The GOP Base Is Beyond Trump’s Control 

You can get elected as an outsider, but once in office, you have to actually govern.

The conservative movement is caught in a Catch-22 of its own making. In the war against “the establishment,” we have made being an outsider the most important qualification for a politician. The problem? Once elected, outsiders by definition become insiders. This isn’t just a semantic point. The Constitution requires politicians to work through the system if they’re going to get anything done.

.. Look at all the senators who rode the tea-party wave into power: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee. To one extent or another, they are now seen as swamp things, not swamp drainers, by the pitchfork populists.

.. Merely talking like a halfway responsible politician — “we don’t have the votes,” “we have to pay for it” — is proof of selling out. Trump bashes NBC News as ‘Fake News’ on Twitter

.. He wore the animosity of his colleagues, including the GOP leadership, like a badge of honor. He was the leader of the insurrectionists. He had only one problem: He talked like a creature of the establishment — largely because the Princeton- and Harvard-trained former Supreme Court clerk and career politician was one. He knew the lyrics to every populist fight song, but he couldn’t carry the tune.

..But not only did Donald Trump jump into the fray at the height of populist fervor, the field was also divided 17 ways. No one spoke less like a politician. No one who understood how governing works would have promised the things Trump promised

  • health coverage for all, for less money,
  • eliminate the debt,
  • bring all those jobs back, etc. —

because they’d either know or care that such things are literally impossible.

.. The establishment remains the villain and Trump the hero for his willingness to say or tweet things that make all the right people angry. For his most ardent supporters, the fault for his legislative failures lies entirely with the swamp, the establishment, or the “Deep State.”

.. he most important factor was Moore’s demonization of the establishment, particularly Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. The voters valued sticking their thumbs in the establishment’s eye more than giving Trump a win.

.. there is remarkably little intellectual or ideological substance to the current populist fever. Strange was more conservative than Moore but less bombastic. Moore opposed Obamacare repeal and, until recently, couldn’t say what DACA was. In other words, MAGA populism is less of an agenda and more of a mood.

Trump’s silence on Russian hacking hands Democrats new weapon

Democrats say Trump has yet to express public concern about the underlying issue with striking implications for America’s democracy.

Democrats are uniting behind a simple message about Russian hacking during the 2016 election: Donald Trump doesn’t care.

 .. The president missed a self-imposed 90-day deadline for developing a plan to “aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks,” stayed silent after Moscow-linked hackers went after the French election and publicly renewed his own skepticism about the Kremlin’s role in the digital theft of Democratic Party emails during the presidential race.

.. administration officials said the directive is aimed at broadly upgrading the government’s digital defenses, not thwarting future Russian election hacking.

.. Instead, Trump tapped a commission led by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate an issue that elections experts call vastly overblown — voter fraud

.. In the past two weeks, The Intercept published what it called a secret NSA document that described an aggressive, Moscow-backed hacking campaign to compromise state election officials, perhaps with the ultimate goal of meddling with votes.

.. Bloomberg report detailed Russian intrusions into 39 state voter databases and software systems, including one instance when hackers tried and failed to delete voter information.

.. Comey said in his widely watched testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of that government.”

.. “Russia is no friend of the United States,” said Sen. Pat Toomey

.. Comey piqued Democrats when he told lawmakers the president had never once asked him about Russian hacking

.. During Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ closely watched testimony Tuesday, Manchin focused on the idea that Trump didn’t care about potential Russian interference going all the way back to the campaign.

.. House Democrats are also fighting against Republican-led efforts to close the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created after the Bush v. Gore recount that offers voluntary assistance to states on running elections.

The Senate Takes Up Health Care Reform

The Senate will take up health care reform after a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed through the House last Thursday.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of Senate leadership, said that the Senate will wait for a new CBO score before preceding to a vote.

.. Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, said, “The bill that passed out of the House is most likely not going to be the bill that is put in front of the president.”

Members of the working group include Sens.

  1. Mitch McConnell,
  2. Bob Portman (R-OH),
  3. John Corynyn (R-TX),
  4. John Thune (R-SD),
  5. Mike Enzi (R-WY),
  6. Orrin Hatch (R-UT),
  7. Lamar Alexander (R-TN),
  8. Tom Cotton (R-AR),
  9. Cory Gardner (R-CO),
  10. Ted Cruz (R-TX),
  11. John Barrasso (R-WY), and
  12. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

.. The Senate working group does not feature two of the bill’s biggest critics, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

.. The two senators joined a separate group of Republicans studying potential health care solutions including Sens.

  1. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),
  2. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and
  3. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
  4. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  5. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

.. Senators Cassidy and Collins released a separate Obamacare repeal bill, The Patient Freedom Act.

States have three options under the Cassidy-Collins plan:

  1. Retain the Affordable Care Act, allowing individuals and small businesses able to purchase insurance on state exchanges and low-income residents can receive federal subsidies to cover the cost of the program. States that expanded Medicaid can continue to provide increased Medicaid coverage.
  2. States can receive most of the federal funding, including Medicaid expansion and subsidies to create tax-free Health Savings Accounts for low-income citizens. Low-income residents can use the HSAs to purchase insurance and pay for health care.
  3. Allow states to create an alternative solution without federal assistance. States would retain the power to design and regulate insurance markets without federal intervention.

.. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were the strongest opponents of the American Health Care Act. Senator Paul crafted his own conservative plan for repealing Obamacare and worked with the Freedom Caucus to push for an even more conservative Obamacare repeal bill. The Freedom Caucus endorsed Sen. Paul’s plan.

 

 

Can the Club for Growth Survive Donald Trump?

The free-market group spent big to defeat Trump, but he proved its supporters weren’t quite as faithful as once thought.

In the early Obama years, the group helped achieve its longstanding goal—the virtual annihilation of moderate Republicanism—by bankrolling Tea Party candidates. By 2015, it had become, arguably, the most influential anti-establishment interest group in politics and was closely aligned with the ascendant House Freedom Caucus. But in 2016, the Club for Growth watched in horror as millions of its ostensible supporters flocked to a candidate who shared few of its most cherished beliefs. Worse yet, Trump had won them over by co-opting the Club’s most reliable tactic—channeling anarchic rage at establishment politicians.

.. “The Club for Growth is both anti-Trump and anti-establishment,” Walsh says. “They’re seeing their slice of the GOP pie shrink.”

.. The Club was founded in 1999 by the banker/activists Richard Gilder and Thomas Rhodes, and the economic pundit Stephen Moore. All three were supply-siders in an era of moderate Republicanism. The group’s mission was to rid Washington of tax-and-spenders and replace them with extreme fiscal hawks.

.. Their darlings included incoming Sens. Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey, a former Club for Growth president.

.. Suddenly, any sitting Republican to the left of Ayn Rand—the group wields scorecards—risked getting primaried by a Club-sponsored insurgent.

.. Indeed, the group’s super PAC has historically been funded by a handful of super-rich white men, including financiers Jackson and Warren Stephens of Little Rock, New York hedge fund baron Robert Mercer and PayPal founder/Gawker Media bête noire Peter Thiel.

.. “When Ted Cruz … ‘shut the government down,’ people would ask, ‘What do you think of the guy now?’” says Chocola, “I’d say, ‘I love the guy. Tell me one thing he advocates that’s not in the GOP platform. The difference is he would actually fight for it.’”

.. May, Club President David McIntosh met with the candidate at Trump Tower. Accounts of the event differ, but the result was that McIntosh wrote Trump a letter asking him for a donation of $1 million. He refused, the Club began airing attack ads, and a Twitter war broke out.

.. Finally, in July, the Club for Growth received some welcome news, when Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. During his congressional career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nobody donated more to Pence than the Club.

.. In fact, as POLITICO reported last month, there is a widespread feeling in Washington that the Club has become little more than a fundraiser for the Freedom Caucus, at the expense of any other agenda.

.. “If the [Club for Growth] makes their top priority to increase the size of the House Freedom Caucus, what does that get?” asks a Republican strategist working with one such group. “On Nov. 9, you’re going to have a smaller House majority and possibly a larger House Freedom Caucus. That strikes me as a strange goal to have.”