“Grow up, Donald. Grow up. Time to be an adult. You’re president. You’ve got to do something. Show us what you have.” — Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview on PBS, criticizing Donald Trump’s attacks on the U.S. intelligence community and his grasp of health care policy.
The Republicans have had tremendous success with what they know best, which is being a very good minority party. They can counter-message and use procedural tools in obnoxiously innovative ways to obstruct. They can simply refuse to even hold hearings for presidential nominees or insist that those positions don’t even need to be filled. They excel at this stuff, but they do not excel at legislating or doing oversight of the federal government and its agencies.
Their plan here is the plan of a minority party. They want to force the Democrats to do something rather than figuring out a way to do it themselves. They have no idea how to replace Obamacare without blowing up the private insurance industry, costing hundreds of thousands of people their health insurance, and taking all the political blame. So, they’ll just try brinksmanship and maybe those clever law-writing Democrats will rescue them at the end of the day out of some bleeding heart do-gooder sense of decency.
But, as the Examiner points out, their plan to repeal Obamacare is another example of not being good at this legislating thing. They like that they can get around a Senate filibuster by using the Budget Reconciliation process, but the only things that can be included in a Budget Reconciliation bill are things that affect the budget. So, they can repeal the way revenues are raised in Obamacare but they can’t repeal the regulatory scheme that makes it tick.
And that leads to the third reason that the Examiner thinks the “Repeal and Delay” strategy is moronic. Creating this kind of uncertainty in the insurance market will lead to chaos, dropped plans and higher premiums, for which the Republicans will be blamed. […]
There’s a substantive problem here, too, which is that the Republicans have lost the courage of their earlier conviction that people simply shouldn’t get any help buying health insurance. It’s morphed into the idea that Obamacare is a bad law because it’s constructed poorly. The GOP doesn’t have the balls argue that people with pre-existing conditions should lose their insurance. They might be willing to get more stingy with subsidies for lower income people, but not to eliminate subsidies altogether.
“Warning that beleaguered Democrats cannot afford a replay of their contentious presidential primary in the race to lead the Democratic National Committee, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, entered the contest for party chairman on Thursday, presenting himself as an alternative to the two leading candidates,” the New York Times reports. Said Buttigieg: “This is not a time to relitigate an old battle. We’ve got to transcend the narrative that this is some kind of proxy fight.”
“President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that the President-elect’s preference is to fund the border wall through the appropriations process as soon as April,” CNN reports. “The move would break a key campaign promise when Trump repeatedly said he would force Mexico to pay for the construction of the wall along the border, though in October, Trump suggested for the first time that Mexico would reimburse the US for the cost of the wall.”
Trump tweeted that Americans may have to foot the bill for his promised wall on the Southern border, “only for expediency’s sake, and wait for Mexico to reimburse its northern neighbor,” Politico reports. Said Trump: “The dishonest media is not reporting that any money spent, for the sake if [sic] speed, on building the Great Wall, will be paid back by Mexico.”
How? Invasion? Hacking their Treasury? We are talking 500 billion, not just some chump change.
New York Times: “The prospect has an obvious, novelistic allure: A run for mayor of New York this year would pit Mrs. Clinton against Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who managed her Senate campaign in 2000, and, should she win, would put her in charge of President-elect Donald Trump’s hometown, ensuring years of potential clashes between bitter rivals.”
“While the answer would almost certainly be no, supporters of Mrs. Clinton and former members of her staff appear to have been happy to let the speculation spread from closed-door gatherings of donors and allies, where it has been discussed among the many hypothetical future jobs Ms. Clinton might pursue, to more public forums.”
No. Just.. no. Let the woman retire and do good work on the Clinton Foundation.
“Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome,” the Washington Post reports.
“The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials — including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election — contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House.”
“House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service,” the Washington Post reports.
“The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program.”
“The honeymoon seems to be ending between retired Gen. James Mattis and Donald Trump’s transition team amid an increasingly acrimonious dispute over who will get top jobs in the Defense Department — and who gets to make those decisions,” the Washington Post reports.
“With only two weeks left before Inauguration Day and days before Mattis’s Senate confirmation hearing, most major Pentagon civilian positions remain unfilled. Behind the scenes, Mattis has been rejecting large numbers of candidates offered by the transition team for several top posts, two sources close to the transition said. The dispute over personnel appointments is contributing to a tenser relationship between Mattis and the transition officials, which could set the stage for turf wars between the Pentagon and the White House in the coming Trump administration.”
“Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections. You’ve got to go out and mix it up and be with ordinary people.”
— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), telling NPR why Democrats lost the presidential election.
Rick Wilson: “The hilarious capper to the ethics mess was the ease with which Trump threw his GOP ‘allies’ under the bus. Trump may be ethically vacant and morally bankrupt, but he’s got a keen nose for the populism that drove him into office; his tweets sent a wave of utter panic through the House caucus. The walkback set a terrible precedent: House leadership should make policies and decisions without living in fear of Trump’s tweeted tantrums. The operative word is ‘should,’ but they’re going to have to touch the hot stove a few more times before the lesson takes.”
“The populist fury of the Trumpentariat isn’t reserved for liberals alone; more and more, it will be focused on Republicans who fail to toe the line when He issues his commands and diktats. The rage monster machine of Fox News, talk radio and Trump-centric social media needs something to feed on, and if House Republicans think Trump and his media allies won’t sacrifice them for their own satisfaction and ratings, they’re not paying attention.”
Larry Sabato: “In just a couple of weeks, the old sun will be completely eclipsed by the new one. Democrats will be essentially on their own, in a greatly diminished role. Their future will depend on President Trump’s performance, and no one really knows what will happen. It’s easy to spin scenarios whereby Trump becomes popular and successful, and equally easy to see how and why he might crash and burn. The point is that Democrats have no representative in the cockpit of the plane; on most days in most ways, they are now merely passengers on a long flight whose direction and destination are determined solely by the Republicans at the controls.”
“Whatever else the Trump quadrennium may turn out to be, it is unlikely to be boring. (Now there’s an understatement!) Millions of Americans are living in ecstatic anticipation, while millions of others are experiencing a dreadful foreboding. There’s only one thing we know for sure with the coming of this unique presidency and its peripatetic Oval Office occupant: There will be almost no quiet days.”
Taegan Goddard says the GOP plans a nomination blitz next Wednesday:
Senate Republicans have scheduled six confirmation hearings for next Wednesday morning in an effort to prevent any one of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees from dominating a news cycle.
The hearings include some of Trump’s most controversial nominees, including Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, Mike Pompeo for CIA Director and John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security. Each hearing would dominate the news cycle if held on a single day. Only the hearing for Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation is expected to be a non-event.
If that wasn’t enough for one day, Trump will also hold his first press conference since the election at the same time. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled a budget vote-o-rama, which will include votes related to repealing Obamacare.
At Vox Theda Skocpol’s “A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up: Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that” take a sobering look at the Democratic Party’s structural deficiencies and how they might be fixed. Skocpol, a Harvard political scientist and director of the Scholars Strategy Network, writes that “the key priority should be strengthening the Democratic Party at state and local levels, even as liberals also build a mass movement to demand universal voter access and devise new formats for unions and other dues-based popular associations.” Skocpol makes a case that “America is actually a federated polity where electoral geography matters more than ethnic or class aggregates…Trump won because he rang up unusually high margins (although not unusually high turnouts) among voters across all social strata in suburban, small-city, and semi-rural counties, especially in the Midwest. In many of those places, Democrats are not an organized presence at all…The cross-state federated networks of the NRA, the Christian right, and the centerpiece Koch organization, Americans for Prosperity…reached into most states and localities and helped Republicans bring conservative voters home and rack up commanding suburban and rural vote margins…Democrats tend to organize across the entire country only temporarily for presidential campaigns…The Democratic Party itself has to be beefed up and redirected into a year-round organizing operation — right now. A new head of the DNC will soon be chosen, and he or she has to be a nuts-and-bolts reformer, not just a show horse or protest organizer…the key to electoral and policy victories for America’s future lies in a robust, nationwide Democratic Party built to engage citizens everywhere in election and policy campaigns year round, every year.”