The Open Thread for September 14, 2017

TRUMP IS SABOTAGING TAX REFORM LIKE HE DID HEALTHCARE: The President would always over-promise and contradict GOP policy aims when it came to repealing and replacing Obamacare.   Now he is doing the same on taxes.  First, let’s talk about the Republican game plan.  Playbook: “The Big Six — the tax writing chairmen, top GOP leaders and top White House advisers — are releasing a framework at the end of the month. The framework might or might not have rate targets, but our sources tell us it will be a meaty document. Then the committees will hold markups. Republicans are aiming to pass the budget in mid-October. If they get that done — far from a sure thing — they’ll have fewer than 20 legislative days to rally support around and pass tax reform. Oh yeah, they need to keep the government open.”

Jonathan Swan: “Republicans still have one big problem. The House and Senate have to reach an agreement on a budget resolution — which would set the broad outlines for tax reform — before they can work on a detailed tax reform bill. Yet conservatives like House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows aren’t ready to commit to voting for a budget resolution unless they know the tax reform details first. If Republicans can’t satisfy them, there’s no guarantee they’ll get past Step 1.”

And guess what Trump said yesterday to complicate all this:

LOL.  I am sure Republicans are surprised by that.

TRUMP IS LOSING CONTROL OF WHAT HE CREATED.  Rick Klein: “Is the party of Donald Trump morphing into the party of Steve Bannon and Kid Rock? President Trump is now seeking a bipartisan path toward tax reform, and is also meeting today with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in an attempt to heal some Charlottesville damage. But Trumpian forces are massing in unexpected ways.”

“Bannon’s vow to seek out primary challengers against Republican lawmakers, along with his critique of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, has roiled congressional races during recruitment and retirement season. Kid Rock is drawing protests at his concerts, including a hyped appearance in Detroit last night where he was introduced as the next senator from Michigan and where he declared, ‘Whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.’ And in Alabama, the final two weeks in the Senate GOP primary could see Trump staying out, so as not to get embarrassed in seeing Roy Moore defeat Sen. Luther Strange. Trump has struggled to show he can control himself in office. Controlling Trumpism may be an even more impossible task.”

FACEBOOK FACES MUELLER TIME.  “Russia’s effort to influence U.S. voters through Facebook and other social media is a ‘red-hot’ focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election and possible links to President Trump’s associates,” Bloomberg reports.

“Mueller’s team of prosecutors and FBI agents is zeroing in on how Russia spread fake and damaging information through social media and is seeking additional evidence from companies like Facebook and Twitter about what happened on their networks.”

“The ability of foreign nations to use social media to manipulate and influence elections and policy is increasingly seen as the soft underbelly of international espionage… because it doesn’t involve the theft of state secrets and the U.S. doesn’t have a ready defense to prevent such attacks.”

RICE SPEAKS ON UNMASKING: Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

Her explanation appears to have satisfied some influential Republicans on the committee and raises new questions about whether any Trump associates tried to arrange back-channel discussions with the Russians.

THE FLYNNS ARE IN TROUBLE.  “Democrats in Congress believe retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances, omissions they considered so serious they forwarded their findings to special counsel Robert Mueller,” ABC News reports.

That might have something to do with the fact that Flynn has again declined a request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CNN reported early Wednesday, citing an unnamed source in Congress.  The former Trump official previously refused a Senate Intelligence Committee request to appear in May, citing Fifth Amendment rights. At the time, Flynn’s lawyers argued that an “escalating public frenzy against him” created a a legally dangerous environment for Flynn, preventing him from testifying.  The Senate committee also issued subpoenas for documents from Flynn in May, and the former national security adviser reportedly agreed to turn over documents to the committee.

Perhaps in an effort to turn his father, the younger Michael G. Flynn, his son, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign,” NBC News reports.  “The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group… It’s unclear when the focus on Flynn began.”

“Mueller has brought onto his team a federal prosecutor known for convincing subjects to turn on associates. Any potential criminal liability for Michael G. Flynn could put added pressure on his father.”

Jonathan Chait: “The barrier to single payer is that the American health-care system has been built, by accident, around employer-based insurance. The rhetoric of single payer concentrates its moral emphasis on people who lack insurance at all… But the barrier to single-payer health care is the people who already have coverage. Designing a single-payer system means not only covering the uninsured, but financing the cost of moving the 155 million Americans who have employer-based insurance onto Medicare.”

“That is not a detail to be worked out. It is the entire problem. The impossibility of this barrier is why Lyndon Johnson gave up on trying to pass a universal health-care bill and instead confined his legislation to the elderly (who mostly did not get insurance through employers), and why Barack Obama left the employer-based system intact and created alternate coverage for non-elderly people outside it.”

THE POLLING REPORT: A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that, by a 56% to 28% margin, Republicans said they trust President Trump more than they trust Republican leaders to work with Democrats in Congress to achieve certain policy outcomes.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that Republicans approved of President Trump’s decision to side with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over his own party’s leadership on the debt ceiling deal, 62% to 18%.  Trump voters registered their support by an even broader margin, 69% to 14%.

A new GBA Strategies poll in Arizona finds Kelli Ward (R) running way ahead of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in a GOP U.S. Senate primary, 58% to 31%.  In a general election match up, Kyrsten Sinema (D) also tops Flake, 47% to 40%

Ezra Klein: “What Happened has been sold as Clinton’s apologia for her 2016 campaign, and it is that. But it’s more remarkable for Clinton’s extended defense of a political style that has become unfashionable in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Clinton is not a radical or a revolutionary, a disruptor or a socialist, and she’s proud of that fact. She’s a pragmatist who believes in working within the system, in promising roughly what you believe you can deliver, in saying how you’ll pay for your plans. She is frustrated by a polity that doesn’t share her ‘thrill’ over incremental policies that help real people or her skepticism of sweeping plans that will never come to fruition. She believes in politics the way it is actually practiced, and she holds to that belief at a moment when it’s never been less popular.”

“This makes Clinton a more unusual figure than she gets credit for being: Not only does she refuse to paint an inspiring vision of a political process rid of corruption, partisanship, and rancor, but she’s also actively dismissive of those promises and the politicians who make them.”

TRUMP IS STILL RANTING ABOUT COMEY.  And it probably explains why Sarah Huckabee Sanders has for two days attacked Comey from the podium during press briefings.  Trump probably ordered her to do it.  Mike Allen: “Behind the scenes in the West Wing, President Trump continues to rant and brood about former FBI Director Jim Comey and the Russia investigation that got him fired. Trump tells aides and visitors that the probe now being run by special counsel Bob Mueller is a witch hunt, and that Comey was a leaker.”

“The president’s friends are most worried about Mueller digging into past business deals, which is why his team keeps raising concerns in public and private about the ‘scope’ of the investigation.”

THANKS OBAMA.  “The incomes of middle-class Americans rose last year to the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau, as poverty declined and the scars of the past decade’s Great Recession seemed to finally fade,” the Washington Post reports.

“Median household income rose to $59,039 in 2016, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year and the second consecutive year of healthy gains, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The nation’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, returning nearly to what it was in 2007 before a financial crisis and deep recession walloped workers in ways that were still felt years later.”

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ powerful new essay, “The First White President:” [Coates] offers up an indictment of white America — and white punditry — that is more sweeping than it first appears. Coates’ argument is not just that Donald Trump’s ascent was fueled by the racism of much of his white electorate. It’s also that Trump’s candidacy, election, and presidency, coming in the first election following two terms of the nation’s first black president, represent nothing less than an effort to eradicate the very fact that America elected a black president in the first place.

Coates argues that we must forthrightly confront the wretched reality that Trump won because he framed his candidacy, overtly, as a “negation” of the first black presidency — as a promise to cancel it as a kind of historical accident. Trump launched his rise with the “birther” charge that Barack Obama’s presidency was illegitimate. and vowed to erase the Obama legacy, i.e., to obliterate all historical evidence of the first black president’s successes. Thus, Coates argues, Trump’s ascension constitutes at its core a reassertion of white supremacy as the rightful American order.

There is another claim embedded in that one that I want to try to say something about. Coates extensively challenges a noxious strain of punditry about Trump’s victory, and about how we should respond to it. And he deals it devastating blow.  […]

The force and value of Coates’ broader case is undeniable.  Still, in accounting for what is happening in American politics right now, we should all say more about what the deep resistance to all of this means. Not to do so creates an opening for variations on the bad arguments that Coates destroyed to reenter through the back door.”

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

8 comments on “The Open Thread for September 14, 2017

  1. I dont know about the policy of HOW it is done, moving everyone from employer based health care to Universal, but how it’s SOLD seems pretty easy.
    Everyone gets a raise. The money that comes out of your pay check, much of which goes to insurance company profits, no longer comes out. Sure, some tax to pay for the thing will come out, but it wont be anywhere close to what many people pay currently.
    It is basically the same argument for employers. Your employer doesn’t need to pay for you anymore either.
    Yes, they will pay a tax too, ideally based on number of employees, but their costs would also plummet and they could reinvest, or hire more people, or buy a yacht.. I don’t care, I’m only a socialist on a few important things.

    The only people benefiting at all from the current system are the heads of 5 or 6 top insurance companies, Tom Carper, and the republican party.

  2. I’m doing my best to ignore the utter hysteria surrounding Hillary’s book. I’m reading it, and do not see where she isn’t taking responsibility and just passing the blame onto everyone else.

    And here’s my prediction with the single-payer/Medicare for all plan: There will be compromises and incrementalism and everyone had better be on board for this fight.

    In the words of Charles Pierce, “This is a reasonable argument coming from one of the people who has fought the hardest to protect the gains in healthcare that have come about due to the Affordable Care Act. This is nothing more than politics the way politics should be practiced. Bernie Sanders has set the marker down for the party in which he ran for president but that he resolutely declines to join. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But that party still depends on people like Joe Manchin—and, it should be said, like Heidi Heitkamp—who have to get re-elected in tougher places than Vermont. The first time I hear the distant sirens of the Purity Police during this long haul, I’m going to chew nails.”

    I’m seeing a lot of nail chewing ahead. There’s a distinct group whose sole purpose is to do nothing but say how much things/people suck.

    • Yeah, there should be no purity argument over this process. Medicare for All, Bernie’s Single Payer Bill, Medicaid for More, Medicaid Buy In are all a means to an end that we all agree on: Universal Single Payer Healthcare. How and how fast we get there are the details we need to work out.

    • Can I point out that Rep. John Conyers — a real, live Democrat — actually set the marker for Medicare for All? He has been introducing bills for this since 2003. The Sanders bill now means that this thing is now bicameral, but it is annoying me that Conyers is not getting his due here.

    • Plus, if I read the wonks on Twitter correctly, there will be more ideas coming to light shortly. A Medicare for More idea that would add a real public option to the ACA. There will be ideas great and small — the trick for every single one of them is to get a hearing and a vote. And if McConnell sees it in his interest, he may let this bill come to a vote and claim that Democrats killed it.

  3. “I’m doing my best to ignore the utter hysteria surrounding Hillary’s book”

    I don’t have to do my best. I am completely ignoring the hysteria and I’m almost certain I’ll ignore the book as well. The bottom line is that – Trump won the election because in states that mattered;

    people voted for Trump,
    people who could have voted did not,
    people voted for someone other than Clinton.

    Them’s the facts. Lingchi arguments about which of the thousand cuts was fatal is nonsensical ultimately useless because, except for those who now regret their decision, they will justify, rationalize, and blame shift their way to a peaceful sleep at night.

    She lost because those who had the means to create a different outcome made a choice. Not only is absolution not mine to give, like Clinton, I would not give it even if it were. The consequences of this election are on those who made that choice. As I said before, I will reserve my sympathy for those who could not vote or who voted for Clinton. The rest have only my eternal disdain.

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