Open Thread

The Open Thread for October 23, 2018

Trump’s Fake Tax Cut is going nowhere.  Stan Collender: “I’m going to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant that only the specifics of his new tax proposal would be announced rather than that the plan would be enacted prior to November. With Congress out of session and the GOP leadership almost certainly against calling its members back to Washington during the final days of the election, it’s hard to imagine that he meant anything but that there would be an announcement.”

“But even assuming that what Trump meant was just an announcement, it’s hard to see how what he might propose (For the record, I’m not at all convinced he will actually propose anything) can get done in the lame duck.”

Tax cuts are a bust for the GOP.  Politico: “Republicans thought their massive tax overhaul would be the centerpiece of their midterm strategy. But it turns out they were so wrong they’ve been barely mentioning the $1.5 trillion tax cut on the campaign trail.”

“With polls showing Americans are more likely to disapprove of the tax law than to approve of it, GOP candidates have been changing the subject to other issues like immigration and health care. Some of the lawmakers who wrote the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are even struggling to hang onto their seats.”

Trump’s Cruz Rally will energize Texas Democrats.  Texas Tribune: “When President Donald Trump first announced he would travel to Texas to campaign for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, at least one Texas Republican operative prayed for the rally to take place at Kyle Field in College Station — and the sentiment had nothing to do with Aggie pride.”

“At issue was a fear that if the Trump rally took place in one of Texas’ big cities — particularly Dallas or Houston — the president’s presence could further incite the Democratic base in races where Republican incumbents are in the fights of their political lives.”

“The prayer wasn’t answered. Instead, Trump is headed to the heart of Houston on Monday. And some — but not all — Texas Republican operatives are anxious that he could hurt local incumbents, particularly U.S. Rep. John Culberson and state Rep. Sarah Davis.”

Massive Turnout makes Midterms Unpredictable.  First Read notes “there is one unmistakable finding in our poll: Turnout is going to be sky-high this midterm season, surpassing vote totals from previous midterm cycles. And that record turnout means that the eventual outcome in November is likely to be unpredictable.”

“The turnout we’ll see in two weeks will be unprecedented for a midterm. The money we’re seeing — especially from Democratic candidates — is unprecedented. Also unprecedented is the fact that the sitting president is embracing that the midterms are a referendum on him.”

“And it all underscores that this election has no real historical comparison — not 2006, 2010 or 2014. Get ready to be surprised.”

Decision on Next GOP Leader depends on Election.  Mike Allen: “If Republicans hang on, the conference would likely be giddy after escaping death, and McCarthy will get credit. He’s known as an operator who can get things done — exactly what the new, certainly slimmer majority will need.”

“If Democrats get the gavel, all McCarthy has to do for minority leader is win more than half the conference in a secret ballot that doesn’t need to be ratified on the House floor. There’s a school of thought that he could be challenged by someone who promises to be a political disrupter — a polemicist who can function largely as a cable-TV conservative. McCarthy would have to lay out why members should stick with him after a crushing loss. But members are unlikely to blame him, insiders say. And I’m told members would see McCarthy as “a path back” to the majority, on policy and politics.”

“The likely swing vote if McCarthy were challenged would be House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who could bring along many of the most conservative members.”

Trump v. His Fed Chair.  Jonathan Swan: “The life of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is going from bad to worse. Trump is furious that Powell is raising interest rates quickly and even called the Fed the ‘biggest threat’ to a booming economy.”

“According to a source familiar with Trump’s thinking, the president feels the only way to get his message to Powell is by bashing him in the media. And I’ve heard nothing to suggest Trump will back off these attacks.”

Trump continues to lie about the Caravan.  Without offering evidence to support his claim, President Trump contended a large caravan of Central American migrants also includes “criminals” and “unknown Middle Easterners,” Roll Call reports.

“He did not provide an explanation for the claim, including whether he received the alleged information from U.S. intelligence officials. Trump frequently makes false statements that appeal to and fire up his conservative base; the crucial congressional midterms are just 15 days away.”

The Court is now a threat to Redistricting Reform.  Rick Hasen: “These are perilous times even for those who think that federal courts have no business messing with how state legislatures draw lines for legislative and congressional districts and that the issue is best left up to each state’s political system. Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has left the stage, it is unlikely that the Court will stop extreme partisan gerrymandering.”

“But the Court may do more than simply fail to intervene. Within a few years, the Supreme Court may well hold unconstitutional state political processes that have produced measurably better redistricting reform for the drawing of congressional districts.”

McCaskill’s toughest fight.   Nicholas Lemann: “Republicans have had McCaskill’s seat in their sights for years, and the fight over Kavanaugh has given a big boost to most of the candidates who are trying to unseat Democratic senators in red states. Polls show the Missouri race to be a tossup, with Josh Hawley gaining slightly in recent weeks. Outside money is pouring into the state —$54.9 million, according to the latest reports, from independent groups, evenly split between the two campaigns, plus nearly forty million that the candidates have raised themselves. The race, possibly the Senate’s closest this year, is a test of whether a Democrat who doesn’t openly break ranks with the national party — even an adept veteran like McCaskill—can survive in Trump country.”

Virginia will be a clue on election night.  Washington Post: “In Virginia, where Republicans hold a 7-4 advantage over Democrats in House seats, there are four real races, three in districts that Trump won handily two years ago and that Republicans have considered safe in recent cycles.”

“With suburban women trending nationwide against Trump, the Democrats have chosen women to run in all four of the tight races. Three are running for office for the first time. Two are veteran national security professionals — Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander who is challenging Rep. Scott Taylor in the 2nd, which includes Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. The challengers are running close to or even ahead of the Republicans, according to recent surveys. And the money is pouring in.”

Khashoggi Update.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he’ll “go into details” about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at meeting of his AKP party’s parliamentary group on Tuesday, Bloomberg reports.

Said Erdogan: “Why did 15 people come here, why did 18 people get arrested? All of this must be explained with all details.”

Trump ready to blame Ryan and McConnell.  Politico: “According to two people familiar with the conversations, Trump is distancing himself from a potential Republican thumping on Election Day. He’s telling confidantes that he doesn’t see the midterms as a referendum on himself, describing his 2020 reelection bid as ‘the real election.’ And he says that he holds House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responsible for protecting their congressional majorities.”

“According to one person with knowledge of these talks, Trump has said of Ryan and McConnell: ‘These are their elections … and if they screw it up, it’s not my fault.’ Other sources said Trump is sure to lash out at perhaps his favorite bogeyman of all — the media — for allegedly opposing him.”

Mueller’s Scrutiny of Roger Stone Deepens.  Washington Post: “In recent weeks, a grand jury in Washington has listened to more than a dozen hours of testimony and FBI technicians have pored over gigabytes of electronic messages as part of the special counsel’s quest to solve one burning mystery: Did longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone — or any other associate of the president — have advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release hacked Democratic emails in 2016?”

“While outwardly quiet for the last month, Robert Mueller’s investigators have been aggressively pursuing leads behind the scenes about whether Stone was in communication with the online group, whose disclosures of emails believed to have been hacked by Russian operatives disrupted the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the special counsel probe.”

“One apparent line of inquiry: whether Stone lied to Congress about his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks during the presidential race.”

Trump has no plans to ease up on his Trade War.  Jonathan Swan: “President Trump has no intention of easing his tariffs on China, according to three sources with knowledge of his private conversations. Instead, these sources say he wants Chinese leaders to feel more pain from his tariffs — which he believes need more time to fully kick in.”

“Trump’s trade war with China is at the ‘beginning of the beginning,’ according to a source familiar with Trump’s conversations. And his team doesn’t expect much from the tentatively planned meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires next month.”

“The Trump economic team has done no substantive planning so far for the bilateral meeting’s agenda, largely because the purpose of the meeting is for Trump and Xi to reconnect, eyeball each other, and feel each other out amid their escalating trade war.”

The Trump Immigration Message is all about Turnout.  “With just 17 days left until the election, President Trump is going all in on immigration as a way to help Republicans keep the House,” Axios reports.

Trump, at an Arizona rally last night: “Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and endless gangs.”

“The GOP hasn’t been able to effectively talk about health care (after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act) and their tax law isn’t polling well around the country. But immigration and stoking fear about Mexican immigrants propelled Trump to the White House in 2016, so he’s forcing the GOP back into that conversation.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for October 23, 2018

    • A plural doesn’t take an apostrophe.

      If that’s all a politician steals, I consider it a better-than-average outcome for the public.

      • “A plural doesn’t take an apostrophe.”

        Just goes to show why you should just delete the whole sentence when you alter your comment, and also why I’m just a landscaper.

  1. cassandram

    …a polemicist who can function largely as a cable-TV conservative

    One thing I wish D leadership would solve is its substance and direction on Comms. Ds won’t get lockstep behind talking points they are fed each day, but it would be useful to have a pool of them who would reliably communicate a larger and productive message in multiple venues.

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