News from CA-21

“Critical,” for who? 

Despite repeated requests CA-21’s David Valadao has not commented publicly on the 2018 Farm Bill, which could impact hundreds of  thousands of his constituents with harsh restrictions placed on access to the nation’s nutrition assistance program (SNAP).   

Among the restrictions being waved through the House, with only Republican votes, adults from ages 18 to 59 could be ineligible to  receive food stamps if they are not working 20 hours a week or participating in an approved training program.   

Described as a “critical component” of the Republican agenda by House Speaker Paul Ryan, the restrictions could affect approximately  467,000 participants in the four counties represented in whole or part by Valadao, according to the Modesto Bee.  

Eviction notice 

In the four counties represented by Valadao, approximately 50,000 people are currently receiving federal housing assistance, according  to data from local housing authorities. For many, that too, could be a thing of the past.   

Legislation drawn up by Mick Mulvaney’s Office of Management and Budget and Ben Carson’s Housing and Urban Development, would  triple rents on the poorest tenants, including the elderly and disabled, in federally subsidized housing, “as part of a push,” as described  by the New York Times, “to redefine housing assistance as a temporary benefit instead of the permanent source of shelter it has has  become for millions of poor people.”   

The legislation would also allow local governments to impose work requirements on able-bodied tenants in public housing, and raise  rents for the elderly and disabled. It is part of a larger assault on the entire social safety net … just after months of giving massive tax  cuts to millionaires and billionaires in the height of cruel hypocrisy,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National  Low Income Housing Coalition. 

A friend in need 

Valadao, meanwhile, is getting infusions of campaign cash from wealthy right-wing donors with close to ties to Donald Trump, in what is  seen as attempt to shore up Republican incumbents in marginal California districts ahead of the November midterms.    

Prominent among them is Trump mega-donor Robert Mercer, who has so far donated $5,400 to Valadao, and to CA-10’s Jeff Denham  and CA-25’s Rep. Steve Knight, according to the Sacramento Bee. The donations appear to come via a fundraising arm of the National  Republican Congressional Committee’s "Patriot Program," which has reportedly given approximately $37,000 more to Valadao and  $44,000 each to Denham and Knight.   

Besides financially backing Trump’s presidential campaign, Mercer was also the money man behind alt-right Steve Bannon’s rise to  White House prominence and the primary funder of Cambridge Analytica, currently under investigation by Robert Mueller for its ties to  the Russiagate scandal.   

“It’s all about preventing a Democratic takeover, because if Democrats take the House they would control investigations,” said John  Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College, “If that happens, you can bet ... there will be more investigations on Trump,  and possibly some on Mercer.” 

Stay cool 

Working his way through the blizzard of national and local polls assessing the Democrats chance of flipping the House in November,  Charles E. Cook, of The Cook Political Report, came up with this:   

No prudent person who knows anything about congressional races believes either that Democrats have control of the House locked up or  that the Republican majority is safe. The consensus is that the GOP majority is in danger. That is the conclusion of the macro approach,  looking at national polls, and it’s also the finding using the district-by-district micro approach.   

My bet right now is still a 60-65 percent chance of the House flipping, but we have a ways to go.