April, 2017

Pro-Rape Legislator Refuses to Resign

Boston Globe: “On Tuesday, New Hampshire state Rep. Robert Fisher (R) was unmasked as an architect of a men’s rights Web page where he is accused of strategizing about how to seduce women in an age of feminism and denounced claims of rape as false.”

“On Wednesday, he rejected calls to resign, blamed fake news, and held himself out as a symbol of the downtrodden man.”

Said Fisher: “Here’s my message to the public: I am not disappearing. I will continue to stand strong for men’s rights and the rights of all.”

Trump Makes Ryan the Fall Guy

James Hohmann: “The pressure is suddenly on the Speaker, not the president, to convince potentially vulnerable members to walk the plank for an unpopular bill that’s still going to be dead on arrival in the Senate. Such a vote which could also cost some their seats next November. It will be the guys in the Tuesday Group, not the Freedom Caucus, who get swept out in a 2018 wave because they tend to come from more purple districts. Many are balking, but still undecided, about the revised proposal.”

“A lot of Ryan allies are exasperated by the Trump push to rush a vote before the week is over. There are even rumors of scheduling one for Saturday – to coincide with Trump’s 100th day. (This seems unlikely.) But it was a similar fixation on optics over substance that prompted Trump to demand a now-or-never repeal vote last month that would coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law.”

“This is part of an emerging pattern. Trump has repeatedly set up the Speaker to be the fall guy by making unrealistic demands and sticking with infeasible promises. Once again, the burden is falling on Ryan to either make them happen or explain why they didn’t.”

Democracy Dies In the Dumbness

Tom Nichols: “The wide disagreement among Americans on the president’s performance, however, is more than partisanship. It is a matter of political literacy. The fact of the matter is that too many Trump supporters do not hold the president responsible for his mistakes or erratic behavior because they are incapable of recognizing them as mistakes. They lack the foundational knowledge and basic political engagement required to know the difference between facts and errors, or even between truth and lies.”

“There is a more disturbing possibility here than pure ignorance: that voters not only do not understand these issues, but also that they simply do not care about them. As his supporters like to point out, Trump makes the right enemies, and that’s enough for them. Journalists, scientists, policy wonks — as long as “the elites” are upset, Trump’s voters assume that the administration is doing something right.”

“There is a serious danger to American democracy in all this. When voters choose ill-informed grudges and diffuse resentment over the public good, a republic becomes unsustainable.”

Flynn Was Warned About Foreign Payments

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn received an explicit warning against accepting payments from foreign nations upon his retirement from the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, CNN reports.

The House Oversight Committee said earlier this week that there was no evidence that Flynn disclosed payments for his foreign lobbying.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports the Pentagon’s internal watchdog has opened an investigation into whether Flynn violated the law.

Democrats Threaten to Block Short Term Spending Bill

House Democrats will oppose a short-term spending bill if Republican leaders attempt to expedite an Obamacare repeal bill this week, The Hill reports.

“The threat is significant because GOP leaders will likely need Democratic votes to pass a short-term spending bill in the face of opposition from conservatives historically opposed to government funding bills.”

Mnuchin Can’t Promise Middle Class Won’t Pay More

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “declined to guarantee that middle-class families wouldn’t pay more under President Trump’s sweeping tax overhaul plan,” ABC News reports.

Said Mnuchin: “I can’t make any guarantees until this thing is done and it’s on the president’s desk. But I can tell you, that’s our number one objective in this.”

Nearly Half of Americans Believe In the ‘Deep State’

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 48% of Americans believe in the concept of a deep state — i.e. “military, intelligence and government officials who try to secretly manipulate government policy” — and 35% dismiss it as a conspiracy theory.

The belief is very bipartisan. While 45% of Republicans believe it exists — perhaps believing it is undermining Trump even as we speak — 46% of Democrats also believe it exists — perhaps hoping it is undermining Trump even as we speak.

The Resistance Is Alive But Fractured

Politico: “The first three months of the Trump administration have demonstrated that the energy and anger of the electorate has shifted unmistakably to the left as Democrats assume the role of opposition party after eight years of controlling the White House.”

“But the movement is decentralized and diffuse, lacking a singular leader and splintering into multiple fronts. Ask more than a dozen progressive activists to define the goals of the Trump resistance… and receive almost as many different answers.”

Ron Brownstein: Can Democrats reconcile two very different economic visions?

Health Plan Still Divides Republicans

David Nather: “For all of the talk that this might finally be House Republicans’ chance to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the big picture is that there’s still a bitter divide within the party — though it’s now separating the moderates from everyone else — and the whole effort is still wildly unpopular.”

“They’re closer to the goal of fulfilling a campaign promise, but they’re about to take a vote that will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as abandoning sick people.”

“The endorsement of the conservative Freedom Caucus was big step forward for Republicans, since they were some of the main holdouts. That may be bringing Republicans closer to 216 votes… But it’s not bringing any moderate Republicans on board. It may even be losing some: Rep. Mike Coffman, a supporter of the original bill, is now undecided, according to multiple reports.”

Republicans can lose 22 lawmakers and still pass this bill. The Hill is updating a whip list.

For members: A Nightmare Scenario for Moderate Republicans

War Not Imminent with North Korea

New York Times: “President Trump summoned all 100 members of the Senate for a briefing by his war cabinet on the mounting tensions with North Korea… Americans could be forgiven for thinking that war is about to break out. But it is not.”

“The drumbeat of bellicose threats and military muscle-flexing on both sides overstates the danger of a clash between the United States and North Korea, senior Trump administration officials and experts who have followed the Korean crisis for decades said. While Mr. Trump regards the rogue government in the North as his most pressing international problem, he told the senators he was pursuing a strategy that relied heavily on using China’s economic leverage to curb its neighbor’s provocative behavior.”

CNN: Yes, Trump set up senators for a photo op.

Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Reckoning for GOP Deficit Hawks

“As President Trump’s top economic advisers faced a barrage of questions on Wednesday about the tax plan they had just unfurled, there was one that they struggled most to answer: how to keep the ‘massive tax cuts’ they proposed from ballooning the federal deficit,” the New York Times reports.

“The White House insists that economic growth will cover the cost, which could be as high as $7 trillion over a decade. But the question will dog Republicans and could fracture their party as they face the prospect of endorsing a plan that many economists and budget analysts warn will increase the deficit. After years of fiscal hawkishness, conservatives now face a moment of truth about whether they truly believe America’s economy is drowning in debt.”