Friendly fire: on rebate checks, the vaccine culture wars and Eric Adams
Can Americans still have a sensible and friendly political discussion across the partisan divide? The answer is yes, and we intend to prove it. Julie roginsky, a democrat and Mike DuHaime, a Republican, are consultants who have worked on opposing teams throughout their careers but remained friends throughout. Here, they discuss the events of the week with Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran.
Q. Eric Adams, a former cop, won the New York mayoral primary against more progressive candidates with an emphasis on public safety. What does this say about the state of the Democratic Party?
Mike: Politically, New York is not yet Seattle or Portland. Democratic voters in the New York primaries are always more pragmatic than ideological. They don’t want to be part of a socialist experiment in public safety. Crime has increased in recent years. There’s a reason even Democrats voted for 20 years of Giuliani and Bloomberg. We cannot have prosperity without public safety. Voters viewed Adams as a former policeman capable of making the necessary changes, but not at the expense of security.
Julie: If we put aside the right-wing talking points for a moment, we might find that Democratic primary voters are generally pragmatic. They appointed Joe Biden a moderate nationally last year and they appointed Eric Adams a moderate in New York this year. This is because only one part is still rooted in the reality-based community. New York Republicans, on the other hand, appointed another talk show host – because apparently they haven’t learned their lesson.
Mike: After eight years of DeBlasio, Adams is going to look really good.
Julie: After eight years of DeBlasio, even the chain-smoking Times Square Elmo when not busy docking tourists looks pretty good.
Q. The state has started mailing $ 500 tax refund checks this week to nearly a million middle-class families with children. Gov. Phil Murphy attached a note to each check echoing his campaign theme, saying, “When you make New Jersey fairer, we make New Jersey stronger.” Thoughts?
Mike: Should the State of New Jersey declare this as an in-kind contribution to its campaign? You know, I’ve never questioned this in my political career, but giving voters money right before an election can have a political advantage.
Julie: I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that there is gambling here. We are three months away from sending out the ballots. I’m sure Governor Murphy has a priority this year and that helps him accomplish it.
Mike: Literally sending people money is a bold move.
Q. What about the design of these discounts? The working poor are excluded, and a lawyer who earns $ 100,000 receives a larger check than a waitress who earns $ 40,000. What is the political calculation behind this?
Mike: I’m sure there is a mathematical equation behind it. If it is a refund, it should be based on taxes paid. So in progressive New Jersey, where we overtax the top incomes and tax the working class much less, the refunds will go to those who paid taxes, not those who didn’t.
Julie: I’m not sure about the mathematical equation, but there is probably a very good statistic in both quantitative and qualitative research.
Mike: These are fancy words for political polls and focus groups, for those who play the game at home.
Q. The New Jersey budget sets aside $ 40 million in CARES money to help undocumented immigrants, enough to reach about 10 percent of the roughly 500,000 people living here. New York State has allocated $ 2.1 billion in state dollars. Why such a giant disparity? How does it play out politically?
Mike: The New York State Legislature is led by members on the far left of NJ Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney and President Craig Coughlin. Reason # 2 is that every member of the New Jersey Legislature is running for election this year, New York is not. Billions of undocumented immigrants have reportedly posed a problem for GOP challengers in many working-class Democratic districts where voters may have felt this level of largesse. There is a compelling need to help others, regardless of their immigration status, but there is a tipping point when it comes to the financial amount felt by those who are taxed to pay it.
Julie: This is a difficult question. For far too many New Jerseyans, even $ 1 in taxpayer funding is too much – something I deeply disagree with. On the other hand, the groups defending the undocumented migrants believe that this is not enough. It is a Solomonian solution which is not without political peril.
Q. President Biden wanted to get 70 percent of American adults vaccinated by July 4, and missed an inch to 67 percent. But the disparity is stark: Vermont is at 76% and Mississippi at 42%, and the gap is generally along the Red vs. Blue divide. Are the Red States putting the country at risk by giving the virus time to produce more dangerous variants like Delta? Do Republican political leaders bear part of the responsibility?
Mike: There is clearly a red-blue divide, but it also decreases with education and income levels if you look at county levels in most states. Those with a higher level of education and income are more likely to get the vaccine. While it’s not just red-blue, we need a more frank speech from conservative leaders like the governor of West Virginia. In response to other states offering a financial lottery for those who get the shot, he said there is another lottery if you don’t get the shot: “The Death Lottery.”
Julie: The irony is that the very people scream the loudest on the “government intrusion” into vaccines have, of course, been vaccinated themselves. Donald and Melania Trump got vaccinated even before leaving the White House. Tucker Carlson won’t deny he has what, of course, means he has. Rupert Murdoch was practically the first to be vaccinated. And yet, they all willingly sacrifice their own supporters by casting doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines, all for the sole purpose of sticking to the libs.
Q. Finally, New Jersey has had its first day since the outbreak without a single death from Covid-19 this week. Despite all the missteps, has America found its balance in this fight?
Mike: Yes, vaccines have allowed us to finally catch up. Vaccines have been an incredible scientific achievement. They have almost eliminated serious illness and death from COVID. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who developed, administered and delivered for all of us in record time. Now we can start yelling at each other about something other than masks again.
Julie: Let’s not confuse New Jersey – an educated state run by a governor who is not part of a political death cult – with many other states across the country. I hate to say it, but as a nation we’re just not out of the woods yet.
Mike: We are not. Israel is back in lockdown despite an 85% vaccination. The good news, however, is that hospitalizations and deaths are NOT increasing despite the increase in cases. Vaccines work to limit the severity. I anticipate that cases may return, but everything will be fine if the severity is very limited.
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