Julián Castro says he needs cash or he’ll drop out

First up today, Julián Castro announced an urgent plea for donations. In a tweet he wrote:

“I’m extremely proud of the historic and bold campaign we have built together. But this is a critical moment— if my campaign can’t raise $800,000 [dollars] by October 31st, my campaign will be silenced for good. Help us keep up the fight.”

Now, to a longtime watcher of this space, this seemed a lot like the urgent call Senator Cory Booker’s campaign made at the end of Q3. But the Castro fundraising goal does have two big differences.

First, Castro currently does NOT qualify for the November debate, and in fact has zero out of the four qualifying polls he would need.

And second, his cash-on-hand at the end of Q3 was about $673,000 dollars. That number, according to Politico reporter Zach Montellaro is, “Dangerously low.” So Castro really does need some money here to keep his campaign operation running.

New York Times reporter Astead Herndon tweeted a statement from Castro’s campaign manager, Maya Rupert.

"Our campaign is facing its biggest challenge yet....Unfortunately, we do not see a path to victory that doesn't include making the November debate stage—and without a significant uptick in our fundraising, we cannot make that debate."

So, between now and Halloween appears to be make-or-break time for the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I will keep you posted on Castro’s fundraising goal.

Who HAS qualified for the November debate

While we’re on the topic, let’s quickly review who has qualified for that November debate, and what the actual requirements are. The debate will be on November 20th, and although we don’t a specific venue yet, it’ll be in Georgia. I’ve heard rumors that Atlanta is the location, but, still, who knows.

Anyway, the specific requirements have gotten stricter as the DNC slowly ratchets up the difficulty level. Reading from an article by Kevin Schaul in the Washington Post:

“Under the new rules, candidates must register at least 3 percent in four polls approved by the party since Sept[ember] 13[th], or at least 5 percent in two early state polls. Candidates must also earn donations from at least 165,000 unique donors, with at least 600 coming from 20 individual states.
These requirements must be met by the end of Nov[ember] 13[th]. The DNC will officially release the list of qualified candidates around that date, a week in advance of the debate.
As with previous debates, candidates are having a tougher time meeting the polling threshold than the donor requirements. Each candidate who has met the polling threshold also has enough donors, according to their campaigns. Four candidates have met the donor threshold but not the polling threshold: former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, Sen[ator] Amy Klobuchar [...], former congressman Beto O’Rourke [...] and Rep[resentative] Tulsi Gabbard [...].”

So comparing the field at the October debate we just had with the expected field in November, there are currently only eight candidates qualified for November, and about three weeks left until the deadline.

The Weather Channel will host a candidate forum on climate change

Next up, The Weather Channel has announced it will hold a candidate forum on climate change. Previous climate change candidate forums in this cycle have been held by both CNN and MSNBC, and they’ve acted as a kind of stand-in for the single-issue climate debate that the DNC has declined to hold.

The Weather Channel’s event will air on November 7th but will differ from the previous events in several key ways. Reading from a story in the Washington Post by Dino Grandoni:

“…the Weather Channel special will show [pre-taped] interviews of the candidates. And it has meteorologists — not just journalists — grilling the politicians about their climate plans. Among those experts is Rick Knabb, former director of the National Hurricane Center and the network’s on-air hurricane expert.”

Okay, so who will show up in these pre-taped interviews? In alphabetical order, here are the Democrats:

Booker

Buttigieg

Harris

O'Rourke

Sanders and

Warren.

And we’ll have three out of the four Republicans in the primary. So those are:

Sanford

Walsh and

Weld.

The event will air on The Weather Channel for just one hour on Thursday, November 7th, at 8pm Eastern time. They’re titling it “2020: Race to Save the Planet.” No word yet on whether there will be streaming options, but I will keep you posted.

Trudeau’s party wins the Canadian election

This next one is quick. Late last night, CBC News projected that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party would win a plurality in the Canadian election. This means Trudeau will stay on as Prime Minister. I mention this mainly because our guest host, Kirby Ferguson, gave us such a great episode on the Canadian election. That episode aired on September 16th, and that Canadian election is now over. Gosh, I bet those Canadian election podcasts are WAY SHORTER. All right, moving on, and link in the show notes in case you want more details.


Warren says she will release a funding plan for Medicare for All in the coming weeks

In the DNC debate last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren was pressed about the issue of taxation as a mechanism for funding Medicare for All. We covered this quite a bit in the wrap-up the day after the debate. During the debate, Warren repeatedly reframed the issue to be about overall costs to Americans receiving health care.

At a rally on Sunday, Warren said her campaign would release a funding plan for Medicare for All in the coming weeks. But overall, the issue of funding for Medicare for All has been complex and poorly understood—including, I will admit, by me. I received some great listener feedback after the debate, and the day after my recap there was a notable op-ed by Eric Levitz in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer. The title was, “Biden’s Attacks on Medicare for All Undermine the Entire Democratic Agenda.” Well, that’s a spicy headline, and it’s an excellent article.

Levitz makes the core argument that Americans already pay an astonishing amount for health care, but we pay it to private companies, rather than to a government program. Let me read a long section here from Levitz’s op-ed, which contains a mixture of data and opinion. Link in the show notes for the whole super-long thing.

“As the right-wing Mercatus Center (accidentally) revealed last year, under one plausible model, Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan would cost the U.S. $32.6 trillion [dollars] over a decade — while simply maintaining our existing health-care system would cost $34.65 trillion [dollars]. Which is to say, establishing single-payer would save us $2 trillion [dollars] in national income, while guaranteeing all Americans affordable health care. But it would also require U.S. workers to make compulsory social insurance payments to the government rather than to private insurers. And for Joe Biden, that’s apparently a deal-breaker.
At this week’s debate in Ohio, Biden and other moderate Democrats hammered Elizabeth Warren for refusing to state explicitly that her Medicare for All plan would require raising taxes on the middle class. The Massachusetts senator did not deny that her proposal would involve such tax hikes. But she refused to utter the T-word. Instead, she merely promised that she would never sign a health-care bill that didn’t lower the middle-class’s overall costs.
It was more than fair for the debate moderators to press Warren on her evasiveness. Journalists should always work to expose the trade-offs inherent in politicians’ proposals. But Warren’s caginess was rooted in the media’s failure to apply such scrutiny universally. Democrats campaigning on plans that would retain America’s redundant insurance bureaucracies were not asked how they could justify such an extravagance. Under the norms of mainstream political journalism, costs imposed on the American people by the private sector require no justification or defense; only costs imposed by the public sector do. If you are committed to abetting the meteoric rise of private health-insurance premiums, a debate moderator will not ask you to level with the American people about how much your approach to health-care policy will cost them. If you are committed to reducing overall health-care costs by expanding the public sector’s role in medical provision, you will be ritually scolded for the extraordinary (and extraordinarily decontextualized) fiscal price of your program.”

Okay, so that’s a mouthful, but I think we can boil it down to this core concept Warren kept repeating: The overall cost of health care, regardless of which entity that cost goes to // and the specific method by which it comes out of somebody’s pocket.

Way back on April 12th, I read the bill and did a whole show on Medicare for All. That was actually just the FOURTH episode this podcast. And while it’s true that the bill itself does not include a funding mechanism—instead it points to series of possible funding mechanisms—the larger point of Medicare for All advocates is that Americans already pay a lot of money to get health care. If you diverted all that money over into Medicare, that would represent an enormous chunk of money. Warren’s new plan will likely dive into the specifics of that math.

Meanwhile, in an article for the Washington Post by Annie Linskey and David Weigel, a similar message came through.

“Single-payer advocates have been frustrated by the tax and cost debate, pointing out that the cost of the entire program — usually pegged at $30 trillion [dollars] over 10 years — does not factor in how much taxpayers shell out for insurance under the current system.
“The single-payer taxation debate constantly, frustratingly, refuses to differentiate between literal compulsory taxes and virtually compulsory private taxes — premiums, hospital bills, etc.,” said Timothy Faust, author of the Medicare-for-all tract “Health Justice Now,” and a supporter of single-payer insurance. […]”

And here’s one more bit from an op-ed by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

“Journalists have been badgering Warren to get specific about how much taxes would have to go up to pay for Medicare for all. She has, with considerable justice, insisted that this is a bad way to frame the discussion, since any additional taxes would be offset by savings on the huge premiums workers and their employers now pay for private insurance — on average, more than $20,000 [dollars] a year for a family plan.
The right question is whether the overall costs facing U.S. families would go up or down. Warren has been claiming that for most families, they would go down, but she hasn’t offered specifics. And this vagueness, which has started to seem like evasiveness, is more of a problem for her than it might be for other politicians.”

Krugman goes on to suggest that a key part of the political issue here is convincing voters in a simple way that a transition to Medicare for All is both doable and safe. That it won’t disrupt their lives too much. The challenge for Warren’s funding plan here is to make that case. So, I will keep you posted on that Warren plan when it arrives.

Why haven’t more Democratic candidates dropped out?

Last up today, in New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore wrote an article addressing a big question I have, and I think many of you do too. The title is simply, “Why Haven’t More Democratic Presidential Candidates Dropped Out?”

In the article, Kilgore talks yet again about how we think about so-called “major” candidates. There are actually hundreds of people running for the nominations of both major parties, but a lot of those are stunt candidates. Like, people who literally want to put “I ran for president” somewhere on their resumé for whatever reason. And then you have the folks who are making a serious effort, spending real time on this, developing a staff and a strategy, and so on. We call those candidates “major” to distinguish them from the hundreds of people who are…not major. But even within that pool of major candidates, at this point in the calendar there are still a handful of people who are interesting question-marks.

For instance, author Marianne Williamson raised more than $3 million dollars in Q3, which is way more than some of the other major candidates. But she hasn’t been on a DNC debate stage since August and doesn’t seem like she’s picking up enough traction in the polls to be in future debates.

And then you have this group of fairly major politicians, like the sitting Governor of Montana, Steve Bullock. And the sitting Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet. And the former Congressman from Maryland, John Delaney. And the sitting Congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan. Now, three out of those four have actual government jobs, but all of them have been beaten handily by Williamson in fundraising. So what’s the specific logic behind them sticking around in the race, given that their polling is relatively low and there’s not much reason to expect that to change.

Well, Kilgore offers two distinct possibilities. First, these candidates—with the exception of Bullock—don’t have any other races they need to worry about in 2020. Of course, the folks in Congress are elected every two years, but it’s unlikely that running for president is LESS visible than running for Congress, so why not just go ahead and keep up the presidential race until the very last possible moment to file your papers for Congress. And then you’ve got Bennet, whose Senate seat isn’t even on the ballot until 2022. So he has nothing to lose by working hard on this race. It may even help him in two years. And Delaney opted not to run again for Congress in 2018, because he had already announced his candidacy for President in July 2017.

The other big theory Kilgore suggests is that these candidates are waiting in the wings, just in case there’s on the implosion of much higher-polling candidates at the last minute. Kilgore mentions the possible health concerns around Sanders, plus the possible damage the Ukraine stuff might to do Biden, as key reasons why a candidate near the bottom of the polls—but with real experience in governing—might stick around just to see what would happen. In a few weeks, I think we’ll have plenty of data on that, and we’ll be right back to asking this question of how long it makes sense to keep campaigning when you’re polling at less than 1%.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Well, I spent my weekend at the Classic Tetris World Championship. I won’t spoil the winner for you, in case you’re a fan and haven’t watched the recording yet—there IS a link in the show notes to some highlights. But I can tell you, being in a room with 500 screaming Tetris fans while the best players in the world compete like ten feet away from you is truly exhilarating. It’s a real difference to come home and stand around the yarden, where there are far fewer screaming fans, and just kinda drink your coffee. I am ready for a few weeks of that. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.