Feb 8, 2019

1. Trump's lifeline: Democrats' socialism surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are flirting with socialism in ways they carefully and clearly ran away from in the past, handing President Trump a new way to unify Republicans — and to club his opponents.

  • It started with Democrats sitting silently as he railed against socialism in his State of the Union speech.
  • It intensified with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's release of a Green New Deal, a vague policy manifesto loaded with big-government policies.
  • The surge is unlikely to abate: Young, Twitter- and social-savvy Democrats favor socialism over capitalism. And no Democrat in politics today plays the social media game with more savvy than AOC. 

The White House, the Trump campaign — and the outside political advisers in Trump’s orbit — seem to be universally excited by the Green New Deal and many Democrats' embrace of socialism.

  • They've been far more optimistic about Trump's re-election chances this week than Swan has heard since the early days of Trump’s presidency.
  • And they're thrilled that so many of Trump’s potential 2020 opponents are endorsing the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal calls for a World War II-level mobilization to put the U.S. on an aggressive pathway toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, Axios' Ben Geman reports.

  • "Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency."'
  • Working with farmers and ranchers "to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible."
  • "Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

Andy Surabian, Republican strategist and former White House official, told Axios: "I think you’re gonna see Republicans start pointing out that the people who will be affected by this plan won’t be billionaires or rich people. It’s the middle, lower classes and poverty stricken areas of America."

  • "The only people who can afford to be environmentalists are billionaires."

Global warming, however, punishes the world's poorest — "hotter, drier and hungrier," as the N.Y. Times puts it.

Amy Harder asked Ocasio-Cortez whether her proposal feeds into Trump's claims about socialism. AOC replied:

  • "I find this hilarious, because this president seeks to expand government into the bodies of women. They seek to expand government to spontaneously generate detention centers all along our southern border."
  • "So this is not about who's expanding government. It’s about who we're working for, and we're choosing to work for the people of the United States." 

Marty Obst, senior political adviser to Vice President Pence: "While the President and Vice President support the Venezuelan people's struggle for freedom, the Democratic Party continues its lurch toward socialism."

  • "I would envision that the campaign will highlight the stark differences between the two parties on this policy among many others."

Be smart: Obst's quote is a signal that Pence and the political operation that surrounds him — which will play an important role in the Trump re-elect — plan to make Democratic socialism one of their main lines of attack.

Go deeper: The fight Trump and AOC both want in 2020

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Alaska becomes latest state to issue coronavirus stay-at-home order

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

All Alaskans in the state are under a mandate to "remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing" except for those engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: This is the latest state to announce policies to enforce social distancing. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide were asked to stay home Monday.

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Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 737,929 — Total deaths: 35,019 — Total recoveries: 156,507.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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