“Congressional Republicans finished rewriting their massive plan to overhaul the tax code on Friday, adding in a significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit aimed at boosting benefits for low-income families,” the Washington Post reports.
“The change was added to meet demands from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who threatened on Thursday to vote against the bill unless the credit was expanded, injecting last-minute chaos into a process.” Axios: “It now seems likely Rubio will vote for the bill and, sparing any other last-minute issues, the bill will cruise to passage next week.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said that he will support the GOP tax plan, saying the legislation represents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” The Hill reports. Said Corker: “I know every bill we consider is imperfect and the question becomes is our country better off with or without this piece of legislation. I think we are better off with it. I realize this is a bet on our country’s enterprising spirit, and that is a bet I am willing to make.” Axios: “Corker’s vote essentially cements the tax bill’s passage before the Christmas deadline.”
The best explanation of GOP behavior right now is they've become fatalistic about massive electoral losses and so are simply doing what they believe/trying to please the donors and lobbyists who can give them jobs after they're voted out https://t.co/YegX9ZQ6p6
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 15, 2017
Taegan Goddard says the Republican legislative agenda is dead on arrival in Congress next year: “By losing the special Senate election in Alabama, Republicans will only have the narrowest of majorities in the U.S. Senate next year, 51 to 49. For all intents and purposes, it’s impossible for them to pass anything without Democratic support.
Barring a new effort at bipartisan dealmaking, that means the next items on the Trump agenda — cuts in entitlement spending, welfare reform, and building a wall on the Mexican border — are not going to happen. And it means there’s no chance Republicans can resuscitate their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Even if Republicans successfully pass their tax bill, they must immediately move to passing a government funding bill. And since their votes are needed to prevent a government shutdown, Democrats will be able to extract major concessions on immigration protections for the dreamers and funding for child health care.”
Michael Gerson: “President Trump and his admirers are not just putting forth an agenda; they are littering the civic arena with deception and cruelty. They are discrediting even the good causes they claim to care about. They are condemning the country to durable social division. In Trump’s GOP, loyalty requires corruption. So loyalty itself must be reconceived.”
“What would weaken the grip of Trump on the GOP? Obviously not moral considerations. The president has crossed line after line of decency and ethics with only scattered Republican bleats of protest. Most of the party remains in complicit silence. The few elected officials who have broken with Trump have become targets of the conservative media complex — savaged as an example to the others.”
“This is the sad logic of Republican politics today: The only way that elected Republicans will abandon Trump is if they see it as in their self-interest. And the only way they will believe it is in their self-interest is to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.”
The Assault on Mueller https://t.co/kynwb8zCqS
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) December 15, 2017
Michael Bloomberg: “CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to ‘jump-start the economy’ — a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company — or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that.”
“Instead, Congress did what it always does: It put politics first. After spending the first nine months of the year trying to jam through a repeal of Obamacare without holding hearings, heeding independent analysis or seeking Democratic input, Republicans took the same approach to tax ‘reform’ — and it shows.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “seemed focused this week on rebooting his image as a beleaguered Cabinet member on the outs with his boss and his own employees — holding a rare town hall with employees, promising foreign trips into 2018 and saying he is ‘learning’ to enjoy his job,” the Washington Post reports.
“But then he went off script by offering another invitation for diplomatic talks with nuclear-armed North Korea, putting him at odds once again with President Trump and senior White House officials, who are increasingly exasperated with the secretary of state and say he cannot remain in his job for the long term.”
New York Times: “After we published a list of President Trump’s lies this summer, we heard a common response from his supporters. They said, in effect: Yes, but if you made a similar list for previous presidents, it would be just as bad.”
“We’ve set out to make that list… We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Trump, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements. The result: Trump is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.”
President Donald Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin over the phone on Thursday and thanked the Russian leader for lauding U.S. economic performance during his annual press conference, the White House said Thursday evening.
Putin specifically praised Trump’s “quite serious achievements” when it comes to economic growth during the press conference. The Russian leader also dismissed the notion that Russia worked with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election.
Open Secrets has released a new tool to track payments from political entities to properties still financially benefiting President Trump and his family.
Republicans have no idea what crimes they're covering up https://t.co/lLuCnLb8jf
— Crooked Media (@crookedmedia) December 15, 2017
Washington Post: “Moore, who lost by 20,715 votes, is not in a position to ask for a recount. Alabama law does not trigger a recount unless the margin between two candidates is less than 0.5 percent; according to the latest count by the Associated Press, the margin between Jones and Moore is 1.5 percent.”
“Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who sided with Moore’s campaign during several election controversies, has said that the election will be certified Dec. 28. But at the same time, Merrill’s office has had to brush off conspiracy theories promoted by pro-Moore websites, which have suggested that the results were tainted by fraud.”
“One theory, which went viral before being debunked by Snopes.com, was that multiple black voters were caught trying to vote with fake IDs. (More than 95 percent of black voters supported Jones, giving him his winning margin.) Another, also debunked quickly, was that vans of illegal voters were seen somewhere in the state.”
HR 2 will be the new Voting Rights Act-Paid Leave-Universal Pre-K-More Gun Control Bill. We will split them up bc two signing ceremonies is better than one
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) December 15, 2017
Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm, the Washington Post reports.
“Crisis PR firms are often retained to handle a negative development or an avalanche of media inquiries. Kushner has been in the headlines almost daily and he has complained to friends about the nonstop negative attention from the news media. White House officials have speculated for months that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, would return to New York, but he has told associates over the last month that he plans to stay.”
1) GOP rep. calls for his colleagues to demand Mueller's firing.
2) Ranking Dem on House Intel is worried their Russia investigation will be shut down.
3) Trump floats Flynn pardon.
4) Repubs say they expect deputy FBI director to be forced out.
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) December 15, 2017
Martin Longman says the GOP Will Pass the Tax Bill Because They Don’t Know What Else to Do: “If the Republicans do manage to pass a tax bill, it won’t be because 16 percent of the public thinks it will benefit them. It won’t be because 55 percent of the people oppose the bill. It won’t be because a president with a 32 percent approval rating is demanding it. And it won’t really be because of that 15 percent deficit the GOP is suffering in the generic congressional ballot. It will be because they have no idea what else to do. And it will be because the Republican donors will close their checkbooks if they don’t give them a trillion and a half dollars in tax breaks. […]
An interesting thing about these kinds of donations is that they’re basically investments. The donors give money expecting to get more money in return. This is quite different from the kinds of donations I occasionally give to political candidates. I do it because I have policies that I’d like to see pursued that will be advantageous to the country or to people in need. I don’t expect to ever see my money returned to me by the IRS with a huge interest payment attached. I think most people who give money to political causes are in the same category. Greed has nothing to do with it, and whatever self-interest there might be is broad enough to be of benefit to lots of people, not just the donor or the donor’s business.
The Republicans get a lot of these types of donations, but they’re ultimately beholden only to the folks that cut the large checks. That’s why they feel compelled to pass a huge corporate tax cut even though the people clearly think it’s bad policy and reject it.”
Protests are being planned by a national coalition if Trump fires Mueller. You can find one near you here https://t.co/plVT1Ztyty
— (((Andy Ratto))) (@andyratto) December 15, 2017
A new AP-NORC poll finds President Trump’s job approval rating at just 32%, making him the least popular first-year president on record.
“As 2017 comes to a close, the majority of Americans painted a broadly pessimistic view of Trump’s presidency, the nation’s politics and the overall direction of the country. Just three in 10 Americans said the United States is heading in the right direction, and 52 percent said the country is worse off since Trump became president — worrisome signs both for the White House and Republicans heading into a midterm election year where control of Congress will be at stake.”
The same poll finds that most Americans think Donald Trump did something illegal or at least unethical regarding ties between his presidential campaign and Russia — and they think he’s trying to obstruct the investigation looking into those possible connections. Most people believe Trump is trying to obstruct the investigations, which have resulted in charges against four of his campaign advisers and increasingly appear focused on the president’s inner circle. Four in 10 Americans think the president has done something illegal when it comes to Russia, while an additional 3 in 10 say he’s at least done something unethical. And 68 percent disapprove of his response to the investigations.