Open Thread for December 21, 2017

A new CNN poll finds that 56% of voters say they favor a Democrat in their congressional district, while 38% prefer a Republican.  “That 18-point edge is the widest Democrats have held in CNN polling on the 2018 contests, and the largest at this point in midterm election cycles dating back two decades.”

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds just 36% of Americans say that they will definitely or probably vote for Donald Trump if he runs for reelection in 2020, while half indicate that they’ll definitely or probably support his Democratic general election challenger.

A new Pew Research poll finds that 60% of Americans say President Trump’s election has led to worse race relations in the United States.  Just 8% say Trump’s election has led to better race relations, while 30% say it has not made a difference.

new poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Tennessee finds former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) leading Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in a U.S. Senate match up, 46% to 41% among likely voters, with 13% undecided.



New York Times: “Congressional Democrats — who all rejected the measure — predicted a severe political backlash. They are itching to pound Republicans for what Democrats consider to be an ill-timed and ill-conceived giveaway to the rich by a party and a president who promised to intercede for the working class.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) labeled the bill “simply theft — monumental, brazen theft from the American middle class and from every person who aspires to reach it.”

“Republicans dismissed the denunciation as sour grapes. They didn’t seem overly worried about the political consequences of tying their future to legislation that was polling badly. For many, this was precisely what they had come to Washington to do, and they had finally done it with the help of President Trump — a man who might sometimes make their lives more difficult but was eager to sign their tax bill and claim his share of the credit.”

James Hohmann: “I interviewed a dozen GOP operatives yesterday about how they plan to deal with this issue in 2018. They said the numbers right now are so bad that they can only get better. They freely acknowledged the head winds, but they see an opening to sell the cuts and insist that perceptions are still not fully baked.”


Politico: “The secretive office that processes workplace misconduct complaints on Capitol Hill has declined Sen. Tim Kaine’s request for data on sexual harassment claims filed in the upper chamber — data that Kaine had said he would make public. The Virginia Democrat sought details Dec. 6 on the taxpayer-funded settlements that the Hill’s Office of Compliance approved for Senate employers, adding that he would release the broad outlines of the data in the interest of transparency as Congress considers an overhaul of its own harassment system.”



Politico: “Obamacare survived the first year of President Trump, but it’s badly damaged. The sweeping Republican tax bill on the verge of final passage would repeal the individual mandate in 2019, potentially taking millions of people out of the health insurance market. On top of that, the Trump administration has killed some subsidies, halved the insurance enrollment period, gutted the Obamacare marketing campaign, and rolled out a regulatory red carpet for skimpy new health plans that will change the insurance landscape in ways that are harmful to former President Obama’s signature health care law.”

“None of these individually represent a death blow. But in aggregate, the past year adds up to a slow, stealthy erosion of the law.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that the GOP’s tax bill will hamper Obamacare and force Democrats into negotiations to replace the law, Bloomberg reports.

Said Cornyn: “Arguably, doing away with the individual mandate makes the Affordable Care Act unworkable — not that it was particularly great beforehand. Hopefully this will precipitate the bipartisan negotiation on what we need to do as an alternative.”


Gov. Chris Christie (R), who helped put Jared Kushner’s father in prison, “showed no mercy toward the senior White House adviser, encouraging Russia probe investigators to closely examine any hand he may have had in potential wrongdoings by the Trump campaign,” Newsweek reports.

Christie said Kushner “deserves the scrutiny, you know why? Because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role. Well then if he’s innocent of that, then that will come out as Mueller examines all the facts. And if he’s not, that will come out too.”



First Read: “Strikingly, this kind of toll on Trump and the GOP didn’t have to happen — at least not this soon. The economy is growing (by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans say Trump has made things better rather than worse). There isn’t a major war. There were tragedies (the shootings in Las Vegas and Texas) and natural disasters (the hurricanes) that the president could have used to bring the country together.”

“Indeed, you could argue that a generic president right now would be holding close to a 50 percent job rating. But Trump is no generic president.”


John Cassidy: “At this stage, the unfairness and ideological bent of the proposal are widely recognized, as is its corrupt nature. Giveaways to the wealthy and large corporations have been at the heart of the bill all along, while last-minute changes made to the final bill, unveiled on Friday, included goodies for a number of groups, including architects, engineers, and the owners of a particular sort of commercial real-estate entity—the kind that Donald Trump, Senator Bob Corker, and certain other members of Congress just so happen to own.”

“What isn’t yet fully appreciated is how porous and potentially unstable the rest of the tax code will be after the bill is passed. With a corporate rate of just twenty per cent, and a big new break for proprietors of unincorporated businesses and certain types of partnerships, the new code will contain enormous incentives for tax-driven restructurings, creative accounting, and outright fraud. Every tax adviser and scammer in the country will be looking for ways to reclassify regular salary income as favored types of business income.”



Morning Consult: “For several months, state Republican Party affiliates have been pushing the GOP tax bill through a quiet ‘ground game’ initiative targeting voters in states that are emerging as potential 2018 battlegrounds – even before the final contours and details of the package were set by GOP negotiators on Capitol Hill.”

“Some Republicans view the campaign – which has been prominent in major battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada – as a dry run for next year’s midterm elections, in which the GOP will defend majorities in both the House and the Senate.”


“The election in the 94th House of Delegates District is now a tie, after a three-judge panel ruled that a ballot that was rejected in Tuesday’s recount should be counted as a vote for Del. David Yancey,” the Newport News Daily Press reports.

“The judges deliberated for several hours behind closed doors over whether they should look at the ballot, whether anyone could be sure which ballot it was and finally what the markings on it.”



Washington Post: “Over nearly three minutes, Pence offered plaudit after plaudit after plaudit, praising Trump’s vision, his words, his strategy and his results in light of the passage of tax cuts. By the end, Pence offered 14 separate commendations for Trump in less than three minutes — math that works out to one every 12.5 seconds. And each bit of praise was addressed directly to Trump, who was seated directly across the table.”


“The most sweeping tax code overhaul in a generation will soon head to President Trump’s desk — and Republicans are enjoying a victory dance. Now comes the real-world turmoil,” Politico reports.

“America’s new tax system will go into effect in just 12 days, and payroll companies are bracing for confusion as they figure out new withholding rules that will affect millions of American paychecks.”

Walter Shapiro: “Trump has promised that the over-taxed IRS will issue new withholding schedules by February. But because all 150 million taxpayers subject to withholding will have to file new W-4 forms detailing their deductions, there exists the potential for a brief outburst of chaos reminiscent of the failed rollout of Obamacare.”


FiveThirtyEight: “The company, which processed 19.7 million American tax returns in 2016, exists because so many Americans would rather pay someone to do their taxes than perform all those calculations themselves. If filing were to become as easy as writing a postcard, then H&R Block stood to lose business. As Trump said when he met with Brady and Ryan: ‘The only people that aren’t going to like this is H&R Block. They’re not going to be very happy. That’s probably one of the only companies in the country that’s not going to be thrilled.’ The firm’s stock price dropped 2.6 percent that day to $23.86, the lowest since April 24.”

“Shareholders shouldn’t have panicked. H&R Block’s stock price has gained 14 percent since Nov. 2, as it became clear that postcard filing was more gimmick than revolution.”


Tom Nichols: “This raises an important question: How should conservative critics of the administration approach those people who, a year in, remain unshakably attached to an administration plumbing such moral depths? Should we engage and try to understand these voters, or should we shame and scold in an effort to reawaken some moral sense in a party that once proclaimed itself the defender of patriotic and family values?”

“Personally, I am in the ‘shame and scold’ camp. The ‘engage and understand’ approach is based on the deeply flawed assumption that these voters don’t know what they are doing. It is a kind of ‘root causes’ explanation, in which Trump’s supporters are good people who are merely expressing a yawp of anger at a globalized world that has left them behind.”

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

2 comments on “Open Thread for December 21, 2017

  1. cassandram

    Nancy Pelosi tells the GOP that they have to pass the CR on their own absent any attention to D priorities.

    • It’s fantasy to think a shut down will blow back on the Dems if for no other reason that the Republicans have been playing this game since Newt Gingrich, the father of the government shutdown. The question is not will it produce anger, only how much anger.

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