The Open Thread for February 13, 2018

TRUMP’S HORRIBLE BUDGET. Dylan Matthews: “On Monday, President Donald Trump unveiled the second budget proposal of his presidency, encompassing proposals affecting defense and non-defense funding for government agencies, tax changes, and funding for social insurance and assistance programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps.

The budget broadly resembles the budget Trump released last year, and both closely follow budget plans put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan when he was the House Budget Committee chair. Ryan’s previous budget proposals featured trillions in cuts to programs for the poor. While Trump largely leaves the non-disability portions of Social Security unscathed, and boosts funding for border security, veterans, and defense, he cuts just about everything else — including Medicare, which was largely spared in the fiscal year 2018 budget.

The new budget also calls for passing an Obamacare replacement bill that deeply cuts Medicaid to far below its pre-Obamacare levels, making the tax bill passed in 2017 permanent, and slashing food stamps dramatically.”

BRAND’S REASON FOR LEAVING. Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand “had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday,” NBC News reports.

“Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and fear she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation… As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.”

Josh Marshall: “Brand sees that continued association with Trump and the Trump DOJ is a threat to her reputation. Maybe that’s just based on the stuff we all see now. Maybe she sees some storm coming. Both seem possible. Either way, that’s a pretty plausible concern. She got the offer. She took it. I’ve heard speculation that perhaps Walmart is doing Trump a favor, helping get Brand out of the way. We have no basis for thinking that on the current evidence. But even if it were true, I think the same interpretation applies. She thinks the best thing for her career is to get out now. As a matter of self-interest, who can blame her.”

Stuart Rothenberg: “The generic ballot is just one measure of the two parties’ strengths during the cycle, which is why any analysis of the cycle should look at multiple indicators: including multiple poll questions, fundraising numbers, measures of enthusiasm, candidate recruitment and district-level survey data in competitive seats.”

“So, watch the generic ballot, but don’t become a prisoner to it.”

“Democratic prospects of taking over the House are not measurably worse than they were a month or two ago. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to believe that they are better and improving.”

THE GOP NEEDS TO BE FUMIGATED. Tom Nichols: “Republicans once believed in limited government, fiscal restraint, support for the defense and national security establishments, family values, and a strong American role in maintaining global order. More than that, we were the party that believed in logic and prudence over emotion. Our hearts were perhaps too cold, but never bleeding.”

“Today’s Republicans, however, are a party of bellowing drama queens whose elected representatives blow up spending caps, bust the deficit, and attack America’s law enforcement and national security agencies as dangerous conspirators. Their leader expects banana republic parades, coddles the Kremlin, protects violent men in positions of responsibility, and overlooks child molestation. The rank-and-file GOP members who once claimed that liberals were creating a tyrannical monarchy in the Oval Office now applaud the expansion of the presidency into a gigantic cult of personality.”

“So, am I still a Republican?”

NATIONWIDE CONCEALED CARRY. “Of all the political and cultural issues that divide red states from blue ones, none is more volatile than guns and who can carry them,” 60 Minutes reports.

“Conservative rural states like Arizona and West Virginia allow almost anyone to carry a loaded firearm in public, while in urban states and big cities, it can be a felony.”

“But a piece of legislation quietly churning its way through Congress may change all that by making gun permits more like driver’s licenses, transportable across state lines. If you are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in your home state, you would be allowed to carry it in all of them.”

I respect Sessions for telling the truth about his racist plans and beliefs.  He is not hiding it anymore.  Anglo-American.  Not dirty Latino-American or African-Americans.  Whites.  Not Brown or Blacks.  Got it.

A RECKONING IS COMING. David Remnick: “Trump’s cruel and clueless remarks are of a piece with the tactics he has used to tamp down all his other scandals, miscues, and embarrassments. Just as he tries to divert attention from his, and his circle’s, errors and wrongdoing in the Russia scandal by shouting ‘fake news,’ by casting blame on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, and by deploying a congressional lackey like Devin Nunes, he diverts attention from his own encyclopedic record of miserable behavior toward women by casting doubt on the accusers. This is a neat trick, yet hardly original. It has come to the point when even Trump’s closest aides know that a reckoning is coming. It’s not going to be O.K.”

BUZZFEED IS WORKING TO VERIFY THE STEELE DOSSIER. “For the last six months, a team led by a former top FBI and White House cybersecurity official has been traveling the globe on a secret mission to verify parts of the Trump dossier,” Foreign Policy reports.

“Their client: BuzzFeed, the news organization that first published the dossier on President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which is now being sued over its explosive allegations.”

“The investigation, being conducted by FTI Consulting, is running in parallel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in Kremlin-directed efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. With the special counsel probe under wraps, the BuzzFeed court case could represent the first public airing of an investigation into the veracity of some of the dossier’s claims.”

I hope these are not the official White House Portraits that will be displayed in the White House one day.  If so, I am not a fan.  Yes, they are interesting and groundbreaking portraits, but I just don’t feel like they should be the official ones hung in the White House. From my reading of the article, it seems like these portraits are just the ones that will be in the Smithsonian.

TRUMP’S CENSUS PICK WITHDRAWS. “The Trump administration’s controversial pick to run the 2020 census has withdrawn from consideration to be deputy director of the US Census Bureau,” Mother Jones reports.

“In November, Politico reported that the administration planned put Thomas Brunell, a political science professor who has defended Republican redistricting efforts in more than a dozen states, in charge of the decennial census count. He was supposed to begin in late November… Now Brunell has withdrawn from consideration, according to two sources who were informed of his decision.”

HILLARY’S UNDER THE RADAR STRATEGY FOR 2018. Washington Post: “In the first electoral season since the stunning loss that extinguished her years-long drive for the presidency, Clinton, 70, has begun a discreet and low-profile reentry into the political fray.”

“Her emerging 2018 strategy, according to more than a dozen friends and advisers familiar with her plans, is to leverage the star power she retains in some Democratic circles on behalf of select candidates while remaining sufficiently below the radar to avoid becoming a useful target for Republicans seeking to rile up their base.”

“Most likely, they said, Clinton will attempt to help Democratic candidates who have a history of supporting her and her family, and expending her political capital in a number of the 23 congressional districts she won in 2016 but are now held by a Republican. Lending a hand to Democrats organizing at a grass-roots level is a priority, they added.”

AS GERRYMANDERED AS THE OLD UNCONSTITUTIONAL MAP. Washington Post: “On Friday, Republican leaders in the legislature submitted their new map for the governor’s approval. As directed by the Supreme Court, the new map is much more compact than the old one… The new districts generally respect county and municipal boundaries and don’t ‘wander seemingly arbitrarily across Pennsylvania,’ as the state’s Supreme Court wrote.”

“Unfortunately for Pennsylvania voters, the new districts show just as much partisan bias as the old ones.”

“Under the existing map, Democratic House candidates have routinely received roughly 50 percent of the statewide popular House vote but only five of the state’s 18 House seats. The new map is unlikely to change that.”

NANCY PELOSI IS INCREDIBLY UNDERRATED. Dana Houle: “Yes, of course, Pelosi is unpopular. So are Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). So is Congress. Yet, for some reason, only Pelosi gets blamed for an unpopularity that really stems from disgust with Congress and partisan polarization. Pelosi is not a scorched-earth partisan; indeed, at numerous times in her career she has been criticized for cutting deals, such as on Iraq War appropriations and Obamacare. But she also understands polarization. She sees her public role not as using policy to communicate a common ground to centrist swing voters but to expose differences between Democrats and Republicans.”

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

4 comments on “The Open Thread for February 13, 2018

  1. The Republicans never believed in a balanced budget after Reagan, Regan let the deficit genie out of the bottle. Once the politicians realized they could get away with murdering sound fiscal policy and pay no price at the polls deficits became eternal and indeed “nothing to fear”. As ever it’s the innate stupidity of the electorate that makes it possible. Like all things Republican they will continue to play this game until it’s broken and no longer benefits them, just like in Kansas I suspect that day to be coming. The same is true of gerrymandering and voter suppression, they will not stop until they are made to do so or no longer believe it benefits them.

  2. The size of the Federal debt and deficit do not matter because the debt is denominated in the currency issued by the Federal government. The Federal government can always cover the debt service because it can simply issue however much $ needed. What matters is what the debt is used for: Bullshit wars as opposed to Medicare-for-All.

    • Gee, I could have sworn that was tried by the Weimar Republic. The result was inflation that has yet to be equaled if memory serves, it was known as hyper inflation and rendered Germany’s currency near worthless in the early 20’s. But you knew that, right?

      • Weimar was burdened by reparations for World War 1, payable in gold, foreign currency and commodities and other hard assets; not in a German issued currency. That is a totally different circumstance than a US Federal debt that’s denominated in its own currency.

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