Ryan Lizza: “While the potential for a government shutdown has been overshadowed by other events — Syria, North Korea, the attempted repeal of Obamacare — the Trump White House is suddenly seized with the issue.”
Said a top White House official: “Next week is going to have quite high drama. It’s going to be action-packed. This one is not getting as much attention, but, trust me, it’s going to be the battle of the titans. And the great irony here is that the call for the government shutdown will come on—guess what?—the hundredth day. If you pitched this in a studio, they would say, ‘Get out of here, it’s too ridiculous.’ This is going to be a big one.”
“Congressional leaders’ efforts to hatch a massive spending deal have been thrown off course by the Trump administration’s 11th-hour intervention, leaving the bipartisan bill teetering on the brink of collapse just a week before a government shutdown deadline,” Politico reports.
“The hard line taken by White House officials, particularly OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, has strained an emerging deal between House and Senate leaders that would skirt hot-button issues that could shut down the government. In particular, administration officials’ hopes of giving President Trump a win during his first 100 days, such as border wall funding or a crackdown on sanctuary cities, have complicated what had been a relatively smooth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiation.”
The AP quotes Mulvaney: “We want wall funding. We want (immigration) agents. Those are our priorities… We know there are a lot of people on the Hill, especially in the Democratic Party, who don’t like the wall, but they lost the election.”
Chuck Schumer had the greatest comeback in all history: “We thought Mexico was paying for the wall. No deal.”
First Read notes the odds of a shutdown increased dramatically because the White House is also playing hardball to get funding for Trump’s border wall included in a spending resolution to keep the government open.
If this is the White House’s position, it could be precarious: Democrats (and even some Republicans) are opposed to spending money for Trump’s border wall. And with Republicans enjoying just a 52-48 majority in the Senate, they will need Democratic help to get 60 votes. Given this math, a budget showdown is eventually coming, but the thinking had been that it would get punted until the fall. But a border-wall demand — now — could produce that showdown sooner rather than later.
He is hurting. If you are an active Democrat, you all now that curmudgeon progressive at every meeting and in every organization who has nothing but criticism to offer, everything is negative, and the party is always crap. Those curmudgeons are always purer than thou. That’s Bernie. There is no pleasing him. Perez should have demanded he join the party first before joining a unity tour.
Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles (R), “who unleashed an expletive-laden rant over drinks with two other lawmakers this week, uttering a racial slur for black people and other vulgarities, resigned from his position on Friday,” the New York Times reports.
Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports Artiles has come under scrutiny for listing a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model as a “consultant” in his latest campaign finance filings.
Click on this link to go to the interactive chart. The chart depicts the number of tax brackets at income levels over every presidency since Wilson’s. If you want to know why income inequality started and why our debt and deficits started rising, it all goes back to the Reagan tax reform. Before that, we had our house in relative order when it came to taxes. It is time to return to the pre-1980 tax levels.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that just 36% of American voters say Republicans in Congress should try again to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 60% say the Republicans should “move on.” “Voters disapprove by 65% to 29% of the way President Trump is handling health care.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 50% of Americans say Trump is not spending enough time at the White House, versus 38% who say he’s spending the “right amount of time,” and just 2% who say he’s spending too much time.
A new JMC Analytics poll in Utah found Evan McMullin (I) would defeat Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in a head-to-head match up, 33% to 29%, with an unnamed Democrat at 11% and 27% either undecided or for someone else.
“The FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign,” CNN reports.
“The new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 election, not only through email hacks and propaganda but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit. The intelligence led to an investigation into the coordination of Trump’s campaign associates and the Russians.”
“A wave of first-time candidates eager to fight President Trump and his young administration plan to challenge House Republican incumbents, giving Democratic Party leaders hope that they can capitalize on the anger and intensity at grass-roots protests and town hall meetings across the country this year,” the Washington Post reports.
“At least 15 declared candidates or contenders on the verge of announcing have emerged in districts that Democrats must win to take back the House, including in several districts where the party did not seriously compete in 2014 or 2016, according to party officials.”
The Economist: “For all his eccentricities, Mr Kim [Jong Un] is behaving rationally. He watched Muammar Qadaffi of Libya give up his nuclear program in return for better relations with the West—and end up dead. He sees his nuclear arsenal as a guarantee that his regime, and he, will survive. (Though it would be suicidal for him to use it.) Mr Trump can do little to change his mind. Economic sanctions that harm his people will not spoil his lunch. Cyber-attacks, which may account for the failure of some recent missile launches, can slow but not stop him. America can solve the Korean conundrum only with China’s help.”
“China has leverage over Mr Kim. It accounts for 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade and could shut off its oil supply. But its interests are not the same as America’s. North Korea is its ally. China’s leaders do not like the Kim regime, but they do not wish to see it collapse and North Korea reunite, German-style, with the democratic South. That, China fears, would mean the loss of a valuable buffer. There are 28,500 American troops stationed in the South; China does not want them on its border.”
David Brooks: “In America, the basic fabric of civic self-government seems to be eroding following the loss of faith in democratic ideals. According to a study published in The Journal of Democracy, the share of young Americans who say it is absolutely important to live in a democratic country has dropped from 91 percent in the 1930s to 57 percent today.”
“While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries, and it turned out many people didn’t notice or didn’t care.”
“The faith in the West collapsed from within. It’s amazing how slow people have been to rise to defend it.”
Playbook: “The following things are true: leaders of the House Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group have been talking and have produced a series of changes to the GOP health-care bill — (the one pager) … No one — especially the White House — has any idea if this will pass. The new legislation hasn’t been whipped by GOP leaders. And there isn’t a single person in the senior leadership of the White House who has passed a bill in Congress.”
“The GOP leadership in the House is skeptical of a vote next week. So are we. … Many members of the House Freedom Caucus are skeptical about this compromise. Some have advocated for a complete scrapping of Obamacare and have said they are a hard no for any bill that stops short of that.”
“But the urgency on health care is a White House-driven effort — and it’s annoying many senior House Republicans. Don’t expect Speaker Paul Ryan to put a health care bill on the floor unless he knows it will pass.”
The New York Times reports that Reince Priebus is feeling the pressure because he took the blame for the bill’s initial failure.
“The U.S. has set the stage for a global showdown over steel, launching a national security investigation that could lead to sweeping tariffs on steel imports in what would be the first significant act of economic protectionism by President Trump,” the Financial Times reports.
“The decision to use a 1962 law allowing the US government to limit imports that threaten its security readiness is intended to deliver on Mr Trump’s campaign promises to bolster heavy industry and ‘put new American steel into the spine of this country’… But it risks setting off trade tensions with China just days after Mr Trump avoided another conflict by backing down on a promise to label Beijing a currency manipulator, citing in part its help in dealing with North Korea.”
New York Times: “From Mr. Trump’s ‘buy American, hire American’ rallying cry in Wisconsin this week to Vice President Mike Pence’s warnings to Japan and South Korea about the need to rewrite trade deals, the Trump administration is moving against free trade on multiple fronts.”
Ezra Klein: “I genuinely don’t understand what Republicans believe their endgame is here. When Democrats passed Obamacare, the law was mildly unpopular (though nothing close to the AHCA’s catastrophic numbers), but they believed, firmly, that it would grow more popular as it began delivering insurance to millions of people. So far, the main thing the new Republican majority has achieved on health care is to prove the Democrats right — they have made Obamacare more popular than it’s been at any other point in its existence. And they’ve achieved that by persuading people disappointed in Obamacare that it’s better than what Republicans want to put in its place.”