MacArthur Quits ‘Clearly Divided’ Tuesday Group

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) resigned as co-chairman of the caucus of GOP moderates known as the Tuesday Group “in the wake of deep divisions among its members over the House Obamacare replacement bill he helped craft,” Politico reports.

Said MacArthur: “You can’t lead people where they don’t want to go. I think some people in the group just have a different view of what governing is.”

Trump Was Not Always So Linguistically Challenged

STAT reviewed decades of Trump’s on-air interviews and compared them to Q&A sessions since his inauguration. The differences are striking and unmistakable.”

“Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.”

“In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions.”

Democrats Have Suddenly Changed in the Trump Era

Ben Smith: “Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party. While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.”

“I know, it’s been a distracting month. So you’re forgiven if you missed the big development on the Democratic Party policy front: the call for ‘a large-scale, permanent program of public employment and infrastructure investment.’ That plan, titled A Marshall Plan for America, came not from Bernie Sanders but from the Center for American Progress, the Clintonite Washington think tank John Podesta led. The proposal breaks in tone and substance with the Clinton–Obama focus on an economy led and dominated by the private sector.”

“The plan’s radicalism, CAP President Neera Tanden told me, is aimed at a jobs crisis that they’re talking about with an urgency that was absent from the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration.”

Ex-CIA Chief Was Concerned About Trump Ties to Russia

Former CIA director John Brennan said for first time that he became concerned last year that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act — wittingly or unwittingly — on Moscow’s behalf, the New York Times reports.

Said Brennan: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

Eric Garcetti is Headed to Wisconsin

Politico: “The Los Angeles mayor and his staff like to say his trip to the state Hillary Clinton famously forgot to pay attention to last year — he’ll keynote the state Democratic convention June 2 — is because the state party finance director is a friend who used to fundraise for him, or that he was just such a hit when he spoke to the Wisconsin delegation during the Democratic convention last year that they invited him for more.”

“Or, crazy as it may seem right now, it’s exactly what you think.”

Trump Proposes Selling Half of Strategic Oil Reserve

“The White House plan to trim the national debt includes selling off half of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile, part of a broad series of changes proposed by President Trump to the federal government’s role in energy markets,” Bloomberg reports.

“The proposal also seeks to boost government revenues by allowing oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, ending the practice of sharing oil royalties with states along the Gulf of Mexico and selling off electricity transmission lines in the West. Like much of the budget, those moves are likely to face opposition in Congress.”

Trump’s Budget Defies Logic

Larry Summers: “Details of President Trump’s first budget have now been released. Much can and will be said about the dire social consequences of what is in it and the ludicrously optimistic economic assumptions it embodies.  My observation is that there appears to be a logical error of the kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory economics course.”

“Apparently, the budget forecasts that U.S. economic growth will rise to 3.0 percent because of the administration’s policies — largely its tax cuts and perhaps also its regulatory policies.  Fair enough if you believe in tooth fairies and ludicrous supply-side economics.”

“Then the administration asserts that it will propose revenue neutral tax cuts with the revenue neutrality coming in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth! This is an elementary double count.  You can’t use the growth benefits of tax cuts once to justify an optimistic baseline and then again to claim that the tax cuts do not cost revenue. At least you cannot do so in a world of logic.”

Vox: Trump’s budget relies on magic economic growth.

Burr Says Flynn Could Be Held In Contempt

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) “is not ruling out holding Michael Flynn in contempt of Congress as President Trump’s former national security adviser continues to stonewall Congress,” Politico reports.

Burr said his committee has “plenty” of options to respond: “You’ll just have to wait and watch. Contempt is certainly one of the avenues that we could pursue. It does us no good to have people insist on pleading the Fifth if you’re out trying to get information. The only thing I can tell you is immunity is off the table.”

Quote of the Day

“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they’d like that term. They’d think that’s a great name.”

— President Trump, quoted by ABC News, on the people behind a bombing that brought “death to innocent young people” who were attending an Ariana Grande concert in England.