Good Morning from Kiawah Island…

After we enter the August Legislative Recess, President Joe Biden is on vacation in South Carolina (although some are asking why?). Members of Congress are back in their districts campaigning for reelection as we approach the midterm elections with control of both the House and the Senate hanging in the balance. Late last week, the House returned from break to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)which we have discussed extensively over the past couple of weeks. Much like the Senate, the vote was entirely along party lines, 220-207 (four Republicans did not vote).

Now, Democrats are focused on selling the IRA; the bill gives Democrats a lot to talk about on the campaign trail, including investments in renewable energy, tackling high prescription drug costs, and efforts to close the deficit and reduce inflation. For example, Democratic House Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey plans to highlight the $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors of which he was a co-author. “I heard horrible stories from constituents who told me they paid over $500 a month for medicine. With this provision, no senior in America will need to pay over $166 a month. That’s real help,” said Kim last week.

Democrats are also attacking Republicans for voting to block a $35 cap on insulin copays through private insurers. The vote, which was necessitated by the Parliamentarian’s decision that the provision could not be passed through a simple majority vote in reconciliation, was a trap by Democrats and forced 43 Republican Senators to go on the record against the cap. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to bring the issue back “because there’s going to be huge heat on Republicans.”

Republicans have found fodder for midterms in the bill, too. Many are focused on $80 billion contained in the bill for increased Internal Revenue Service enforcement, saying that the hiring of auditors will lead to targeting of middle and lower class taxpayers and calling the bill the “IRS Expansion Act.” Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma read “The Emperor’s New Clothes” out loud on the Senate floor to try to communicate his disbelief that the Democrats would choose this moment to sell a tax-and-spend measure as a check against inflation.

That said, Democrats are feeling good, perhaps even channeling the “powers” of the Dark Brandon meme.  

Other reasons Democrats are feeling good? Last Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the legislation that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars for the domestic semiconductor industry and fund scientific research with the goal of boosting American competitiveness with China.  “Today is a day for builders. Today America is delivering. And I, honest to God, believe that 50, 75, 100 years from now, people who will look back on this week, they’ll know that we met this moment,” said Biden.

Back in New York State…

Governor Kathy Hochul signed a Chips Act of her own. Last Thursday, the Governor signed “Green CHIPS” legislation, which is aimed at creating jobs, kick-starting economic growth, and maintaining important environmental protections while making New York a hub for semiconductor manufacturing. The Governor was joined by bill sponsor, Senator Jeremy Cooney, who fought tirelessly for the bill. “By leveraging federal dollars, our state legislation will position New York to be a global leader in the growing field of semiconductor manufacturing. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul and our federal representatives for their leadership and look forward to the new job opportunities coming to New York State,” said Senator Cooney.

The Governor also signed a legislative package aimed at helping with re-entry of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system (read more here) and to honor and support survivors of the Holocaust (read more here).

All that said, several issues—notably crime and inflation—are trending Republican and driving GOP optimism headed to November. Polling by GOP pollster McLaughlin & Associates shows Republican challenger Lee Zeldin within striking distance of Governor Kathy Hochul, 48%-40% (a lead that is about half of that in the Siena Poll released two weeks ago). The poll also showed sagging approval for President Joe Biden in New York State. “The poll shows that Democrats are even vulnerable in New York. I was shocked at Biden’s low approval rating.” said political consultant Dick Morris. On the other hand, McLaughlin works for Zeldin and his polling needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or two).

Last week, six candidates—Dan Goldman, former counsel in Trump’s first impeachment, former congresswoman and city Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman, House Rep. Mondaire Jones, State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon—faced off in the Democratic Primary debate for New York’s 10th Congressional District, which is one of the most (if not the most) exciting races of the August primaries. The debate focused on several issues including a comeback attempt of former President Donald Trump, infrastructure, and immigration.  

We are just over one week away from the August primaries (don’t forget, early voting started over the weekend and runs through Sunday) and look forward to bringing you a full preview of the slate of August primaries in next week’s Monday Morning Memo.

Finally, vanity license plates can be eye-catching, but the New York DMV makes sure it’s not for the wrong reasons. Where does it draw the line? Check out some of the requests that have been banned from your bumper.

 

-Jack O’Donnell   

 

Our podcast is back with Election 2022 analysis. For political insight on this year’s races, including a deep dive on the NYS primaries, listen in here.

 

 

 

 

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