Open Thread

The Open Thread for March 12, 2018

Stan Collender: “The State Department and its secretary, Rex Tillerson, so far have gotten all the criticism for not spending the $120 million appropriated to it to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. elections, but the Republican majority in Congress is equally as guilty for the Trump administration’s failure to use these funds…”

“The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act requires Congress to approve a request by the president not to spend a previously enacted appropriation, that is, an ‘impoundment.’ The act was put in place in the early 1970s in large part because President Richard Nixon was refusing to spend appropriations and Congress had no way to force the White House to do it…”

“Trump’s refusal to spend the previously enacted $120 million appropriation is pure Nixonian in its audacity. There is one big difference between what Trump is doing now and Nixon did then, however. This time, the Republican-controlled Congress has the ability to force the president to spend the appropriation and so far has refused to do so. That makes Congress a co-conspirator.”

“The legislative blitz that rocketed the $1.5 trillion tax cut through Congress in less than two months created a host of errors and ambiguities in the law that businesses big and small are just now discovering and scrambling to address,” the New York Times reports.

“Companies and trade groups are pushing the Treasury Department and Congress to fix the law’s consequences, some intended and some not, including provisions that disadvantage certain farmers, hurt restaurateurs and retailers and could balloon the tax bills of large multinational corporations.”

“While Treasury can clear up uncertainty about some of the murky provisions, actual errors and unintended language can be solved only legislatively — at a time when Democrats seem disinclined to lend votes to shoring up a law they had no hand in passing and are actively trying to dismantle.”

Lawyers associated with President Trump are considering legal action to stop 60 Minutes from airing an interview with Stormy DanielsBuzzFeed News reports.

“It was not immediately clear what legal argument the lawyers would be making to support the considered litigation, and Trump and his legal team often have threatened litigation without following through on those threats in the past.”

“A bloc of Senate Republicans is readying legislation to halt Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, in the most provocative step yet taken to thwart the president on trade,” Politico reports.

“Senate Republicans discussed the matter in depth on Thursday, just hours before Trump announced he would go through with his crackdown on imported metals. And they are gearing up for an open clash with Trump over economic policy, with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) telling reporters that he will introduce legislation to block the tariffs.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren told CNN that she isn’t running for president in 2020.  Said Warren: “For the people of Massachusetts, and for the people across this country. This government is working better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. I am in these fights, and I am in this fight to retain my Senate seat in 2018. That’s where I’m focused. That’s where I’m going to stay focused. I’m not running for president.”

President Trump “got business out of the way quickly Saturday night – urging voters to elect Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, who’s locked in an unexpectedly tough special election battle in Pennsylvania – before turning to the main subject of the night: himself,” Politico reports.

“Returning to top campaign form, Trump made fun of Washington and congratulated himself for maintaining his iconoclastic style in office, despite critics who have called for him to take his job more seriously—including in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal called out by Trump.”

Said Trump: “Don’t forget, this got us elected. If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn’t come here tonight.”

Karen Tumulty asks if unions are still a factor in American politics.  “The surprisingly close special election to fill a vacant House seat in this Pittsburgh-area district is shaping up to be a test of whether organized labor can regain its relevance — in electoral politics, and with its own declining membership.

Unions have gone all-in for charismatic Democratic newcomer Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine officer and federal prosecutor, who has been running roughly even in the polls. Pennsylvania’s 18th District has not been held by a Democrat since 2002 and went for Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. […]

To make up for Saccone’s deficiencies, Republicans are trying to bury Lamb with outside money. One super PAC alone — the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is affiliated with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — has spent $3.5 million, and put 50 full-time staffers on the ground.”

Dana Milbank on earlier tries at saving steel with tariffs.  “The steel industry, shedding workers, shutting plants and bleeding red ink, pleaded with the federal government for tariffs on imports. As the government obliged, a young reporter on the steel beat for the Wall Street Journal cautioned that tariffs could “ultimately do the industry more harm than good” because the real threat to big steel wasn’t foreign competition but changing technology.  That was 1992. The administration that imposed the trade barriers was George H.W. Bush’s. And the young steel reporter was me.  […]

What has changed is that Americans consume far less steel — little more than half as much per capita compared with in the 1970s — as improved technology means automobiles and other applications require less of it. At the same time, improved steelmaking productivity means the industry requires dramatically less labor. Steel production is down by a third since the 1970s, but employment is down by about three-quarters.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation to tighten gun restrictions, which raises the legal age for gun purchases to 21, institutes a three-day waiting period, and establishes a program to arm some school personnel. The NRA’s Florida lobbyist denounced the bill as an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment and said it passed the state House in “a display of bullying and coercion.”


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

8 comments on “The Open Thread for March 12, 2018

  1. DCDelaware

    “…bullying and coercion.” Isn’t that the NRA MO? (along with $, no matter the source)

  2. Bittersweet to get “finality” from Sen Warren. I have been a fan of her staying in the senate (with sanders) to bring the D’s back tot he left, so this isnt too much of a let down, but it would have been so sweet to see her beat 45.

    Anyway, I DO this doesn’t mean Dems have gotten the “move out of the way for Biden” order. There is going to be such frantic need for ‘party unity” than ANY primary opponent to whoever gets anointed will be cast as underground help for Drump…. you heard it here first.

  3. cassandram

    “While Treasury can clear up uncertainty about some of the murky provisions, actual errors and unintended language can be solved only legislatively — at a time when Democrats seem disinclined to lend votes to shoring up a law they had no hand in passing and are actively trying to dismantle.”

    Dear Democrats:

    Tell your Congressional colleagues that you are available to help fix their broken tax bill once we get a clean DACA bill and ACA fixes done.

  4. meatball

    weird, Florida now has stricter gun laws than DE.

    • for now
      …. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but methinks the lawsuit from the NRA/KKK will hit the SCOTUS right around the time Kenney retires and the mid-terms kick into high gear. “VOTE GOP OR THEY’LL TAKE YER GUNS”

  5. I was going to write about Betsy DeVos and her 60 Minutes interview, but realized “she’s an idiot” sums it up.

    • Truly she is a very rich idiot, I watched the interview and she failed to answer a single question, a pathetic reminder that everything is for sale in America. Even a seat in the presidents cabinet.

  6. Was at the gym and as such a captive audience to watch the news on CNN, saw not only the pathetic Betsy Devos but heard a good bit of Trump’s rally. Containing my gag reflex it’s amazing how everything comes back to Trump, unless it’s bad of course. Really heard little or nothing about Saccone, dare say on purpose as he’s a classic bad candidate and Trump doesn’t want too much exposure if he’s defeated. Might I add Go Stormy Go! You knew Trump was a world class sleaze ball and the longer this story stays active the better. Hoping against hope the 60 Minutes interview comes out. Suspect what she had to say will be both informative and hilarious, as in “you know what they say about tiny hands? Well it’s true….”.

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