• Rand Paul: Health-Care Bill a "Christmas Tree Full of Billion-Dollar Ornaments"
• Senate Republicans Trying to Work the CBO
• Tuesday Group Fighting the Freedom Caucus on Taxes
• Bannon Wants to Raise Taxes on the Rich
• Obama Is Actively Trying to Rebuild the Democratic Party
• Trump Approval Ratings Remain Dismal
• Republicans Got What They Wanted with Gorsuch
President Donald Trump's war on the media was escalated another notch yesterday when he tweeted an edited video showing him physically attacking someone with a CNN logo clumsily superimposed over his head. The footage may have come from a 2007 WrestleMania clip in which the person obscured by the CNN logo is Vince McMahon, then CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon's wife, Linda McMahon, is now head of the Small Business Administration. The McMahons donated $6 million to a pro-Trump SuperPAC.
Last week, Trump called CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post fake news. Later, he called "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressman) "crazy" and tweeted that co-host Mika Brzezinski was "dumb as a rock." After numerous people attacked Trump for being unpresidential, Trump tweeted: "My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again."
It would seem that not many people were persuaded by Trump's "modern day presidential" argument, because the reaction to the wrestling video clip was swift and negative. Carl Bernstein said: "It's not just anti-CNN. It's anti-freedom of the press." Dan Rather said he is not only outraged, but feels the creep of dread and sadness. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol noted: "The speed with which we're recapitulating the decline and fall of Rome is impressive. What took Rome centuries we're achieving in months." Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) accused Trump of "weaponizing distrust" toward the news media. (V)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is not much of a fan of what the other Kentucky senator (Mitch McConnell) is feverishly trying to do, namely, pass a health-care bill. Yesterday Paul said: "The bill is just being lit up like a Christmas tree full of billion-dollar ornaments, and it's not repeal." What Paul wants is a simple bill to repeal the ACA and only then to consider new legislation to replace it. He has raged against the bill before. His criticism is that in order to win a senator here and a senator there, McConnell is adding amendments here and there, each one providing billions of dollars for some senator's pet project.
The consequence of Paul's views, stated again yesterday, is that his vote cannot be gotten by providing a few billion dollars for Kentucky miners or having the federal government buy up the complete output of all of Kentucky's coal mines for the next 4 years. If Paul is a lost cause for the health-care bill, McConnell can afford to lose only one more vote. The trouble is that Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are unlikely to support the bill if it defunds Planned Parenthood. If Paul is hopeless and the two women stick to their guns, it will be very hard for McConnell to pass any health-care bill. (V)
The GOP senators leading the health-care effort, from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on down, have long recognized that the CBO is not their friend on this issue. So, they tried to ram their bill through before the score could come in. However, even some members of the Republican caucus balked at this, which killed the maneuver, and—effectively—the first iteration of the bill.
Now that it is clear that the CBO cannot be avoided, Senate Republicans are trying to massage the process to get as favorable a score as is possible. They are attacking the matter on two fronts, in fact. To start, they have reportedly submitted two different versions of BCRA v2.0 for scoring, one with reduced regulations for insurers and one without. There is also pressure on the CBO to use less pessimistic numbers as the basis of their calculations. If everything goes the Republicans' way, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) estimates that the estimate could change from 22 million people losing their insurance to only 14 million. Progress!
If this is the horse to which the GOP leadership really is hitching its wagon, they are delusional. It is inconceivable that a voter who was bothered by the thought of 22 million people losing insurance would be assuaged if the number drops to "just" 14 million. And that's before we consider the fact that the human brain does not handle large numbers well, such that the perceived distinction between 14 million and 22 million is effectively nonexistent. Really, there's no good way that McConnell & Co. are going to avoid the perception that they are sacrificing the health care of poor people to give a tax break to rich people, since that is what they are trying to do. No cooking of the books will change that. (Z)
Twenty moderate House Republicans from the House Tuesday Caucus have warned Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that if the Fiscal Year 2018 budget contains billions of dollars of cuts to mandatory programs, the possibility of tax reform would be reduced. However, the House Freedom Caucus has said that unless the cuts take place, it would not support the budget resolution. Both groups have enough votes to kill the budget resolution. Without the votes of both, then, it is impossible to pass a tax-reform bill in the Senate with a simple majority vote.
Business groups are worried that a standoff between the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus could lead to an impasse in which no tax-reform bill can pass the House. The initial FY 2018 budget resolution removed $250 billion in mandatory spending. The Tuesday Group rejected this, saying that reducing benefits to poor people while giving corporations a big tax break would be unpalatable. It is entirely possible that the battle over tax reform could be a rerun of the battle over health care, including its extremely close vote. (V)
Presidential adviser Steve Bannon often marches to a different drummer than the rest of the Republican Party. While other Republicans are already fighting about how to lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Bannon is floating the idea of raising the top tax rate, which is currently 39.6%. He wants the top rate to begin with a "4," so an increase of 0.4% would get him there. Bannon wants to use the money to cut middle class taxes. Pushing a plan that is hated by the Republican establishment is classic Bannon.
Bannon isn't the only one in the administration who is thinking about taxes. Gary Cohn, who is Director of the National Economic Council, and Steve Mnuchin, who is Secretary of the Treasury, are focused on cutting the top corporate rate from 35% to 15%. They know that getting spending cuts to match the revenue shortfall will be very difficult, so they are willing to blow a hole in the budget to get their tax cuts. Some Republicans think that if the health-care bill fails, it will be easier, not harder, to get a tax-cut bill through Congress because Republicans will be hungry for any victory they can get. It is widely believed that if Cohn doesn't get the corporate tax cut he wants, he will resign and leave D.C. (V)
Behind the scenes, former President Barack Obama has been advising Democratic Party officials and legislators about how to rebuild a Democratic Party that has lost the White House, Senate, House, a majority of the governors' mansions, and a majority of the state legislatures. He has been talking regularly with DNC Chairman Tom Perez. He is staying out of politics for the moment, but he left office with a 60% approval rating and is expected to start raising money for the Party soon and to stump for some candidates, including Ralph Northam (D), who is running for governor of Virginia.
Obama can offer what few other Democrats can: the ability to bridge the Hillary and Bernie wings of the Party. Most Democrats trust him, and as long as he merely offers advice and does not try to push the Party in one direction or another, he will continue to have the respect of most Democrats.
In public, he has avoided major criticism of Donald Trump, preferring to stick to policy issues. He has repeatedly attacked the Republican health-care bills, but not the people who wrote them. Like Trump, he has called the bills "mean," but unlike Trump, he has also called for them to be defeated. (V)
Gallup is doing a daily tracking poll of Donald Trump's approval ratings, and it's not pretty. In the latest iteration, he is at 37% approve, 57% disapprove. One wonders what the other 6% need to know before they will be ready to form an opinion. In any case, this isn't Trump's worst approval number in the poll (he's dropped as low as 35%) and it's not his worst disapproval either (he's been as high as 60%). However, the trendlines are not pretty for him, and he's well on his way to the point where he pulls a 60% disapproval rating on a regular basis. By way of comparison, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama avoided 60% disapproval during their entire terms of office, while George W. Bush took five years to get there. So this is one way, at least, in which Donald Trump has run laps around his predecessors. (Z)
Generally speaking, new Supreme Court justices are a little hesitant in their first term or two on the bench. The job is new, of course, and a little daunting to even the best of jurists. Further, there is a keen awareness of the importance of their votes, since there's no higher court serving as a double-check. These things being the case, most new justices hew a bit closer to the center of the political spectrum than might otherwise be the case.
Not Neil Gorsuch, though. He was seated only for the last two weeks of the most recent SCOTUS term, but he's already emerged as a younger version of Antonin Scalia. Thus far, he has voted 100% of the time with the Court's most conservative member, Clarence Thomas. Gorsuch has also voted with Samuel Alito the vast majority of the time. In fact, that trio was happy to let Muslim travel ban v2.0 go into effect without limitations; they were overruled by their colleagues. Gorsuch has also voted for gun rights and against gay rights, and has signaled hostility to campaign finance reform. So, conservatives' fears and liberals' hopes that he might turn into a surprise centrist, a la Byron White or Anthony Kennedy, would appear to have been unfounded. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul02 Kasich Calls Trump Tweets "Unacceptable"
Jul02 House Wants to Re-Assert Its War Powers
Jul02 Trump Wonders What States Are Trying to Hide
Jul02 Tillerson Temper Tantrums Times Two
Jul02 GOP Senators Want to Skip Recess
Jul02 Several States Are in Shutdown Mode
Jul01 Trump: Repeal Obamacare now, Replace It Later
Jul01 Mika Brzezinski Fires Back at Trump
Jul01 Trump May Have Tried to Blackmail Brzezinski
Jul01 Trump's Priorities are Clear
Jul01 Could Trump Be Kicked Off Twitter?
Jul01 Can Trump Be Kicked Out of Office?
Jul01 Voter Fraud Commission Wants State Voter Rolls
Jul01 Mueller Makes Another Hire
Jun30 Trump's Tweets Get Ugly
Jun30 Russian Hackers Discussed Getting Clinton E-Mails to Flynn
Jun30 Trump Names Vote Suppressor to Election Integrity Commission
Jun30 Portman and Capito Get the First Goodies
Jun30 Republicans May Keep a Key ACA Tax in Place
Jun30 Trump Has Signed 40 Bills
Jun30 Trump Hopes Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act Will Be #41 and #42
Jun30 Trump Wants "Golden Age of American Energy Dominance"
Jun30 Another Day, Another Trump Lawyer Under Scrutiny
Jun30 Trump Will Deport Members of an Iraqi Christian Group that Supported Him
Jun29 Travel Ban v2.0 Takes Effect Today
Jun29 Americans Overwhelmingly Reject Republicans' Health-Care Plan
Jun29 Entire Republican Agenda Is Now at Risk
Jun29 Why Has Health Care Been So Hard?
Jun29 Health-Care Debate Is Already Affecting Gubernatorial Races
Jun29 Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation Is Picking Up Steam
Jun29 Trump's Ongoing Re-Election Campaign Raises Ethical Issues
Jun29 Trump's Lawyer Is in Hot Water
Jun28 Vote on Health Care Bill Delayed Until after Senate Recess
Jun28 The Shoes Keep Falling
Jun28 Five Takeaways from the Senate Health Care Bill
Jun28 Bipartisanship Lives: Governors of Both Parties Attack the Senate Health Care Bill
Jun28 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Trump?
Jun28 Time for a Trade War?
Jun28 Only Two Major Countries Like Trump Better than Obama
Jun28 Fake Time Magazine Cover Featuring Trump Hangs in His Golf Resorts
Jun28 Manafort Registers as a Foreign Agent
Jun27 CBO: 22 Million People Will Lose Insurance under the Senate Bill
Jun27 Senate Leadership Revises the Health-Care Bill
Jun27 Graham to Colleagues: Trump Won't Have Your Back
Jun27 Pelosi: 'Hundreds of Thousands' Will Die if Health Care Bill Becomes Law
Jun27 Supreme Court Will Take the Muslim Travel Ban Case in October (Unless it Doesn't)
Jun27 Supreme Court Will Look at Wedding Cake Case
Jun27 No White House Ramadan Celebration this Year
Jun27 Ryan Draws Ironworker Opponent