Peterson Weighs In on Objections to Becerra’s Nomination

An article examining opposition to the confirmation of Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra cited Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson. Conservative groups are targeting Becerra’s long track record in support of government-run health care, calling it “hostile to our current system.” However, the article from Politifact and Kaiser Health News noted that President Joe Biden does not support “Medicare for All,” meaning that Becerra’s ability to advance it would be constrained if he is confirmed. Becerra is California’s attorney general, and Peterson said Republicans have a history of painting Democrats from the state as “socialists.” “They’re arguing it’s just showing the infiltration of the radical socialist California state into the federal government,” Peterson said. “But this is ridiculous, because there are not socialist politics, per se, happening in California, and often the California Democrats in Washington are moderate.”

Peterson on Lawmakers and Voters Breaking Away From the GOP

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to the American Independent about the decision of some Republicans to leave their party after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. While many GOP officials stand by Trump, an unusually high number of current and former lawmakers, as well as voters, are quitting the party, deepening its ideological divide. Peterson said that while the exodus is a break from the norm, the long-term impact is unclear. Continued attention on Trump’s performance in office might reduce his hold on voters, he said. The article also noted that party dynamics may change if GOP lawmakers struggle to get out the vote without Trump on the ticket.

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Peterson on Unfortunate Politicization of COVID-19 Vaccine

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson was featured on Scholars’ Circle, a nationally distributed radio program and podcast, about the U.S. response to COVID-19. As cases spike across the country, newly approved vaccines promise some relief. However, Peterson noted that we have never been so divided as a country. “The emergence of a vaccine ought to be a positive for everyone, but instead it’s caught up in all the distrust,” he said. The incoming Biden-Harris administration is not getting the necessary information about plans for distributing the vaccine, which will be a significant challenge, he said. “None of this should be affected by politics or partisanship or polarization in the country,” Peterson said, noting that President Donald Trump and his administration “have made it all the more complicated by sowing distrust in people.” Moving forward, Peterson stressed the importance of “providing resources to allow people to make it through without financial disaster and support public health provisions at the same time.”

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Peterson on Becerra’s Impact on California’s Progressive Agenda

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke with Kaiser Health News about prospects that California’s health care agenda will grow more progressive once the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, is elevated to the nation’s top health care post. In his three decades of political experience, Becerra has been a strong advocate of health-care reforms including a state-level single-payer system, environmental justice and protecting immigrants’ access to safety-net care. Many California Democrats believe his selection as the next U.S. secretary of health and human services will give them a strong federal ally who will help make the state a laboratory for progressive ideas. Should Becerra back a progressive health agenda in California, similar proposals could follow in other states, Peterson said. “California has pushed the envelope on health care beyond where other states are,” he said. “And that gives more capacity for California sensibilities and ideas to get into the mix in Washington.”

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Peterson on Urgency of COVID-19 Coordination

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to the National Interest about the Trump administration’s refusal to begin coordinating with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team on a national coronavirus response. Public health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a coordinated White House transition is absolutely critical at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. Mishandling the transition could have “enormous consequences,” Peterson said. “How are we going to coordinate the rapid distribution of vaccines across the country? They need to be produced and distributed, and that all relies on massive coordination,” he said. Peterson also noted that the lack of personal protective equipment has continued to hurt many states and hospitals. “We need complete transparency in coordination” in these efforts to help protect front-line workers and the general public, he said.

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Saving Face and Raising Money Are Behind Election Lawsuits, Peterson Says

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about President Trump’s refusal to concede loss of the 2020 election. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in battleground states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, claiming that the Democrats are trying to “steal the election” through fraud. According to Peterson, these suits have been brought without evidence. “Donald Trump as an individual just cannot accept loss, and no one around him wants to take on the force of his personality, internal hurts and capacity to lash out,” Peterson said. He sees the “simulated controversy” as a last-ditch effort to save face and an opportunity to keep money flowing into the Trump campaign to pay off debts and finance the Republican National Committee. He added that the GOP needs the conservative base in Georgia to “remain highly agitated and energized” for the high-stakes Senate runoff elections in January.

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As Election Results Roll In, UCLA Luskin Experts Offer Insights

As the vote count from the 2020 election stretched into days, media outlets called on experts from UCLA Luskin to offer context and expertise. Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily for a story on President Trump’s swift declaration of victory, which he called “the most serious assault on our democratic institutions of any president, at least in modern times.” Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, offered insights on KTLA5 News, Peacock TV and radio programs including KPCC’s Air Talk (beginning at minute 19:30). Diaz spoke about a wide range of topics, including the Latino electorate’s impact in Florida and Arizona as well as on local ballot measures. Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky told KCAL9 News (beginning at minute 3:00) that the close presidential race vote signals a deep tribalism in the nation. “However it ends,” he said, “it’s going to be a very difficult road ahead for the country.” Yaroslavsky also told the Los Angeles Times that challenger Nithya Raman’s lead in a Los Angeles City Council race is “a political earthquake.”


Peterson on Health Care as a Voter Priority

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to NPR about the role that access to health care has played in the 2020 election. Republicans who previously pushed for repealing and replacing Obamacare have skirted the issue this year, as voters have expressed overwhelming support for protections such as guaranteed coverage for those with preexisting medical conditions. Opposing the Affordable Care Act is “political suicide” in this election cycle, Peterson said. “There doesn’t seem to be any real political advantage anymore.” He also called the latest effort to strike down the ACA, which is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, an “extraordinary stretch, even among many conservative legal scholars.” Peterson was also cited in a Kaiser Health News story on the election’s impact on California’s progressive health care ambitions and in a piece by the Spanish news agency EFE comparing President Trump’s crowded campaign rallies to Democrat Joe Biden’s physically distant events.

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Peterson on Scenarios for a Messy Election Aftermath

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about a post-election scenario that has raised concerns: What would happen if President Trump lost reelection but refused to give up power? Trump has made multiple comments suggesting that he would not commit to stepping down if he lost the election. According to Peterson, this scenario is highly unlikely. Election results are verified through the Electoral College and then declared by Congress, he explained. An incumbent president who fails to win a second term yet refuses to leave the White House may be escorted off the premises by the newly elected president’s Secret Service detail once power changes hands on Inauguration Day. Peterson added that Trump’s claims of voter fraud are baseless and “undermine the confidence that people have in our institutions and in our elected officials.” And he expressed concern about potential violence from informal right-wing militias who might be triggered into action by a Trump loss.

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Ideas and Expertise Exchanged at Post-Debate Forum

The UCLA Luskin Public Policy community came together after the final presidential debate of 2020 to hear insights from an array of experts on the U.S. political landscape: Dean Gary Segura, an authority on polls and other measures of political opinion; Chair Martin Gilens, whose research focuses on political inequality; Professor Mark Peterson, who specializes in health-care policy; Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative; and Chad Dunn, director of litigation for the UCLA Voting Rights Project. During the 90-minute Zoom gathering, the speakers assessed the exchange between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which was deemed a step up from previous matchups, then fielded questions from students and alumni. The conversation touched on the accuracy of polling, the threat of voter intimidation, the electoral pathway to victory for each candidate, and even the risk that the country might veer toward fascism. Unless the vote count is tied up amid irregularities in a single, decisive state — as it was in Bush v. Gore in the 2000 race —Segura said the chance that the election’s outcome will be seriously challenged is small. “Try not to let the demons in your head and the demons from 2016 keep you awake at night,” he advised. The conversation was part of a series of forums designed to bring policy students, alumni, faculty and staff together to share concerns, perspectives and experiences within an informed and supportive community. At the next Policy Forum, on Nov. 5, faculty experts will parse the results of the election.