Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me walking through a door labeled I'M OVER IT, pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Let us start with policy news, which is my favorite kind of primary news, because I am not a nightmare monster who treats politics like a game!

Today, Senator Kamala Harris will be reintroducing the Maternal CARE Act in the Senate: "Black women are facing a maternal mortality crisis in part because of racial bias in our nation's health care delivery system, and it's time to change that. Today, I'm reintroducing the Maternal CARE Act, my bill to fund implicit bias training for health care providers." Terrific!

Also today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled a signature policy initiative of her campaign: The Family Bill of Rights. It is, she says, "a new economic policy platform that I will get done in my first hundred days as president." The plan is built around guaranteeing five basic rights: "It's the right to a healthy and safe pregnancy; the right to give birth or adopt a child, regardless of income or sexual orientation; the right to a safe and affordable nursery; a right to national paid [family] leave; a right to affordable daycare and universal pre-k. It gives parents confidence that they're going to have the resources they need to meet the needs of their infant. It also gives them hope that their child is going to have all the resources and opportunities that they know that their child deserves."

I have not read the details of the plan yet, and thus haven't assessed its quality or potential efficacy, but I will say that a decent, robust, well-funded, identity-sensitive, effective, comprehensive family support policy is absolutely necessary, from whomever the eventual Democratic nominee is.

And I will further note, particularly in this moment of aggressive anti-choice horror, that this sort of policymaking is what being "pro-life" actually looks like. As I have noted many times in this space, a 2005 Guttmacher study [pdf] of women who had abortions found that 73% of women cited "I can't afford a baby now" as the reason for terminating their pregnancy:
In the qualitative sample, of women who stated that they could not afford to have a child now, the majority had children already. Financial difficulties included the absence of support from the father of either the current pregnancy or the woman’s other children, anticipating not being able to continue working or to find work while pregnant or caring for a newborn, not having the resources to support a child whose conception was not planned and lacking health insurance. Respondents who gave financial reasons for having an abortion frequently reported feeling stressed and strained to the limit of their current resources.
Why any pregnant person gets an abortion is none of our fucking business, but the fact is that a significant majority of abortion-seeking people terminate their pregnancies because they lack social support and resources that we could and should provide to every new parent.

Lingering at the intersection of policy and reproductive rights, let us now turn our attention to Senator Cory Booker, still providing the best example of male allyship and publishing this barnstormer today: "How I Will Take Immediate Action to Protect Reproductive Rights as President."
Donald Trump and Mike Pence have led an all-out assault on women's rights — and states across the country have followed. Anti-choice governors and lawmakers are relentless in their charge to chip away at abortion rights and are committed to bringing a case to the Supreme Court that would do away with Roe v. Wade for good.

This coordinated attack on abortion rights and reproductive rights requires a coordinated response. That's why beginning on Day One of my presidency, I will immediately and decisively take executive action to respond to these relentless efforts to erode Americans' rights to control their own bodies.
I really appreciate that Booker mentions Pence here — and there's lots more to appreciate at the link, including Booker's promise to repeal the Hyde Amendment and include a gigantic ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE graphic in the middle of the piece. (Are you reading Shakesville, Senator Booker?!)

Nearly keeping apace with Booker is Julián Castro, who gave me all the feels with this message during the #StopTheBans protests yesterday:

Today in cities across the United States, Americans of different backgrounds are rising up and pushing back against dangerous and unconstitutional bans on a woman's right to get an abortion that have been passed in places like Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri. It's time for all of us who are running for office and those of us in public life to stand up for a woman's right of reproductive freedom and [right] to choose to get an abortion, no matter what her background, where she lives, which state she lives in. This is the United States of America, and it's part of our Constitution that a woman has a right to choose. I hope all of us will stand up and defend that right, because we need to use our voice now more than ever, to stop the bans.

I am old enough to remember when even pro-choice male (and some female) Democratic politicians would practically crawl out their skins if obliged to say the word "abortion," no less vigorously defend it without qualification and caveat, and now here we are with four unapologetically pro-choice female senators running for president and two male candidates who can unyieldingly defend abortion access, who can say the word without a squeamishness that conveyed a deadly stigma.


In other Castro news, while everyone else was making ALL THE JOKES about HUD Secretary Ben Carson mistaking "REO" for "Oreo" during a House hearing, former HUD Secretary Castro used the occasion to point out that "there are 4.4 million people who need housing assistance who don't have it, and HUD is proposing a 16% cut to their budget."

Naturally, it wouldn't be a discussion of policy without mention of Senator Elizabeth Warren — and I don't even know what the fuck this piece in the WaPo is all about (haha J/K I totally know exactly what the fuck it's all about):
Six words — increasingly met with cheers on the campaign trail — have come to encapsulate Elizabeth Warren's position as the leading ideas candidate in the crowded Democratic presidential primary: "I've got a plan for that."

In town halls across the country, Warren has promoted her plans to offer Americans free college, universal child care, student debt cancellation, and more — all paid for by raising taxes on the superwealthy.

Taken as a whole, the Massachusetts senator's transformative slate of social programs and tax increases could amount to the largest transfer of wealth from the richest Americans to the middle class in U.S. history.

But Warren's ambitious agenda relies on two assumptions that defy a long history of U.S. policymaking: First, that the country's wealthiest taxpayers won't find ways to evade the targeted tax hike she proposes, and second, that new entitlement programs won't result in ballooning costs that plunge the federal government deeper into debt.
Yeah, she shouldn't even bother trying. Instead, we should all just give up and pretend that wealthy people "find ways" to evade taxes in a vacuum and not with the targeted assistance of Republican legislators, and resign ourselves to ballooning federal government debt on wars of choice launched by Republican presidents. OH WELL.

In other policy news, Senator Bernie Sanders rolled out his education plan, which consists of "a comprehensive 10-point agenda that calls for the end of for-profit charter schools, creates a salary floor for public school teachers, guarantees free school meals for all students, and expands after school and summer school programs." Okay.

Speaking of Sanders, here's a headline nobody wants: "Bernie Sanders Is Far More Popular with Voters Who Say They Aren't Paying Any Attention."

And speaking of headlines nobody wants: "Brutal New 2020 Numbers for Beto O'Rourke and Bill de Blasio." Ouch!

In other news...

Senator Amy Klobuchar notes on Twitter: "Even the IRS seems to think [Donald] Trump should hand over his taxes to Congress." Keep on him about those taxes, Senator!

Joe Biden is getting drawn into a stupid fight with Trump, because of course he is.

Someone tell Rep. Eric Swalwell that feeling like you need to designate your son as a "male feminist" is not exactly, um, feminist.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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