Friday, March 18, 2016

Last Call For Kentucky Smart

This legislation may never get past the Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, or Gov. Matt Bevin, but it's good to know Kentucky Democrats still know how to act like actual Democrats.

All students who graduate from Kentucky high schools, home schools or obtain their GEDs in Kentucky will be able to attend community colleges for free under a bill that passed the Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday. 
The bill now moves to the state Senate. 
House Bill 626 requires students to apply for available student aid and if so, the state would pay the difference between that and their tuition for up to two years, as long as the student takes 12 credit hours per semester and maintains a 2.0-grade point average. 
Called the “Work Ready” scholarship bill, the legislation would pay for up to six semesters in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, for all new students. 
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat and the sponsor of the legislation, said the program would cost about $20 million a year. It could help 15,000 to 18,000 students in its first year, Stumbo said. 
“It’s a lot of money but think of the bang you get for the dollar,” he said.

For all the noise that Matt Bevin makes about investing in education and manufacturing technology, and his calls for Kentucky having a work force of the future, it's good to see Greg Stumbo actually put up a bill that does just that.  The bill passed 86-11, meaning that there are plenty of Kentucky Republicans who see this as a good deal too.

Maybe this isn't totally dead on arrival.


Flipping The Script On SCOTUS, Con't

Mitch the Turtle and the Republican base have left vulnerable GOP senators up for re-election in November twisting in the wind on the nomination of Merrick Garland to SCOTUS, and the White House knows it.

Democrats began laying out an aggressive strategy Thursday to get Judge Merrick Garland considered by the Senate and seated on the Supreme Court, over what appears to be implacable Republican opposition. 
The approach, which is being implemented in part by a well-organized group led by former aides to President Obama, involves targeting vulnerable GOP Senate incumbents for defeat by portraying them as unwilling to fulfill the basic duties of their office. The idea is to so threaten the Republicans’ Senate majority that party leaders will reconsider blocking hearings on Garland’s nomination. 
“You’re going to be surprised at how hard we’re going to work to make sure this is on the front pages of all the papers,” Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters after meeting with Garland on Thursday. 
At the White House, Obama held a conference call with thousands of supporters across the country while senior adviser Valerie Jarrett met on Capitol Hill with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters he had no details of a specific request Obama was making on the call. “But I think the president sent a pretty clear signal, though, that this a high priority of his, and he hoped that this would be a priority that people all across the country would share,” he said. 
Before Garland arrived on Capitol Hill for the first time as Obama’s nominee, Senate Democrats rallied in front of the Supreme Court to denounce Republican refusal to consider the nomination. Elsewhere in Washington, advocates on both sides readied for clashes across the country, but focused on states represented by GOP senators up for reelection in November.

A couple months of ads and op-eds running that GOP senators won't do their jobs is going to start hurting.  It's only March and we've got a lot of time to pile on Republicans like Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, Ron Johnson, Richard Burr, Pat Toomey and a number of open seats, including Rubio's in Florida and Vitter's seat in Louisiana (Hey, Dems can win there, ask John Bel Edwards.)

Dems going on strong offense is what I love to see, and this looks like a great chance to take back the Senate.

President Obama Weighs In On 2016

Now that Donald Trump has all but wrapped up the GOP nomination, President Obama is turning his attention to the Democrats in the primary, and the NY Times is reporting at least that the White House wants donor support united behind Hillary Clinton and soon.

In unusually candid remarks, President Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors last Friday that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was nearing the point at which his campaign against Hillary Clintonwould end, and that the party must soon come together to back her.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton was perceived to have weaknesses as a candidate, and that some Democrats did not view her as authentic.

But he played down the importance of authenticity, noting that President George W. Bush — whose record he ran aggressively against in 2008 — was once praised for his authenticity.

Mr. Obama made the remarks after reporters had left a fund-raising event in Austin, Tex., for the Democratic National Committee. The comments were described by three people in the room for the event, all of whom were granted anonymity to describe a candid moment with the president. The comments were later confirmed by a White House official.

The White House has all but stayed completely out of the 2016 primary contest, with VP Joe Biden taking an early pass last year.  It looks like that situation has now changed and that President Obama would like party unity behind Clinton, who has a significant delegate lead.

Needless to say, the section of Sanders supporters who were never President Obama's biggest fans aren't taking this news well at all. Meanwhile, President Obama is starting to swing into campaign mode to help Democrats this fall.

Obama and his top aides have been strategizing for weeks about how they can reprise his successful 2008 and 2012 approaches to help elect a Democrat to replace him. And out of concern that a Republican president in 2017 — either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) — would weaken or reverse some of his landmark policies, Obama and his surrogates have started making the case that it is essential for the GOP to be defeated in November.

As a result, Obama is poised to be the most active sitting president on the campaign trail in decades.

“Do we continue to build on the policies that reward hard-working American families . . . and address challenges for future generations, or do we stop in our tracks, reverse our progress and move in the wrong direction?” Friedman wrote. “This is a choice that the president does not take lightly, and is something he will lay out for the American people with increased frequency in the weeks and months ahead.”

Central to the White House effort to stop Trump — or, under a less likely scenario, one of his rivals — is reassembling and energizing the coalition that propelled Obama into office; that means African Americans, Latinos, young voters and women.
Who better to mobilize the winning Obama coalition for the Democrats than President Obama himself?  And he's getting some help from the GOP's frontrunner, no doubt.

Many Democrats think that if Trump is the GOP nominee, he will help the Democratic Party solve the mobilization problem. They think that Trump’s strident anti-immigrant positions and his controversial comments about women and minorities will help Democrats in the fall.

Latino voters, especially, are receiving the attention of advocacy groups, including super PACs friendly to the Clinton campaign and to Democrats in general.

We're rapidly approaching the time where the Democrats go on the offensive against Trump and the GOP Senate.  With the announcement of Merrick Garland for SCOTUS and Hillary Clinton now with a commanding lead, the pieces are in place.

You wanted more of the bully pulpit?  You're about to get it.  Big time.


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