If Mathias doesn’t seek reelection, Republicans would be strongly favored to pick up the seat.

District 42 (Baltimore County). Sen. Jim Brochin proudly carves his own path in the Senate. Famous for being mercurial and an undependable vote, he and Senate President Mike Miller appear to cordially loathe one another.

Brochin is the most conservative Democrat, or extreme moderate, depending upon how you look at it. He’s happy to tout his good relations and frequent support for the Governor, who invites him often to press events when other Democrats are given the cold shoulder even if they sponsored the legislation.

District 42 has a split personality as Hogan carried it by 42% but Trump beat Clinton by just 2%. Sen. Brochin has defeated strong Republicans in the past (with 51.6% in 2014), suggesting he would be a tough opponent in 2018. It would be interesting to see if the Governor would go all in against his favorite Democrat.

Brochin, however, is expected to announce his candidacy for Baltimore County Executive, leaving the seat vacant. His departure would be a boon for Republicans, though not a sure thing. Republicans would have potentially strong candidates in Dels. Aumann or West, though Democrats have Del. Lafferty.

Conclusion

As always, Democrats start with huge advantages in elections for the Maryland Senate. The Republicans have a harder task than in 2014 because they have already won just about all of the natural Republican Senate seats.

Moreover, they will face a very different political environment at the national level. No backlash against a Democratic president will bring in a Republican tide. Trump fared exceptionally poorly in Maryland and it’s not hard to imagine him mobilizing angry Democrats.

Still, Democrats hold all of the vulnerable seats, mainly due to their past success in winning in different political environments. They should view these vulnerabilities as both a call to action and a potential opportunity to mobilize in areas they need to improve not just in 2018 but also in 2020.

Next Up: Lean and Likely Democratic

More Evidence Trump Tactics at Heart of Maryland GOP as Vogt Fires Fraudster Aide

As 7S reported previously, Trumpian tactics of flat out lies followed by more flat out lies are evident at the heart of the Maryland Republican Party. More scandal related to this approach to politics emerged yesterday:

A legislative aide to a Frederick County lawmaker was fired after he was revealed Wednesday in a New York Times article to be the mastermind behind a fake political news website.

Cameron Harris, an aide to Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, previously ran the website ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, according to the Times.

The website published fabricated articles about things like thousands of ballots pre-marked to vote for Hillary Clinton in an Ohio warehouse, complete with photos stolen from other sources.

I guess the ChristianTimesNewspaper lied about the character of a woman and voter fraud in Jesus’s name. Harris also worked for Change Annapolis, an organization aligned with Gov. Hogan’s Change Maryland.

Del. Vogt’s initial reaction to the scandal’s revelation seems appropriate at first glance. He fired Harris and declared that he could not support such “dishonesty.” How we handle mistakes says much about our leaders and this was a good response.

At the same time, Harris’s statement that he did most of his work at a local Starbucks and Vogt did not know stretches credulity. Harris was not only Vogt’s chief aide, he lived in Vogt’s home until November 2016. While Harris managed Vogt’s failed congressional campaign, he created another defunct trickster website called delaneyforgovernor2018.com.

Harris issued a classic non-apology apology. This man who willfully misled people under the guise of religiosity wrote:

I apologize to those disappointed by my actions, and my wish is that I will be allowed to contribute my informed experience to a larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media, tough issues, and the manner in which we, collectively, will inform our decisions going forward.

Rather than taking real responsibility and saying it was wrong, Harris shifts the problem to “those disappointed.” If he really wants to “contribute,” he could start by owning his mistake and acknowledging that he is the problem, not the solution.

Such a statement makes it even harder to accept the claim by Harris, a serial liar, that Vogt knew nothing about Harris’s activities. It means that Vogt had no inkling that someone who he saw at work and lived in his house was undertaking dishonest activity that resembles that done on behalf of his own campaign and is a central thread of his character and work.

For now, I’ll give this ex-marine the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t look ideal–and appearances matter in politics–but that’s not the same as it happened. And Vogt’s response, at least once the information went public, was the right one.

Just don’t ask me to give much credence to Vogt’s claims in future on national security or other issues. Not only did Del. Vogt support Trump, a man who seems ready to align our foreign policy with the authoritarian leader of a declining mid-rate power opposed to the U.S., but he failed in assessing character–or the total lack of it–in his own office.

New House of Delegates Leadership

After many years of leadership, and ruling her committee with an iron hand, Del. Sheila Hixson has stepped down as Chair of the Ways and Committee. Del. Anne Kaiser (D-14, Montgomery) is the new chair, and Del. Bill Frick (D-16, Montgomery) replaces Kaiser as the new majority leader.

All are excellent decisions. It’s gracious of Del. Hixson, after her lengthy and effective leadership as chair, to step down at this time and allow new leadership to emerge in a chamber that has seen mostly the same people at the helm for many years.

Del. Kaiser is an obvious choice to grow into her shoes. She has steadily moved up the leadership rungs in the House, and with good reason. The incoming chair combines smarts with savvy strategy with the latter being even more important than the former in an inherently political process. She also knows how to be a team player to get work done in a large legislative body.

Similarly, Del. Frick is a fine selection as majority leader. Another of the bright lights in the Montgomery delegation, Frick has pushed for new ideas, such as liquor decontrol, that are needed to move the County and the State forward. This appointment suggests that Frick is back on track after his abortive run for attorney general.

Finally, all of this reflects well on Speaker Busch. It’s not easy to facilitate transitions of this sort, especially when the outgoing chair is long-time trusted member of your leadership team. Kudos to the Speaker for these good decisions. Now, if he would just replace Judiciary Chair Joe Vallario, who has stood in the way of progress on too many issues, the House would really feel a fresh breeze.

Rep. Raskin to Boycott Inauguration

From Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) on why he cannot bring himself to attend Trump’s Inauguration. His combination of a desire to witness to peaceful transfer of power yet a total revulsion many of Trump’s actions will no doubt be well understood by many readers:

“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he [or she] that stands by it now, deserves the thanks and love of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”     

–Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

January 17, 2017

Dear Friends:

For the last couple of weeks, I have assumed that I would attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, obviously not to show any support for his politics but as a gesture of constitutionalism, simply to witness the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to the new administration.

But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go. I wish that these were normal times and that I could sit and applaud the normal workings of government as I did when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated in 2015 in Annapolis.

But these are not normal times and I cannot pretend as if they are. The moral and political legitimacy of this presidency is in the gravest doubt. I cannot get over Trump’s refusal to deal seriously with the constitutional problems caused by his business entanglements with foreign governments and corporations. I cannot get past his stubborn denial of the enormity of Russia’s efforts to sabotage and undermine our presidential election (regardless of the victor). I cannot stomach his relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear. And I am outraged and confounded by his continuing provocations against civil rights heroes, such as my colleague the great Congressman John Lewis, union leaders and other individual citizens. Given these dynamics and given that one can never have any confidence in what Trump might say or tweet, I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation. I will not attend the inauguration. I do not rejoice in this decision or take pride in it, any more than I would rejoice or take pride in going; the inauguration ceremony is just a fact of life now, and we must all deal with it as best we can. I am afraid that these kinds of searing moral and political conflicts are our destiny for a while. (The State of the Union is next up, but I have every intention of going because the President will be entering our Chamber to speak to us.)

On Friday morning, I will be in our district, talking about our constitutional values with young people and preparing for the Women’s March on Saturday (more on that below). I’ll also be participating in a number of events aimed at organizing to defend liberal democracy in America. I invite you to join me as our country and our community prepare for the new era.

Organizing at Events to Defend Democracy

Tonight, I will attend the Refugee Ball at the Sixth & I Synagogue (details available here). Tomorrow, I am offering the keynote address at American University’s “Teach, Organize, Engage: A forum on contemporary politics and the future” at 3:00 p.m. (details available here) and will speak at an event on climate change called “Earth 2 Trump” at 6:00 p.m. (details available here). On Thursday, I will attend the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (details are available here, but unfortunately tickets are sold out); and the Peace, Love & Understanding Alt-Inaugural Show (details available here). On Friday, I’ll speak at the UnNaugural Concert in Silver Spring, which will benefit organizations like the ACLU, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and the National LGBTQ Task Force (details available here, though unfortunately tickets have sold out); and I will attend the Planned Parenthood Pink Ball (details available here).

The Women’s March on Saturday, January 21

We’ve had an amazing response to our invitation to march with us! More than 1,800 people responded and we have 30 buses headed to the Women’s March after our Breakfast Reception and Rally at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Unfortunately, we have reached maximum capacity and have no more space on the buses! You can still RSVP to the breakfast (here), join us for the rally speeches and revival songs, and then take the Metro together afterwards—this will be fun too. You may also meet up with our group at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Maryland Avenue entrance. Look for a sign that says: “This is what a Popular Majority Looks Like. Congressman Jamie Raskin and Maryland’s 8th Congressional District Proudly Join the Women’s March.”

Inauguration Day Nature Walk in Rock Creek Park

Join me and my friend, author/naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20 at Boundary Bridge in Rock Creek Park! In addition to everything else, our environmental laws are under severe attack right now.  Everyone who loves nature and cares about the conservation of our precious natural resources is invited to join me and my beloved friend Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the acclaimed A Year in Rock Creek Park, for an Inauguration Day nature walk to celebrate the historic beauty of Rock Creek Park. We will walk until the sun goes down, crossing Boundary Bridge, the historic footbridge from Maryland to D.C. that was built in 1935 during FDR’s New Deal, and then wind our way through the magnificent trees of the floodplain forest. Take heart. If you love and care about protecting our region’s natural resources and the planet, you are not alone. Please sign up here. We can accept the first 75 people who sign up; if you don’t make it, we’ll be doing it again soon.

Thank you for your continuing solidarity, encouragement and friendship. I look forward to seeing you at many of the above events, especially the Women’s March on Saturday!

Very truly yours,

Jamie

Will Hogan Stand By as Republicans Destroy Health Care in Maryland?

By Adam Pagnucco.

President-Elect Donald Trump and the new Republican-controlled Congress are proceeding rapidly to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The law, a complicated amalgam of policy and funding requirements, has helped 20 million Americans gain health care coverage and has cut uninsured rates dramatically across many racial and ethnic groups.  Its repeal threatens to throw millions of Americans out of health care coverage, including hundreds of thousands of Marylanders.  And so far, Governor Larry Hogan is standing by silently and letting it happen.

The ACA has expanded health insurance coverage in two primary ways: setting up government-run health care exchanges and expanding Medicaid, the federal/state health insurance program for low-income people.  In Maryland, 146,808 people are currently enrolled for coverage through the state’s exchange, Maryland Health Connection.  The latter entity reports that roughly 278,000 more people are covered by the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.  All told, more than 420,000 Marylanders have obtained health coverage through the ACA and two more weeks remain in the enrollment period.

Marylanders in every county are enrolled in the state’s health exchange.

Maryland Health Connection Enrollment 2017

Under the ACA, the federal government has invested a lot of money in increasing enrollment.  Maryland Health Connection reports that Maryland health care exchange participants receive about $225 million in annual federal tax credits to subsidize their individual health insurance premiums.  The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the federal government spent $5.7 billion on Medicaid in Maryland in Fiscal Year 2015.  These funding sources are now at risk.

Since it is a federal law, some changes to the ACA must pass a 60-vote hurdle to overcome filibusters in the U.S. Senate, where the GOP has just 52 seats.  But budget items are not subject to filibusters.  That means part or all of the above federal funding to support ACA enrollment could be eliminated in a budget passed solely with Republican votes and signed by President Trump.  If that happens, millions of Americans and possibly hundreds of thousands of Marylanders could lose their health coverage.

That’s not all.  The federal tax credits and Medicaid funding under the ACA support lots of jobs and income in the health care industry, and through the multiplier effect, the broader economy as well.  A new study from George Washington University estimates that if the ACA’s tax credits and Medicaid funding are repealed, Maryland will lose 52,000 jobs by 2019.  The study projects that Maryland will also lose $49 billion in business output and $982 million in state and local tax revenues from 2019 to 2023.  All of this would be on top of any federal agency cuts that Trump and the Republican Congress might include in their next budget.

Any Governor would be expected to jump up and down about the prospect of losing tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenues as well as having hundreds of thousands of constituents lose health care coverage.  But not Larry Hogan.  He has stayed silent as Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues in Washington plan to destroy health care in Maryland.  Hogan bristles at questions from reporters about anything going on in Washington, telling one of them that he was tired of “stupid questions about the Trump administration.”  And yet, the Trump administration’s actions will have gigantic negative impacts on his state that he declines to oppose.

All of this begs the question.  Is Larry Hogan with Donald Trump and anti-health care zealots in the Republican Party?  Or is he with the rest of us?