Jun 22, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🎬 In tomorrow's season finale of "Axios on HBO" (6 p.m. ET/PT), California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who runs the world's fifth biggest economy, makes news on tech, Trump and more in a vigorous conversation with Jim VandeHei.

  • Watch a clip.
  • Coming later today: A Deep Dive that includes a sneak peek at the episode.

😎 Good Saturday morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 988 words ... ~ 4 minutes.

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1 big thing: Centrist Dems spooked by Bernie

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As President Trump fixates on Joe Biden as his opponent in the 2020 general election, some moderate Democrats are more afraid of Bernie Sanders becoming the eventual nominee, Alexi McCammond reports from Charleston, S.C.

Driving the news: A two-day conference by the centrist Democratic group Third Way focused on helping the party figure out "the way to win" in 2020.

  • These Dems are sick of economic messages that focus on "free stuff" rather than opportunity, as former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp put it.
  • Ideas like free college are "fluffy" and perceived as "handouts," said Anna Tovar, mayor of Tolleson, Arizona. Particularly with Latinx Democrats, she said, "They want to work towards [those opportunities] and be proud of that."
  • Third Way argues these plans can be politically potent for Republicans. "We shouldn't be running on these ideas; we should be running from them," said Jon Cowan, the group's president.

They're not down with Medicare for All: Among 1,291 Democratic primary voters polled by Third Way, there's a 17-point difference in support for Medicare for All between "Twitter Democrats" and primary voters as a whole.

  • In fact, they'd love if all the 2020 Democrats got off Twitter entirely. Listening to the Twitterverse "will help re-elect Donald Trump," said Lanae Erickson, Third Way's SVP for social policy and politics.
  • They're also trying to obliterate the "blue bubble" created by liberals — perpetuated, they say, by appearances on cable and by obsession with online reach. "If you killed it on that podcast, I assure you we did not hear you," said Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C.

A twist: Elizabeth Warren — who’s viewed as the closest candidate to Bernie ideologically — gets a pass with these moderates.

  • They say she’s focused on a Democratic capitalist message, while they view Bernie as a full-blown socialist.

Be smart: President Trump is likely to label any of the candidates some sort of a Democratic socialist. But these folks are adamant anyone but Bernie can win — a gay mayor, an African American woman, a Latino from Texas.

  • The bottom line: Expect the tension between liberals and centrists within the Democratic Party to grow even more as these issues (Medicare for All, the Green New Deal) get prime airtime at the debates.
2. ❤️ Heart disease roars back

Progress against heart disease has stalled, driving down life expectancy in the U.S. after decades in which each generation lived longer than the one that came before, The Wall Street Journal's Betsy McKay reports (subscription).

  • "[T]he death rate is actually rising for middle-aged Americans."
  • You can guess why: "The obesity epidemic and related rise in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes are key culprits in the new wave of cardiovascular disease."

Why it matters, per WSJ: "Heart disease was once on course to fall below cancer as the nation’s leading cause of death, a change public-health statisticians most recently predicted would occur by 2020. No longer."

3. The Trump doctrine, in 7 words
This image, released by the U.S. Central Command, shows what the Pentagon says is the flight path and the site where Iran shot down a U.S. Navy surveillance drone. (via AP)

The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker analyzes President Trump's decision to pull back from retaliatory military strikes against Iran that he had approved:

  • "Trump ... has adopted a modified version of Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim when it comes to overseas military threats — speak loudly and carry a small stick."

Why it matters: "He talks like a bellicose warmonger but acts like an isolationist peacenik."

4. Old spy pics show how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting
Photo credits: Left, National Reconnaissance Office via AP. Right, Joshua Maurer via AP.

The photo on the left, with Mount Everest at the center, was taken Jan. 3, 1976 by the National Reconnaissance Office, which runs U.S. intelligence satellites.

  • Why it matters: This and other once-classified Cold War era spy satellite images show scientists that glaciers on the Himalayas are now melting about twice as fast as they used to, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reports.

At right, a 2014 photo shows the Changri Nup Glacier in Nepal, much of it covered by rocky debris. (The peak of Everest is partly obscured in the left background.)

  • The data: From 2000 to 2016, the Himalayan mountain range lost about 8.3 billion tons of ice a year, compared to 4.3 billion tons a year between 1975 and 2000, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.
5. New war for wealthy shoppers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Walmart's rivalry with Amazon intensifies, the world's largest company (and employer) is going after a new cohort: wealthy shoppers who traditionally shop on Amazon, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

  • Why it matters: Walmart reigns over redder, more rural and lower-income America, while Amazon commands the larger, liberal metros. But now they are stepping up their bloody fight for market share.

What's happening: Amazon — along with other retailers — is attempting to loosen Walmart's viselike grip on low-income shoppers, with discounted Prime memberships and pilot programs that accept SNAP benefits for grocery delivery.

  • At the same time, Walmart has been encroaching on Amazon's territory — younger, wealthier, largely urban shoppers.
  • Fascinating stat: 82% of households making more than $112,000 per year subscribe to Prime, according to investment bank Piper Jaffray.

Walmart has modernized its website and plastered the New York City subway with hip, millennial-friendly ads for Jet.com, which it bought in 2016 to bolster its e-commerce business.

  • And just last month, it debuted Jetblack, a new membership service. At $50 a month — nearly four times Prime's monthly $12.99 cost — you get access to a personal shopper whom you can text to order from Walmart, Jet, Saks, Pottery Barn and other retailers.
6. 💒 1 wedding thing

Young Americans, already under record levels of debt, are increasingly taking out loans to pay for their weddings, the WashPost's Abha Bhattarai writes in tomorrow's WashPost Business section ("The Wedding Issue"):

  • "Demand [is] giving rise to an industry of personal loans marketed specifically to brides and grooms."
  • The data: "Online lenders say they are issuing up to four times as many 'wedding loans' as they did a year ago, as they look to reach a fast-growing demographic: Couples who are picking up the tab for their own nuptials."
  • Sign of the apocalypse: Loans are marketed "as a way to fund extras like custom calligraphy, doughnut displays and 'Instagram-worthy' venues."
Mike Allen

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