Open Thread

The Open Thread for November 30, 2017

“A key concession that helped clear Republican tax legislation for a Senate vote as early as [today] is drawing sharp opposition from conservative groups and some lawmakers, signaling that GOP leaders still face challenges in achieving a major legislative victory before year’s end,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Senate Budget Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote of 12-11 Tuesday, but only after Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said he bargained for adding a controversial provision: a so-called revenue trigger that would impose tax increases if the tax bill’s cuts raise the federal deficit. The amendment has sparked condemnation from other Republicans, despite a lack of detail about how the provision would work.”

James Hohmann: “The challenge for Senate GOP leaders, who have such a small margin for error, is that two of their holdouts want to make the tax giveaway more generous, but another half dozen or so Republicans are uneasy with how much it already adds to the debt. These contradictory demands complicate negotiations and will force McConnell to decide who he needs to placate most.”

The deal is already backfiring.  Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) told NBC News that he doesn’t support the concept. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told Bloomberg it was “well-intentioned” but unnecessary and bad for economic growth. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t think it would look very good to have a bill to cut taxes that also signals to the world that we’re just automatically going to increase taxes.” Sen. John Kennnedy (R-LA) told the New York Times, “I’m not too keen on automatic tax increases. I’m just not too excited about this idea of automatically tying our hands.”

Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform also rejected the concept. The worry over a trigger is that the promised job creation and economic growth would never occur if businesses felt there was a chance taxes could be automatically hiked in the future.

Perhaps even more important, the Wall Street Journal suggests the trigger concept could bust the budget reconciliation vehicle that would allow the Senate to pass a bill with just 50 votes.  “One potential problem: whether that creates a new snag that runs afoul of Senate procedures that allow for Republicans to pass tax legislation on a simple majority vote. At issue is whether the odds of triggering automatic tax increases are identical to the odds of triggering automatic tax cuts. If so, that could amount to a policy that would neither add nor subtract from tax revenue, a violation of the Senate’s arcane budget rules.”

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New York Daily News editorial “After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.

Some might say we are just suffering through the umpteenth canny, calculated presidential eruption designed to distract the nation from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, or perhaps from unpopular legislation working its way through Congress.

Quite possible. But Occam’s razor, and the sheer strangeness of Trump’s behavior, leads us to conclude that we are witnessing signs of mania.”

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But it might be too late.  Amy Walter: “We are reportedly at a ‘watershed’ moment on the issue of sexual harassment. Women, emboldened by the Harvey Weinstein revelations, have come out of the shadows of shame and stigma to tell their own stories of harassment and assault. It’s also been a time of ‘reckoning’ for Democrats who once excused or defended President Bill Clinton over accusations of abuse and harassment. From an electoral standpoint, this new focus on empowering and energizing women voters should be an opportunity for Democrats.”

“In Alabama, Democrats have a chance to steal away a bright-red Senate seat thanks to assault accusations against Republican Roy Moore. It’s also an opportunity for them to prove to voters that the party demands the highest standards of conduct from its representatives in Congress. An opportunity to show that Democrats won’t put party over doing the right thing. Yet, I have been struck by the lack of ‘watershed-level’ response to Democrats’ handling of allegations against Sen. Al Franken and Rep. John Conyers, two members of their own party. Instead of meeting the moment, Democrats have missed it.”

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Playbook: “Republicans had a game plan. Then the president tweeted about Schumer and Pelosi, they pulled out of the meeting and their strategy was blown up. This is the second fiscal negotiation in which Republicans’ well-laid plans were blown up.”

“What the congressional leadership tells us: Chances for a government shutdown are skyrocketing at the moment.”

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New York Times: “After sinking his party’s hopes of repealing the Affordable Care Act this year with a dramatic thumbs-down, the fate of a tax overhaul may now sit in the hands of the Republican from Arizona. In recent days, Mr. McCain has been fairly tight-lipped about his views on the tax proposal speeding through the Senate, saying he sees some problems with the existing bill but is waiting for a final plan before making a decision. Asked about what concerned him about the Senate tax bill this week, Mr. McCain replied tersely: ‘A lot of things.’”

“Even those who know Mr. McCain best are unsure how he will vote, but if history is any guide, Republicans have reason to worry. Mr. McCain has voted against big tax cuts before, including two that passed under another Republican president: George W. Bush.”

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FiveThirtyEight review of polling finds that the Republican tax plan is actually less popular than the Clinton tax hike in 1993.  “Basically, none of these major tax cuts were net unpopular, as the current GOP bill is. Instead, the current Republican plan’s polling numbers look more similar to those of past tax hikes.”

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Ezra Klein: “Over the past week, I’ve been speaking with conservative tax experts to try to better understand their case for the Senate’s tax bill, which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rushing to pass this week. What I’ve found is jarring.”

“Plenty of right-leaning wonks will make the case for cutting corporate taxes and reforming how they’re collected. But it’s harder to find those who think the way this bill goes about it, or finances it, makes much sense.”

“What’s worse: There’s wide agreement that pretty much everything else in the bill — and there’s a lot of other stuff in the bill — is done badly, in ways that are going to create unnecessary problems down the road.”

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) “watched angrily last fall as his fellow Republicans gave up on his reelection campaign, convinced he was doomed and that their dollars and hours would be better spent elsewhere. A year later, Johnson is still in the Senate but also a key holdout vote in the Republican effort to overhaul the tax code — and those political calculations, along with the ill will they bred, are coming back to haunt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow heads of the GOP,” the Washington Post reports.

“Johnson surprised party leaders this month when he said he would vote against the Senate version of the GOP tax plan, saying it favors corporations over other businesses. To vote for the bill, he is asking for a large-scale restructuring that could add more than $100 billion in benefits for certain businesses.”

“Republican leaders, who probably can afford to lose a maximum of only two GOP votes if they hope to move their measure through the Senate, are working to win over Johnson with a mixture of cajoling and concessions. But as the leaders negotiate, they’re working with a senator who feels little obligation to repay any party favors.”

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“President Trump shared videos supposedly portraying Muslims committing acts of violence on Twitter early Wednesday morning, images that are likely to fuel anti-Islam sentiments popular among the president’s political base in the United States,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump retweeted the video posts from an ultranationalist British party leader, Jayda Fransen, who has previously been charged in the United Kingdom with ‘religious aggravated harassment,’ according to news reports.”

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Bloomberg: “Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. say they’ll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, undercutting President Trump’s promise that his plan will create jobs and boost wages for the middle class.”

“The president has held fast to his pledge even as top executives’ comments have run counter to it for months. Instead of hiring more workers or raising their pay, many companies say they’ll first increase dividends or buy back their own shares.”

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“The National Democratic Training Committee, which makes a free online candidate training program, plans to spend $4 million in 2018 in the hopes of getting 50,000 Dems to use their services to run for office,” Axios reports.

“The digital approach could help the party attract younger candidates — ultimately helping address the Democrats’ old-people problem.”

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A new McKinsey study says massive government intervention “will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030,” Axios reports.

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James Hohmann: “Trump campaigned like a populist but governs like a plutocrat. Warren finds herself increasingly well positioned to prosecute that case for Democrats. The effort to dismantle the agency she dreamed up personally pains her, and she pledges to fight tirelessly to protect it, but Mulvaney’s takeover also offers a compelling political rationale to build a 2020 campaign around — if she chooses.”

“Many of the white working-class folks who turned out for Trump across the industrial Midwest did so because they believed he was so wealthy that he could thumb his nose at fat-cat bankers. They took him at his word that he’d be tougher on the big banks and the billionaire class than Hillary Clinton because he didn’t need to give paid speeches or raise money from them for his foundation. With a White House full of Goldman Sachs alumni, the reality has not matched the rhetoric. The GOP tax plan offers additional data points.”

Also worth mentioning: “Trump seems fixated, even obsessed, with Warren. He mentions her all the time.”

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

4 comments on “The Open Thread for November 30, 2017

  1. Seems McCain has reverted to form and now will vote for the tax bill, not surprised, even near death he remains the tool of the rich and powerful. Fun with Matt Lauer or not this latest raid on the treasury is the most important issue of the day and will have lasting repercussions for the nation. This is the time when I notice a lack of clear and strong voices from the Dem leadership, rather than leading the charge they merely agree it would be a good idea. Pathetic and typical all in one.

  2. “Many of the white working-class folks who turned out for Trump across the industrial Midwest did so because they believed he was so wealthy that he could thumb his nose at fat-cat bankers.” – what morons… but…

    I’d like to discuss this a bit. It has been….. oy vey, NOT ON THIS PARTICULAR THREAD, BUT ON THIS SITE IN THE PAST (there I go breaking the multiverse rules again.. or do the multiverse rules only apply in that other thread? so confusing)..
    Anyway, it has been posited that the only reason these people voted for Trump is because they love racism.
    I agree with this statement 90%. That is to say, Dumpy won their vote by being a racist, but shored it up with his populist economic lies. (lies). Can these racists be won back… even temporarily… with the same economic message coming from a non-racist party?
    I think they can. I think it will take an economic disaster for it to happen however. It has to be bad FOR THEM. Things essentially need to be as rocky as they were in 07/08 or else that message wont resonate with them. His cabinet is a Goldman Sachs reunion party and no one seems to care…. I think they will if the economy tanks.
    By 2020, middle class taxes will start to go back up as a result of this plan that is going to pass. I think Senator Warren can run a very effective campaign on permanent middle class tax cuts, paid for by taxing “Trump’s cabinet of billionaires”. 2020 will also 3 more years worth of college age students who will see their tuition tax credits go away, thus condemning them to more debt will be motivated and … as these youneons tend to be more idealistic, A more genuinely progressive candidate is a must. Sure, they will make up baggage, but if that candidate already has a large “fan base”, it wont matter. Esspecially if they stick to a Danica Roem style campaign of “moving past these settled social issues and focusing on what ‘really’ matters to Americans” … that was a very effective way of combating the teabaggery.
    And DD… i dont want it to be Bernie. Warren all the way.

    • Same here, Warren is the one. I think above all else the Dems need to recapture the spirit of the New Deal, Medicare and Medicaid and fight for these programs. And I agree, it’s going to take economic pain to change the hardcore Trump voters minds. At some point the market is going to crash, and I suspect it will be the equal or better of 2008. And this time it’s going to hurt a whole lot worse.

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