Josh Hawley Has Our Attention - Can He Sustain it?

He doesn’t have Beto’s Kennedyish toothy, fleeting glamour, or Pete Buttigieg’s too-smooth-by-half comebacks, but Missouri GOP frosh senator Josh Hawley is the real thing. What do I mean by that? His ambition, which is overwhelmingly evident in the dizzying pace of his climb to Senator at 39 years old, is actually backed up by policy smarts and not just platitudes. Whether you agree or not with his bold but considered populism.

In a chat with the Washington Post's James Hohmann (who writes the Daily 202 newsletter for the WaPo) he outlined clear and forceful views on tech giants and pharmaceutical behemoths as well. Ones which might not please the Chamber of Commerce. For example, "Prescription drug prices have got to get lower. We need prescription drugs that actually are affordable. We need a prescription drug system that actually is portable."

No one needs to be reminded that healthcare in America is complex and expensive. But Hawley is going to have to do some convincing in order to backfill his proposal. On one side, the healthcare industry - especially big Pharma - insist that America carries much of the burden of worldwide innovation when it comes to new medicines because of the profit motive. On the other side, much of the Democrat primary field are advocating some form of Medicare For All.

President Trump seemed to promise a way between those two goals back when he was campaigning, but quickly ceded the healthcare issues to then-Speaker Paul Ryan and the typical GOP establishment view which placed a premium on repeal and replace. Unfortunately, personal battles with Senator McCain and a razor-thin Senate majority sunk the deal. So Congress was left with trimming around the edges with the individual mandate and now with a states-based lawsuit that argues that the dropping of the individual mandate guts Chief Justice Roberts decision on the ACA and makes the act unconstitutional.

That was never part of Trump's populist promise, but he changed course once in office, perhaps letting establishment views appeal to his businessman's viewpoint. Or he got frustrated with how wonky and burdensome the healthcare issue is and just let others take the substantive lead while he played ringmaster.

That didn't work out very nicely for Trump and his administration, but the idea he originally ran on - the importance of healthcare for all Americans especially working-class Americans - is being resuscitated by Hawley by the looks of it. Now whether Senator Hawley jumps headlong into the debate on Obamacare or continues to approach it through the issue of prescription costs remains to be seen. But his maiden speech due this week on the Senate floor is getting a lot of attention. Here's Hawley with Hohmann again:

Government has a role to play. We need a shift in policy. This is why I say it is time to move beyond the old and tired policy debates of the last 30 and 40 years, which we just rehash and rehearse over and over again. ... In a weird way, our politics has kind of been captured by nostalgia in the last 10 or 15 years. As the glaring problems of the great middle of our society have become worse, in some ways politics has become more and more blinkered. It's just more trapped in the past. There's this aversion to facing things as they are. If anything, our politics has become more nostalgic and more backward-looking. We need to stop that.

Is it just me or is this a more polite version of Trump's barnstorming attacks on Washington's status quo? As Hohmann says, Senator Hawley is looking down the road a little. That seems to mean, as Hohmann puts it, Trumpism without Trump. Perhaps Hawley will regret having that written about him when he's barely spent a couple of months in the Senate, but if his ambition is as big as any of his Senate colleagues then he'll have to expect and handle any blowback after his coming out party on the Senate floor.

But regardless, Hawley has caught people's attention as a thoughtful populist.

Can he sustain it?

Posted by Keeley at May 17, 2019 1:45 PM
Comment #443535
But regardless, [Josh] Hawley has caught people’s attention as a thoughtful populist. Can he sustain it?
Not sure. Here’s more info about his voting record and positions, of which most (not all) seem reasonable to me.
Democrats will most likely hate him, since he doesn’t support the following goals of the Democrat platform.
Posted by: d.a.n at May 17, 2019 3:27 PM
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