What Now?! – 1/29/19

“The [Trump] shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reflecting lost output from federal workers, delayed government spending and reduced demand,” CNBC reports.

“The report, which was released Monday, estimated a hit of $3 billion, or 0.1 percent, to economic activity during the fourth quarter of 2018. The impact was projected to be greater during the first quarter of 2019: $8 billion, or 0.2 percent of GDP.”

“Although most of the damage to the economy will be reversed as federal workers return to their jobs, the CBO estimated $3 billion in economic activity is permanently lost after a quarter of the government was closed for nearly 35 days.”

“Even before Kamala Harris’ campaign launch in Oakland on Sunday, her nascent 2020 bid had already hit full gallop — a star turn on Good Morning America, a self-reported seven-figure fundraising milestone, a friendly reception in a key primary state,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“With that fast start, Harris has stoked a perception that she is not just an elite candidate, but among the Democratic front-runners — a designation that is loaded with both upside and danger in this very early stage of presidential jockeying.”

“The California senator and her campaign strategists aren’t yet declaring her the favorite. But her days-long debut, crafted for maximum impact, showed a desire to make a big and early splash.”

President Trump is “very pissed off” and “really hopping mad” at former aide Cliff Sims’ new book that reveals firsthand the chaos and infighting that is ever present in his White House, Politico reports.

Trump is asking aides: “Who is this guy? Why is he writing this book? He wasn’t even in meetings.”

“He also dismissively refers to Sims — who served until last May as director of White House message strategy and a special assistant to the president —as ‘the videographer’ because he also helped Trump with the weekly video and radio addresses.”

Jonathan Chait: “Billionaire coffee-shop mogul Howard Schultz is seriously thinking of running for president as an independent. Schultz appears to be one of those rich people who has confused his success in one field with a general expertise in every other field that interests him. His apparently sincere belief that he can be elected president is the product of a sincere civic-minded commitment to the public good and an almost comic failure to grasp how he might accomplish this. That confusion is probably being spread by his hired staffers, whose financial incentive, conscious or otherwise, is to encourage him to embark on a costly political fiasco.”

“We shouldn’t feel too bad if Schultz wants to waste some of his great-great-grandchildren’s inheritance playing political fantasy camp. The problem is that Schultz’s earnest confusion might succeed just well enough to have catastrophic consequences.”

“Schultz initially contemplated entering the Democratic primary, correctly calculated that he stood no chance of success that way, and then incorrectly decided that he could win as an independent. His public comments reveal how little he grasps about American politics.”

Michael Bloomberg issued a statement apparently about Howard Schultz considering an independent bid for president:

“Now I have never been a partisan guy — and it’s no secret that I looked at an independent bid in the past. In fact I faced exactly the same decision now facing others who are considering it.  The data was very clear and very consistent. Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an independent can win. That is truer today than ever before.

In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President. That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can’t afford to run it now.”

Denver Post: “John Hickenlooper, the two-term governor who finished his term earlier this month, articulated his vision of governing that is based more on consensus building and less on conflict. At a house party in this Des Moines suburb, he also shared his personal and political biography while answering questions about health care, immigration and abortion rights.”

Said Hickenlooper: “I’m not just frustrated — I’m over-the-top angry about what’s happened to the country in such a short period of time.”

He added: “I don’t think there is anyone else that can reliably — as I can — beat Donald Trump. My whole public life has been about bringing people together.”

David Byler: “We’ll start with observed electability — basically the theory that if a candidate did well in major down-ballot elections compared to an appropriate baseline, they’re doing something right and might perform strongly in a general election. We’ll start by looking at the 2018 elections because, by an odd coincidence, most of the top tier of the Democratic field ran in a Senate race last year.”

“This graphic compares each 2018 Democratic Senate candidate’s win or loss margin with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin of victory or loss in that state, with a black break-even line. Democratic candidates far above the black line overperformed Clinton’s margin by a lot. The basic idea is that big gains are a good sign regardless of whether a politician runs in a red or blue state — they suggest that those candidates have some appeal that a replacement-level Democratic candidate doesn’t.”

“Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is the obvious queen of this graphic.”

“American and Taliban officials have agreed in principle to the framework of a deal in which the insurgents would guarantee to prevent Afghan territory from being used by terrorists, and that could lead to a full pullout of American troops in return for larger concessions from the Taliban,” the New York Times reports.

First Read: “The best news for Trump in the new NBC/WSJ poll is that his base remains as strong as ever. Eighty-six percent of Republicans approve of the president’s job, versus just 13 percent who disapprove (+73).”

“By contrast, Democrats are 5 percent approve, 94 percent disapprove (-89), and independents are 39 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove (-14).”

“As Barack Obama discovered, having a strong base can get you through some of the roughest patches of your presidency. But when you’re relying ONLY on your base — and when you’re losing independents by double digits –—you’re in big trouble.”

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told CBS News “um, yeah!” that President Trump might shut down the government again in three weeks if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds only 35% of Americans express confidence in President Trump to make the right decisions for the country’s future while 64% don’t trust him in this central task.

But it’s no better for the Democrats in Congress: 34% to 65%; Speaker Nancy Pelosi: 30% to 62%; or the Republicans in Congress: 30% to 69%.

“That said, Trump leads the pack in negative intensity: Nearly half of Americans — 48% — say they have no confidence ‘at all’ in the president compared with 37% who say that about Pelosi. Thirty percent have no confidence in Republican lawmakers in Congress versus 29% for the Democrats.”

A new AP-NORC poll finds a majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling U.S. foreign policy and about half think the country’s global standing will deteriorate during the next year.

Jonathan Swan: “What happened was predictable, and it’s exactly what McConnell told Trump would happen. In a December conversation, before the shutdown, McConnell warned Trump that shutdowns never end well and never provide more leverage to their instigators, according to a source briefed on the conversation.”

“Throughout their phone calls over the past four weeks, Trump would sometimes say to McConnell: ‘I know this isn’t your favorite thing, Mitch.’”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Axios “that as recently as a couple of weeks ago Trump mused to him about the possibility of using military force in Venezuela, where the U.S. government is currently pushing for regime change using diplomatic and economic pressures.”

Graham, recalling his conversation with Trump a couple weeks ago, said: “He said, ‘What do you think about using military force?’ and I said, ‘Well, you need to go slow on that, that could be problematic.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m surprised, you want to invade everybody.’”

Graham laughed: “I don’t want to invade everybody, I only want to use the military when our national security interests are threatened.”

President Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he is doubtful Congress can come to a deal over border wall funding, adding that another government shutdown is “certainly an option.”

Said Trump: “I personally think it’s less than 50-50.”

Trump has suggested he’ll declare a national emergency to construct a wall along the southern border if Congress does not come to an agreement over the next three weeks.

The Atlantic: “It has now been more than three weeks since President Trump first began his public flirtation with declaring a national emergency as a way of getting funding to build a wall on the southern border. At first he seemed intent on declaring an emergency immediately. Within days, though, he began saying that he was in no hurry to pull that trigger. On Friday, even as he abruptly caved and allowed the government to reopen for three weeks without wall funding, he again threatened to declare an emergency—but only if Congress doesn’t give him what he wants.”

“Trump no doubt thinks he looks more reasonable if he gives Congress plenty of time to act before declaring an emergency. He might also think that Congress’s repeated failure to provide funds shows the need for emergency action. The truth is the exact opposite. By giving Congress time to definitively establish its unwillingness to fund the border wall, Trump is both taking away any legitimate justification for emergency action and proving his intent to subvert the constitutional balance of powers.”

New York Times: “The House, which spent weeks passing futile bills to reopen the government, will turn to legislation higher on the Democrats’ priority list, including a bill to raise pay for civilian federal employees. Leading Democrats also plan to reintroduce a marquee bill to close the pay gap between men and women that they have fought to enact for years.”

“In the Senate, Republicans will try to push through a bipartisan Middle East policy bill that includes a disputed provision targeting the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. With the measure, Republicans will test for fractures in the resurgent Democratic Party, where Palestinian rights activists have found new voices in House freshmen such as Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.”

There are just 18 days until government funding runs out again.

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

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