Nov 7, 2019

Axios AM

Good Thursday morning. Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,352 words ... 5 minutes.

🇨🇳 Breaking: China's Ministry of Commerce said Beijing and the U.S. have agreed to roll back tariffs on each other's goods in phases as they work toward a deal. (Bloomberg)

1 big thing: Warren bets the White House on Medicare for All
Elizabeth Warren speaks last month in Norfolk, Va. Photo: Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Elizabeth Warren, who rose to the top with big liberal bets, is banking a big slice of her presidential run on full-throated support for Medicare for All.

  • Why it matters: Warren is taking a beating on social media after claiming middle-class Americans won’t pay higher taxes to fund health care coverage fully paid for by taxpayers, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios' Neal Rothschild.
  • At the same time, her poll numbers nationally are slipping.

Numerous prominent Democrats have told us President Trump will feast on Warren’s plan to eliminate private insurance to force everyone onto Medicare.

  • They worry she has no wiggle room to backtrack if she wins the nomination because her entire reputation is wrapped around not buckling on big debates like health care. 

Of the 50 most engaging online stories (likes, shares, comments) over the last two weeks about Warren's plan to pay for Medicare for All, 70% were negative, according to the NewsWhip data.

  • Criticism about how to pay for the plan has been accompanied by a rapid descent in the polls. After briefly overtaking Joe Biden atop the 2020 Democratic polling average on Oct. 8, Warren has tumbled and now trails Biden by 7.2 points.

The state of play: A Yahoo Finance article from last month that calculates the taxes necessary to pay for Medicare for All was the year's hottest online article related to Warren (820,000 interactions).

  • The criticism picked up steam in the wake of her announcement of how to pay for the plan, which requires an additional $20.5 trillion of federal spending.

Share this story.

  • Go deeper: See past editions of our 2020 Attention Tracker here.
2. Facebook, Google may tighten political ads

Under pressure, Google and Facebook are both mulling tighter political ad policies, sources tell Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • There’s no indication at this point that either company will stop running political ads. Rather, both are weighing policy changes that have been floated as compromise ideas, like limiting micro-targeting or disclosing more info about the advertiser.

Why it matters: Google and Facebook are by far the two biggest online ad firms in the U.S. Presidential candidates have spent well over $50 million on both platforms this year.

  • Changes to the platforms' policies could affect that race, as well as hundreds of others at the state and local levels.
  • Hundreds of issue advertisers, like nonprofits that advocate for climate change or gun reform, could also be affected.

Between the lines: Both companies are likely more worried about pressure coming from Democrats than from Republicans.

3. Trump tops predecessors for staff exits
Expand chart
Data: Partnership for Public Service, Center for Presidential Transition. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump has lost 41% of the Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and undersecretaries appointed in his first year in office, Axios' Stef Kight reports from new data by the Partnership for Public Service‘s Center for Presidential Transition.

  • Why it matters: This far outpaces the turnover rate for recent predecessors at the same stage of their presidencies — and underscores the challenges Trump would face in recruiting a new stable of top officials if he wins re-election.

The center looked at historical turnover data for high-level positions requiring Senate confirmation from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, each of whom was elected to a second term.

  • Each had lower turnover levels than Trump at this point in their tenure, measured across 15 Cabinet-level departments.

Share this story.

  • Go deeper: Every high-profile Trump administration departure.
4. Pic du jour
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump pretends to check his watch after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) mentions an upcoming Senate vote, during an East Room event yesterday about judicial confirmations.

5. Bob Iger: "Too late to worry now"
Courtesy Bloomberg Businessweek

Ahead of next week's launch of the Disney+ streaming service, Disney CEO Bob Iger, 68, tells Devin Leonard for a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story: "This is, no question about it, the future of media."

  • "Iger says the wake-up call came one day in August 2015, when he revealed that Disney was feeling the effects of cord cutting — people canceling their cable memberships and signing up for streaming services — and that ESPN had suffered modest cable subscription losses. Disney’s shares tumbled 9%. He’d known the stock would take a hit, but not that it would fall that far."

Asked what Disney+ means for his legacy, he smiles and says:

  • "Too late to worry now."

Keep reading.

6. Jon Meacham: Next week's "singular American moment"
Courtesy TIME

Jon Meacham writes for TIME that the start of public impeachment hearings next Wednesday, Nov. 13, "marks the beginning of a test for the country":

As the debate over impeachment and removal unfolds, the nation’s immediate and long-term future depends on whether Americans will be guided by reason rather than passion, fact rather than faith, evidence rather than tribe. ...
Here we are, ... trapped in a time of demagoguery, reflexive partisanship and a Hobbesian world of constant and total political warfare. We know all the factors: the return of the kind of partisan media that shaped us in the 18th and 19th centuries; relentless gerrymandering that has produced few swing congressional districts; the allure of reality-TV programming that has blurred lines between entertainment and governance. ...
The fate of this presidency, of the ensuing elections and of our true course lies in two sets of hands. The first is the House and the Senate, the second the electorate that will determine the outcome of the 2020 campaign.
The past and the present tell us that a demagogue can thrive only when a substantial portion of the demos — the people — want him to.
Screenshot via CNN
7. RBG questions confidential #MeToo agreements
Justice Ginsburg sits in her chambers in 2002. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

A new book on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she hopes that non-disclosure agreements, which have come under fire in sexual misconduct cases, "will not be enforced by the courts," AP's Maryclaire Dale reports.

  • In "Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law," out this week, the 86-year-old feminist icon questions whether the #MeToo movement will render such secrecy clauses obsolete.
  • Why it matters: Several women, after signing NDAs, had to take financial and legal risks to speak out about their encounters with male predators.

The other side: Some lawyers who represent women today in sexual misconduct cases, including Debra Katz and Gloria Allred, said NDAs are essential.

  • "Employers would not be willing to pay the kind of settlement that they pay now if they believe that all other employees would know," said Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in her Senate testimony.
8. Pence is Trump's retailer

Vice President Pence flies to New Hampshire today as part of an amped-up travel schedule as the White House tries to show it isn't buckling under the strain of impeachment, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Flipping New Hampshire has been on President Trump's wish list since he lost there in 2016 by a margin of less than a half a percentage point.

Why it matters: Pence chief of staff Marc Short told Axios, "When Trump does things, it's a much larger footprint. He likes the large rallies and big fundraising events, but the V.P. will be deployed in markets large and small."

Trump campaign officials tell Axios that Pence will focus on:

  • The Midwest: One official said polling shows that Pence, as a former Indiana governor, greatly appeals to farmers and families in the Midwest.
  • Evangelical Christians: Pence will again woo evangelicals and the Christian community, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Axios.
  • Suburban women: Second Lady Karen Pence will help.

Share this story.

9. Power shift: Europeans look to China as global partner
Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Xi Jinping following a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/Pool via AP

Remember this photo!

When French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take European concerns to the world stage — climate, trade, Iran — he no longer calls Washington. He flies to Beijing, AP's Sylvie Corbet reports from Paris.

  • Why it matters: Macron's visit to China this week suggests that the U.S. risks being sidelined on the global stage.
  • One moment spoke volumes: Chinese President Xi Jinping sampled French wines, which the Trump administration recently slapped with heavy tariffs.
10. 1 fun thing

Screenshot via YouTube

For the 40th anniversary of the Happy Meal, McDonald's is bringing back some of its classic toys (available today through Monday), including:

  • Cowboy McNugget, Fireman McNugget, Mail Carrier McNugget (1988)
  • Hamburglar (1995)
  • Furby (1999)

📬 Thanks for reading! Please tell a friend about AM/PM.