TAX CUTS THAT BIND. New York Times: “With divisions roiling the party, the prospect of a once-in-a-generation bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals increasingly appears to be the last, best hope for a fractured establishment desperate to find common ground and advance an effort it has long championed as the pinnacle of Republican orthodoxy…”
“In the face of those divides, Republican leaders retreated to the only safe ground they have left: a partisan, fast-tracked tax bill, which party leaders hope to introduce next week in the House and deliver to Mr. Trump’s desk by Christmas. The stakes are rising by the day, as Republican donors and voters watch the intraparty dispute unfold and worry about the party advancing the legislative priorities it has long espoused, let alone holding its congressional majorities in the 2018 midterms.”
“Pressure is only increasing on Republican lawmakers, with conservative commentators and other observers saying failure on a tax bill is not an option.”
So where are the GOP on a tax cut plan? Sahil Kapur brings us what rank and file members of the Republican caucus are saying about their party’s tax cut plan.
“We don’t know the brackets,” Representative Chris Collins of New York, a Trump ally, told reporters after a Republican conference meeting Tuesday. “We don’t know where we are on estate taxes. We don’t know where we are on” the state and local tax deduction — a contentious issue for members like Collins from high-tax states.
“We don’t know where we are on the size of the child tax credit,” he continued. “We don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t know.”…
One member of [the Ways and Means] committee, Representative Dave Schweikert of Arizona, responded succinctly when asked what issues are still outstanding: “All of them.”
THE CORKING FLAKING AFTERMATH. James Hohmann: “The conventional wisdom is that Corker and Flake will both be replaced by intellectually pliable apparatchiks who will reliably support Trump. This is more likely than not.”
“But the changeover won’t happen for 14 months. Flake and Corker will be in office until January 2019. That’s an eternity in politics. It’s more than enough time to derail some of the more unconservative elements of the Trump agenda. Remember, Republicans only have a two-seat majority in the Senate.”
“Moreover, in this environment, it’s totally plausible that Democrats could pick up the open seats in both Arizona and Tennessee. If you add Nevada, and assume that Democratic incumbents up for reelection in states Trump carried find a way to survive (a big if), the GOP would lose the majority. If Republicans lose the Senate in 2018 — which was inconceivable just a few months ago — they will probably also lose the House. If Trump feels put upon now, he has no clue how miserable the second half of his term would be.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) refused to rule out mounting a bid to unseat President Trump in 2020, insisting that such a decision is “a long way away,” Politico reports. Said Flake: “That’s a long way away. I’m focused on my next 14 months in the senate, making sure that we get some good policy, there are some things that I want to accomplish in the short term.”
TRUMP ALREADY HAS CONTROL OF THE PARTY. Mike Allen: “So much media coverage centers on four Republican Trump critics… Lost in this: President Trump enjoys public support (despite private gripes) from most of the 49 other Senate Republicans and 239 House Republicans, including every person in elected leadership.”
“For all the warnings of how harshly history will judge the Trump enablers, that history will need to be told in an exceptionally long book — because the vast majority of Republicans are forever marked as Trump Republicans.”
Politico reports that President Trump “is squeezing out his enemies in the Republican Party – diminishing the power of the GOP establishment and reshaping his party in his own image.”
“With the looming exits of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, come 2019 Trump will have rid himself of his two most outspoken Republican detractors. What happens in the meantime — Corker and Flake demonstrated Tuesday they are fully emboldened now to take on the president without fear of consequences – could determine the success or failure of the GOP-controlled Congress through the 2018 midterms.”
“But in the short-term, there is no question: Trump, and his former strategist and now-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, are winning. The casualty list of Trump critics is bleeding over to the House.”
New York Times: “Despite the fervor of President Trump’s Republican opponents, the president’s brand of hard-edge nationalism — with its gut-level cultural appeals and hard lines on trade and immigration — is taking root within his adopted party, and those uneasy with grievance politics are either giving in or giving up the fight.”
“In some cases, the retirement of an anti-Trump Republican could actually improve the Republican Party’s chance of retaining a seat… But such short-term advantages mask a larger, even existential threat to traditional Republicans. The Grand Old Party risks a longer-term transformation into the Party of Trump.”
The Trump administration is delaying Russia sanctions that Congress demanded https://t.co/MQ7n2xhLvo
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 25, 2017
UNDERWEAR MODEL AS AMBASSADOR. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? U.S. ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown has admitted he has been investigated over allegations he made inappropriate comments on his inaugural trip to Samoa, of which he is also the U.S. representative, the Guardian reports.
Brown told reporters that the official complaints related to comments he had made at a party in the Samoan capital, Apia, where he told attendees they looked “beautiful” and could make hundreds of dollars working in the hospitality industry in the U.S. Brown said he had “no idea” the comments would be regarded as offensive.
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) October 25, 2017
Max Boot, writing for Foreign Policy: “It becomes ever harder to disagree with the verdict of foreign-policy sage Robert Kagan, like me an erstwhile Republican, who writes that the GOP in its current form is doomed and that Republicans who cannot stomach Trumpism “should change their registration and start voting for Democratic moderates and centrists, as some Republicans did in Virginia recently, to give them a leg up in their fight against the party’s left wing.” As I’ve explained before, I have my qualms about the Democratic Party, which is lurching to the left, but I am done, done, done with the GOP after more than 30 years as a loyal Republican.
This is truly Trump’s party, and that leaves me to root for Democrats to win a landslide victory in the midterm elections next fall. I have my differences with many Democratic candidates, but on the most important issue facing our nation — whether Trump is fit for office — they are right and Republicans are a disgrace.”
WSJ: Paul Manafort is under investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney for possible money laundering. https://t.co/3IIUQBs4kb
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 24, 2017
TRUMP AND PENCE SIDE WITH THE BANKS. “Senate Republicans voted to strike down a sweeping new rule that would have allowed millions of Americans to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial institutions,” the New York Timesreports.
“The overturning of the rule, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-to-50 tie, will further loosen regulation of Wall Street as the Trump administration and Republicans move to roll back Obama-era policies enacted in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. By defeating the rule, Republicans are dismantling a major effort of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog created by Congress in the aftermath of the mortgage mess.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) October 25, 2017
They know nothing else. Bush used war in 2002 to win the midterms. He lost them in 2006. If Trump starts a war with North Korea, it won’t win him the midterms, since all life on Earth would have been extinguished.
RUSSIAN COLLUSION CONTINUES. “Alexander Nix, who heads a controversial data analytics firm that worked for President Trump’s campaign, wrote in an email last year that he reached out to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange about Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 emails,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, told a third party that he reached out to Assange about his firm somehow helping the Wikileaks founder release Clinton’s missing emails… Assange told the Cambridge Analytica CEO that he didn’t want his help, and preferred to do the work on his own.”
“If the claims Nix made in that email are true, this would be the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Assange.”
NYT: Clinton only found out about the Trump dossier after BuzzFeed published it, according to two associates. https://t.co/Kg2M7GyELO
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 26, 2017
WAIT, WHAT? Former President George H.W. Bush issued an apology after an actress accused him of sexually assaulting her during a photo op four years ago, The Hill reports. Four years ago, Bush was 89 years old. I can’t remember if he was already confined to a wheel chair as he is today. I think he was. And still he did this? Imagine what he did when he was younger and more mobile.
YOU DON’T LOSE POWER BY LOSING YOUR BASE. David Frum: “A famous line of Ernest Hemingway’s describes how a rich man goes broke: ‘Two ways … Gradually and then suddenly.’ That’s how defeat comes upon a president as well. The live question for Trumpists in 2018 will be whether they can hold onto both chambers of Congress and thereby continue to stifle investigations into presidential wrongdoing. The geographic map is in the GOP’s favor in 2018, but the demographic map increasingly is not. The voters who hear of and are swayed by comments like Flake’s and Corkers’s—more educated, more affluent—are precisely those most likely to show up in an off-year election. Trump and the GOP will not lose all of them. They cannot afford to lose very many of them.”
“You don’t lose power by losing your base. Herbert Hoover held 39.7 percent of the vote in 1932, a year when Americans were literally going hungry. You lose power by losing the less intensely committed, just enough of them to tip the balance against you. Flake, Corker, and the others are working on those less intensely committed, at the 52 percent of Republicans who as late as August 2016 still wished their party had nominated someone else.”
THE REPUBLICAN PLAN TO RAISE TAXES ON THE MIDDLE CLASS. “House Republican leaders are in a mad dash to resolve a dispute between GOP tax writers and Republicans from high-tax states that has the potential to make Thursday’s budget vote a real nail-biter,” Politico reports.
“A handful of New York Republicans, along with a New Jersey lawmaker, are threatening to vote against the budget unless GOP leaders retreat from plans to eliminate a key federal deduction that people can take for the state and local taxes they pay.” If they eliminate that deduction, taxes will be increased on the middle class by a massive margin. All to pay for tax cuts for the rich.