September, 2017

Republican Tax Plan Quickly Hits First Hurdle

“A day after announcing their ambitious tax plan, Republicans debated scaling back one of their largest and most controversial proposals to pay for lower tax rates: repeal of the individual deduction for state and local taxes,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Faced with the potential for defections by House Republicans from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey, Republicans are exploring ways to satisfy those lawmakers without backing off the lower tax rates they promised.”

“The fight over the state and local deduction, with more than $1 trillion at stake over a decade, is an early signal of the bruising battle ahead for Republicans trying to pass a tax bill that hasn’t garnered Democratic support and that faces narrow GOP margins in the House and Senate. It is the most obvious case of a bloc of pivotal lawmakers holding a specific concern, but it won’t be the only one.”

Trump Still Furious at Price

New York Times: “Mr. Trump has grown incensed by Mr. Price’s liberal renting of expensive planes, which he views as undercutting his drain-the-swamp campaign message, according to several administration officials with direct knowledge of the president’s thinking. Through intermediaries and the media, Mr. Trump has let it be known that offering reimbursement as repentance was no guarantee that Mr. Price would keep his job.”

Democrats’ Best Hope for 2020

John Podhoretz: “If any figure in the United States bears watching over the next couple of years as our political culture continues the radical transformation that led to the election of Donald Trump, it’s Oprah. I believe she’s uniquely positioned, should she wish to commit herself, to seek the Democratic nomination for president and challenge Trump in 2020.”

“If you think that Trump can be beaten by a two-term governor of a Midwestern state with really good ideas about health care, or by a senator who really attracts young people, think again. The idea that a relatively conventional elected official will differentiate herself from Trump by dint of her seriousness or that an unconventional elected official can out-populist Trump is crazy.”

Trump Makes Up Reason Repeal Effort Failed

“President Trump lately, and oddly, has taken to blaming Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act this week on the false claim that a GOP senator has been ‘in the hospital’ and couldn’t make the vote,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Trump: “We have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote, a great person, but he’s in the hospital.”

He added: “We have the votes to get it done. You can’t do it when somebody is in the hospital.”

New GOP Group Will Battle Over Redistricting

“A new Republican group launching Thursday has budgeted $35 million to strengthen the party’s influence over the next round of redistricting, the complicated process of drawing favorable political boundaries for state and federal legislative districts,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The National Republican Redistricting Trust, overseen by Guy Harrison and other senior party strategists, was formed as a counterweight to the new Democratic group backed by former President Obama and led by former Attorney General Eric Holder.”

Kushner Didn’t Disclose Email Account to Senators

“In his closed interview with the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner did not share the existence of his personal email account, which he has used for official business,” CNN reports.

“The chair and vice chair of the committee were so unhappy that they learned about the existence of his personal email account via news reports that they wrote him a letter via his attorney Thursday instructing him to double-check that he has turned over every relevant document to the committee including those from his ‘personal email account’ described to the news media, as well as all other email accounts, messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used, or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry.'”

Twitter Finds 201 Accounts Tied to Russian Operatives

“Twitter has shut down 201 accounts that were tied to the same Russian operatives who posted thousands of political ads on Facebook, the company told congressional investigators Thursday and revealed in a blog in the afternoon,” the Washington Post reports.

“The company also found three accounts from the news site RT — which Twitter linked to the Kremlin — that spent $274,100 in ads on Twitter’s platform in 2016.”

Mitch McConnell Is No Master of the Senate

Politico: “If any believers in the Myth remain after the brutal week McConnell just endured, which capped off an unbelievably brutal eight months, they should take this challenge: Name one major legislative accomplishment to McConnell’s credit over the more than 30 years he has been in the Senate. (Last minute deals don’t count.)”

“You can’t do it: Unlike former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (my former boss) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, McConnell has never authored a single piece of major legislation that became law, nor has he successfully shepherded a single major bill to passage as leader. Reid, Pelosi and former President Barack Obama were all party to the last-minute deals, but they all have a trove of historic accomplishments to show for their leadership: insuring millions of Americans through the Affordable Care Act, reforming the post-crash financial system with Dodd-Frank and ending the Iraq war, for starters. McConnell has nothing.”

“His failure to log even a single major achievement is without precedent in recent American history.”

Deportations Have Actually Fallen Under Trump

“Despite President Trump’s push for tougher immigration enforcement, U.S. agents are on pace to deport fewer people in the government’s 2017 fiscal year than during the same period last year, the latest statistics show,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump took office pledging to round up as many as 3 million drug dealers, gang members and other criminals he said were living in the United States illegally. But the most recent figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicate the government may be having a hard time finding enough eligible ‘bad hombres,’ as the president described them, to quickly meet those targets.”

The Health Care Fight Is Far From Over

John Cassidy: “On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham, who had just watched his bill die, said that the Party would return to health care immediately after passing tax reform. But a legislative window for pushing through a health-care measure with just fifty votes is closing, and, going forward, the Republicans will need sixty votes to break a Democratic filibuster. Unless, of course, they pass another budget-reconciliation bill, which would give them another chance at a fifty-vote victory. Or they could get rid of the filibuster altogether, a step which Donald Trump urged them to do on Wednesday.”

“For now, it looks like the next repeal effort will have to wait until after the 2018 midterms. But another thing we’ve learned in the past few months is that you should never underestimate the determination of the Republicans, and of their wealthy donors, to dismantle Obamacare, or their eagerness to embrace practically any tactic that might help them achieve their goal.”

For members: Obamacare Isn’t Safe Yet

All the Things Trump Promised Would Happen ‘Soon’

New York Times: “Using a website called Factbase, we reviewed nearly all the president’s remarks since his election, searching for references to specific time frames, like ‘soon’ or ‘very soon’ (a full list of such words is at the bottom of this article). Factbase transcribes, sorts and tags nearly every public statement made by President Trump – spanning official White House releases, speeches, interviews and even tweets.”

“Like most politicians, the president makes plenty of claims that are imprecise, mundane or not easily checkable. But many claims were very specific. Among more than 100 specific policy predictions Mr. Trump said would happen soon, we found that at least 75 percent of the time, they did not – or had not, as of this writing.”