McAuliffe looks past the Clintons, toward 2020

Terry McAuliffe thinks Hillary Clinton has said enough—which is where he comes in.

He loves her. He feels for her. He believes her 2016 campaign was sunk in part by Russians actively “destabilizing our democracy,” aided by “treasonous” Americans advising them.

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He also thinks she needs to stop talking about it.

“We, as a party, need to understand what happened,” the Virginia governor said in the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “My advice would be to Hillary, ‘There’s enough people that will do that and get that information out.’”

McAuliffe still talks to Bill Clinton every day, sometimes several times a day. They’ve talked in passing about a White House run. The former president has said he’s supportive of whatever his friend does, but keeps urging him to focus on finishing strong in Virginia.

As for Hillary Clinton, McAuliffe said she never asked him to join her PAC. He said he didn’t even know what it was called.

“What is the name of it?” he asked.

“Onward Together,” he’s told.

“Terrific,” he said.

“Like ‘Stronger Together,’” he’s reminded.

“Got it,” he said. “Very clever.”

McAuliffe has his own PAC, and his own plans: throwing himself behind the winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the job he can’t run for again (which would be an important way of protecting a record he’d want to run on), spending all of next year campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidates around the country (which just might give him important beachheads ahead of 2020), urging his party away from the purity test purge that’s all the rage these days (which would help protect him from the inevitable attacks that he’s not a true progressive, in touch with the presidential base).

“I’m trying to run a progressive state, putting progressive values out there. At the same time, making sure everybody has an opportunity for a job,” McAuliffe said in the interview. “I call it more values and a moral structure than labeling anything. The values of open and welcoming: pro-women’s rights, pro-gay rights, pro-environment, anti-gun. Those are a value system. You know, that’s who I am.”

No one should be talking about 2020, he said. He’s said he’s making the case for Democrats in 2018, that just happens to be the case for doing what he did: Clinton pitched herself as a progressive who gets things done, McAuliffe is going with a progressive who gets people jobs.

“What I’m proud of is that people who would never listen to me on these topics before, are now open to listening to me because the metrics, the job creation, they’ve had to say, ‘Well, I guess he’s right,’” he said.

But mention to top Democrats the White House run McAuliffe is cooking—by his account, still very much in we’ll-see territory, by another insider, almost down to the question of whether to announce in December ’18 or January ’19—and the word “really?” gets thrown around a lot. Bill Clinton’s best friend? The guy who went into business with Hillary’s brother, and ended up under FBI investigation? Who’s a one-name D.C. character, who already had a ridiculous nickname he was using himself 30 years ago—“Mary,” he “coos” in a 1987 Maureen Dowd column about the manic fundraising that had already made him Jimmy Carter’s national finance director at 23, “it’s your main man, the Macker. Got any wild dates this weekend?”

Separate him from the happy huckster insider caricature, and it makes more sense: a popular swing-state governor with a record to run on, a business background, and more connections to donors than any first-time presidential candidate ever. And no one outside of the circles where he’s famous for being the man working over donors or starring in Clinton conspiracy theory fan fiction knows who he is (though it is true he had a chicken named Hillary who died right before the election, replaced by Hillary Jr.).

“Anyone who first knew him 30 years ago, you would have said great fundraiser, great guy. No one would have thought of him as a plausible president,” said Bob Shrum, the Democratic consultant who knew him then, when they were working on Dick Gephardt’s 1988 campaign. “The governorship of Virginia has changed him.”

And then there’s the other thought running through Democrats about 2020—“Maybe we need our own Trump.”

He’s not the guy you can see as president of the United States, goes the thinking, and that’s exactly why he needs to run. As for the Clinton connections, he may not want to run Hillary Clinton’s third presidential campaign, but he can only run so far. They couldn’t be closer. He guaranteed the mortgage on their house in Washington.

“Another candidate might not be able to get away with that, but Terry is such a big personality and so engaging, optimistic and happy, I see how he could pull that off,” said a veteran of the Clinton orbit. “He doesn’t have the ideal bio from which to run, but he’s a good athlete.”

McAuliffe can be both kooky and confrontational, like when he sparked a mini-blowup by offering up in an interview during last year’s Democratic convention that Clinton would of course reverse herself and back the Trans Pacific Partnership once she won, or the story he tells about confronting the president at the National Governors Association dinner at the White House in February: “I looked him face to face, four inches from his eyeballs, and said, ‘Everything you have done has hurt my economy.’”

Back in his DNC chairman days, it was a reliable laugh line that he’d call every congressman “the greatest congressman in the country,” and he said he enjoys still being that guy. He takes credit for getting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi involved in the fundraising roadshow they’ve been doing together with Eric Holder on behalf of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, saying he called her with the idea the day after Clinton lost, though both had already been part of a preliminary redistricting pitch to donors in Philadelphia the afternoon before Clinton’s convention acceptance speech.

He exaggerates. He shoots his mouth off. He throws wild pitches.

He’s fine with people calling him a sort of Bizarro Trump, though he doesn’t get the reference.

“I have, luckily, boundless energy. I think everything is great. But yeah, I have fun,” McAuliffe said. “Listen, too many people are lemon suckers in politics today. I mean, at the end of the day, I have been successful by motivating people. People want to be with winners not whiners.”

In 2013, McAuliffe got more votes than any Democrat ever running for Virginia governor, but nonetheless squeaked out a 2.5-point win, despite outspending Ken Cuccinelli by $30 million and running right after the government shutdown that dented many Virginians’ bank accounts.

Republicans’ first opposition research presentation on him from 2013 is as accurate now as it would be in 2020, from the “28 lies, 21 half-truth, 2 overstatements, 2 mostly-false statements” identified in his book, to the “Special emphasis—McAuliffe the Businessman,” and “McAuliffe insists he’s not running for governor simply because he had time on his hands once Hillary Clinton’s campaign derailed.”

Then there’s the “What Manner of Man?” section that captures how despite McAuliffe driving them crazy, Republicans can’t help but like him at least a little. The bullet points:

• Restless, obsessive – routinely stays up all night with Bill Clinton

• Sleeps no more than four hours, most days

• Seven or eight cups of coffee each day

• Obsessive about golf

• Claims to have run a three-hour marathon (1980)

• Starts with a beer, before moving to something stronger

Under “Limitations,” the document reads, “Be alert to McAuliffe pals in GOP ranks,” identifying those as “golfing buddies, ex-party chairs, anyone whose support can be bought.”

“Terry McAuliffe is Bill Clinton without the women,” said Chris LaCivita, who was the general strategist for Cuccinelli’s campaign, who meant that as sort of a compliment, sort of not.

“They don’t know what to make of me,” McAuliffe has often gushed.

McAuliffe likes bragging about the record number of vetoes he’s sent back to the GOP-dominated state legislature, and said he’s proudest of restoring voting rights to felons. He’s eagerly joining national fights, joining the state Climate Alliance formed after Trump announced the withdrawal from the Paris Accord and pardoning a woman facing deportation because she was pulled over at a traffic stop because he said he wanted to make a statement even if he couldn’t stop the federal government from kicking her out.

The Virginia Republican Party is leaning in, accusing him of pardoning the woman as a ploy for George Soros’ affections ahead of 2020 to try to rustle up some more dollars. So “If the thought of President Terry McAuliffe makes you sick to your stomach give $5, $10, $25, or $50 to stop him now.”

Just wait until they dig into his record as governor, LaCivita said. Just wait until they smack him with those Clinton ties to voters, while he’s working his image over with Beltway reporters. He won’t seem so enticing then.

“Politics doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” LaCivita said. “If you were to ask a blind question on a poll, what do you think of this, does it sound good? Of course it sounds good. But so does ice cream every day for a week, until you’ve eaten it for seven days. It certainly sounds good, but then you’re stuck with the end result.”

And Democrats are still processing through the idea of this themselves. The guy who’s chased them down at parties and on the phone, running for president?

“What person,” said Jay Jacobs, the mega-donor and former New York State Democratic Party chair, “who runs for president doesn’t call me for money?”

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Virginia governor’s primary: 5 things to watch

Every four years Virginia picks a new governor, and every four years the battleground state’s results are read as a sign of what’s to come in the following year’s midterms.

This year the focus is even more intense.

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GOP establishment favorite Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, appears poised to resist a Trump-inspired challenger. But Democrats are torn between Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam, the longtime favorite, and former Rep. Tom Perriello, who unexpectedly jumped into the race in January after Donald Trump’s win.

When the polls close Tuesday, Democrats will have a clearer idea of the party’s dividing lines and Republicans will learn a little more about the vagaries of Trump-era elections. And Virginia will offer a few more clues about the shape of the off-year general election in November — when it joins New Jersey as one of just two states to elect new governors.

As Virginians go to the polls, here are POLITICO’s five things to watch:

The state of the insurgencies

There hasn’t been much primary polling. But the limited data suggests Gillespie is far ahead of his opponents, which include Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and the chair of Trump’s presidential campaign in Virginia. If that’s true, it suggests the Virginia GOP primary electorate isn’t enamored of the brand of Trump-inspired insurgent politics that have typified Stewart’s campaign.

On the Democratic side, Perriello has tried hard to run as the outsider, leaning heavily on his endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to gain attention. His closing ads feature both progressive icons, as well as footage from a rally he held with Barack Obama in 2010. Northam, by contrast, has focused more on the in-state support he has from nearly the entire Virginia Democratic establishment — including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, all of the Democrats in the General Assembly, and all but one of the state’s six Democratic members of Congress.

While Perriello has tried to tie himself to Sanders and Warren, the truth is that his politics are largely in line with Northam — the only real difference is political positioning.

“I have no doubt that the result will be over-read and misinterpreted as either a win for the establishment or a win for the insurgency, when that doesn’t reflect what the voters in the state have been hearing,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, a veteran of Virginia politics.

People close to Sanders are now worried that if Perriello loses, it might look like a repudiation of the Vermont senator’s brand of politics. But if the former congressman pulls out a victory, more moderate-minded Democrats are ready to read it as a sign that their 2018 candidates should learn to run as outsiders.

The cash gap

One reason many Virginia Democrats quietly expect Northam to win the tight race: he’s outspending Perriello by a wide margin.

The state’s no. 2 elected official has nearly doubled the former congressman’s spending on television ads, a media spending tracker told POLITICO earlier this month.

But while Northam has focused more on television, Perriello’s campaign has leaned more heavily on digital advertising. The result, therefore, may turn out to be a referendum on the effectiveness of traditional advertising strategies — like Northam’s — versus new approaches like Perriello’s.

It’s an unexpected turn: Northam has been in the race, raising money for an expected drawn-out general election, since February 2015. But Perriello’s entrance forced Northam to deplete his stockpile and step up his fundraising, putting more of a premium on the money game than expected.

How big is the electorate?

Last time there was a competitive statewide primary in Virginia, nearly 320,000 Democrats turned out. Perriello is hoping Tuesday’s number is even higher than that, while Northam would be just fine with a number similar to 2009.

Both sides will be watching the turnout with New Jersey in mind. During that state’s primaries last week, an unexpectedly high number of excited Democrats voted despite a relatively noncompetitive primary. The two states’ results rarely correlate neatly, but if Virginia’s turnout mirrors that surprise, Perriello may be in for a good night.

A Northam victory would likely come from his base of support in Hampton Roads and Norfolk, while Perriello will likely need high turnout from the central part of the state, closer to the Charlottesville-area district he represented in Congress. Both will be competing heavily for Northern Virginia — a region that may end up proving the critical swing vote in the closing days, after the Washington Post issued its influential endorsement for Northam.

For Perriello to pull out a victory, he’ll need the electorate to expand beyond traditional primary voters, including younger Virginians and any college students who may be in-state. One problem: many colleges have let out for the summer.

The nationalization of Virginia politics

A former Democratic National Committee chairman is the current governor. A former Republican National Committee chairman is running to be the next governor.

It’s all part of the ongoing nationalization of Virginia politics.

Tuesday’s primary is proving to be a test of how far the state has moved in that direction. If Gillespie wins the GOP nomination and the governorship, it will mark the fourth time since 2001 that a Virginia governor has served as a national party chairman.

Plus, said former Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Gilmore — a former RNC chair himself — a Gillespie win would also highlight the degree to which Trump’s voters there are focused on national issues, as well.

“Is Gillespie acceptable to the Trump base? My sense of things is he will be acceptable to the Trump base, because the Trump base is not focused on the issue of Gillespie versus Corey Stewart versus [state Sen.] Frank Wagner,” Gilmore said. “The Trump base is more focused on the Democrats’ behavior nationwide.”

The gravitational pull of national politics is also being felt in the Democratic primary. Perriello, who’s backed by prominent Obama administration officials and top progressive leaders, has gained attention for his stances on national issues and his forceful denunciations of President Donald Trump while Northam’s become known more for his focus on on-the-ground issues within the state.

Northam has also gone after Trump in sharp terms and Perriello has criss-crossed the state talking to voters about issues that affect them every day, but the choice between them has been caricatured as a choice between sending a national message about resisting Trump and building up the party’s reserves from the ground.

How does Trump affect the GOP base?

One of the most significant political developments of the Trump era has been the heightened engagement of the Democratic base, which is more excited about resisting the White House’s agenda and electing Democrats than it has been in years. Tuesday’s vote in Virginia will present one of the first opportunities to test whether the Republican base is following suit.

While Gillespie is expected to cruise to a comfortable win, he is likely running in a low turnout contest — which makes a surprise result possible. So Democrats will be watching the Republican side closely, not only to see whether the longtime establishment honcho can pull out a wide victory, but to see if a large portion of the GOP electorate is skeptical of him, 16 months after Trump won the state’s presidential primary.

They’ll be looking at his acceptability to the voters of Fairfax County, where Gillespie would need to keep the Democrats’ margin down in November in order to win.

“If Gillespie is performing well in Fairfax County, that’s a good sign for him in November,” said Gilmore. “If he’s performing badly [there], then you gotta worry.”

But both parties will look even more closely at the more rural parts of the state, where a Republican will likely need big winning margins in November to win the general election.

If there are signs Gillespie is struggling among Trump-friendly voters in those areas, it could be a problem for him in five months. But if those areas have a higher turnout than expected, Democrats will likely need to recalibrate their assumption that Trump will prove to be a drag on Republican candidates come 2018.

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Sessions’ loyalty to Trump will be put to the test

Jeff Sessions has been a staunch ally of Donald Trump as an early surrogate of the real estate mogul’s unconventional campaign and now as attorney general, carrying out the president’s unapologetically populist agenda.

That loyalty will be put to the test on Tuesday.

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Sessions has so far avoided public testimony on his connections to the Russia probe engulfing the Trump administration — but his hastily arranged appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee could finally unlock some answers to questions that have chased the attorney general for weeks.

Last week’s testimony from James Comey raised more questions about Sessions, especially when the fired FBI director hinted at — but declined to publicly share — information about the attorney general that Comey said would have made Sessions’ involvement in the Russia probe “problematic.”

It remains unclear exactly how much Sessions will divulge Tuesday, considering other DOJ officials — including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — cited special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe as they declined to respond to queries at a similar Intelligence hearing last week.

Still, Tuesday’s hearing is a chance for Sessions to personally push back on the record against reports of additional undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador that could add to the scandal that prompted his recusal from the probe in the first place.

Here are five things to watch as Sessions testifies on the evolving Russia controversy, which marks his first public appearance on Capitol Hill as attorney general:

Does Sessions assert executive privilege?

The attorney general may invoke executive privilege in response to questions about some of the most sensitive dealings with Trump, particularly his role in Comey’s firing that stunned Washington one month ago.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Sessions would go that route, noting it would be “premature” to speculate how the attorney general may answer questions he may face.

But Democrats, already frustrated at the lack of answers from other Trump national security officials at another intelligence committee hearing last week about their interactions with the president, are certain to mount a fierce pushback if Sessions avoids answering their questions — a move that could help protect Trump.

“These are matters that, of course, have been discussed extensively in the public square, including by the president,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Monday. “I expect that there could be an effort to blur the lines between executive privilege and classification and overclassification.”

Wyden added: “In a sense, both of them are a backdoor way to stonewall. We’re just not going to allow that.”

A DOJ spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Sessions will cite executive privilege on Tuesday. But one source familiar with plans for his testimony said he’s unlikely to talk about any direct conversations with the president.

It was unclear whether Sessions would cite executive privilege or simply say he wants to preserve the confidentiality of his discussions with Trump.

What did Comey find so ‘problematic’?

Comey threw out one major bombshell during his testimony last week: He intentionally didn’t loop Sessions in on Trump’s alleged Feb. 14 request for the FBI director to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn because he felt Sessions’ recusal from the investigation was inevitable.

Now Democrats and Republicans want to hear from Sessions why Comey would find the attorney general’s inclusion in the Russia investigation “problematic.”

“What he knew, when he knew it, and who spoke to him, essentially,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a former Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman, said in summing up her questions for Sessions.

Democrats are especially interested in the time frame between the alleged Feb. 14 encounter — by which time Comey already had concerns about Sessions’ involvement — and the attorney general’s March 2 recusal. During that time, Democrats want to know if the attorney general made any key decisions involving the Russia investigation, had access to relevant information, or briefed Trump on the matter, including during a Feb. 16 between the two men in the Oval Office.

DOJ said last week that Sessions stayed away from Russia matters even before his formal March 2 recusal, soon after his first meeting with career ethics officials at the Justice Department.

But the hearing presents Sessions with an opportunity to mount a vigorous defense of his own. The attorney general can refute on the record that he did not have a third undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

He can also tell his side of another episode recounted by Comey, when the FBI director urged Sessions to never leave him alone with the president again and Sessions allegedly had no response.

“I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me — and there’s a danger here I’m projecting onto him, so this may be a faulty memory,” Comey said last week. “But I kind of got — his body language gave me the sense like, what am I going to do?”

A Justice Department spokesman following Comey’s testimony said that Sessions did respond, pressing the FBI and DOJ to be sure to follow proper protocol regarding White House communications.

How broad is Sessions’ recusal?

Sessions is supposed to remain an arm’s length away from any investigation that touches on last year’s political campaign — yet was involved in Comey’s firing, which Trump later acknowledged had to do with the FBI director’s oversight of the federal Russia probe.

In the weeks since Comey’s dismissal, Democrats have demanded answers that can reconcile those two factors. Tuesday could be their best opportunity to pin down an answer.

An e-mail released by the Justice Department last week from Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, said the attorney general has “decided to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.”

But Democrats will insist on more specifics of what exactly that recusal entails.

What’s the impact on the Trump-Sessions relationship?

The president hasn’t exactly been giving his attorney general a vote of confidence in recent days — a surprise dynamic between the two men who have been fierce political allies well before Trump snagged the GOP presidential nomination.

Reports surfaced last week that Sessions had privately offered to resign amid sustained furor from Trump that the attorney general had recused from the Russia investigation, thereby removing a loyalist from overseeing the probe. And White House officials repeatedly declined to say whether Trump retained confidence in Sessions, stirring even more speculation about a growing rift between the two men.

Depending on what Sessions tells senators on Tuesday, that fissure may widen. Spicer, when asked Monday whether Trump was comfortable with the prospect of Sessions testifying, was circumspect.

“He’s going to testify,” Spicer told reporters. “We’re aware of it, and we’ll go from there.”

How do Republicans treat one of their own?

The testimony of Sessions presents yet another tricky balance for Senate Republicans.

They can’t appear deferential to the administration they are investigating. Yet GOP senators have long been irritated at how Democrats have treated Sessions in his new attorney general role, believing they have been unfair to someone who had been a longtime colleague and veteran of the clubby chamber.

So far, Republicans have praised Sessions’ insistence on testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee – even though the appearance comes after the attorney general cancelled twice before panels that oversee funding for the Justice Department. That decision has infuriated Democrats.

“He volunteered to testify publicly tomorrow, which he didn’t have to do, but he wants to set the record straight,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close Sessions ally and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Most of what we’ve been seeing and hearing from the critics have been gossip and innuendo and speculation, and I think the American people deserve to know the facts.”

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.

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How your job can wreck your health

During my medical training, I learned that a typical heart attack patient is a white male older than 50 who smokes cigarettes and eats red meat. So I was surprised when patients in my Silicon Valley office succumbing to uncontrolled diabetes and heart disease turned out to be 30-year-old vegetarian, non-smoking engineers from countries like India and China.

The typical risky behaviors I had learned about didn’t seem to apply to many of my tech patients. Silicon Valley employees don’t have the typical socioeconomic risks linked to diabetes and obesity that we see in less-privileged parts of the country. They are highly educated, earn great incomes and enjoy abundant employer-sponsored benefits. Instead of living in a food desert, they enjoy high-quality organic meals in their cafeterias, markets and restaurants. Techies also live in an area with year-round pristine weather and endless outdoor activities as well as onsite gyms and recreation facilities.

What was going on? That’s when I realized the habits and behaviors intrinsic to the modern work environment pose a risk for my patients.

These diseases are some of the biggest drivers of poor health and high health care costs in America. And if this younger, more advantaged cohort is struggling, it means the solutions may be even more difficult than many people assume. Employees need to be motivated to take care of themselves, and employers need to find the right strategy to help them. Providing state-of-the-art fitness facilities, healthy food options and abundant wellness resources aren’t silver bullets that help all employees achieve their health goals.

What habits and behaviors contribute to heart disease and diabetes in my patients?

First, sedentary behavior reaches epic proportions in a workplace where productivity is defined by the hours spent in front of a screen. In my clinic, I consider walking steps to be a vital sign as important as blood pressure and pulse, and my patients on average walk about 3,000 steps daily, far less than the goal of 10,000 steps a day. Twenty to 30 minutes on an elliptical machine are better than nothing, but can hardly counter the adverse metabolic effects of marathon sitting sessions. Onsite fitness facilities and classes are usually utilized by already motivated employees, but the most at-risk employees need more creative solutions to get them out of their chairs and moving.

Second, food habits are still a major challenge. Company-offered meals and snacks have definitely evolved from the early days and now include more natural plant-based options, but employers still waver between offering foods that keep employees healthy and foods that keep employees happy. Unfortunately, the two are not often interchangeable and an employee under high stress will often pass by the salad bar and head straight for high-carb comfort foods and sugary desserts. Chronically stressed workers tend to overeat or, in many cases, undereat. Either extreme can trigger conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity from caloric abundance or nutrient deficiencies that slow metabolism and trigger autoimmune health conditions.

Third, they don’t see the doctor often enough. Despite having access to world-class medical centers minutes away, many employees still are not accessing preventive health care. On a work campus with onsite restaurants, haircuts, car washes and dry cleaning, a 10-minute drive to a doctor’s office seems like an unacceptably long journey to many. To overcome this barrier, some tech companies have invested in onsite medical clinics. The company I work for, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, operates a mobile medical clinic called Care-A-Van that brings preventative health care to tech employees’ workplaces.

Last, there is too much stress. The Silicon Valley dream is the American dream on steroids. Most people who arrive here want to join or start the next billion-dollar company. Their self worth is equated to their net worth, and their plan is that “once they hit it big,” they’ll have time to focus on their health by hiring an entourage of personal trainers, chefs and support staff. They push ahead, glued to their devices, working late into the night, putting health on the back burner.

In the years that I have worked with employees in this high-stress environment, I have found a few strategies that work well, particularly when resources from the health care system, company and community merge to create integrated, team-based care.

Personalizing solutions for individual health problems is key. Many companies and health care groups have developed robust tools to evaluate the risks of large populations – and that can be very useful. However, the most effective approach is to apply the most personalized solutions to solving the health issues of highest-risk individuals. One patient’s diabetes risk may be primarily linked to sleep problems while another’s is tied to a poor diet and inactivity.

A successful example can be found in how we treat our large Asian Indian population, which unfortunately leads the world in early onset diabetes and heart disease. These patients often see me for a culturally tailored medical and lifestyle consult, and then get referred to the South Asian Heart Center, a not-for-profit community resource where they get further counseling and monthly support from volunteer health coaches.

Employers also have an important role to play. Empowering employees to take care of their health needs means a culture of health must pervade every square inch of a company, from the cafeteria to the break room, to the person in charge of catering meetings. A culture that is motivating means making sure managers are buying into that message and not just focusing on extreme levels of productivity. What if employee evaluations included the question, “Does your manager encourage a balanced lifestyle?”

Employees who have overcome health challenges should be celebrated as energetically as high producers. Some companies have designated employee health champions to help motivate peers. Often an employee can motivate a peer far more effectively than a doctor or a dietitian can. Every company has a legion of potential health champions who can inspire the rest of the troops.

Improving human health is far more complex than any other challenge Silicon Valley has taken on and no single company or provider can do it alone.

Highly talented Silicon Valley employees, — ironically, many of them working for health care start-ups, are skating a thin line between productivity, innovation and burnout. To become healthier, they need to be fully supported by their employers, their health care system and the community.

It’s time for all companies to weave health into their corporate culture and identity, rather than offering it as a “benefit.”

Ronesh Sinha is an internal medicine physician for Sutter Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation and runs wellness programs for Silicon Valley companies.

Authors:
Ronesh Sinha

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Trump’s Treasury puts consumer watchdog in crosshairs

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty

Treasury’s long-awaited report is one of a series that the department is drafting in response to a February executive order by Trump for a comprehensive review of financial regulations. | Getty

President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department called for broad changes in the way the government oversees the nation’s banks, including a plan to rein in the Democrats’ crown jewel of regulation: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In its first substantive move into the financial regulatory debate, the Treasury Department issued a report Monday calling for the popular watchdog agency to be stripped of much of what it termed its “unchecked regulatory power.”

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Republicans have been fighting the agency since the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the landmark law passed after the financial crisis that imposed new rules across the finance industry.

The report recommended curbing the consumer agency’s jurisdiction, including its supervisory authority. It also suggested a legal change allowing the president to fire the bureau’s sole director, or said the agency could be restructured into a multiperson commission.

“The CFPB’s combination of an unaccountable structure and broad, unchecked regulatory power is unprecedented,” the report said. Its sweeping authority has “led to regulatory abuses and excesses,” it charged.

The bureau was established by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who blasted the report.

“This report calls for radical changes that would make it easier for big banks to cheat their customers and spark another financial meltdown.” Warren said in a statement. She said the administration wants to “gut the agency that’s held cheaters accountable and returned more than $12 billion to consumers.”

Treasury’s long-awaited report is one of a series that the department is drafting in response to a February executive order by Trump for a comprehensive review of financial regulations, which he says are hindering U.S. economic growth. Along with a bill that House Republicans passed last week — which did not win a single Democratic vote — the report will frame the debate for the Senate as it takes up the issue.

The report recommends fundamental changes in the way regulators supervise banks. Most of its proposals will be welcomed by banks, which have spent billions of dollars to comply with the law and aren’t lobbying for Dodd-Frank’s repeal. Instead, they’ve pressed for the types of targeted changes that Treasury has recommended.

“This was a very common-sensical approach,” Consumer Bankers Association President and CEO Richard Hunt said. “If you’re a moderate Democrat, there are a lot of good things in here.”

Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, called the report “an important step to refine financial regulations to ensure that they are supporting — not inhibiting — economic expansion.”

While the bill stops well short of the Dodd-Frank overhaul that House Republicans just approved, there’s an explicit nod to the idea at the heart of the GOP legislation: Treasury agreed that a bank should be allowed to opt out of several regulations in exchange for meeting stricter capital requirements.

But the department also called for increasing power of another institution that has annoyed Republicans since Dodd-Frank’s enactment: the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a panel made up of financial regulatory heads and chaired by the Treasury secretary.

Treasury recommended that the council have the ability to appoint a lead regulator for an issue in which agencies have overlapping jurisdiction.

“FSOC should not be a replacement for the regulators,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a House subcommittee hearing Monday. “Cybersecurity is one [area] which it’s perfectly clear to me … one agency should be named as the lead agency and coordinate amongst all the rest of them.”

The report also targets one of the most controversial parts of Dodd-Frank: the so-called Volcker rule, which restricts banks’ ability to conduct risky trades with depositors’ money. The regulation, named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, was implemented jointly by five regulators.

“The regulators’ existing approach to coordination has not worked and, as a result, banks have had difficulty obtaining clear, consistent guidance,” the report said.

The report recommended that banks with fewer than $10 billion in assets be exempt from the Volcker rule, along with larger banks that either have a smaller trading portfolio or a higher capital level.

It also found that the cost for financial firms to comply with the Dodd-Frank law are so steep that it is difficult for many Americans to get home loans.

The report suggested an update to the Community Reinvestment Act, which encourages banks to serve the credit needs of the local community, to account for the internet, which has changed the scope and reach of services that banks offer.

Treasury will issue three other reports in connection with the February executive order. They will cover capital markets; asset management and insurance industries; and non-bank financial institutions, including financial technology companies.

Lorraine Woellert and Colin Wilhelm contributed to this report.

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