Open Thread

The Open Thread for April 13, 2017

“Republican leaders may have been caught off guard by the weakness of their candidate in the Kansas special election, but they won’t let it happen again in Montana, where another House election will be held May 25,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP leadership’s super PAC, will spend ‘at least $1 million’ on advertising and a paid get-out-the-vote effort… In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s advertising arm is buying $148,000 in television airtime for a flight of campaign ads starting Friday… The GOP group is also spending $125,000 for digital ads starting Thursday.”

President Trump “is abandoning a number of his key campaign promises on economic policy, adopting instead many of the centrist positions he railed against while campaigning as a populist,” the Washington Post reports.

“The statements represent a move toward the economic policies of more centrist Republicans and even at times align with the approach of former president Barack Obama. Should he follow through on the newly articulated positions, it would suggest that the candidate who ran as the ultimate outsider is increasingly adopting a more moderate economic agenda.”

Politico: “From health care and the Export-Import Bank to NATO and to China’s alleged currency manipulation, Trump has made moves that would leave a more traditional politician labeled a flip-flopper. But for Trump, who sold himself in part on a businessman’s flexibility, the moves fit his reputation for unpredictability.”

The Hill: Trump flips on four policies in one day.

The only true statement in this tweet is the new Congressman’s name, Ron Estes.   He did not win easily (in a R+27 district he only won by 4 points), the Dems did not spend heavily, and were in fact outspent by the GOP, and the Dems never predicted victory because we knew it would take a miracle to win this kind of seat.  Still, we almost did.

“When Stephen K. Bannon reported for work Wednesday, he did not act like a man who had just been publicly humiliated by his boss,” the Washington Post reports.

“The White House chief strategist cycled in and out of the Oval Office for meetings with President Trump… But for Bannon, the day’s routine obscured the reality that he is a marked man — diminished by weeks of battles with the bloc of centrists led by Trump’s daughter and son-in-law and cut down by the president himself, who belittled Bannon in an interview with the New York Post.”

Rich Lowry: “For Bannon, the internal fight with the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is going about as well as could be expected, which is to say it couldn’t be going much worse.”

President Trump told the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. dollar “is getting too strong” and he would prefer the Federal Reserve keep interest rates low.

Said Trump: “I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that’s my fault because people have confidence in me.”

He also made a full reversal from the campaign by stating his support for the U.S. Export-Import Bank: “It’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.”

“You can turn on the TV — more than you can read in the paper because I assume editors are still doing their jobs in most places — and people literally say things that just aren’t true.”

— Kellyanne Conway, quoted by Elle, as the audience at the Newseum burst into laughter.

“Three months into the new Congress, some Republicans are fearful that their failure to repeal ­ObamaCare could spell doom for the rest of President Trump’s legislative agenda,” The Hill reports.

“Some Capitol Hill Republicans have envisioned the nightmare scenario for 2017, and it goes like this: No ­ObamaCare repeal. No tax reform. No trillion-dollar infrastructure package. No border wall.”

“It’s a striking change from the period after Election Day, when GOP leaders vowed that the new unified Republican government would ‘go big, go bold’ and deliver for the American people.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has scheduled a trip to New Hampshire, where he might be laying the groundwork for a second presidential run, the Boston Globe reports.

“His April 23 visit to the Granite State marks his first trip there since the November general election. He will have multiple stops on that day, including events in Salem and Bedford… O’Malley has visited Iowa twice recently. Last week he held a town hall in South Carolina, which holds a primary soon after New Hampshire on the presidential nominating calendar.”

Really?  O’Malleymentum?   

Mike Allen: “Trump has been all over the policy map when it comes to issues he hasn’t given much thought to (social issues, healthcare, Ex-Im Bank). But nationalism has been consistent in his speeches since the late 1980s. He’s talked about foreign countries ripping America off, and even in his NATO appearance he gently ribbed the Secretary General about getting the other nations to pay up. Nationalism is one of the few things Trump’s been consistent about for 30 years, those instincts are as hard-wired as anything in his make up; let’s see how long this version of Trump lasts.”

Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney admitted to CNBC that he’s not really concerned about the impact of tax cuts on the budget deficit:

“Bad spending, to me, in terms of its economic benefit, would be wealth-transfer payments. It’s a misallocation of resources. Infrastructure is sort of that good spending in the middle, where even if you do misallocate resources a little bit, you still have something to show for it. It’s tangible, it may help economic growth, and so forth. At the other end of the spectrum, at the very other end, is letting people keep more of their money, which — while it can contribute to the deficit in a large fashion — is the most efficient way to actually allocate resources. It’s a little less important to me if infrastructure adds to the deficit. And I’m really not interested in how tax reform handles the deficit.”

Jonathan Chait: “What makes Mulvaney’s comments so unusual is not only their frankness, but also their comprehensiveness. Republican politicians tend to segregate their discussion of taxes and spending, so that they can frame their opposition to transfer payments as concern about deficits, while framing their desire of regressive tax cuts as being unrelated to deficits. Mulvaney, who is known in Washington as a budget hawk’s budget hawk, is essentially conceding that deficits have nothing to do with the Republican fiscal agenda.”

After Hackett’s near win in 2005, the Dems won the House in 2006.

President Trump described to Fox Business how he told Chinese President Xi about his order to launch airstrikes in Syria last week:

I was sitting at the table.  We had finished dinner.  We’re now having dessert.  And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do?

And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way.  And I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you.  This was during dessert.

We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing.

It’s so incredible.  It’s brilliant.  It’s genius.

New York Times: “Early missteps by President Trump and congressional leaders have weighed heavily on voters from the party’s more affluent wing, anchored in right-of-center suburbs around major cities in the South and Midwest. Never beloved in these precincts, Mr. Trump appears to be struggling to maintain support from certain voters who backed him last year mainly as a way of defeating Hillary Clinton.”

“Interviews with Republican-leaning voters in four suburban districts — in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and New Jersey — revealed a sour outlook on the party. These voters, mainly white professionals, say they expected far more in the way of results by now… Should Republican voters remain so demoralized — and Democrats so fired up — it could imperil dozens of congressional seats that are usually safe.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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