Congress Has A Really Short Window–Just Until Friday–To Settle On A Budget Agreement
- Extends the current temporary agreement again to sometime in January, or
- Allows the government to shut down, or
- Forces the government to shut down
Unlike the current tax bill, input and support from at least 8 Democrats in the Senate is required for a budget to pass, so they have some rare leverage here.
We Kind Of Wish Democrats Were Not Making DACA Their Central Demand In Budget Negotiations
Democrats seem to have settled on a push for an extension to DACA as their #1 demand. That’s the program that allows undocumented immigrants who came here as children to stay in the U.S., since many of them have lived here nearly all their lives.
We understand why Democrats are doing this. It makes sense both from a humanitarian perspective, and as a matter of political expediency. You can’t leave human lives in the balance. And if there is a shutdown, Democrats will be able to point to their support of a popular cause.
But that’s also what we see as the problem: because Republicans also want DACA by-and-large. Even the Koch Brothers are in favor of it. Even Trump. Although he ended the program, he almost immediately said he wants to fix it.
So why are Democrats making their main bargaining chip something Republicans also want and are just pretending not to so they can so they can then pretend they gave in on something even though it was something they actually wanted anyway?
We Also Think There’s A Good Chance Trump Will Get At Least Partial Funding For His “Wall”
Why? It’s incredibly important to him. It’s not really that important to anyone else. So if you’ve got an issue you really care about, it’s easy to trade for “the wall” to get what you want, since it really just involves wasting a phenomenal amount of money and plopping down a giant slab of concrete. That’s hardly as repugnant as pretty much anything else the Trump Administration is pushing for.
Trump Uses Deadly Train Crash To Promote Infrastructure Spending
Trump’s first Tweet following the derailment in Washington State in which at least 3 people were killed:
Let’s also keep in mind that while Trump’s long-touted a massive infrastructure bill, for Amtrak, not so much. His budget actually proposed cuts for the existing railroad and proposed high speed rail projects.
Late in the day, Federal Investigators said the train was apparently traveling at a speed of 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. They don’t yet know why.
The Tax Bill “Story Of The Day”
We’ve spent a lot of time inundating you with details of what is/isn’t in the Republican tax bill that’s almost sure to pass this week and be signed by Trump before Christmas. So what we thought we’d do in the next few days is pick what we feel is the most compelling story of the day, and feature it for you.
For today, it’s this story from Bloomberg, which is not trying to make any prognostications: it’s just the best explanation we’ve seen so far of what’s ending up in the bill, and what isn’t.
We Listened Closely To Trump’s Highly-Touted National Security Address, And Found It Failed To Address One Crucial National Security Issue
And that would be climate change: the impact of which the Pentagon takes very seriously. (It once issued a report saying: “climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources”). But Trump doesn’t, mentioning it nowhere in his speech. And we weren’t the only ones to notice this: Slate points out the closest it comes is using the phrase “Embrace Energy Dominance”. Defining that as calling “for the U.S. to “remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases”, while at the same time–of course–calling for “unleashing coal, natural gas, petroleum…”
The New York Times also points to “more than a few hints of a return to a Cold War view of the world” in the speech, and it did seem to us at times that Trump is defining everybody outside the country as an enemy of American prosperity, might, and success.
The address really ended up being a sneak-peak into Trump’s 2020 campaign strategy. Focusing more and deeper on the American people’s apparently love of high stock prices, and hatred of previous Presidents. Here’s a clip (remember, this is supposed to be about National Security objectives):
The stock market notched another record, and there’s no doubt Trump’s gigantic tax cuts for corporations has something to do with that. And far lower tax rates for corporations will very likely give the economy a boost at least for a little while. When it comes around to 2020, a good deal of Trump’s ability to get re-elected will come from how the economy’s doing at that point.
Trump Judicial Nominee Who Went Viral Withdraws Himself From Nomination
That makes 3 Trump nominees to federal courts in just the past few days to go pffft. Keep in mind too, during the viral exchange, which if you haven’t seen already, we’ve linked to below, the Trump nominee is being questioned by a Republican Senator, John Kennedy of Louisiana (didn’t need Al Franken for this one!)
This should also remind us that it’s not just judges, who are fortunately subject to Congressional oversight. There are other: “advisors” to Cabinet Departments and agencies who don’t need Congressional approval and are equally ignorant, or actual lunatics. That’s why you get the kind of thing the Washington Post reported on over the weekend, where some appointee decides to censor certain words from all reports from the Centers For Disease Control.
Keep in mind also, that the person being questioned in the above clip, Matthew Petersen, currently sits on the Federal Election Commission: so still plenty scary.
On the other hand, it really is much more crucial to keep focus on federal judicial nominees, because once approved, they’re in there for life.
Trump And Mueller At Some Kind Of Crossroads
While there’s certainly no shortage of speculation and gossip and highly speculative reporting, we generally try to avoid this kind of thing. Nothing’s happened until it happens.
So let’s stick to what we can tell you definitely, and that is: Trump’s legal team is meeting with Mueller’s team later in the week. After that, it’s fair to assume Trump will be briefed on that meeting.
We can also tell you the Trump team has determined the investigation has created a direct enough threat that they’re rolling out the big guns to discredit Mueller. That’s why we’re finding out just recently about the FBI agent involved in the investigation who sent negative texts about Trump and who was actually reassigned over the summer. But someone was saving that information for when they really, really needed it. And it’s now. And it’s working. Because it’s being trumpeted virtually 24/7 on Trump friendly broadcasts.
(And at the same time, no one is bothering to mention that when Mueller took on the job, he had to apply for waivers because the law firm he was working with at the time had a roster of Trump confidantes as its clients).
Mueller’s team is at a distinct disadvantage in this type of public opinion war. Because they’re largely leak-free, and work diligently and quietly. Unfortunately in this day-and-age of bombast and making things true just because you say so, loudly, 24/7, just doing your job can make you seem biased if you don’t respond to people who are endlessly saying that you are.. Although we have noticed in the past couple of days the emergence of an active Mueller team spokesperson, so perhaps they’ve realized they have to address some of these issues in order to not jeopardize their work.
While it would sure make some sense if Trump was going to fire Mueller to do it during Christmas week, when D.C. is notoriously empty, and people might be preoccupied with things other than protest, (not to mention the fact that Trump often undermines his major accomplishments with some heinous act or statement), we’re not even going to go there. We did find this mini-guide from MoveOn interesting: about when and where to organize if Trump ever does do it. Just something to keep in your back pocket at this point…