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Biden health care plan would build on Obamacare

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his anticipated health care plan on Monday, framing it as a more achievable way to expand coverage than those proposed by some of his progressive rivals by building on what he has called the “crown jewel” of the Obama administration —  the Affordable Care Act.

Americans would have the option of buying into a “Medicare-like” plan or keeping their private insurance under the Biden plan, which would also aim to reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to undercut the law. People living in Republican-led states that failed to expand Medicaid would be given premium free access to Medicaid.

The Biden plan would change provisions in the Affordable Care Act to improve access to health care by eliminating the 400 percent income cap on tax credit eligibility, base tax credits on gold plans rather than silver ones and ensure that those buying insurance in the individual marketplace spend 8.5 percent of their income on insurance, which is down from the previous 9.86 percent cap.

The total cost of the Biden plan is estimated to be $750 billion over the next 10 years, which would mostly be paid for by repealing President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and returning the top tax rate to 39.6 percent. 

A Biden campaign official added that as president, Biden would use a combination of executive orders to undo the changes the Trump administration has done to weaken existing health care law.

Biden’s plan also calls for the end of the Hyde Amendment, a provision that prevents federal funding for abortions unless a child is conceived through rape or incest or the mother’s health is in jeopardy. 

Biden’s health care plan rollout coincides with the increase of critiques he has recently launched against his Democratic opponents who support scraping the Affordable Care Act and transitioning to a primarily government-run system like Medicare-for-All. 

“On health care, I admire the rest of the field from Bernie to Elizabeth to Kamala who want Medicare-for-All. But let me tell you, I think one of the most significant things we've done is pass the Affordable Care Act,” Biden told supporters at a house party in Atkinson, NH Saturday.

Biden has repeatedly said since the Democratic debate that he would oppose any Republican or Democrat who wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

Biden plans to unveil his health care plan publicly at several stops in Iowa this week, starting at the AARP forum on Monday and holding a billed “rural health care event” Tuesday. 

PACs funded by crypto executives face first tests in Tuesday’s primaries

The crypto executives behind multiple super PACs this cycle will get their first chances at victory next week in a handful of House primaries as they flood Democratic races with cash.

The super PACs Protect Our Future and Web3Forward have spent a combined $8 million on ads in next week’s primaries so far, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.

The bulk of that spending has been focused on Oregon’s 6th District, Protect Our Future has spent over $6.5 million on ads supporting former government contractor Carrick Flynn’s election. The 6th District is brand new, created due to population gain during redistricting in the state.

Protect Our Future is a new group funded by crypto executives including Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the crypto currency exchange FTX. The PAC has endorsed nearly a dozen candidates and lawmakers and claims to be focused on candidates who take long--term stances on certain legislation, particularly related to pandemic preparedness.

The amount of money spent on Flynn significantly outweighs the money spent on any other candidate in the race, which include veteran and businessman Cody Reynolds, internal medicine Dr. Kathleen Harder, and former state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who has the support of BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. House Majority PAC, a group tied to top congressional Democrats, has also spent in Flynn’s favor. 

Protect Our Future has also spent significantly in two other open Democratic primaries in deep blue districts – Kentucky’s 3rd District and North Carolina’s 4th district.

In North Carolina, the group has spent $625,000 on ads supporting state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who’s running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. David Price. She’s been endorsed by EMILY’s List, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and other members of Congress.

Her most notable opponent is Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who’s been endorsed by progressive lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is also running.

In Kentucky, Protect Our Future has poured $591,000 into ads supporting state Sen. Morgan McGarvey. McGarvey faces one opponent, state Rep. Attica Scott, in his bid for an open seat to replace retiring Rep. John Yarmuth. 

Another crypto-backed super PAC has spent heavily on the open seat race in Oregon’s 4th District. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio is retiring, leaving a reliably Democratic seat open. He and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., have endorsed Val Hoyle, Oregon’s Labor Commissioner.

Web3 Forward, which is tied to another PAC funded by crypto executives from companies like Coinbase and FTX, has spent $286,000 on ads supporting Hoyle. The PAC “supports Democratic candidates committed to making the next generation internet more secure, open and owned by the users,” according to the group’s website.

Web3Forward so far endorsed three Democratic candidates in primaries – Hoyle, Sydney Kamlager in California and Jasmine Crockett in Texas, who’s facing a primary runoff later this month.

Super PACs target Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania Senate race

A pair of super PACs launched two new TV ads Friday morning attacking conservative commentator Kathy Barnette as she surges in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary. 

The ads come as former President Donald Trump, who has backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race, and Barnette’s opponents target her as she has turned the race between Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick into a three-way contest. 

Honor Pennsylvania, a pro-McCormick super PAC that’s spent $16.1 million largely attacking Oz, launched an ad where a narrator asks, “What do we really know about Kathy Barnette?” 

The spot goes on to accuse Barnette of supporting the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and of saying, “I was not a Trumper,” citing her Twitter feed and her book.  

Another super PAC, USA Freedom Fund, launched a new ad blasting Barnette for supporting the building of a statue of former President Barack Obama.

The ad starts by mentioning comments Obama made about conservatives in 2008, saying some conservative voters are bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them.”

“Remember how that made you feel?” the ad’s narrator asks. He adds, “One candidate for Senate doesn't care. In fact, Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”

The ad references a Change.org petition that appears to be written by Barnette, advocating for erecting statues of Obama, his family and abolitionist Frederick Douglas in Washington, D.C. The petition was written two years ago. NBC News hasn’t independently verified whether Barnette was indeed the person who wrote the petition.

USA Freedom Fund previously supported former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel’s unsuccessful run for Senate.

New ads target GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn in primary race

A super PAC supporting one of GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn's primary challengers launched two new ads targeting the controversial congressman ahead of next week’s primary in North Carolina. 

Cawthorn, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, has been at the center of numerous scandals. 

The first-term congressman, who faced sexual harassment allegations in his first bid, drew criticism for his repeated lies and aggressive rhetoric about the 2020 election; he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug” and he said that he had been invited to drug-fueled sex parties by other lawmakers. And he’s also been the subject of leaked photos and videos of a sexual nature that attempt to paint Cawthorn in a negative light. 

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post / via Getty Images file

The new spots from the outside group Results for NC slam Cawthorn for falsely claiming an accident prevented him from attending the Naval Academy, even though he had already been rejected prior to the accident. 

One of the new ads labels Cawthorn an untrustworthy “playboy politician,” and flashes one of those leaked images. The other spot features a woman veteran who is backing state Sep. Chuck Edwards in the May 17 primary. 

Results for NC has spent the most on the airwaves of any campaign or outside group in the 11th District so far, dropping $739,000 on ads, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. 

Edwards has picked up endorsements as Cawthorn has racked up headlines. North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is supporting the state senator. 

If no candidate wins more than 30 percent of the primary vote on Tuesday, the top two contenders head to a primary runoff in July.

Beasley internal poll shows dead heat in North Carolina Senate general election

North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley's internal campaign polling shows her in a statistical tie with the two Republican frontrunners squaring off in next week's Senate primary. 

In a new polling memo shared with NBC News, Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is tied with Republican Rep. Ted Budd at 45 percent in a general election matchup with 10 percent undecided. Beasley trails former Gov. Pat McCrory in a separate matchup with McCrory at 45, Beasley at 44 and 11 percent undecided. 

The live-caller poll of 800 likely general election voters taken from April 28 through May 4 has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent, meaning that the polling shows Beasley in a statistical dead heat with either of the two Republicans. The poll tested head-to-head matchups, which don't capture third-party candidates that may be on the ballot (last cycle, conservative third-party candidates pulled about 4 percent of the vote in the Senate race). 

The memo includes favorability ratings for all three candidates, suggesting that the raucous GOP primary may have affected how voters view McCrory and Budd, even while Beasley remains known to a smaller portion of the general electorate. 

McCrory, who served four years as the state's governor, has a favorable rating in the poll from 33 percent of the likely general electorate, compared to a 45 percent unfavorable rating. Budd has a 28 percent favorable rating and a 30 percent unfavorable rating. 

By comparison, Beasley has a 30 percent favorable rating and a 15 percent unfavorable rating in the poll.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, center, laughs with husband Curtis Owens, right, while son Matthew Owens, watches, before she speaks with reporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 24, 2022.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, center, laughs with husband Curtis Owens, right, while son Matthew Owens, watches, before she speaks with reporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 24, 2022.Gary D. Robertson / AP file

 

The memo also suggests Beasley leads Budd with suburban voters and white college-educated voters, but the full crosstabs of the poll were not included. 

Most public polls show a tight contest in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 2008 but did elect a Democratic governor in 2016, when Roy Cooper defeated McCrory. Former President Donald Trump won the state in the 2020 presidential election, defeating President Biden by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent. 

The race is expected to draw tens of millions in ad spending — the GOP backed Senate Leadership Fund has $22 million of ad time booked in the race already after primary day, per the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. And Politico reported Thursday that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is buying $6.5 million in advertising time in the state with ads starting Friday. 

Biden's influence to be tested in Oregon on Tuesday

Most high profile primary elections this cycle have been viewed at least partially as a test of former President Trump’s power of the Republican Party through the success of candidates he's endorsed. But on Tuesday, we’ll have the first chance to see how far President Joe Biden’s power extends as his first endorsed candidate faces a challenge in Oregon’s Democratic primary for the 5th congressional district.

Biden is backing Rep. Kurt Schrader as he faces a challenge from public official Jamie McLeod-Skinner who has attacked Schrader for taking “millions in corporate PAC money” as he “sold out to big pharma.” 

Schrader has defended himself on the airwaves, citing his record fighting for lower prescription drug prices and affordable healthcare.

He’s spent over $1.8 million on ads already, with five days to go until the primary. Two groups — Center Forward and Mainstream Democrats — have also spent money on the airwaves to support Schrader and attack McLeod-Skinner. They’ve spent a combined $1.3 million, according to AdImpact.

Center Forward in particular has run ads highlighting the fact that McLeod-Skinner was fired from a position as city manager in Phoenix, Oregon, in 2018 for being too antagonistic.

McLeod-Skinner has spent just over $250,000 on ads. She also trails Schrader in fundraising, raising almost $700,000 so far this cycle compared to the over $2 million Schrader has raised, according to the FEC

She’s also run for Congress before. In 2018, she ran for and won the Democratic nomination for Oregon’s 2nd district, but was defeated in the general election by then-Rep. Greg Walden.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report rates this district as Lean Democratic, but there's a chance Republicans could flip the seat in November. On that side of the aisle, Jimmy Crumpacker and Lori Chavez-DeRemer are engaged in a tight primary. 

Crumpacker ran for the state’s 2nd district in 2020, but came fourth in the GOP primary. Chavez-DeRemer served as mayor of Happy Valley from 2010 to 2018.

Chavez-DeRemer has raised $669,000 so far this cycle, while Crumpacker trails slightly, having raised $541,000, according to the FEC. He also slightly trails her in ad spending. According to AdImpact, Chavez-DeRemer has spent $286,000 on ads so far, while Crumpacker has spent $254,000.

Club for Growth goes in for Barnette in late Pennsylvania Senate primary push

The Club for Growth is coming to the aid of conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, whose Pennsylvania GOP primary candidacy has gained steam in recent days, with a new $2 million ad buy hoping to magnify her surge. 

It's the Club's first expenditure of the primary, a biographical spot that features Barnette talking about her roots growing up on a rural pig farm and serving in the military before pivoting to her attacking Democrats.

"Kathy Barnette is a principled conservative and a fighter who will take on the socialists in Washington to preserve the American Dream for generations to come,” David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth Action, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting Barnette in her race to become the next Senator from Pennsylvania.”

The spending push is good enough to make the Club the top spender in the race's final week, a shake-up on airwaves that have long been dominated by the efforts supporting celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and businessman David McCormick. 

Up until this point, the pro-Barnette effort has been virtually non-existent on the airwaves. The pro-McCormick and Oz outfits alone have outspent Barnette's campaign (she's had no outside help until this week) by a margin of more than 328-to-1. 

It's also another marquee race where the Club is breaking from former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Oz. The Club's preferred candidate in Ohio's recent Senate race, former Treasurer Josh Mandel, lost to author J.D. Vance, Trump's pick. But the two were aligned in Tuesday's West Virginia primary, backing Rep. Alex Mooney over Rep. David McKinley. 

McCormick dodges Trump question ahead of Pennsylvania primary

Former hedge fund manager David McCormick would rather not get into how he plans to win Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary next week without former President Donald Trump's support. 

McCormick is trying to win over Republican voters ahead of the May 17 contest, while Trump has endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race. 

Asked after a campaign event in Tunkhannoc, Pa., how he plans to win without Trump, McCormick responded, "Listen, I'm not doing any more interviews." 

The dodge underscores the challenge McCormick faces in trying to win over the Trump faithful without the former president's backing. On Monday McCormick launched a new TV ad featuring footage of Trump praising McCormick and images of Trump and McCormick together. 

On Tuesday Ozreleased his own ad rebutting McCormick's spot, featuring footage of Trump calling McCormick "a liberal Wall Street Republican." 

For more coverage of Pennsylvania's Senate race, tune into Meet the Press Daily's special report from the Keystone State at 1 pm E.T on MSNBC.

Infrastructure vote threatens one House Republican. What about the others?

Former President Donald Trump has promised to exact revenge on Republicans who supported the bipartisan infrastructure package. And one of his best chances to do so comes Tuesday in West Virginia’s 2nd District. 

“If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way,” Trump warned in a July statement as senators were negotiating the package. 

On the same day President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure package into law in November, Trump announced he was backing West Virginia GOP Rep. Alex Mooney in his primary against GOP Rep. David McKinley, who voted for the package. Mooney and McKinley were forced to run for the same seat due to redistricting, since the Mountain State lost a House seat. 

Rep. Alex Mooney, Republican candidate in West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, attends a "Save America" rally in Greensburg, Pa, on May 6, 2022.
Rep. Alex Mooney, Republican candidate in West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, attends a "Save America" rally in Greensburg, Pa, on May 6, 2022.Gene J. Puskar / AP

The two congressmen are in a hotly contested race that’s attracted a few million dollars in ad spending from their campaigns and outside groups. But the other six House Republicans who bucked their party to vote for the infrastructure package, and are still running for re-election, aren’t facing similar contests.

Trump has not yet endorsed primary challengers against those House members, even as he’s made his displeasure known. 

At a rally in Nebraska earlier this month, Trump called GOP Rep. Don Bacon a “bad guy,” and wished his primary challenger “good luck.” But Trump stopped short of endorsing the challenger, roofer Steve Keuhl.  Bacon’s primary is also set for Tuesday, but Keuhl has only raised $5,000 and didn’t have any money left in his campaign account as of March 31.

Trump has said he still supports New York GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis despite her vote for the package. But her race is still uncertain with New York’s congressional lines in flux. Fellow New York GOP Rep. Andrew Gabarino also voted for the infrastructure package. 

Two New Jersey Republicans — Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew — also voted for the bill. So did Pennsylvania Rep. Brain Fitzpatrick, whose primary is set for May 17, but he does not face any well-funded challengers from the right. 

Of course Trump could still try to elevate a primary challenger against one of these Republicans, but so far the West Virginia race is his best opportunity to take down a GOP lawmaker who crossed the aisle.  

Five of the House Republicans who voted for the package — New York Reps. John Katko and Tom Reed, Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton — are not running for re-election. Another Republican who voted for the package, Alaska Rep. Don Young, died in March.

Data Download: Big money flooded into Tuesday's West Virginia Republican primary clash

The GOP primary in West Virginia's 2nd District is the crown jewel of the state's primary on Tuesday — the member-on-member clash has drawn $4.1 million in ad spending, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. 

Voters head to the polls there today to choose between two GOP congressmen, David McKinley and Alex Mooney, in the first incumbent vs. incumbent primary of the year.

Mooney’s campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million on the airwaves, while McKinley’s campaign has spent $1.2 million. Outside groups have also jumped into the race, with Club for Growth Action and School Freedom Fund dropping a combined $931,000 to bolster Mooney. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Defending Main Street super PAC have spent a combined $423,000 supporting McKinley.

Rep. David McKinley
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., speaks at his town hall meeting on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., on April 25, 2022.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP

Both candidates reference former President Donald Trump in their closing ads, although Mooney has Trump’s endorsement. In Mooney’s closing spot, a narrator says, “President Trump warned us about RINOs, sellouts and known losers. David McKinley proved him right,” knocking McKinley for supporting the bipartisan infrastructure package and a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

McKinley’s latest ad on the airwaves goes after the Club for Growth’s spending, with a narrator saying, “Mooney and his Washington special interest group are spending millions lying about David McKinley. Just like they did about President Trump.”

Club for Growth faces tests of its sway in May primaries

The conservative Club for Growth’s sway in GOP primaries will face key tests in May, with half of the candidates being backed by its PAC so far in 2022 facing primaries this month. The contests also come as the group’s past opposition to former President Donald Trump has faced new scrutiny. 

So far the Club for Growth’s independent expenditure arm, known as Club for Growth Action, has spent $25.9 million on ads to support its candidates in May primaries, with the most of that spending centered on three Senate races, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. 

Image: A voter fills in her ballot during primary voting on May 3, 2022 in Lordstown, Ohio.
A voter fills in her ballot during primary voting on May 3, 2022 in Lordstown, Ohio.Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

The group did not succeed in helping one of its preferred Senate candidates, former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, win the GOP nod. Author J.D. Vance, who had Trump’s endorsement, won the primary last week instead. 

That race sparked a clash between Trump world and the Club, which has been a staunch Trump ally after initially opposing Trump’s candidacy in 2016. 

That past has even popped up in races where both the Club and Trump are backing the same candidate. In West Virginia, GOP Rep. David McKinley highlighted the group’s past opposition to Trump to push back on the Club’s involvement in the 2nd District race in which he is facing fellow GOP Rep. Alex Mooney. Trump and the Club are both backing Mooney in the contest. 

McKinley launched a new ad this week saying the Club, which has spent $571,000 on ads boosting Mooney, was “lying about David McKinley, just like they did about Trump.”  

Club for Growth spokesman Joe Kildea wrote in an email to NBC News that the group has “no concerns” that its past opposition to Trump will become a more prominent issue in GOP primaries. 

“We are confident that we will win most of our races this month,” Kildea wrote.

Ohio isn’t the only place where the Club is at odds with the former president. 

In Alabama’s Senate race, the Club has stuck by GOP Rep. Mo Brooks even after Trump withdrew his support. So far Club for Growth Action, has spent $4.3 million on ads to bolster Brooks. 

And in Georgia’s 6th District, the Club is backing Rick McCormick, the 2020 nominee, in the May 24 primary, although the group has not yet spent on the airwaves. Trump endorsed another candidate in that race, attorney Jake Evans, on Thursday.

But the Club is largely aligned with Trump in other key primaries. So far the group has spent $11 million on ads backing GOP Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina’s Senate primary, set for May 17. The Club has also spent nearly $1.1 million ads to support Trump-backed law student Bo Hines in the open seat race in North Carolina’s 13th District.

Wisconsin Senate politics to make appearance in Game 4 of Bucks-Celtics

When the Milwaukee Bucks face off against the Boston Celtics on Monday night in Game 4 of an intense playoff series, some viewers will be reminded of another contest — Wisconsin's competitive Democratic Senate primary.

A new ad from Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, first obtained by NBC News, takes aim at Alex Lasry, the wealthy former Bucks executive who’s rising in the polls and easily outspending his opponents in TV and digital ads.

In it, Nelson, competing against Lasry, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski for the chance to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in the fall, criticizes the $250 million of public money that went into building Fiserv Forum, the home of the Bucks.

Wearing a sweatband and a green jersey with the number 34 on it, the number worn by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nelson says he's rooting for his home team.

“What I’m not rooting for is using your tax dollars to make billionaires richer,” Nelson says in the ad. “We paid a quarter of a billion dollars for the Fiserv Forum, even more than Foxconn, every dollar spent was taken from schools, roads, tax relief, things that benefit all of us.” 

Lasry, thanks in part to his deep pockets, is quickly becoming a threat in a race in which Barnes had long been considered the favorite and Nelson has been trying to gain steam when he's been vastly outspent. In recent days he has been ramping up his attacks on Lasry, calling on the Lasry family to refund taxpayers. 

Lasry has defended the investment, pointing to evidence that the arena has quickly become an economic driver for Milwaukee.

A Marquette Law School poll in late April had Barnes leading Lasry by just 3 points, with Treasurer Sarah Godlewski following with 7 percent support and Nelson with 5 percent. 

In 2015, the state approved a $250 million investment in a funding deal to help build Fiserv Forum. At the time of the deal, then-Bucks head coach Jason Kidd made a prediction.

“Will the new arena be hosting NBA Finals games within a few years? I`m not one to predict, but I think we look forward to our future,” Kidd said, according to a report by Fox News Milwaukee in 2015. “We have a chance to grow, get better each day, and our goal is to hold that gold trophy in that new arena.” 

When the prediction came true last year, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s editorial page applauded the state’s investment, noting the arena now draws tens of thousands of fans to Milwaukee’s downtown, who then pour into nearby restaurants and bars.  

“All of Wisconsin has a share in the Bucks’ remarkable rise from small-market doormat to NBA champions,” read an editorial in the Journal-Sentinel just after the Bucks claimed the NBA championship last year. “None of it would have happened without a new arena, built with $250 million of public money.”