Apr 5, 2019

Axios AM

Happy Friday!

1 big thing: The GOP's white man problem
2016 result, via 270towin

Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Group has a stark reminder of one of the biggest 2020 issues not named Donald Trump:

  • There are 13 House Republicans who are women (out of 197 — 7%).
  • There are 14 House Republicans named Greg or Mike.

It's an echo of a classic 2015 N.Y. Times finding: "Fewer large companies are run by women than by men named John." (2018 figures)

  • Why it matters: "Perhaps the biggest variable in 2020 will be the suburbs," Krueger writes. "Particularly to win back the House, the GOP will have to staunch the bleeding in the suburbs."

A big key to that is improving with women, where Krueger says the GOP faces "not so much a gender gap as a gender chasm."

  • Hillary Clinton won women 54% to 42%, while Trump took 53% of white women voters.
  • In last year's midterms, the WashPost's Dan Balz saw a "revolt among suburban women ... that played out in district after district."
  • "We’ve got to address the suburban women problem, because it’s real," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox News on Election Night 2018.

Another GOP impediment in suburbs is racial diversity, as the country grows more non-white. National Journal's Josh Kraushaar frames it bluntly:

  • "As Democrats have rapidly diversified their ranks in the last several elections, Republicans have grown more homogeneous."
  • "Only 11 of the 255 Republican members of Congress are nonwhite."

Republican leaders are belatedly paying more attention, and National Journal's Ally Mutnick reports that help may be on the way (subscription):

  • Nearly 100 women have already talked to House Republican officials about running, or have publicly declared interest.
  • A healthy number of early GOP recruits are women and candidates of color.

Be smart: Republicans are on track to field an all-white-male ticket against the most diverse Democratic field in history. 

2. Big progress for LGBTQ pols
Chicago mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot (left) celebrates with her wife, Amy Eshleman, soon to be Second City's first lady. (Kamil Krzaczynski /AFP/Getty Images)

The quick rise of Chicago mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, and Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 race, shows remarkable progress by gay and lesbian politicians, with their sexual orientation getting less play than other historic qualities.

  • Both Lightfoot and Buttigieg have talked comfortably about LGBT issues and their own same-sex marriages, AP's David Crary writes.
  • "The real news is not that openly gay candidates are successful, but that being openly gay has become irrelevant," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay issues.
  • This continues progress from last year's midterms, when LGBTQ candidates scored a raft of wins, including two governorships and first-ever legislative seats in Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska.

It was only in 1998 that Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person to gain a seat in the House of Representatives, AP reports:

  • There are now eight LGBT members of the House, and two in the Senate — Baldwin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, whose bisexuality never became an issue in her closely contested election campaign last year.
  • Lightfoot's victory on Tuesday, along with Satya Rhodes-Conway's win in Madison, Wisc., brings the number of LGBT mayors to 37, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
  • In Colorado, Jared Polis was inaugurated in January as the nation's first openly gay governor.

Buttigieg's husband, Chasten, has amassed 182,000 Twitter followers with cheerful, wry commentary about their relationship and their dogs.

3. What the job surge is masking

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Economists expect the government to report yet another surge in new jobs and pay this morning — the 118th straight month of employment growth, and terrific news after decades of flat wages.

  • At the same time, Axios Future Editor Steve LeVine reports, economists are calling for the government to urgently prepare the labor force for a future wave of automation that will roil communities across the country.
  • Why it matters: This coming technological disruption is hard to see now. But economists say that, without aggressive measures, the financial inequality that underlies current political turbulence will widen.

In a new report, the Aspen Institute nudges policymakers away from any notion that the American economy will naturally adjust as robots are introduced at an accelerated pace over the coming two and three decades.

  • Already, Aspen's Alastair Fitzpayne tells Axios, workers displaced in prior technological cycles "have experienced profound downward mobility" in new jobs at much lower pay and benefits.
  • "The individuals impacted by automation in manufacturing over the last 40 years ... experienced profound difficulty finding a new job," Fitzpayne said. "If they found one, they took lower pay and lower benefits."
4. Pic du jour
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is surrounded by cameras as he leaves federal court in New York yesterday.

  • The judge gave Musk and the SEC two weeks to work out differences over how he posts on social media. (Bloomberg)
5. Stat du jour

Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis — hoping to delay his client's prison term by offering more cooperation — says in a statement:

Mr. Cohen has recently obtained a hard drive with 14 million files from his computers and phones over the past 10 years, which we believe has significant value to the various congressional oversight and investigation committees.
6. China's building binge alarms U.S.
A Panama Canal worker docks the Chinese container ship Cosco. (Arnulfo Franco/AP)

Chinese construction in Latin America is stirring alarm in Washington over Beijing's ambitions in a region that American leaders since the 19th century have seen as off-limits to other powers, AP reports from Panama City.

  • China's focus in Central America includes Panama, where the canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans makes it one of the world's busiest trade arteries, and strategically important both to Washington and Beijing.

China has launched a charm offensive, wooing Panamanian politicians, professionals and journalists.

  • China is the canal's second-biggest user after the U.S.

Why it matters: The U.S., Japan, Russia and India fret that Beijing's Belt and Road building initiative is yielding economic and strategic influence at their expense.

7. Parents who tattle

To decrease potential rivals for spots at top colleges, some high school parents turn to sabotage, the WashPost's Caitlin Gibson writes:

  • "Dear parents of the class of 2019," began the December email from Patrick Gallagher, director of college counseling at Sidwell Friends School.
  • "The College Counseling Office will not answer phone calls from blocked numbers."
  • "The College Counseling Office will not open any mail without a recognizable return address."

Why it matters: "There were accounts of parents who had called admissions offices to spread gossip about another child’s bad behavior, parents who reported long-ago run-ins with law enforcement, parents who sent anonymous tips about potentially compromising posts on students’ Facebook or Twitter pages."

8. Humanity's fourth great transformation
Courtesy The Economist

"[F]or the past four billion years or so the only way for life on Earth to produce a sequence of DNA — a gene — was by copying a sequence it already had to hand," The Economist writes in its cover editorial. "[G]ene begat gene."

That is no longer true. Now genes can be written from scratch and edited ... like text in a word processor. The ability to engineer living things ... represents a fundamental change in the way humans interact with the planet’s life. It permits the manufacture of all manner of things which used to be hard, even impossible, to make: pharmaceuticals, fuels, fabrics, foods and fragrances can all be built molecule by molecule. ... Immune cells can be told to follow doctors’ orders; ... fertilized eggs programmed to grow into creatures quite unlike their parents. ...
[L]ook back through history, and humanity’s relations with the living world have seen three great transformations: the exploitation of fossil fuels, the globalisation of the world’s ecosystems after the European conquest of the Americas, and the domestication of crops and animals at the dawn of agriculture.

Why it matters: "All brought prosperity and progress, but with damaging side-effects. Synthetic biology promises similar transformation."

9. Coming attractions

Amazon said it plans to build a network of more than 3,000 satellites through “Project Kuiper” to provide high speed internet, Reuters reports.

  • "The project will launch a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to people globally who lack basic access to broadband internet."
10. 1 film thing

"Amy Adams is set to star in Netflix's adaptation of 'Hillbilly Elegy,' which Ron Howard is on board to direct," per Variety.

  • Based on J.D. Vance's bestselling memoir, "the pic is a modern exploration of the American dream and follows three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale law student forced to return to his hometown."