The Open Thread for 12/20/2018

Playbook: “As of [Tuesday] night, there seemed to be a hint of a recognition that the White House had to accept a short-term deal. But the mood has turned sour over there [Wednesday], according to people we’ve spoken to. Stay tuned for some sense about whether they can take a stopgap to February.”

“This is a gift to Nancy Pelosi, some Republicans and Democrats are arguing. She gets to stand up to President Trump on the border wall again in February, after she’s set up her caucus. Sure, it might get in the way of a spending caps deal, but the politics are generally good for Pelosi.”

Said one conservative House Republican: “If we are going to lose, acknowledge it and do a CR for the rest of the fiscal year so that Nancy has no tool to leverage in February.”

As Jonathan Bernstein points out, that means the WALL is dead, for all time: “And so it’s gone, for almost two years. The White House doesn’t have the organization or discipline to push anything to the top of the congressional agenda and keep it there. Trump hasn’t demonstrated competent bargaining skills; he asks for the impossible, lashes out at allies and opponents, fails to grasp where the votes are, doesn’t seem to know what the other players want that he can get them, and folds easily. His frequent idle threats only hurt his reputation and strengthen the resolve of those he deals with.

CNN obtained a letter of intent to move forward with a Trump Tower in Moscow signed by Donald Trump on October 28, 2015, Axios reports.

“The signed letter doesn’t have direct legal implications or suggest obvious wrongdoing. But it does raise questions about why Trump has repeatedly denied having anything to do with Russia, especially as new details about the timeline of the Moscow project have emerged.”

When asked about the letter, Rudy Giuliani incorrectly told CNN that it had not been signed.

Now that a Texas judge has ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional — all because of its individual mandate — a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests Republicans “may find themselves wishing for a different outcome.”

“There is little hope of a deal with Democrats on health reform in a divided Congress if the decision is upheld. Democrats will now use the 2020 campaign to paint Republicans as threatening a host of popular provisions in the ACA. And here’s the kicker: protections for pre-existing conditions, the provision that played such a big role in the midterms, is not even the most popular one.”

Here are some of the more popular provisions that would be eliminated — in order of their popularity:

  • Young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26: 82% of the public supports this, including 66% of Republicans.
  • Subsidies for lower and moderate income people: 81% support this, including 63% of Republicans.
  • Closing the “donut hole” so there’s no gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage: 81% like this, as do 80% of Republicans.
  • Eliminating costs for many preventive services: 79% support this, as do 68% of Republicans.
  • Medicaid expansion: 77% like it, as do 55% of Republicans.

A defense official told the Washington Post that the Trump administration plans to pull U.S. troops from Syria immediately.  “The decision would remove the entire force of more than 2,000 U.S. service members and end the extended ground mission against the Islamic State.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), “facing pressure from left wing groups, will not agree to a customary year-end package of judicial nominees,” The Hill reports.  “Schumer and his Democratic colleagues are in no mood to agree to a year-end deal after a federal judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act last week, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. ”

“Senate Democrats are also furious at Republicans for not respecting the Senate’s blue-slip tradition, which gives both senators from a judicial nominee’s home state power to hold up his or her nomination.”

A new Quinnipiac poll looks at the favorable ratings among possible Democratic presidential candidates:

  • Joe Biden at 53% to 33%
  • Bernie Sanders at 44% to 42%
  • Elizabeth Warren at 30% to 37%
  • Michael Bloomberg at 22% to 32%
  • Hillary Clinton at 32% to 61% [Attention pollsters, she is not running].

Of those possible candidates who are lesser known:

  • Beto O’Rourke at 24% to 20%, with 55% who haven’t heard enough
  • Cory Booker at 22% to 26%, with 51% who haven’t heard enough
  • Kamala Harris at 20% to 22%, with 57% who haven’t heard enough
  • Kirsten Gillibrand at 14% to 17%, with 68% who haven’t heard enough
  • Sherrod Brown at 12% to 9%, with 77% who haven’t heard enough

For comparison, President Trump has a 40% to 56% favorable rating.

First Read: “House Speaker Paul Ryan, who delivers his farewell address today at 1:00 pm ET, always had big ideas. He called for the government to respond to the growing deficit/debt; he advocated for a fundamental restructuring of Medicare and entitlements; he pushed for tax reform; and he demanded an improvement in the nation’s political discourse.”

“But those ideas — except for tax reform — never really matched up to reality and party politics. The debt and deficit he saw a ‘crisis’ to reduce? Well, it’s gone up in the Trump years when Ryan was speaker and the GOP controlled government. Major entitlement reform? Hasn’t happened. Improving political discourse? Hello, President Trump.”

“Ryan’s defenders say it’s difficult to continue to tackle the deficit/debt when the other players — especially the White House — aren’t interested.”

“Here’s the thing. If the Justice Department takes the position that Michael Cohen should go to jail, that these allegations are so serious that he should go to jail for these campaign fraud allegations, what is the argument against jail for the individual who coordinated and directed that scheme?”

— Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), quoted by Roll Call.

With appointments to fill two vacant seats, Nevada became the first state in the country with a majority-female legislature, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.

“The Fox News host Tucker Carlson has lost advertisers after saying on the air last week that allowing certain immigrants into the United States ‘makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided,’” the New York Times reports.  “By Tuesday, 11 companies said they would stop advertising on his prime-time show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system, after a remarkable political shift from Republicans who voted in large numbers to save money by reducing prison sentences, handing a rare bipartisan victory to President Trump,” the Washington Postreports.

“The First Step Act passed on a vote of 87 to 12, with dozens of Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joining all 49 members of the Democratic caucus to approve legislation that even some GOP supporters fear could leave them vulnerable to charges of being soft on crime.”

New York Times: “House leaders have pledged to pass the measure this week, and President Trump, whose support resuscitated a yearslong overhaul effort last month, was expected to sign the bill.”

President Trump “is planning to roll out an unprecedented structure for his 2020 reelection, a streamlined organization that incorporates the [RNC] and the president’s campaign into a single entity. It’s a stark expression of Trump’s stranglehold over the Republican Party: Traditionally, a presidential reelection committee has worked in tandem with the national party committee, not subsumed it,” Politico reports.

“Under the plan, which has been in the works for several weeks, the Trump reelection campaign and the RNC will merge their field and fundraising programs into a joint outfit dubbed Trump Victory. The two teams will also share office space rather than operate out of separate buildings, as has been custom. The goal is to create a single, seamless organization that moves quickly, saves resources, and — perhaps most crucially — minimizes staff overlap and the kind of infighting that marked the 2016 relationship between the Trump campaign and the party.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) “looks vulnerable to Democrats — and some Republicans, and that’s a big reason the 2020 race has quickly drawn a prominent potential challenger, former U. S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom (D),” McClatchy reports.  “Grissom confirmed Monday that he’s been considering a run for U.S. Senate as a Democrat for roughly a year.”

“He’s not officially made his decision, but he’s actively is laying the groundwork to mount a challenge against Roberts, the Kansas Republican who has been in Congress for nearly four decades.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren “has yet to make an appearance in Iowa, but she’s personally reaching out to Iowa Democrats as she considers a possible 2020 run for president,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“Warren is one of the few possible Democratic presidential contenders who has not visited the first-in-the-nation caucus state in recent months, though she did deploy staff and resources to aid Iowa Democrats ahead of the midterms.”

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

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