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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA MI OH PA WI

Trump Says He Will Reveal New Information about the Russian Hacking This Week

At his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL, Donald Trump said he would reveal new information about the Russian hacking of the election in a few days. He said he knows things that other people don't know. He also said that he doesn't trust the intelligence agencies. After all, they said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and they were wrong then. The implied conclusion, then, is that they are always wrong.

It is actually not clear that the intelligence agencies really thought there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Another possibility is that then-Vice President Cheney instructed them to think that so he would have a reason to invade Iraq and get Iraq's oil. (V)

Trump Likes Schumer Best?

According to the New York Post, members of the Trump transition team have revealed that while on the phone with soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the President-elect said that he likes Schumer better than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Trump's reason for this is that he knows the two Republicans didn't support him and wanted him to lose. Schumer presumably wanted him to lose, too, but at least he's not pretending otherwise now that that opinion has become inconvenient.

This information should be taken with a giant grain of salt, for at least three reasons: (1) It was reported by the muckraking New York Post, (2) Trump is not always the most honest fellow, and (3) Trump changes his mind more often than most people change socks. With those caveats, however, the story is certainly plausible. It's true that Ryan and McConnell were not on the Trump bandwagon, and it's also true that Trump despises disloyalty. It's also the case that Schumer and Trump are both New Yorkers, which gives them a fairly significant connection, and that Trump was a Democrat until five or six years ago. In any case, all of this reminds us of the very real possibility that the GOP isn't going to get quite the standard bearer they were hoping for. (Z)

Trump Will Keep Tweeting

Shortly after the election, Donald Trump said that he would significantly curtail his tweeting, and that he might stop tweeting altogether. Then, he kept tweeting along, offering up a policy pronouncement or an attack on one of his enemies on a near-daily basis. Now, Team Trump has confirmed the least surprising news of the year: The Donald has no intention of laying off Twitter.

It was incoming press secretary Sean Spicer who let the cat out of the bag. Appearing on ABC's "This Week," he said, "When [Trump] tweets, he gets results. So whether it's Twitter, holding a news conference, picking up the phone, having a meeting, he is going to make sure that he continues to fight for the American people every single day." This is a good job of spin, well worthy of a White House press secretary. It is probably closer to the truth to say that Trump does what he wants and doesn't listen to those who tell him otherwise. So, the only thing his staff can do is grin, bear it, and put things in the best light possible. (Z)

Democrats Will Target Eight Cabinet Nominees

Donald Trump's list of high-level appointees is almost complete, and there is much there for the Democrats to dislike. It would be impractical to fight them all, however, so the blue team has to choose their targets. It would seem they have now done so, since Chuck Schumer has given Mitch McConnell a list of the eight nominees he and his colleagues intend to focus upon. Here they are, with brief summaries of the main concerns, as the Democrats see them:

  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Attorney General: By all evidence, Sessions is a racist. That, plus some of his other public pronouncements, suggest that he may be less than even-handed when addressing two of the biggest issues on the Justice Department's docket: police brutality and protection of voting rights. Also, he was sanctioned for misconduct while Attorney General of Alabama.

  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: The Exxon CEO has zero experience in public service or diplomacy, and is a bit too cozy with Russia. Also has a history of prioritizing his and/or his company's needs over those of the United States.

  • Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Director of the Office of Management and Budget: He is a tea party budget hawk who will try to defund everything.

  • Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education: Has no particular qualifications for the job; will push for school vouchers, which Democrats hate.

  • Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Secretary of Health and Human Services: Wants to tear apart Obamacare, and may be just the man for the job.

  • Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor: No experience in public service; the Labor Secretary is supposed to be an advocate for working people, and Puzder is about as hostile to workers as is possible.

  • Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury: No experience in public service; letting a corporate raider—particularly one as cold-hearted as Mnuchin—oversee Wall Street is not unlike letting the fox guard the henhouse.

  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the EPA: Climate-change skeptic and anti-regulation hawk who, like Puzder, seems to hold the opposite views of what is generally wanted for the job.

It's clear that as Democrats picked which battles to fight, they were concerned with two things: (1) How unpalatable the candidate's views are/how much harm they might do, and (2) Whether or not the candidate's resume has weaknesses that offer an opportunity to peel off a few Republican votes.

Meanwhile, of almost as much interest are the names that did not make the list. There's no James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), no Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC; U.N. Ambassador), no John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security), no Rick Perry (Department of Energy), and no Ben Carson (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Only the Senate Democratic Caucus knows their reasoning, but it's easy to imagine that some of these nominees are basically tolerable, while others may fail to gain approval without being targeted by the blue team (a win), or may become a huge embarrassment to the administration (a different kind of win). (Z)

Congress Will Start Repealing the Affordable Care Act Tomorrow

The 115th Congress will be seated tomorrow and within hours, the House plans to adopt a package of rules that will lead to repealing the Affordable Care Act. Next week the House will vote on a budget blueprint that is expected to call for a repeal of the ACA. The House leadership hopes to pass a bill or bills containing repeal in the week of Jan. 30. After it is passed, it goes to the Senate. There, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will send it to the relevant committees with reconciliation instructions. This means when they report back, the debate can take only 20 hours and only 51 votes are needed to pass it. Reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered, but must be about taxes or spending. Since not all of the ACA relates to taxes or spending, McConnell will have to figure out how much of the law he can repeal using the reconciliation process. Certainly, eliminating all the subsides and the individual mandate would effectively kill it, even if repeal of the entire law can't be done using reconciliation. (V)

House, Senate Likely to Butt Heads on Medicare

When it comes to killing the ACA, Republicans in the House and in the Senate are essentially in agreement. When it comes to Medicaid, they are less so, and when it comes to Medicare, even less so. In fact, Senate Republicans would prefer to push any discussion of Medicare to beyond the 2018 midtern elections, assuming that it is discussed at all.

The differences in philosophy are rooted in two significant differences between the two chambers. The first of these is the current breakdown of members. The House Republican Conference, thanks especially to Donald Trump's coattails and to gerrymandering, enjoys a sizable majority, and so can afford bold policy moves. The Senate Republican Conference, by contrast, is working with a very small margin of error, 52-48, and must be more cautious. The second difference is that Representatives speak for smaller, often more homogeneous constituencies. Senators, by contrast, are voted on by the populations of whole states, and they have to try to keep everyone happy. In every state in the union besides Alaska, Medicare-age people make up at least 10% of the population. In some of the purplish states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio) that number is closer to 20%. And potentially angering 10-20% of your state's population, particularly the 10-20% that tends to make it to the polls, even in midterms, is not a great strategy for long-term job security. (Z)

Coal Miners Expect Trump to Deliver

The good thing about one-issue voters, from a politician's perspective, is that it's easy to keep their votes: You just have to deliver on their issue, whatever it may be. The bad thing about one-issue voters, from a politician's perspective, is that it's easy to lose their votes: You just have to fail to deliver on their issue, whatever it may be.

In 2016, a lot of coal miners became one-issue voters. As an item from NPR's Leigh Patterson reveals, quite a few of them found Donald Trump to be unpalatable, but felt he was the only pro-coal candidate, so they cast their ballots for him anyhow. "I did vote for Donald Trump," says one, "It's really hard to even say that because I so dislike his rhetoric. But I voted for him on one singular issue, and that was coal." Says another: "He is a whacko; he's never going to stop being a whacko. But I mean, the things he did say—the good stuff—was good for the coal mining community. But we'll see what happens."

So, what are the odds that Trump will be able to deliver? Not good. Coal reserves are dwindling, which means the price of extraction is going up. Fracking is producing vast quantities of clean natural gas, which utility companies love. At the same time, alternative forms of energy (e.g. solar, wind) are getting cheaper. So, in the long term (and perhaps even in the short term), the economics of coal just don't add up. And that's before we consider the push by environmentalists to cut coal off at the knees due to the massive impacts of mining (fracking causes earthquakes, etc.) and of burning coal.

Needless to say, politicians often over-promise and under-deliver. And usually, they get away with it. But just as Trump has upended precedent in so many other ways, he may do so here, as well. He made many promises, which were repeated over and over, and presented forcefully and without ambiguity. Most other politicians (e.g. Hillary Clinton) hedge their bets quite a bit more. Trump also appears to have attracted a lot of one-issue (or not-that-many-issues) voters, whether the coal miners or the white supremacists or the working-class Midwesterners. If these individuals are disappointed over the next four years, many of them may stay home on Election Day in 2020. And given Trump's razor-thin margins in several states, that's not the kind of thing he can afford. (Z)

Top Wall Street Journal Editor Is Leery of Saying that Trump Lies

On Meet the Press yesterday, Editor in Chief of the Wall Street Journal Gerard Baker said that he is hesitant to brand Donald Trump a liar. He admitted that Trump has said things that are not true, but calling them lies also implies that he knew the statements were false and made them to mislead people. He is afraid that if he calls Trump a liar, people will feel he is not being objective. The furthest he is willing to go is to point out that a statement is not true and let the reader decide if Trump is lying or merely misinformed. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan01 Be Careful What You Wish For, You Might Get It
Jan01 Vermont Utility Hit By Same Hackers as DNC
Jan01 Trump Pooh-poohs Russian Hacking, Says Computers Can't Be Trusted
Jan01 Trump Just Can't Help Himself
Jan01 The Larger Meaning of the Inaugural Snubs
Jan01 Which Senators Will Throw in the Towel in 2018?
Jan01 How Will Democrats Handle Supreme Court Vacancy?
Dec31 Obama's Final Moves to Stymie Trump
Dec31 Obama Meeting with Congressional Democrats to Strategize on Obamacare
Dec31 McConnell Will Play a Key Role in 2017
Dec31 Trump Praises Putin
Dec31 Trump Planning to Keep Private Security Force
Dec31 Spend New Year's Eve With the Trumps for Under $600
Dec31 Inauguration Planning Keeps Leaving Egg on Trump's Face
Dec31 North Carolina Judge Temporarily Blocks New Republican Laws
Dec30 America Retaliates against Russia
Dec30 Trump May Be Bad News for Israel
Dec30 Deploraball Highlights Schism within the Alt-right Movement
Dec30 Should the Media Ignore Trump's Tweets?
Dec30 Republicans May Target Medicaid Rather than Medicare
Dec30 Heller to Run for Reelection to the Senate
Dec30 States with the Most, Least Electoral Integrity
Dec30 Electoral College Precedent Has Been Set
Dec29 Retaliation Against Russians Coming Soon
Dec29 Trump Looking Hard for a Secretary of Agriculture
Dec29 Trump Says He Will Write His Own Inaugural Address
Dec29 Trump Claims Credit for 8,000 More Jobs Saved
Dec29 Democrats Are Calling for Nationwide Rallies on Health Care Jan. 15
Dec29 Virginia May Afford Early Assessment of Trump Presidency
Dec29 Trump-Obama Relationship Deteriorates
Dec29 The Worst Predictions of 2016
Dec29 Whither the White Supremacists?
Dec28 Trump Rewards Donors Big Time
Dec28 Trump's Inexperience Is Going to Cause Him Trouble Settling Disputes
Dec28 There Will Also Be Battles in Several States
Dec28 Graham: 99% of Senators Believe Russians Interfered
Dec28 More States Consider Circumventing Electoral College
Dec28 Trump Fires Back on Foundation
Dec28 The Four Most Undersold Stories of the Year
Dec28 Kim Jong-un Sensing Opportunity
Dec27 Trump To Inherit over 100 Judicial Vacancies
Dec27 Stephen Miller to Pen Trump Inaugural
Dec27 Obama: I Could Have Won a Third Term
Dec27 Four Cabinet Nominations that Could Fail
Dec27 Falwell: Tillerson's Social Views Are Not Relevant
Dec27 Israel Remains Front and Center
Dec27 Tom Arnold Also Remains Front and Center
Dec26 Five Races to Watch in 2017
Dec26 Big Questions for 2017
Dec26 Priebus Compares Trump to Jesus