On Friday, we shared what we learned in 2013. Today, for our final issue of the year, we look forward to 2014 with our Fearless Predictions for the year ahead.
— No Senate incumbent will lose a primary: Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is the most vulnerable, with outside groups lining up quickly behind his conservative challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R). But Cochran, 76, seemed energized by the challenge when he announced he’d run again. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), but Schatz put some distance between the two in third-quarter fundraising, a sign that he may be consolidating Democratic support. We think former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land‘s (R) chances to become the first Republican to win a Senate race in Michigan since 1994 are increasing.
— Democrats will mount a strong challenge in the Kansas gubernatorial race: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and conservatives have wrestled control of the state GOP from a cadre of moderate Republicans in the mold of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum. An automated-telephone poll this fall showed state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) narrowly ahead of Brownback, and that was before a group of moderates announced they were forming a coalition to oppose Brownback’s agenda, with some threatening to unite behind Davis. In other GOV races, we think Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn‘s (D) luck holds, and he wins reelection despite low approval ratings. And we think Republicans underestimate Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) at their own peril.
— Obama’s approval rating won’t rebound with a recovering economy: The unemployment rate in November is at its lowest point in five years, and yet President Obama remains mired in the low 40s. Voters tell pollsters that the economy is their No. 1 issue, but their perceptions of the economy are out of line with the overall data that show growing GDP and shrinking unemployment. Blame for that lies with growing inequality and increasing polarization.
That’s just a small taste of what we’re expecting in 2014. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year; we’ll see you back here on January 2nd.
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."