Jun 10, 2019

Axios AM

Bulletin: United Technologies strikes all-stock merger with Raytheon, creating a company worth $100 billion+ — the world’s second-largest aerospace-and-defense company, after Boeing. (WSJ)

Good Monday morning. Driving the week: House Dems try to dramatize Mueller's report:

  • Judiciary Committee starts at 2 today with "Presidential Obstruction."
  • On Tuesday, the House has a floor vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt for refusing subpoenas.
  • Intelligence Committee goes Wednesday with "Counterintelligence Implications."

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1 big thing: Pennsylvania swing voters aren't ditching Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Voters in Pennsylvania who switched from Barack Obama to Donald Trump are sticking with the president in 2020 — unlike some other swing voters, including Wisconsinites, who are getting tired of him, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes from Erie.

  • Why it matters: Pennsylvanians' loyalty is a wakeup call for 2020 Democrats — especially Joe Biden, who's banking heavily on his native state.
  • This was the main takeaway from the latest Engagious/FPG focus group, including eight Obama/Trump voters, which Alexi watched live last week.

What they're saying:

  • Tara Biddle, a 37-year-old kindergarten teacher, said although she's not completely happy with Trump, she'd only switch candidates if they picked up where he left off — on the economy, tariffs and immigration.
  • "He’s the best-looking food on the buffet right now," 28-year-old Matt G. said.

Between the lines: These swing voters offered "assertive," "negotiator," "powerful," and "Christian" when asked the most important characteristics in a leader — words many of them used for Trump.

  • Their reaction to the Mueller report and House investigations? A big yawn.

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2. Dems buzz about AOC primarying Schumer
Ocasio-Cortez tends bar at The Queensboro last month to raise awareness for One Fair Wage. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Top Democrats tell "Axios on HBO" they expect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may eventually primary one of the two New York senators — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in 2022, or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2024.

  • A Harris poll for "Axios on HBO" shows socialism is soaring in popularity, especially with women ages 18 to 54 (55%) and younger Americans.
  • AOC has instantly become one of the party's most coveted endorsers (up there with Clintons and Obamas) — and has recently made common cause with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a pairing that could take off.

Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez's communications director, said that when she thinks down the road, she thinks in terms of transitioning Democrats to a party that's unified around progressive policies.

  • As to eventually challenging one of the New York senators, Trent said: "Having worked on her campaign, I don't think we're going to be moving to a different role any time soon."

Be smart: AOC fits great downstate and thrives nationally, but a New York poll by Siena College in March showed she could struggle statewide.

🎬 From last night's "Axios on HBO":

  • Jonathan Swan in Italy, inside Steve Bannon’s bizarre, exaggerated populism boot camp. Clip 1 ... Clip 2
  • Ina Fried interviews Google CEO Sundar Pichai about cleaning up YouTube. Clip
  • Trump is a Florida man.
3. Hong Kong pushes ahead with feared plan
Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong had the city's biggest protest since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, with hundreds of thousands opposing planned legislation that would to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, Reuters reports:

  • Why it matters: "The rendition bill has generated unusually broad opposition, from normally pro-establishment businesspeople and lawyers to students, pro-democracy figures and religious groups."

⚡ Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam today vowed to push ahead with the change.

4. Starbucks cup experiment
Reusable cups at Gatwick. Photo: Zute Lightfoot/Starbucks

Starbucks this month begins a first-of-its kind trial of reusable cups at London’s Gatwick airport, Bloomberg's Emily Chasan writes:

  • "Starbucks locations at the airport will charge customers 5 pence [6¢] for disposable cups while offering a reusable cup for free."
  • Why it matters: "[R]eusable cups potentially have a lower carbon footprint than paper cups."

"The company plans to track the number of returned cups, experimenting with different collection points to maximize the return rate."

  • Starbucks estimates that "if just 250 customers a day opt for a reusable cup, more than 7,000 cups could be saved in the monthlong trial."
5. Natural gas helps combat climate change — but not enough

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Natural gas is to climate change what our mediocre exercise and diet regimes are to our health — far from perfect, but better than nothing, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Why it matters: Natural gas, which is becoming the world’s dominant energy source, emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal. So it's emerging as a good-enough-for-now solution to climate change.
  • But since it’s a fossil fuel, it still produces heat-trapping emissions.

The big picture: Natural gas was the fastest-growing energy source last year —accounting for 45% of all such growth, according to an International Energy Agency report released Friday.

  • It’s set to keep growing.

The intrigue: Environmentalists and some politicians are increasingly opposed to natural gas because they worry it's locking in far too much global warming.

6. Stat du jour

What's new: Google made $4.7 billion "from the work of news publishers in 2018 via search and Google News, according to a study ... by the News Media Alliance," per the N.Y. Times.

  • Why it matters: "That ... is nearly as much as the $5.1 billion brought in by the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year."
7. U.S. health care system is full of monopolies
Expand chart
Data: Open Markets Institute. Chart: Axios Visuals

Even the behind-the-scenes parts of the health care industry are dominated by a small handful of companies — and critics say that drives up prices for everyone, Axios health care editor Sam Baker writes.

  • Why it matters: The U.S. spends more than any other industrialized country for health care, largely because our prices are higher. And the monopolies that support those high prices could undermine both liberal and conservative dreams of a more efficient system.

Dialysis is a particularly stark example:

  • Dialysis clinics bring in about $25 billion per year in revenue. And two companies — Fresenius and DaVita — control 92% of that market.
  • The manufacture of dialysis supplies is also concentrated in two companies — one of which is Fresenius. It controls 33% of that market.

Go deeper.

8. Big Papi ambushed in bar
Journalists gather outside the clinic where David Ortiz is being treated. Photo: Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images

Former Boston Red Sox slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz is hospitalized following surgery for a gunshot wound to his "lower back/abdominal region" after being ambushed by a man in a bar in his native Dominican Republic, AP reports.

  • Ortiz was at the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo at 8:50 p.m. when a gunman approached from behind and shot him at close range, police said.
  • The alleged gunman was captured and beaten by the crowd.
  • The suspect is being treated for injuries, then will be questioned.

Ortiz's father, Leo, told reporters his son was out of danger and there wasn't damage to major organs.

  • He said he had no idea why someone would have shot at his son.
  • Investigators are trying to determine whether Ortiz was the intended target.
9. Collision: Hollywood, D.C.
Photo courtesy Eric Schultz

Eric Schultz, former deputy White House press secretary and now a senior adviser to President Obama, is consulting to the Netflix political thriller "Designated Survivor," PEOPLE's Sandra Sobieraj Westfall reports.

  • Schultz advised dialing back the glamor: "If you remember ... the White House Situation Room ... in the first two seasons, ... it looks like an international global command center. It’s really a conference room."
10. 1 historic thing
Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Ali Stroker, saying she feels most powerful when she's singing, became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony Award, for portraying Ado Annie in the Broadway revival of "Oklahoma!"

  • "This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability," she said as she accepted the statuette for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Stroker told reporters afterward that not all backstage areas are accessible:

  • "I would ask theater owners and producers to really look into how they can begin to make the backstage accessible so that performers with disabilities can get around." (Variety)

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