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The Washington Report – June 13, 2014
13 Jun 2014

The Washington Report – June 13, 2014

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This week’s Washington Report! To sign up for the direct email, click here.


ERIC CANTOR … ERIC CANTOR … ERIC CANTOR … and other news of the week.

To start the weekend with a laugh, in honor of Father’s Day, check out “The Evolution of Dad Dancing” (yes, that’s Gov. Chris Christie dancing with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show”).


Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Kate Venne)




WHAT A WEEK …started out with Eric Cantor as majority leader, practically ignoring the primary challenge. He lost, resigned and is going to disappear from leadership by July 31, and from Congress by January. Kevin McCarthy will rise to majority leader practically with ZERO challenge — no conservative contest at all. And the conventional wisdom was that Boehner was in trouble.” (Politico) SEISMIC SHIFT The Fix writes, “In the space of 24 hours, Eric Cantor went from the second most-powerful Republican in the House to just another rank-and-file member. …He lost to Randolph-Macon College professor Dave Brat (R), “a political unknown who focused his campaign on Cantor’s support for a path to citizenship for the children of immigrants” and beat Cantor 56%-44%. (National Journal) NOTE: He is the first House majority leader to lose a bid for renomination. “ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUSTBlog Post from our own Steve Moffitt.


HOUSE OF McCARTHY Politico writes, “He’s no Frank Underwood (h/t “House of Cards fans), but real-life House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is a virtual lock to climb the leadership ladder and become the next majority leader. His aggressive whip shop discouraged conservative Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling from jumping in the race. Another Texan, Rep. Pete Sessions dropped out last night. WHO IS McCARTHY? “He hangs out with billionaire Elon Musk, rides bikes with actor Kevin Spacey and counts Arnold Schwarzenegger and Condoleezza Rice as buddies. He visits Silicon Valley almost every month, and flies from Washington to his district in Bakersfield, CA, virtually every weekend to see his family, even if he stays for just 12 hours. When schmoozing with celebrities, the onetime deli owner often snaps a selfie on his iPhone – he’ll show his collection to anyone who wants to see it. … But don’t let the affability and toothy smile fool you. Kevin Owen McCarthy lives and breathes the House of Representatives. He even sleeps in his office.”

SAY GOODBYE TO ONLY JEWISH REPUBLICAN IN ALL OF CONGRESS (not that it matters, I’m just saying…) WaPo writes, “And not only that; it also means there will likely be no Republicans in Congress who profess to be anything other than a Christian. According to data collected by the Pew Forum at the start of the 113th Congress last year, the GOP conference was 69% Protestant, 25% Catholic, 4% Mormon and 1% Orthodox Christian. [Democrats are significantly more religiously diverse: Protestant (42%); Catholic (36.5%); Mormon (1.2%); Jewish (12.5%); Buddhist (1.2%), etc.]”


POLITICAL POLARIZATION Pew release: “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades. … 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican. … In each party, the share with a highly negative view of the opposing party has more than doubled since 1994.”


CANTOR LOST BECAUSE TURNOUT WAS SO HIGH The Fix writes, Vox’s Ezra Klein proposed a theory for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprising primary loss: Voters who turned out heavily in 2012 to cast ballots for the Virginia Republican stayed home, so Cantor lost. He did a bad job getting his people to the polls. WRONG That’s almost certainly wrong. Turnout in the 7th CD in Virginia was higher than in any recent congressional primary in the state in both vote total and in turnout percentage. Far higher. People came out to vote — and they voted against Cantor. IT REALLY IS THE TURN OUT, STUPID In an interview with the National Journal magazine Wednesday, Cantor’s pollster, John McLaughlin, explained that his turnout estimate was that about 45,000 people would vote, not the 65,000 who actually did. That incorrect turnout estimate is almost certainly why McLaughlin’s polling, which showed Cantor with a wide lead at the end of May, was so far off. If you misunderstand who’s going to come out to vote, your estimate of how much support you’ll see on Election Day will be wrong, too. But it wasn’t a crazy estimate … 47,719 people voted in the 7th District in 2012 — 9.7% of the registered voter base. The average turnout in Republican primaries in 2010 was about 31,000, or 6.9% turnout, and lower in both regards in 2012. There may well have been signals that McLaughlin missed showing that turnout would surge, but it’s not clear what those might have been. If anything, 2012 could have been a high-water mark. … If, as Klein theorizes, Cantor’s campaign had gotten even more people to come to the polls, the only available evidence suggests that the result for Cantor would have been even worse.”


A PANOPLY OF WINNERS AND LOSERS AFTER CANTOR LOSS (a few of the not-so-obvious choices by The Fix).


* The tea party: …it’s hard to overestimate how much of a jolt of energy his win gives to tea party efforts around the country.

* House Democrats:  Not that this is a “whole new ballgame” for the midterm elections as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, but the schadenfreude coursing through the House Democratic caucus right about now is off the charts. In an election cycle that’s given House Democrats very few good days, this is one.

* Randolph-Macon College: The Yellow Jackets of Ashland, Va., are now on the map in a major way. Not only is Brat an economics professor at the college but Jack Trammell, the Democratic nominee for the 7th District, is also on the faculty.

* Political junkies: Holy cow, what a night. This is why people (like me) who love politics love it SO MUCH and can’t understand why others don’t, too. This was like a No. 16 team beating a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Absolutely amazing.


* Ray Allen/John McLaughlin: To a person when asked what went wrong, they put the blame at the feet of Allen, the campaign manager, and McLaughlin, the campaign’s pollster [whose internal polling showed Cantor ahead by 34 points].

* John Boehner: …it’s hard to imagine that conservative elements within the GOP conference, already agitating to replace Boehner, won’t be emboldened by what happened in Richmond on Tuesday.

* Immigration reform: Brat attacked Cantor as insufficiently conservative on immigration. And, while that issue alone didn’t beat the majority leader, it certainly didn’t help. While immigration reform was almost certainly not happening in this Congress anyway, Cantor’s loss will scare lots of House GOPers from even considering the possibility for quite some time.

* Virginia: Cantor’s defeat is the latest in a series of body blows for the Old Dominion. Retirements by Reps. Jim Moran (D) and Frank Wolf (R) were already robbing the state of much of its seniority and now Virginia lacks a voice in party leadership.

* Party leaders: Rising up the leadership ranks in Congress was once seen as the surest way to ensure reelection for yourself forever. …Now, being a member of your party’s leadership means a major target on your back. And voters are far less persuaded by the “I deliver for the district” argument than they were even a decade ago.

* Machine politics: Overlooked in all of the after-action analysis of Cantor’s loss was the fact that he had alienated a number of conservative activists with his aggressiveness in using his political muscle to control Republican politics in and around Richmond. That heavy-handedness came back to bite him among the activist set who were mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore.


CANTOR’S LOSS AND BOEING, which saw its stock fall Wednesday, “the most in two months,” reports Bloomberg News. “Cantor’s defeat in a primary election threatens congressional reauthorization of low-cost lending that benefits the world’s largest planemaker.” (Businessweek)



LINDSEY GRAHAM’S POLITICAL CHOPS The Fix writes, “Lindsey Graham may be the single best politician in the U.S. Senate.
That fact … was affirmed on Tuesday night when the South Carolina Republican won renomination against six — yes, six! — challengers, a victory that as recently as six months ago was far from a sure thing as conservatives insisted his apostasy on immigration (among other issues) would cost him.  Not so much. Graham took 56% of the vote (he needed 50% to avoid a potentially dangerous runoff).


GIVING THE GOP ESTABLISHMENT HEARTBURN…MISSISSIPPI WaPo writes, Chris McDaniel “has come to represent everything that establishment Republicans fear about the tea party: He is aggressive, unpredictable and, at times, insensitive – if not offensive – on matters of gender and race. It’s not that the establishment is overly concerned about losing Cochran’s seat – this is Mississippi, after all, where a Democrat hasn’t been elected to the Senate in more than three decades. But party leaders are worried about feeding an impression that could hurt their chances elsewhere.”

The conservative Club for Growth will go on the air Thursday … giving new backup to” state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) “in his campaign to oust” Sen. Thad Cochran (R). Also in MS SEN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led a fundraiser Tuesday at the NRSC, which he called the “biggest fundraiser ever in this building,” which “raised $820,000 for Cochran … according to a senior Republican official.” (Politico)


2016 IMMIGRATION PICTURE Politico writes, “The advice to the Republican Party seemed so clear after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012: Just do it. Get some kind of immigration reform deal – the least bad deal you can find – and then move on. Otherwise, you can forget about winning any Hispanic voters. But Eric Cantor’s loss Tuesday night proved how difficult a messaging challenge the issue will be for any 2016 candidate who dares to touch the rail. Advocate – even a little bit – for a deal, and you risk the ire of the base and being tagged as a supporter of ‘amnesty.’ Go too far the other way, and you’ll surely face trouble in November against the Democrats. THE POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE immediately affects potential 2016 candidates out front on immigration reform such as Sen. Marco Rubio – who joined the Senate bipartisan push for immigration reform and then went quiet on it – and Jeb Bush, who raised eyebrows when he said in April that some illegal immigration is an ‘act of love’ for immigrants’ families. But it could also become a headache for other hopefuls, like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who’s building his potential campaign around his ability to expand the appeal of the party.”


SPEAKING OF 2016: “HILLARY CLINTON IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT” The Fix writes, “That simple sentence is one that the political-media complex seems incapable of uttering though evidence is sprinkled absolutely everywhere — including in comments from Clinton herself — that she will be a candidate in 2016. Signs are everywhere:  1. Ready for Hillary (a super PAC designed to pave the way for her eventual bid) has all the looks of a … holding tank for top Hillary talent. 2. Serious people are endorsing her. 3. The attempt to positively frame Clinton’s negatives has begun (see Clintonworld response to Karl Rove’s suggestion that she suffered a major brain injury at the end of 2012). 4. “Hard Choices” — her book released this week — is a campaign book.”


STUDENT LOAN BILL STALLS Politico writes, “The Senate refused to move forward on Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill that would have allowed 25 million people with older student loans to refinance that debt at current, lower interest rates.  … Warren’s bill would pay for refinancing students’ loans by raising taxes on the wealthy, a guaranteed non-starter for Republicans in the Senate and the House.”


The $158 billion Labor, Health and Human Services bill–which includes some funding for Obamacare in 2015–was supposed to be marked up in the full Appropriations Committee Thursday, but Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, the bill’s author, says it is now unlikely to be considered separately on the floor and will end up in an omnibus package. (The Hill).


KEYSTONE HEADACHE National Journal writes, “Mark Udall is in a tough spot, again. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline next week Wednesday. And that creates a political headache for the senator. The Colorado Democrat is trying to hold onto his Senate seat in a state with extensive oil and gas development and a strong environmental streak. Udall has tried to play to both sides. He supports oil and gas drilling, but has also won applause from green groups. Observers on both sides have been clamoring to put Udall on record on the pipeline. He voted against a nonbinding pro-Keystone resolution when it came to the Senate floor last year. He managed to sidestep a vote, however, last month when it seemed likely that a bill to fast-track the project would come to the Senate floor. He’s unlikely to catch a break this time around. Rather than siding with one group over the other, Udall is making his vote a judgement call on the approval process rather than the pipeline itself. AND WHAT ABOUT MARY? Don’t expect Udall to get any sympathy from committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu. The Louisiana Democrat is also up for reelection. But for Landrieu, a vote to approve the pipeline is a political winner. And she’s the one pushing for a vote. Landrieu and Udall may be members of the same political party. But when it comes to the midterms, it’s every woman for herself.”


VA REFORM Politico writes, “The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at increasing veterans’ access to health care and holding accountable bad actors in the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation passed 93-3 and represents rare cooperation between the House and Senate, raising hopes that Congress is moving swiftly toward a VA reform compromise to send to the president’s desk. The Senate legislation largely mirrors similar proposals from the House, and lawmakers and aides do not expect a knock-down political fight as the two chambers iron out their discrepancies over the coming days.”


BERGDAHL BACK KENS-TV reports, “A flight transporting Bergdahl from a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, landed in San Antonio at about 1:40 a.m. Friday. Bergdahl is expected to begin the next phase of his rehabilitation and reintegration process at Brooke Army Medical Center.”


$491B DEFENSE BILL APPROVED The measure, which passed by voice vote, could reach the House floor as soon as next week.

SPEEDY NDAA Politico writes, “SASC Chairman Carl Levin and ranking Republican Jim Inhofe are asking their colleagues to begin submitting amendments to the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. The move is intended to speed up the process and avoid having the measure end up – like last year – as one of the last items on the Senate calendar in December.”


TRAGEDY Five American Special Operations service members and one Afghan soldier died in one of the deadliest instances of friendly fire in the war in Afghanistan. The troops had called for air support while being ambushed by Taliban militants. (NYT)


IRAQ EXPLODES The Hill writes, “The Obama administration is facing its worst-case scenario in Iraq, which seems on the verge of crumbling as Islamic militants march on Bagdad. ISIS WSJ writes, “A militant Islamist group that has carved out control of a swath of Syria has moved into Iraq, conquering cities and threatening the Iraqi government. The group-known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) isn’t a threat only to Iraq and Syria. It seeks to impose its vision of a single radical Islamist state stretching from the Mediterranean coast of Syria through modern Iraq … “The picture is difficult for the U.S., which is deeply invested in keeping the region stable, and the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq is setting off alarm bells inside the Obama administration. The U.S. is weighing more direct military assistance to the government of Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, … and officials hinted that aid might include airstrikes on militants who have edged to within a half-hour’s drive of Baghdad. POROUS BORDERS …”Why are the borders of today’s Middle Eastern states suddenly so porous and ineffectual? In short, the conflicts unleashed in Iraq and Syria have merged to become the epicenter of a struggle between the region’s historic ethnic and religious empires: Persian-Shiite Iran, Arab-Sunni Saudi Arabia and Turkic-Sunni Muslim Turkey.”

PARTISAN BATTLE LINES From Politico, “Here in Washington, the partisan battle lines are drawn. For Republicans, extremist gains in Iraq are an “I-told-you-so” moment. …And for Democrats, the answer is this: Blame former President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which they say led to the current instability there and allowed extremists to gain a foothold. JOHN MCCAIN The Hill reports, “…called for President Obama’s national security team to resign over the fast-collapsing security situation in Iraq.”


CAPSTONE CLIENTS IN THE NEWS Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation recently announced a significant breakthrough in terms of developing clinical therapies to advance the treatment of paralysis utilizing epidural stimulation. Read More.

And just this week,  USC/Institute for Creative Technology’s Bravemind” an immersive virtual reality exposure therapy system for veterans with PTSD and Skip Rizzo, ICT’s director of medical virtual reality, were highlighted on-line @FastCompany. Fascinating…Check it out.


Don’t miss a Blog Post by John Rogers, “Show Me The Money.” He talks about something we all know … the bottom line matters.


3e7616d258dcb59d8cb64c84_120x67HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE George H.W. Bush celebrated turning 90 by jumping out of a plane!




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