All About Amy

Where Things Stand

Last weekend, Marianne Williamson and Amy Klobuchar announced their candidacies, bringing the field to ten:

-      John Delaney

-      Elizabeth Warren

-      Tulsi Gabbard

-      Julián Castro

-      Kirsten Gillibrand

-      Kamala Harris 

-      Pete Buttigieg 

-      Cory Booker

-      Marianne Williamson

-      Amy Klobuchar

Who’s up next?

-      Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday- I will discuss him more next week

-      Joe Biden originally planned to decide on a run by the end of 2018, but has clearly delayed that decision – though he still looks to be leaning toward running

-      John Hickenlooper says he’ll decide in the next six weeks


Keep an eye on …

-      Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, says he won’t decide until later in the spring

-      Sherrod Brown is on the clock, setting a March deadline for himself to decide


On Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar has a theory: that a liberal woman from the Midwest is our best shot to beat Trump. I’m not convinced she’s entirely wrong. 

Her launch – braving a snow storm outside in Minneapolis – provided a powerful image to kick off her campaign. Her next stop was Wisconsin, where she had some choice words for a certain Democratic nominee who skipped the state entirely last cycle. Her pitch has largely focused on a record of bipartisanship, pragmatism and moderation on economic issues, a desire to unite the rural and urban, and the Midwest “grit” she’s shown in her career. Everything about her screams “heartland,” with an authenticity that candidates often struggle to acquire.

This certainly makes a strong candidate, and she’s gotten a warm reception so far on the trail. While some criticize her for lacking flash or star-power, I’d argue that that’s just one of the many successful approaches for running for president (as if George Bush was ever perceived as a rock star). 

Ideologically, she’s an interesting case study. She’s steadfast on climate change and gender equality issues and gun safety. But she wavers when it comes to other so-called “litmus tests” like Medicare for all or income redistribution. Could this be the silver bullet in winning back discontent Republicans who abandoned Trump but fear our party is moving too far left?

One potential pitfall, however, are the stories about her treatment of staff– which has the feel of a story that, like Warren’s Native American heritage or Clinton’s emails, could linger if left untouched. I’m not saying that the stories disqualify her; I’m just saying there are questions that need to be addressed, and it’s better if she tackles it head-on sooner rather than later.

I also don’t know how appealing her approach may be beyond the Midwest. While she’s right in that the Democratic nominee to take on Trump should appeal to states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, I’m not confident that we can discount the newly-competitive Georgia, Texas, and Arizona – which is made of up an entirely different constituency. To stitch together a coalition that broad, I’m not sure Midwest pragmatism will win out over something bolder and more aspirational.

For now, though, I’m very excited to see Klobuchar in the field. She’s a fighter and can bring more ideological diversity into the field – ensuring that the primary debate will not just be tactical but ideological and intellectual. And that’s exactly what our party needs right now.


On My Mind 

I’m a frequenter of New York Times columnists – and one of my favorites is Paul Krugman. A Nobel Prize winner and a true believer in Keynesian economics, I have found that I agree with much of what Krugman argues and use it all the time to defend my policy beliefs.

I’d recommend reading this week’s column, where he breaks down the three types of economic proposals we’re hearing from Democratic presidential candidates: investment, benefits enhancement, and system overhaul. 

His main point is that the first two are fiscally feasible, either by borrowing money and running a deficit (which is cheap to do right now because interest rates are still impossibly low) or bumping up taxes slightly on the upper class (which is politically doable). 

However, he argues that overhauling systems – like blowing up private insurance in favor of a government-provided single payer health care system – are significantly more expensive, widely unpopular, and politically explosive.

It’s an interesting read and good fodder for those who, at the same family get-together, fend off your Reagan-worshipping uncle and your Bernie Bro cousin.

Max Magid