Feb 10, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🗳️ Happy Monday. It’s New Hampshire primary eve.

  • 👋 San Francisco readers: I hope you'll join me Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in South of Market for conversations about affordable housing in the Bay Area. RSVP here.

🌏 Situational awareness: Partly because of a "nightmare" for tech manufacturing, the coronavirus outbreak will cost the global economy more than $280 billion in Q1, ending a 43-quarter global growth streak. (Bloomberg)

1 big thing: Letter from Planet Bloomberg

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mike Bloomberg's campaign feels corporate. It's calm, orderly and punctual. His audiences clap politely, and you can't walk two steps without running into a paid staffer with talking points. Nobody whoops or yells. Nothing is left to chance. No expense is spared. The candidate is self-consciously low-key.

  • Why it matters: The scale of Bloomberg's staff buildup and national advertising spending is unprecedented in modern American politics. His operation is coming to resemble his own personal political party.

After being immersed in Donald Trump's freewheeling White House and campaign for more than four years, Axios' Jonathan Swan found a day he spent flying around California with Bloomberg last week to be a foreign experience.

  • Supporters didn't profess their love for Bloomberg like fans at Trump rallies, who come across as football fans cheering for their quarterback. Some at Bloomberg's rallies wore printed T-shirts saying: "I Like Mike."
  • Bloomberg promises to govern quietly. "What about no tweeting from the Oval Office ever again?" he said to applause in Fresno.
  • Even the protesters are well-behaved. During Bloomberg's speech in Compton on Monday, a young man, standing in silence, held up a sign saying: "Billionaires should not buy elections." At a Trump rally, the president would have told security: "Get him the hell out!" At the Bloomberg event, a staffer politely asked him to move to the back.

Between the lines: Part of the quietness can't be helped. Bloomberg's unlimited money cannot draft — at least not yet — tens of thousands of fired-up men and women in campaign hats to arenas all around the country.

  • But Bloomberg supporters said they admired his wealth and accomplishments.
  • They expressed anxiety about the state of the Democratic field, and were looking for a safe bet to beat Trump. One supporter said that you need a very rich man to beat Trump.

Bloomberg is being taken seriously by the national media and the president of the United States, although he doesn't track the typical path of a would-be nominee. And rivals are cranking up their anti-billionaire messages.

  • On the day of the Iowa caucuses, Bloomberg's press plane was packed with national media — The New York Times, The New Yorker, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, AP, Reuters and Axios.

Bloomberg wore a navy suit and tie and mulberry sweater as he jetted around delegate-rich California. On the stump, he called himself the "un-Trump."

  • His curtain-raisers introduced him with words like "pragmatic" and "practical." His stump speeches were laced with words like "decency" and "sanity," and phrases like "commonsense plans that are workable."
  • Bloomberg is self-deprecating. He makes fun of his spelling and his age.
  • He doesn't give nicknames to his Democratic opponents. He won't even criticize them unless prompted.

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2. Trump's growing travel ban

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Donald Trump's campaign call for all Muslims to be barred from entering the United States has morphed over the past three years into a complex web of travel and immigration restrictions placed, to varying degrees, on 7% of the world's population, Axios' Stef Kight writes.

  • The big picture: While most eyes were on impeachment and Iowa, President Trump recently extended restrictions to six additional countries — widening the ban and ignoring the massive outcry it has created.

The Trump administration recently announced restrictions on permanent immigration for people from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

  • While Myanmar has a relatively small Muslim population (4%), the Muslim populations of the other five are between 30% (Tanzania) and 86% (Kyrgyzstan), according to Pew Research Center.
  • Unlike previous iterations of Trump's travel ban, the new policy will still allow all short-term travel to the U.S.

Flashback: Trump first announced a travel ban — labeled by many a "Muslim ban" — in his first week in office.

  • It's had a dramatic impact. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of permanent visas given every month to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen fell by 72%, according to Migration Policy Institute.
  • Collectively, those countries are more than 92% Muslim.

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3. Mayor Pete wins Iowa by 0.09%
Pete Buttigieg speaks at Salem High School in New Hampshire yesterday. Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Bernie Sanders' campaign will ask for a "partial recanvass" of caucus results after updated Iowa Democratic Party results (with 100% of precincts) showed Pete Buttigieg ahead by two state delegate equivalents out of 2,152 counted.

  • That's a margin of 0.09%. Both Buttigieg and Sanders have claimed victory.
  • AP said it remains unable to declare a winner because it believes the results may not be fully accurate and are still subject to potential revision.

🤯 A N.Y. Times post-mortem on the Iowa fiasco found it wasn't just the app, but "cascading failures going back months ... a total system breakdown that casts doubt on how a critical contest ... has been managed for years."

  • "An analysis by The New York Times revealed inconsistencies in the reported data for at least one in six of the state's precincts."
  • "[A]t least 10 percent of precincts appeared to have improperly allocated their delegates."
  • "[R]esults collected by phone operators were riddled with errors."
4. Pic du jour: Flags meant to go up in flames

Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Workers at this small Iranian factory diligently add all 50 stars and 13 bars to American flags, and carefully imprint the Star of David on the flag of Israel. They known their work is destined to go up in flames, AP reports from Khomein, Iran.

  • This factory serves as a major producer for the American and Israeli flags constantly burned at pro-government rallies in the Islamic Republic.
5. Budget day: Trump wants foreign-aid cuts
Trump budget, out today. Photo: Alex Edelman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In his Fiscal Year 2021 budget out today, President Trump will propose a 21% cut in U.S. foreign aid, "while seeking an increase in funds to counter developing economic threats from China and Russia," per Reuters.

  • Trump will seek $44.1 billion for foreign aid, compared with $55.7 billion enacted in FY 2020, an administration official said.

Reality check: The plan has cuts to food stamps, farm subsidies, Medicaid and student loans that couldn't pass when Republicans controlled Congress, much less now with Speaker Pelosi setting the agenda. (AP)

6. Graphic du jour: GOP embraces Putin
Graphic: Pew Research Center

"Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are now 21 points more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to express confidence in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin (31% vs. 10%)." (Pew Research Center)

7. Stock hell for oil and gas

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Oil and natural-gas stocks are in the toilet, and climate change is fast becoming a mainstream investor worry, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Why it matters: Oil and gas companies have become victims of their own success by producing more fuel than the world is demanding.
  • Layer on top of that the prospect that the world drastically reduces use of these products to address climate change, and the industry has a deeply uncertain outlook over the coming decades.

Keep reading.

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Data: Yahoo Finance. XOP is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) of oil and gas stocks. Chart: Axios Visuals
8. Tesla short-sellers lose $2.4 billion in one week

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

"Tesla's rocketing stock has meant an astonishing dive" — $8.4 billion since January — "for investors who have staked their money on the proposition that Tesla shares were drastically overvalued and bound to fall," the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • Why it matters: "These investors have been mostly losing the battle for years ... Their pain has suddenly gone from chronic to acute."
9. Obama-backed doc wins Oscar
In "American Factory," Zach Ray works at the Fuyao Glass America factory in Dayton, Ohio. Photo: Netflix via AP

The Oscar for best feature-length documentary went to "American Factory," the first documentary released by Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground.

  • The Netflix film is about an Ohio auto glass factory that is run by a Chinese investor. It explores many issues, including the rights of workers, globalization and automation. (AP)

🐦 In a congratulatory tweet, President Obama called it "a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change."

10. 🎬 1 film thing: Oscars make history

Director Bong Joon-Ho eyes the awards won by "Parasite" at the Oscars Governors Ball. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

South Korean thriller "Parasite" became the first foreign-language film to win the Oscars' top prize in the awards' 92-year history, "an astounding achievement for a $11 million Korean-language theatrical effort that grew through word-of-mouth," per The Hollywood Reporter.

  • "I think naturally there will come a day when a foreign-language film or not, it won’t really matter," said director Bong Joon-Ho, who also nabbed the prizes for best director, best original screenplay and best international film.
Mike Allen

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