Regardless of How the Votes Go, It’s Going to Be the Republicans Tax Code

As long as most of us have been alive, the Democrats have “owned” the tax code, being blamed for every trade off and decision.

Assuming for a sad moment that the Republicans manage to ram this monster of redistribution through, it will become “their” tax code.

We can run ads against every element.

We can do April 15 ads.

We can print and Photoshop copies of the 1040 with Trump’s, McConnel’s and Ryan’s photos superimposed.

Every time a Republican complains about anything to do with taxes we throw it back in your faces.  “You wrote the code, you rammed it through.  You own it now.  You pay the price.”

Of course, if they fail to pass their bill, then anything wrong with the code is still their fault, because they are too pathetic to have changed it.

Not the platform I would like to have to run on, but one I would love to run against.

 

Advertisements

Refusing to Move a Vice Presidential Replacement Would Be The Ultimate Garland Payback

It’s time to start speculating about a post-Trump 2019.  Supposing Trump is impeached, Pence moves up, and Congress starts to talk about replacing him as the investigation reaches Pence.

Then the Dems, now in the majority, citing the Garland nomination, refuse to approve a new VP.  “The people should decide.” (imagined quote).

When Pence is convicted, we get, glory of glory of glories, President Pelosi.  Pelosi, of course, re-nominates Garland, no longer subject to the filibuster.

 

The Deeply Disturbing Implications of the Washington Post Story of the Inadequate US Response to Russian Hacking, and a Long Term Proposal

It is almost impossible to force oneself to read the Washington Post’s brilliant reporting of the US failure to respond adequately to the Russian election-related hacking.

However, attention must be paid, and the implications go far further than judgements about the Obama administration, that I am sure will go well explored in classic blame the victim manner.

First,  I think we have to admit that the current situation of a largely unpunished and undeterred coup/attack on the US has to be broadly blamed on the entire political process in the US.  While the lack of response, either public or covert, is hard to defend either now, or then, it has to be seen as in part the product of the hyper-politicization of foreign policy.  The Obama administration was operating in a toxic environment in which any honest reporting or respect was, and would be thrown back in the face of the government and the electorate, without any concern for considerations other than short term victory.   The administration could not ignore the reality of that environment.

That must be recognized as a product of Trump active encouragement of hacking, of his trivialization of any reporting, and of his contempt for truth.  The enablers carry as much if not more of the blame.

Second, we must be honest about where we are.  We no longer can be confident that the American people control our own fates through the political process.  It was and has to be assumed to be about to be again, another Pearl Harbor.  (That the US has its own long bi-partisan history of interference in other counties electoral, and political processes, not to mention coups, does not make this any less serious, it only makes it harder to defeat.)  Given the massive reluctance of Trump to take this threat in any way seriously, or even to recognize the risks of the legitimacy this has already lost him, we can have no faith that the governmental system will protect us against more and worse future surrenders of control.  (If Trump is forced out, as I strongly believe he has to be, and will be, this last is no longer true, but issues of trust and legitimacy will long remain.)

Finally, we have to build a new layer of institutions that protect the integrity of our political system regardless of short term interest.  For a start, I can imagine a Commission led by prior presidents, with an independent staff, with direct access to the intelligent services.  The Commission would have a mandate to issue public reports, including on the credibility of challenges to our democratic electoral system, and to publicly and privately urge actions of all kinds, thereby making it easier for presidents to take needed actions without being effectively accused of putting partisan interests first.  While hacking will be one part of the charter of duties, all forms of foreign interference and collusion will need to be included.

The problem, as always, and as we learned in the cold war, is that is is almost impossible to give groups power that is not democratically constrained without then in fact surrendering democracy to those powers.  In the absence of the consensus of  the cold war years, the need is even greater than it was then, and the risks are far greater.

It is a measure of what Trump and his enablers have wrought, and what his opponents have failed to do, that we now face this choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Trump’s Assetion That the Democrats Should Have Won the Election Mean?

Yesterday, in his astonishing interview with NBC News: (NYT link)

Mr. Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

What on earth does that mean?

  • That the American people support Democratic policies,
  • That the Democratic demographic advantage is overwhelming,
  • That the Republicans do not have good candidates,
  • That he was an unappealing candidate?
  • That he did not expect to win,
  • That he knows he is unready to be President?

Or, I suppose, it could just be that he is getting inside their minds and saying that the Democrats think that they should have won.  Frankly, that’s a psychological distinction too far for me to attribute to Trump.

Anyway, as things spin more and more out of control, as I am sure they will, we will have many more opportunities to observe and analyze Trump’s mental functioning, perhaps as authorized under the 25th Amendment.

 

 

Are We Headed For a 2018 Veto Proof Budget?

Two events in the last couple of days suggest that Democrats and Republicans may have to combine to pass a veto-proof budget for next year.

Trump has announced that a shut down would be a good thing.  That might be good for Republicans fearing a primary, but not for those fearing the Democrats, as many will be  by the fall.

The 2017 budget appears to be relying on a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, put together over Trump’s at least apparent disapproval, to get over the top.  Moreover, the budget contains a surprising number of “up your’s Donald” provisions, and almost nothing of what he wants.

So, a veto proof budget may be the only way to keep the country functioning, and that may align with congressional and Senate interests in both parties.

What a year!

P.S.  The used to be a joke that new Congressman of both parties were told by thee seniors – “always remember who the real enemy is.” The newbie would name the opposing party and the elder statesman would reply: “No, the Senate.”  Maybe the answer in both parties, and now both chambers, is becoming “the President.”

Hard not to see why.

 

Applying the “Rules” for Government Shutdown Crises to the Current Situation

There are two basic rules for government shut downs:

  1.  Congress gets blamed not the White House.
  2. Shutdowns are an opportunity to the Executive to demonstrate competence.

So, it is a reasonable question ask how these will apply this time around.

With respect to the blame game, the normal rule would be to blame Congress — and typically the majority party, which will be different from the President.  It is going to be really hard to pin the blame on minority democrats, and although ironically, their choices are driving all this.  But apart from this, the reason that the White House usually wins the messaging, and ultimately the substance, wars, is that it speaks with one voice.

So you can throw that out the window this time.  The messaging chaos, the internecine battles, and the constant leaking almost guarantee that the White House can not win this one, except with very narrow constituencies.

As to the  opportunity to demonstrate competence, note that I said “demonstrate,” not “achieve.”  Anyone who can see anything in the history of the last 100 days that suggests any competence to demonstrate — I have an infrastructure bill to build a new Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Much more likely is that the bureaucracy will not go out of its way to minimize harm — except to the most vulnerable, and those efforts will be undercut by those wearing the metal flag pins, and in turn the facts will be leaked.  It will be chaos.

The Democrats know all this, so they have no incentives to trade.  It could be a long shutdown.  What a way to celebrate 100 days, unless Republicans realize that a small set of relatively minor defeats is better than a very big one.

The Party-Switch Way Forward For the Senate

While there are many reasons for the slowness of the institutional response in the political system to Trump, one actually can be fixed quite easily.

Right now, the press are energized, the courts seem to be standing up for judicial supremacy, and the investigatory agencies are still able to get the most disturbing facts before the public.

The problem is that there is no truly independent set of investigations going on, because of the Republican failure.

The simple solution is for three or more senators to shift parties for the purpose of establishing the appropriate investigatory process.  Such a switch, perhaps by McCain, Lindsey and one more, could be limited to the organization of the Senate, and the Rs could still vote with their colleagues on all substantive matters if they wished.  Those three would have to expect to be primaried, but who knows, by the end of this they might be the safest Republican senators.

Anyway, just the threat of this should be enough to get McConnell to back down, set up a true investigation, and allow it to go wherever it goes.  The tax returns alone might be enough.