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Washington Report October 20, 2017
20 Oct 2017

Washington Report October 20, 2017

Budget Deal … True Heroes … Honest Ads (Sneak Peek) … TwitterDumb … Ex’s Speak … The Maverick & More … Vocabulary Word: Paideia … Emolument Clause … and other news of the week.


Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners


Budget Deal Cut

FIRST STEP WaPo “The Republican budget passed the Senate 51 to 49 late last night, clearing the way for the GOP to tackle a tax code rewrite without Democratic support. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who believes the budget ought to reduce the deficit, was the only Republican to vote against it. The budget opens the door to expanding the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. … Approval of the budget is expected to help shore up ties between Senate GOP leaders and President Trump. … The Senate approved an amendment Thursday night that paved the way for the House to adopt its version of the budget. This could eliminate the need for a conference committee, which might expedite consideration of tax reform by several weeks. … The vote came after just over six hours of amendment votes in which Democrats sought to call attention to controversial aspects of the GOP tax plan.”

DEFENSE HAWKS SCORE A WIN MorningD “An amendment from Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) allows for a $640 billion base defense budget, without offsets. One key change allows for higher defense spending without offsets, a way to win over House defense hawks, according to amendment text obtained by Politico.

Almost no one has actually seen the tax plan that Republicans now consider their top priority. NYTs “Congressional staff members have not settled on many key details. Yet party leaders are preparing to move ahead on a timeline even more aggressive than their unsuccessful attempts to repeal and replace the [ACA]. … The speed is striking — and strategic — for tax legislation that lobbyists believe could span 1,000 pages. Republicans hope the breakneck pace will help hold their narrow Senate majority together against what will almost certainly be a deluge of lobbying and Democratic criticism.”


Ultimate Sacrifice, In Niger

These American soldiers were killed in Niger while helping that country’s military combat Islamic militants … from left, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, WA; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, OH; Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, FL; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, GA.



Politico “President Donald Trump has personally interviewed at least two potential candidates for U.S. attorney positions in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter – a move that critics say raises questions about whether they can be sufficiently independent from the president.”


“Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell is the leading candidate to become the chair of the U.S. central bank after President Donald Trump concluded a series of meetings with five finalists Thursday, three administration officials said. The officials cautioned that Trump, who met with current Chair Janet Yellen for about half an hour on Thursday, has not made a final decision. … Of the five finalists, Powell would likely face the least opposition to confirmation in the Senate.”


Stepping Down

CONSIDER THIS Politico “Pat Tiberi, a 17-year veteran of Congress who is one of the top lawmakers on the Ways and Means Committee, is resigning in the middle of a session during which the committee is rewriting the tax code! A full overhaul of the tax code is a career-long goal of most members of the Ways and Means Committee. To leave in the middle of it is basically unconscionable.” Actually, seven of 24 lawmakers on Ways and Means are leaving Congress. Kristi Noem of South Dakota South Dakota. Other Republicans leaving include: Tiberi, Sam Johnson of Texas, Dave Reichert of Washington State, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Diane Black of Tennessee and Jim Renacci of Ohio


Honest [Social Media] Ads

This week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced he’s backing a Democratic bill requiring social media companies to disclose more info about political ads on their platforms. McCain join[ed] with two Democrats — Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — to give bipartisan imprimatur to the first of the “Facebook bills,” in response to Russia buying ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Google to promote fake news and propaganda to millions of people before and after last year’s presidential election. WSJ “The proposal — which will be officially unveiled on Capitol Hill Thursday — will require social media companies such as Facebook Inc. to keep a public repository of political advertising that runs on their platforms, similar to the rules governing broadcast television and radio advertising.”


Axios “… provisions of the Honest Ads Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for online political ads like the ones Russians surreptitiously bought, putting the rules on par with those for radio and TV ads:

“Amending the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002’s definition of electioneering communication to include paid Internet and digital advertisements. Currently only broadcast television, radio, cable and satellite communications are included.”

“Requiring digital platforms to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications it sells above specific thresholds.”

“The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contract information of the purchaser.”

“Requiring online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.”

This is the first in a wave of legislative and regulatory proposals we can expect in response to the disclosures that Russian agents used tech platforms to meddle in the 2016 election. The tech giants won’t resist all legislation — they know that’s not tenable in this environment. So they’ll work to shape the proposals to give Congress a win, with a minimal hit to the bottom line.

P.S. Bite of the day … Former Google Ventures CEO Bill Maris, who now runs a San Diego-area V.C. firm called Section 32, said yesterday during a Wall Street Journal tech conference: “It wouldn’t surprise me if the sun is setting on the golden age of Silicon Valley.” Maris added that he also wouldn’t be surprised if federal regulators try breaking up tech giants like Google or Facebook, saying that such companies “are more powerful than AT&T ever was.”



Twitter took 11 months to shut down a Russian troll account that claimed to represent the Tennessee Republican Party and earned more than 130,000 followers — even as the state’s real GOP repeatedly complained the account was phony. Meanwhile, top Trump campaign aides — including Donald Jr., Brad Parscale and Kellyanne Conway — were pushing Russian propaganda from that very account in the final days before the election.”


The Ex-Presidents Speak

George W. Bush has stayed out of the political fray for nine years now, and Barack Obama has kept his head down for the past nine months. On Thursday, both former presidents used major speeches to repudiate President Trump’s brand of politics and approach to the world.

NYTs “In separate and unrelated appearances former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both warned that the United States was being torn apart by ancient hatreds that should have been consigned to history long ago and called for addressing economic anxiety through common purpose.”

Neither mentioned Trump by name. They didn’t need to. Instead, they preached patriotic sermons that appealed to America’s better angels.

  • Bush: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America … We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”
  • Obama: “Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!”


Maverick McCain

David Brooks NYTs “It turns out that John McCain’s most important service to American democracy was not rendered in a P.O.W. camp in Vietnam. It’s being rendered right now in the U.S. Senate.

In the first place, McCain seems to be the only member of Congress who insists on holding hearings and working toward compromise before passing major legislation. This would seem to be the very elemental prerequisite of good government … but McCain appears to be the only member, or at least the only Republican, willing to risk unpopularity to insist upon a basic respect for our sacred institutions.

Second, McCain is one of very few Republicans willing to stand up for the American story. …

Third and most important, McCain still believes that paideia is essential for democracy. WHAT IS PAIDEIA? Paideia is the process by which we educate one another for citizenship. Paideia is based on the idea that a healthy democracy requires a certain sort of honorable citizen — that if we’re not willing to tell one another the truth, devote our lives to common purposes or defer to a shared moral order, then we’ll succumb to the shallowness of a purely commercial civilization, we’ll be torn asunder by the centrifugal forces of extreme individualism, we’ll rip one another to shreds in the naked struggle for power. OpEd is a Worthwhile Read, Click Here.


What’s Going On In Puerto Rico – 2 views

Politico “A month after Hurricane Maria rolled across the center of Puerto Rico, the power is still out for 78% of people and one-third lack access to clean drinking water as the island works to restore hundreds of miles of transmission lines and thousands of miles of distribution lines … under a blazing tropical sun,” AP reports. Trump, appearing in the Oval Office yesterday with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, was asked to grade the White House response: “I’d say it was a 10. … I think [the storm damage] was worse than Katrina. … I give ourselves a 10.”

— A REMINDER: During his visit to Puerto Rico earlier this month, Trump said the hurricane-ravaged island should be “proud” since it hadn’t suffered “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”


Constitutional Challenge

An emoluments case playing out in New York brings the president’s conflict-of-interest nightmare to the forefront. The Atlantic “Lost in the cacophony of events that could potentially put an end to Donald Trump’s presidency, the possibility that he may have violated the Emoluments Clause—the constitutional clause that prevents presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments—seems downright quaint. But a lawsuit filed by an ethics watchdog group, which the Trump administration has said it will attempt to dismiss, seems determined to push an Emoluments Clause case as far as it can go. On Wednesday, lawyers from the group and from the Trump administration laid out their respective cases before a federal judge in New York, the former arguing that the president is susceptible to foreign influence because of his many business ventures, and the latter arguing that Trump should be able to continue reaping the profits of his presidency. Read More.


Guns and Public Health

A new study found that states with less restrictive concealed carry laws experience higher rates of gun deaths. In 2015, Louisiana (with more relaxed gun laws) had a firearm homicide rate of 9.96 per 100,000 residents, while the more stringent Hawaii had a rate of 0.75 per 100,000 residents according to researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The study comes as more states are completely doing away with concealed carry regulations and Congress is debating whether to allow state concealed carry permits to apply across state lines. Bills in both the Senate and House would allow people who received a concealed carry permit in their home state to travel to another state with their gun, so long as they abide by the laws in that state. The proposal is known as “concealed carry reciprocity.” The Senate bill is sponsored by Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) and the House bill by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.)


Pollution Kills

… a street in Dhaka, India

Guardian “Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis ‘threatens the continuing survival of human societies,” in a study released by The Lancet medical journal:

  • “Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world.”
  • “The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”
  • “The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths. The international researchers said this burden is a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.”


FDA Approve$

theSkimm “Heard about Yescarta? Earlier this week, the FDA approved a second gene therapy for US cancer patients. This treatment will be used to treat lymphoma in adults. Here’s how it works: doctors take certain cells from a patient’s immune system, and genetically modify them to attack and kill cancer cells. The cells are then put back inside the patient’s body to fight the disease. It’s a type of immunotherapy, which researchers have thought for years is the key to beating many types of cancers. The bad news: Yescarta costs more than $300,000 per patient. The good news: most patients who got the treatment saw their cancer shrink or go away altogether. Next, researchers are aiming to put similar treatments for other cancers and diseases on the market.”

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