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Washington Report November 10, 2017
14 Nov 2017

Washington Report November 10, 2017

A Taxing Day (Expect More Stuffing With This Bird) … PANIC(!) … I Havana ‘Nnouncement … Chinese Bromance … What The Hell Happened In VA? … Virginia is Blue … Failsafe, Failed … Women Win … Mitt Moves … NYC Marathon … and other news of the week.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day (not to be confused with Memorial Day). Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us. If you’re looking for a way to honor a veteran, here’s an idea … Show Up at a Veterans Day event in your area. As Roy Rogers said, “we can’t all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

Heartsick again, this time about the massacre in Sutherland Texas.


Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners


A Taxing Day

“The Senate unwrpped its tax plan yesterday. Last week, House Republicans announced their plan to overhaul the US tax code for the first time in decades….

Expect More Stuffing With This Bird

Politico “There are dramatic differences between the House and Senate versions of the tax overhaul, imperiling Trump’s desire to sign legislation by year end. The Senate and House are split on some key issues, including the top tax rate and the timing of the corporate tax cut, and also at odds with President Donald Trump in many areas. Hard bargaining, battles between GOP factions and an onslaught of lobbying are the gauntlets Republicans will have to run to get legislation to Trump’s desk by the end of the year – and into their mailers and ads for the 2018 elections.”








NYTs “Republicans in Washington seemed near panic … in the light of a news report in which four women said Roy S. Moore, the Republican nominee for a United States Senate seat in Alabama and an evangelical Christian, had made sexual or romantic overtures to them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s” “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, said Mr. Moore should step aside ahead of the Dec. 12 special election if the allegations were true.”

  • “If true”?! … Dan Eggen, WashPost White House editor: “All 4 women on record, corroborating witnesses, 30 sources total – what would it take to overcome ‘if true’ caveat?” (h/t Brian Stelter)

If you haven’t read the original Washington Post article, CLICK HERE

HIGH STAKES in the [upcoming] Dec. 12 special election in Alabama to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned to become attorney general. Republicans only have a two-seat majority in the Senate, and they’ve struggled to get 50 votes for priorities like repealing Obamacare. If Democratic candidate Doug Jones wins, he will hold the seat through at least 2020 and his party will have a clearer path to retaking the majority next year.

“This is what happens when you let reckless, incompetent idiots like Steve Bannon go out and recruit candidates who have absolutely no business running for the U.S. Senate,’ said Josh Holmes, a former McConnell aide.

JUST INTERESTING “According to campaign reports, none of the women has donated to or worked for Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, or his rivals in the Republican primary, including Sen. Luther Strange, whom he defeated this fall in a runoff election. … (the accuser) Leigh Corfman, 53, who works as a customer service representative at a payday loan business, says she has voted for Republicans in the past three presidential elections, including for Donald Trump in 2016.

“Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
– Jim Zeigler, Alabama State Auditor told The Washington Examiner.


I Havana ‘Nnouncement

theSkimm “President Trump is officially rolling back some Obama-era policies on Cuba.
Gimme the background. The US and Cuba spent more than 50 years ignoring each other, thanks to that time the CIA unsuccessfully planned an invasion into Cuba. And that time Cuba let the Soviet Union build missile launch sites there and almost started a nuclear war. And the two don’t see eye to eye, especially because of Cuba’s alleged human rights violations. That led to a freeze of US-Cuba relations that’s only started to thaw a few years ago under President Obama – and an economic embargo that still exists today. Congress has the power to lift it, but many lawmakers aren’t on board.

What’s happening now? A few months ago, Trump announced he’s pressing rewind to pre-Obama policies. Wednesday, he made it official. He’s banning Americans from visiting dozens of hotels, stores, and other businesses in Havana – ones with ties to Cuba’s government. And most American travelers can’t go there unless it’s with a tour group or representative approved by the State Department. Trump’s admin says these rules will help prevent American money from going to the communist gov.

Should I cancel my trip to Cuba Not necessarily. Your TBD Cuba plans depend on a few things, like your travel purpose (personal, humanitarian, educational) and when you booked your trip. One of the only ways you can now travel solo is by doing a trip that supports the Cuban people – but be prepared to have full itineraries and put your money towards small businesses while you’re there.” (But just think, you can still visit China. Just saying.)


Defense Authorization Deal

MorningD “Senate and House negotiators have agreed on a $700 billion defense policy bill that would exceed budget caps, approve more Lockheed Martin and Boeing aircraft and give military personnel a raise. The final fiscal 2018 defense bill (H.R. 2810) includes $65.7 billion in war funds not subject to statutory spending caps, according to senior Armed Services Committee aides who asked not to be named because the conference report hasn’t been made public yet.

The measure would authorize a 2.4 percent pay increase for the military, extend bonuses for service members and make permanent a temporary program to pay $310 a month to military widows and widowers. It would allow the Army to expand its active-duty personnel by 7,500 positions. The Navy would be authorized to add 4,000 positions; the Marine Corps, 1,000; and the Air Force, 4100, according to the House and Senate committee aides.


Chinese Bromance

theSkimm “Well this is something new and different. During the Beijing stop of his Asia trip, President Trump made an appearance with Chinese President Xi Jinping. And tried to start a bromance. Trump said he doesn’t blame China for getting unfair trade advantages over the US, and instead pointed the finger at past US administrations for letting the trade deficit grow. He also called Xi a “special man” and said that the two of them have “great chemistry.” Swipe right. Trump campaigned on the promise to take a harder line on China when it comes to trade. While Trump did call on China to open its market and highlighted American investment deals with Chinese companies, some think this shift in tone took the ‘tough’ out of ‘tough love.’ The two leaders also talked about North Korea, and agreed that the country should curb its nuclear weapons enthusiasm. But they stopped short of announcing any new policies against NK.”

LATimes ‘Trump’s Asia trip shows U.S. at risk of being sidelined: Leaders have not pursued negotiations or given concessions,’ … “From Tokyo to Seoul to Beijing, the American president has been feted with maximum ceremonial honors … Nowhere in Trump’s tour, however, have any of those leaders entered into serious negotiations or made significant concessions.”


Economist “America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump — A presidential tour of Asia cannot hide the fact that America has turned inward, hurting itself and the world”:
Why it matters: “For all its flaws, America has long been the greatest force for good in the world, upholding the liberal order and offering an example of how democracy works. All that is imperiled by a president who believes that strong nations look out only for themselves. By putting ‘America First,’ he makes it weaker, and the world worse off.” (Axios) Full Article.


What The Hell Happened In Virginia?

… 17 political watchers dissect the election results. VERY interesting. Click here for Politico Magazine.

Virginia Is Blue

WSJ “In their rousing election victories in Virginia on Tuesday, Democrats learned two important things: They found out what an anti-Trump coalition looks like, and they discovered it can be a winning one. That coalition combines upper-scale white voters, millennials, minorities, suburban women and single women. Exit polling indicates that those groups not only went heavily for Democratic victor Ralph Northam in the governor’s race, but performed better for him than they did for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. That tide produced a stunning nine-point victory for Mr. Northam—almost twice as large as the margin by which Mrs. Clinton carried the state—and it’s hard to interpret it as anything other than a reaction to President Donald Trump. He is the biggest actor on every political stage right now; almost everything happens in the Trump context.

In fact, the best news for Democrats may have been the signs that their wave of energy carried beyond the top race and down the ballot to elections for the state House of Delegates. Many thought Mr. Northam could win at the top of the ballot (though most concluded only barely), but nobody thought Democrats would be on the verge of turning the state legislature blue.

A wave of Democratic victories ignited a ferocious debate across the Republican Party … over whether President Trump’s un­or­tho­dox behavior and polarizing agenda are jeopardizing the GOP’s firm grip [of] Congress, governors’ mansions and state legislatures. (WaPo) WHY IT MATTERS (Axios): “A year ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans are increasingly uncertain about keeping their majorities on Capitol Hill and are worried about how damaging Trump’s jagged brand of politics may become to the party.”
Key sentence: “[E]ven among Trump’s allies, there were complaints about the White House being dis­engaged and unready to deal with the party’s mounting challenges.”
BUT, BUT, BUT … NYTs: “If a suburban insurrection might help Democrats take the House, the Senate seats at stake next year are overwhelmingly in conservative, rural states, where feelings about Mr. Trump range from ambivalent to positive. So far, only two Republican Senate seats are clearly in play: the one in Arizona being vacated by Jeff Flake and Dean Heller’s in Nevada.”

DEM MOJO Axios “Democrats … erased a previously dominant Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and won a special election that gave them control of the Washington state Senate. … Democrats flipped about two dozen state legislative seats around the country Tuesday and have now gained at least 30 seats previously held by Republicans since … Trump won election last.”
Why it matters: That reverses several years of Republican momentum.

‘GOP FACES WRENCHING CALL: RUNNING WITH OR AWAY FROM TRUMP Politico “Sweeping losses in Tuesday’s elections have exacerbated a growing rift inside the GOP … With Trump’s approval ratings cratering in swing states across the country, some senior party strategists are imploring lawmakers to abandon the president. Others argue that shunning Trump and his populist base is simply out of the question and that anything other than a full embrace of the president will spell electoral disaster.

TRUMPISM WITHOUT TRUMP “In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Republican Ed Gillespie tried to have it both ways – with disastrous consequences. Gillespie, who privately agonized about the degree to which Trump should be involved in the contest, refused to campaign with the president. But at the same time, he trumpeted Trump’s culture war issues in ads. White House advisers spent Wednesday combing through the election results and fuming about Gillespie’s have-it-both ways approach. By keeping Trump at arm’s length, they said, Gillespie squandered an opportunity to motivate conservatives whose support he needed.”


I’m Mad As Hell …

WSJ “Exit polling (in VA) by Edison Media Research for the Washington Post and other news organizations shows that unmarried women went for the Democrat by a stunning 77% to 22% margin. That is to say, they went Democratic by more than three to one. The Democratic vote among single women this time was 16% points higher than the vote they produced for Mrs. Clinton in 2016. There is little except the arrival of a President Trump to explain the difference. In short, single women look an awful lot like a constituency that is newly energized.”


Women Winners

Politico “Female candidates swept into office in Virginia and other elections around the country Tuesday, giving Democrats the first taste of a force reshaping their party in the first year of President Donald Trump’s administration. Women running for office for the first time may have wrested control of the Virginia House of Delegates from Republicans, who held the chamber since the 20th century. Another female Democrat flipped the Washington state Senate to her party’s control, alongside Democratic women who picked up state legislative seats in Georgia and Michigan, while Manchester, N.H. elected its first Democratic mayor in decades in Joyce Craig – who is also the city’s first-ever female mayor.

In Northern Virginia, Democratic women ousted Republicans in seven races, including in the 13th District where local journalist Danica Roem made history as the first transgender person to be elected to a state legislature. In addition to Roem, other female winners Tuesday night will also make House history. Next year’s House of Delegates will include the first Asian-American women and the first Latinas. And the overall number of women serving in the 100-member body will jump from 17 to 27 including four Republicans.



New Jersey was the only other governor’s race (Tuesday), and it went to a Dem to replace Gov. Chris Christie (R). It was also a night of other firsts – Hoboken, NJ elected the state’s first-ever Sikh mayor.


Mitt Moves

Politico “Mitt Romney is edging closer to a 2018 Senate run. The former GOP presidential nominee is huddling with Utah’s class of GOP power-brokers, contacting the state’s major political donors, and hitting the trail for candidates running in local races amid mounting speculation that the state’s longtime senator, Orrin Hatch, will retire. Romney is also raising money for House and Senate Republicans, winning him favor with GOP leaders ahead of a treacherous midterm election.”


Feeling Heat

theSkimm “So is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. It’s come out that he has a major investment in a shipping company with business ties to Russian President Putin’s family. And that he failed to disclose this important detail during the application process to join President Trump’s cabinet. Now, as commerce secretary, he’s in charge of US trade policy. In response to the news, Ross said that he recuses himself from any decisions related to “transoceanic shipping.” But some ethics experts say that’s not enough.”

Bloomberg “Federal investigators have issued subpoenas for information on Carl Icahn’s efforts to change biofuel policy while he served as an adviser to President Donald Trump, according to regulatory filings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is ‘seeking production of information’ pertaining to Icahn’s activities regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard … The investigators also want information on Icahn’s role as an adviser to the president.”


Alternate Realities

Axios “The partisan gap in Americans’ concerns about U.S.-Russian relations has widened — and flipped — since President Trump was elected last year, per a Pew report.





Failsafe, Failed.

theSkimm “More is coming out about the mass shooting in southern Texas. On Sunday, a 26-year-old gunman opened fire during a church service in Sutherland Springs. He killed at least 26 people and wounded 20 others. Half of the victims were children. Sometime before the shooting, the gunman sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, who attends the church but wasn’t there on Sunday. He also has a history of domestic violence. … In 2012, he escaped from a mental health facility. Also, the Air Force failed to let law enforcement know about his domestic assault conviction. So he was able to pass background checks and buy at least two guns since then. Failsafe, failed.

Also, bump stocks are back on sale. Those are attachments that let a semiautomatic rifle mimic an automatic weapon by firing continuously. It’s also what the Las Vegas shooter used last month to kill 58 people and injure hundreds more. After the shooting, Congress said ‘let’s maybe ban these.’ A manufacturer that makes them said ‘cool, we were gonna pause on selling them anyway.’ But talks in Congress have stalled. And now they’re back on the shelves.”


Another Winner

NYTs “Shalane Flanagan ended a four-decade drought for American women in the New York City Marathon on Sunday, dethroning one of the giants of the sport in the process.

Flanagan’s unofficial time was 2 hours 26 minutes 53 seconds, fast enough to beat the three-time defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya and become the first American woman to win since Miki Gorman in 1977.

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