Potomac Chronicle

What a Box of Honey Nut Cheerios Says About Today’s Politics

Honey Nut Cheerios -- America’s bestselling cereal -- won’t be the same anymore. Thanks to an epic battle in Vermont, every box of the friendly oats from General Mills contains a new label confirming the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Outside Vermont, General Mills doesn’t have to include the GMO label. But Jeff Harmening, the company’s chief operating officer for U.S. retail, told a reporter that “having one system for Vermont and one for everywhere else is untenable.” So, as Vermont goes, so goes the nation.  READ MORE

Millennials and Homeownership

Demographics is, in some ways, an exact science, built on hard evidence and solid numbers. But trying to make sense of current statistics can be tricky. Take, for example, the ongoing changes in the U.S. housing market. They will have significant repercussions for states, cities, suburbs and even Congress. But it’s not entirely clear what those repercussions will be.

Members of the millennial generation -- roughly those ages 24 to 35 -- have not been buying many houses lately, for reasons both cultural and economic. A faltering economy has hurt younger people disproportionately. In the past decade their incomes almost stalled, while the older age groups saw a combined increase of 11 percent. Plus, they’re carrying the crushing burden of student debt, at a level of more than $1 trillion nationally, triple what it was only a decade ago. READ MORE

Lobbyists Leave Capitol Hill for the States

Shelly LeGere, a grieving mother from Elmhurst, Ill., is an unlikely symbol of the changing face of lobbying in America. Her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, died from anaphylactic shock, most likely from something she ate. When a police officer arrived, LeGere asked, “Don’t you have anything? What can we do?” 

First responders rushed Annie to the hospital. But they weren’t equipped with an epinephrine injector, most commonly known as an EpiPen, and she didn’t get treatment fast enough. Annie died nine days later. To try to save other victims, LeGere launched a campaign to equip first responders with EpiPens. In doing so, she became part of a national effort spearheaded by the manufacturer of the EpiPen, Mylan Inc.  READ MORE

Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Decay

You don’t need to convince the citizens of the nation’s capital  that we are in an infrastructure crisis. They see it all around them and experience it in their daily lives.

The biggest single reminder is the U.S. Capitol, which can be seen throughout the district. It’s shrouded in scaffolding as construction is underway to repair more than 1,000 cracks and deficiencies in the cast-iron dome, originally built more than 150 years ago. It’s the first time in 56 years the structure has been redone, and the job will cost a projected $60 million. READ MORE

College Debt and the People Presidential Candidates Have to Win Over Most

Stan Greenberg, the veteran Democratic pollster, believes he’s found a wedge. Capturing three key groups, he argues, could help Democrats win the White House and regain the Senate. They need, he says, white unmarried women, white women without college degrees and millennials. To win the support of all three, Greenberg recommends Democrats focus on making college more affordable and helping families get rid of college debt. 

Bernie Sanders campaigned hard on these themes in the early stages of his presidential bid, and they paid off handsomely for him. In Iowa, his promise of free college education helped him win 84 percent of the millennial vote, compared with 14 percent for Hillary Clinton. The gambit was especially important because many of the millennials who helped put Barack Obama into the White House had been drifting toward the Republicans. Not to be left on the sidelines, Clinton announced her own higher education plan. Both are working hard to capture this big middle-class issue. READ MORE