• Trump to Issue Two Executive Orders on Trade Today
• Flynn Has "Story to Tell," Wants Immunity
• Heitkamp and Manchin Will Vote for Gorsuch
• North Carolina Repeals "Bathroom Law"
• Pence Worked Yesterday
• Pence Won't Dine With Women Who Aren't His Wife
• Jared Kushner's Friends Are Cutting Him Loose
• Some Trump Voters Already Have Buyer's Remorse
Democrats are completely powerless to harm the Republicans, so the Republicans are doing the job themselves. Yesterday, President Donald Trump threatened to run primary opponents against the Freedom Caucus members who torpedoed the AHCA. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) also went at them, claiming that their behavior would drive Trump into the waiting arms of the Democrats. Freedom Caucus member Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) shot back with: "It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonald Trump." Another member of the Caucus, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), put it this way: "The way to get votes is not to name call. The way to get votes is to have better legislation that better reflects the will of the American people."
Senators also got into the act, with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tweeting: "We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem." In short, who needs enemies when you have friends like this?
Trump instinctively lashes out when he is under attack, but probably doesn't understand the dynamics of potentially primarying members of the Freedom Caucus. All of them come from very conservative districts where opposition to "Obamacare [Lite]" is almost as strong as opposition to compromise about anything, ever. The members were almost certainly strengthened by opposing the AHCA bill and then refusing to compromise. It will be nearly impossible for Trump to find primary opponents to their right, and even if he could, they might be so far out of the mainstream as to give the Democrat an actual chance in the general election. When you you threaten someone, the threat has to be credible to have any effect, so it is not surprising that a number of Freedom Caucus members just brushed it off as unimportant. (V)
Next week, Donald Trump will meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Trump has regularly harangued China for its economic behavior, and so on Friday he will—it appears—fire a shot across Xi's bow with a pair of executive orders on trade. The first will call for a large-scale review of the causes of the US's trade deficits with its major trading partners, the second will order stricter enforcement of US anti-dumping laws, which prohibit other countries from selling goods at unfair prices so as to undercut American companies.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted that the timing of the orders had nothing to do with Xi's visit, but in the same press conference he said that Donald Trump does not "shoot from the hip," so his words should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, as is the case with most of Trump's executive orders, this pair likely has more bark than bite. As to the first, studying a problem is not the same as solving it, and "correcting" trade deficits is generally a fool's errand. As to the second, it may lead to the collection of a few hundred million dollars in fines, but that's a relative drop in the bucket. If Trump's hope is that this will give him a "victory" that blots out memory of defeats on the AHCA and the Muslim travel ban, he's probably barking up the wrong tree. (Z)
Last weekend, it was reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been granted immunity by the FBI in exchange for testifying against his former boss, Donald Trump. This would appear to be untrue; the correct story is that he's trying to broker such a deal with the House and Senate intelligence committees, insisting he has "a story to tell."
Experts suggest that it is unlikely the deal will be consummated anytime soon. First, while Congress can grant immunity, they generally try not to do so if they fear interfering with an investigation by law enforcement authorities. The FBI, of course, is actively looking into the Trump-Russia question. The other hold-up is that immunity is generally not granted until officials are sure they can't get the information they want any other way. With Flynn, we're not there yet. Still, if he really does have a story to tell, Trump & Co. have to be nervous, since it looks probable that Flynn's information is going to see the light of day, one way or another. (Z)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-SD) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have now both said they will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Both come from extremely red states where opposing Gorsuch would likely have been fatal in their uphill 2018 reelection races. To defeat a cloture motion, eight Democrats have to vote to break the filibuster. Heitkamp and Manchin are the first two, but six more are needed. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are both facing enormous pressure to jump on the Gorsuch bandwagon, but even if they do, four more Democrats will also be needed. In a sense, it doesn't matter, since if a cloture motion fails, more than likely, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will simply abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, just as Harry Reid did for lower-court judges before him. (V)
When North Carolina passed HB 2, it created a firestorm, because one of the provisions was a requirement that people using public bathroom had to use the one corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Many people took this as a huge affront to transgender people, and businesses and sports leagues began boycotting the state. The effect was big enough to defeat Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC), who tried and failed to get reelected last November. Yesterday, the state legislature passed and the new governor, Roy Cooper (D-NC), signed a replacement bill. The new law, which is only half a page, repeals HB 2 but also prohibits local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances until Dec. 2020. When he signed the bill, Cooper said that it wasn't his first choice, but this was the best he could get working with the Republican-controlled state legislature. (V)
Normally, all the vice president has to do is call the White House at 8 a.m. to see if the president is alive, and if so, he can take the day off. But once in a while he has to actually work, and yesterday was one of those days. An Obama-era rule blocked states from defunding healthcare providers for political reasons. In particular, the rule ordered state and local governments to provide federal funds to healthcare providers for contraception, fertility, pregnancy care, and cervical cancer screens, even if those providers also perform abortions. Under the rule, states were forbidden from saying to a provider: "Since you perform abortions, we won't fund you for cancer screenings."
Republicans wanted to overturn that rule and held a vote in the Senate yesterday. Every Democrat plus Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against overturning the rule, leading to a 50-50 tie. This is where Pence came in. He voted to kill the rule, thus allowing states to defund, for example, Planned Parenthood, even though no federal money goes to pay for abortions.
Earlier this year, Pence also broke a tie by voting for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. Former Vice President Joe Biden is probably jealous: He never got to break a tie. The all-time champion tiebreaker was John Adams, who broke 29 ties during George Washington's administration (primarily because there were only 21 to 32 senators during Washington's term). John Calhoun came close though, breaking 28 ties. Since WW II, the champion tie breakers were Dick Cheney (8), Richard Nixon (8), and Alben Barkley (8). Even John Nance "The vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm piss" Garner got to break three ties. (V)
The publication of a profile on Second Lady Karen Pence has caused a chestnut from the past to resurface: Vice President Mike Pence will not dine alone with women who are not his wife, and will not go anywhere that alcohol is being served unless she is also present.
When this information was first made public, in 2002, Pence was an obscure Indiana congressman and nobody cared. But how he's a heartbeat away from the presidency, and so the news has become the basis for the latest round of salvos in the culture wars. Liberals observe that Pence's conception of gender—that men lack self-control, while women are fonts of virtue—comes right out of the nineteenth century. They also point out that someone who feels this way could hardly be expected to give women access to positions of power within his inner circle, since how could Pence have a female chief of staff or communications director if he can't trust himself to be alone with them? Evangelicals, on the other hand, say that the response just shows how liberal coastal elites don't get them or their values.
In any event, this story also leads us to a more significant conclusion: Mike Pence is probably unelectable as President of the United States, should he make a run in 2020 or 2024. A 2015 Gallup Poll shows that the prospect of electing an evangelical Christian to the White House is very unpopular with the general public; roughly as unpopular as electing a Muslim, a lesbian, or an atheist. And Pence clearly isn't just any evangelical, he's a particularly outspoken and old-fashioned evangelical. Even in a world where Donald Trump is president, Paul Ryan is Speaker, and Fox News is king, he's just too far outside the mainstream. (Z)
First son-in-law Jared Kushner used to have plenty of liberal Manhattan friends. Now some of them are very angry with him for not speaking out against what they consider the outrageous behavior of his father-in-law. They know he can't control the president, but they don't expect him to just passively accept things he knows very well are wrong. Kushner has lost so many friends now that he even has a word for the process: exfoliation. In some cases it has also affected people he is doing business with. The story linked to above doesn't mention First Daughter Ivanka, but it is likely she has the same problem. (V)
We're about 70 days into the Trump presidency, and the media is full of stories about Trump voters who have come to regret their choice.
For example, there's Kraig Moss, who sold his business last year and stopped making payments on his house so that he could travel around the country singing pro-Trump songs at rallies, acquiring the nickname "Trump Troubadour." In part, Moss supported Trump because he lost a son to addiction, and Trump promised to do something about America's drug problem. The AHCA made clear that was just an empty promise, and so now Moss says, "I feel betrayed." Needless to say, he's not singing Trump's praises any more.
Then there is Chad Trador, a one-time Kentucky coal miner who lost his job and struggled to support himself. Things finally turned around for him thanks to an Obama-era program, the Appalachian Regional Commission, that provided funding for job re-training. Trador wanted to see others like himself get a chance to remake their lives, and he thought Trump—with his promises of a super-charged economy and lots of jobs—was the ticket. But now, Trump has submitted a budget that will cut funding for many job training programs, and that includes eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission. "I think it's horrible. I think that maybe there are some things that don't need to be funded, but don't cut things that are working like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the work that they've done," said Trador.
Finally, there is the case of Helen Beristain, who was impressed by Trump's pro-economy rhetoric and his promise to deport the "bad hombres" who were in the United States illegally. So, she gave him her vote, never imagining that her husband Roberto—an undocumented immigrant who has been in the country for 20 years, built a business, and fathered three American-born children—might be included as well. She guessed wrong, as Roberto was arrested February 6 and is scheduled to be deported today. Helen, for her part, has not only lost her husband, but has also become a target for derision from all parts of the political spectrum. Those on the left have lambasted her for not taking Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric seriously, while many on the right have made racist threats, and blasted her for harboring an illegal immigrant.
It is par for the course that voters become disenchanted with their candidate. During Barack Obama's first term, for example, progressives who expected him to create a brave, new, left-wing world jumped ship in droves. However, it's quite unusual for the defections to begin so quickly. Further, this disaffection was very predictable—there was never much chance Trump would be able to deliver on most of his promises. The question is how extensively such voters will punish Trump at the polls in 2018 and 2020, either by voting for the other party, or by staying home on Election Day.
Historically, the president's party loses badly in the House and Senate in the midterms. The Senate losses depend strongly on the map, since only one-third of the Senate is up in any midterm, but the entire House is up in every midterm. Here is how the president's party has done in the past 20 midterms.
In 18 of the past 20 midterms, the president's party has lost seats in the House, no doubt in large part due to the buyer's remorse referred to above. The only exceptions were 1998, after the Republican's overreached and impeached Bill Clinton for lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and 2002, when there was support for George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. Democrats would have to pick up 23 seats to flip the House in 2018, but losses that big have occurred in 11 of the 20 most recent midterms, so it is not out of the question, despite the way the House districts are gerrymandered. It all depends on Democratic turnout and how many buyers have remorse. (Z & V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar30 Can Trump Make a Deal with the Democrats on Infrastructure?
Mar30 NRA Is Running Ads Against Democratic Senators
Mar30 Privacy Vote Not Going over Well
Mar30 Majority of Americans Believe Traditional Media Outlets Publish Fake News
Mar30 Large Majority of Republicans Think Trump Was Wiretapped
Mar30 How Long Can Spicer Last?
Mar29 Trump Signs Executive Order to Repeal Much of Obama's Work on Climate Change
Mar29 Border Wall Funding Will Be Put on Hold
Mar29 Nelson Will Filibuster Gorsuch
Mar29 "Trump Bump" Turning into "Trump Slump"
Mar29 Manafort May Have Laundered Money in New York Real Estate
Mar29 Congress Wipes Out Internet Privacy
Mar29 Perez Cleans House at DNC
Mar29 Cohn: Clinton Did Not Lose Due to Poor Turnout
Mar29 Trump Won't Throw Out First Pitch of MLB Season
Mar28 Republicans May Be Forced to Scrap Tax Reform and Just Cut Rates
Mar28 Trump Wants to Do Tax Reform and Infrastructure at the Same Time
Mar28 Executive Order on Environment Coming Today
Mar28 Sessions Will Withhold Grants from Sanctuary Cities
Mar28 Trump Requests $1 Billion for Wall
Mar28 Republicans Have an Easy Way to Kill the Affordable Care Act
Mar28 Jon Ossoff Has Raised $3 Million for Georgia Special Election
Mar28 Kushner to Lead "American Innovation" Office
Mar28 Kushner Met with Executives of Russian Bank in December
Mar28 Trump Hits New Low in Gallup Poll
Mar27 Republicans Are Turning on Each Other
Mar27 Victory Has a Thousand Fathers but Defeat Is an Orphan
Mar27 Roger Stone Denies Colluding with the Russians
Mar27 Majority of Americans Want Independent Trump-Russia Investigation
Mar27 Trump Sons Will Give Him Financial Reports
Mar27 Trump Opponents Don't Know What to Do With All Their Money
Mar27 Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline
Mar27 Netanyahu-Trump Bromance is Over
Mar27 Kasich Says He's "Out" in 2020
Mar27 Mister Rogers Haunts Trump from Beyond the Grave
Mar26 AHCA Fallout Continues
Mar26 Ryan Is Badly Damaged
Mar26 Path Forward for Trump Will Be Strewn with Big Rocks
Mar26 Will the Affordable Care Act Explode?
Mar26 Flynn May Have Turned Against Trump
Mar26 Deputy Attorney General Nomination Will Move Forward
Mar26 Mnuchin Gives Interesting Interview
Mar25 Who Knew Governing Was so Hard? Obamacare Repeal Fails
Mar25 Trump: I Should Have Done Tax Reform First
Mar25 Investigation of Manafort Now Extends to Cyprus
Mar25 Poll: Americans Don't Want to Deport Undocumented Immigrants
Mar25 Senate Votes to Kill Internet Privacy
Mar25 Canada's Largest School District Will End Trips to U.S.
Mar24 Healthcare Bill Vote Is Canceled Because the Votes Aren't There