September, 2017

Retirements Are Key to Control of House

Nate Cohn: “The Republican structural edge in the House is fully realized only with the added advantage of incumbency. The Democrats would be overwhelming favorites to retake the House in this political environment if no incumbents chose to run for re-election, even with all of the burdens of gerrymandering and geography.”

“So far, four Republicans have announced they will not seek re-election in highly competitive districts.”

“My colleagues Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns reported recently that Republicans fear a wave of additional retirements. And Roy Moore’s victory over the establishment-backed Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary this week could further embolden primary challenges to G.O.P. House incumbents, increasing the chances that they step aside.”

“But without a string of retirements, the Democratic path to control of the House is challenging. Incumbents are just that hard to beat.”

U.S. Will Pull Most Staff from Embassy in Cuba

Two sources tell CBS News the U.S. is preparing to announce a major withdrawal of staff and family from the U.S. embassy in Cuba in response to attacks targeting diplomats.

“Diplomats have complained about symptoms ranging from hearing loss and nausea to headaches and balance issues after the State Department said ‘incidents’ began affecting them in late 2016. In total, the State Department says there are 21 medically confirmed cases. The attacks were directed at their homes, which the Cuban government provides.  The last reported incident was in August.”

California Voters Want Feinstein to Retire

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that 50% of California’s likely voters think Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) should not run for re-election in 2018, while 43% support another run.

Still, the poll found that Feinstein remains popular. More than half of likely voters — 54% — approve of the job she’s doing, compared with 38% who disapprove.

Head of Air Force Academy Tells Racists to ‘Get Out’

“The head of the Air Force Academy stood all his 4,000 cadets at attention Thursday to deliver a message on racial slurs found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school,” the Colorado Gazette reports.

“Chins in and chests out, the cadets were flanked by 1,500 officers, sergeants, athletic coaches and civilian professors inside cavernous Mitchell Hall. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told them to take out their smartphones and record his words.”

Said Silveria: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

Keep an Eye on the Virginia Delegate Races

David Wasserman: “The Alabama Senate special election and the Virginia gubernatorial race are near-certain to dominate political pundits’ attention this fall. But they could be poor predictors of 2018. The former is taking place in a deeply red, racially polarized state that bears little resemblance to most swing House districts. The latter is unfolding in a purple state, but the GOP nominee, Ed Gillespie, holds uncommon appeal with upscale voters who couldn’t stomach Donald Trump.

“The races that could best harbingers of November 2018 aren’t likely to get much national coverage at all: all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election this November.”

Price’s Job Remains In Jeopardy

“Offering to pay back a fraction of the cost of his private jet travel has not helped Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price climb out of his political hole. If anything, it seems to be getting deeper,” Axios reports.

“Price only plans to pay back only ‘his portion’ of the charter flights he has taken since becoming secretary, HHS confirmed yesterday. That would be about $52,000, or 13% of the $400,000 total… This partial reimbursement will not make Price’s troubles go away. Sure, he only took up one seat on each flight, but everyone else was there because he decided to fly private instead of commercial.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports last night that Price also used military planes for international travel that added up to more than $500,000.

And BuzzFeed reports Price ” wanted to reopen his department’s executive dining room.”

Trump’s ‘Heckuva Job’ Moment

Rick Klein: “The first two storms, it appears, were only wind-ups to the presidential moment that presents itself now. The crisis in Puerto Rico figures to define President Trump’s responses to this remarkable string of powerful storms. After first seeming to blame Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure and fiscal crises, Trump is now praising FEMA and expressing his wish that the ‘press would treat fairly.’ But this is one where claims of ‘fake news’ will likely be subsumed by the images and realities.”

“Those realities include millions of American citizens in total crisis. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is warning that the lack of ‘clear command, control and communication’ will cause the situation to ‘deteriorate rapidly.’ The general who oversaw the federal response to Hurricane Katrina is calling the situation – yes – ‘like Katrina.'”

How Tax Reform Became Just a Tax Cut

Ryan Lizza: “The Big Six… couldn’t agree on enough reforms to raise revenue. Paul Ryan had one idea, a so-called border-adjustment tax, which would have raised a trillion dollars to offset some of the rate cuts in the plan by taxing imports. But that was nixed by the White House and never replaced with anything as ambitious. In the end, the Big Six also couldn’t agree on as many details as the group originally proclaimed.”

“Instead of doing the hard work of crafting a revenue-neutral tax reform, which requires taking on powerful political constituencies and working with Democrats, Republicans will fall back on arguing that the economic effects of the tax legislation will be so powerful that it will pay for itself with growth.”

Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under Tax Plan

“President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes,” a New York Times analysis has found.

Said Trump: “I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

Democrats Spared from Their Own Civil War

Politico: “Democrats have long been terrified that the Sanders-Clinton slugfest of 2016 would set off a prolonged civil war in the party, forcing incumbents to fight off primary challengers from the left in Senate and gubernatorial races. It hasn’t happened. In a surprising reversal of the post-2008 dynamic — when Republicans were shut out of power, then saw a raft of tea party primary challengers take on their incumbents — Democrats have largely been spared of that predicament.”

“Instead, it’s Republican incumbents yet again facing heat from the right, as arch-conservative Roy Moore’s defeat of incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) this week emphatically showed.”

Lobbyists Rally to Save Tax Breaks

New York Times: “Republicans’ release of a sweeping plan to rewrite the tax code has set off a scramble among Washington lobbyists and trade groups to protect valuable tax breaks and other long-ingrained provisions. The plan’s scant details make it hard to know what, exactly, is on the chopping block. But within hours of the plan’s unveiling on Wednesday, flash points emerged over measures that supporters said could hurt the housing market, raise borrowing costs and increase the tax burden on families in high-tax states.”