Tuesday, July 23, 2019


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The Best of the Lot
Best description of the Big Casino budget compact, its rationale, and its implications:

“For President Trump, the deal pushes the debt-limit question out beyond the 2020 election and provides a boost to military spending that he can tout on the campaign trail. For congressional leaders, it ensures an initial measure of stability and marks a win for the kind of pragmatic deal making that has been in short order in Washington in recent years.”

“The accord also marked another example of Washington’s rising tolerance for deficits, among both Democrats, who prize domestic spending, and Republicans, who consistently seek more money for the military.” (WSJ)

“The deal was met with fierce resistance from some prominent Republicans who said that it would add too much to the debt, a backlash that will force congressional leaders to work hard this week to ensure they have enough votes for passage. The agreement also could spark concerns from some House liberals because of concessions made to the Trump administration, as both parties try to stake out positions that resonate with voters ahead of the 2020 election.”

“The agreement marks a significant retreat for the White House, which insisted just a few months ago that it would force Congress to cut spending on a variety of programs to enact fiscal discipline. Instead, the White House agreed to raise spending for most agencies, particularly at the Pentagon.”

“In exchange, White House officials received verbal assurances from Democrats that they would not seek to attach controversial policy changes to future spending bills, although it’s unclear how that commitment would be enforced.” (WashPost)

My take: It was always the case that Speaker Pelosi and President Trump had a shared interest in a deal to clear the decks for 2020 and keep the markets and their donors happy.

Secretary Mnuchin proved himself to be a skilled practitioner of the art of the possible.

AOC, Pat Leahy, and House conservatives don’t like the agreement, but the bipartisan, bicameral leadership is confident that, with the president’s blessing, the votes will be there.

The question that is begged: can the same dynamic that propelled this pact to near the finish line lead to bipartisan concord on the new North American trade deal (in the summer/fall), an infrastructure deal (in the fall/winter), and, perhaps, an immigration deal (in the winter/spring)?

That might be running way out ahead of what the traffic will actually bear. 

After all, none of those deals would be “must dos” the way the budget and debt ceiling are. 

But there is no doubt that Pelosi and Schumer have many of the same incentives to strike those additional agreements:  they believe they are good policy, they believe that if properly crafted they can help their 2020 presidential nominee, and they know that their donors and many of their constituents would like to see them happen.

Jared Kushner knows all this, too.

If the White House will give in on those negotiations as much as they did on the budget, who knows what is possible?

Adding to this prospect is the somewhat overlooked degree of difficulty involved in reaching this budget/debt accord: it happened in a week of super high Trump-Pelosi tensions over the attacks on The Squad and the highly anticipated Mueller hearings.

What we have learned most of all via this leadership-Trump deal is that Pelosi and the president are world-class compartmentalizers on the order of William J. Clinton.

Stay tuned….

Best op-eds setting the Mueller table:

There are 100s of opinion pieces, but you only need to read these two.

Neal Katyal, on the right, simple questions to ask Mueller to get to impeachment.

John Podesta, on the past, present, and future implications of Trump welcoming help from Russia.

My take: If the Democratic questioners at Wednesday’s hearings are as focused, clear-thinking, and undistracted as Katyal and Podesta, they can actually create the national moment about which impeachment hawks dream. 

And/but as James Carville likes to say, if “ifs” and “buts” were beer and nuts, we’d have a heck of a party. (Sir Charles likes this quote too.)

Best reminder to liberals in the Pauline Kael bubble that the president can win re-election:

A New York Times reporter strolls around a Michigan town and apparently can’t find a soul who doesn’t bleed MAGA red.  Essential reading for every Wide World of News reader – and for every Democratic presidential candidate.

My take: I don’t recall ever reading a person-on-the-street piece that had each of the persons saying her or his own version of basically the same thing: Trump is flawed but better than The Squad-led Democrats.  This story doesn’t say Trump is a lock to win Michigan.  But it makes it clear that he could win Michigan. And if Trump wins Michigan, that is a serious piece of business.

Top sports story: Ronaldo won’t face charges in rape case
ESPN

Top business story: Boeing slides after ratings agencies turn negative on maker of grounded 737 Max
CNBC

Top entertainment story: Tom Hanks Channels Mister Rogers in ‘Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Trailer
Variety

Big Four

Iowa

In deep-red Iowa, Elizabeth Warren sticks to her populist message.

Vice President Mike Pence to visit Iowa on Tuesday.

New Hampshire

Former House Speaker O’Brien seeking US Senate seat.

Nevada

O’Rourke announces first campaign hires in Nevada.

South Carolina

SC’s bad drinking water is part of ‘national emergency,’ presidential candidate says.


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