National Journal’s Garrett writes, “Congressional Democrats can’t campaign on health care, and they can’t vote on middle-class tax cuts.” That “illustrates the political straitjacket” the Dem majority wears as it bolts from Washington in a “feverish attempt to stave off midterm repudiation.” Some in the party “wanted to fight” GOPers over taxes, an argument advocated by one of its chief advisers, pollster Stanley Greenberg. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “refused to lose a high-stakes vote on economic policy” — with nearly 40 Dems in her caucus wanting to vote with GOP — “even though they meant hanging centrist Dems who needed the vote out to dry.
Dems, in the end, “decided it was better to muddle than fight.” Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA): “There was a feeling, ‘Take another tough vote? For what?’. The leadership is interested and I’m interested in preserving the majority on November 13” (10/2 issue).
Pelosi, on how to move forward on taxes if more GOPers are in the House: “We intend to have a majority in the Congress after November. But the fact is if they want to go into other issues related to the tax code, we’re all for putting everything on the table, talking about simplification, talking about fairness, or perhaps lowering the corporate rate if we close loopholes, and some of the things that we have done have very good for small businesses.”
Pelosi, on tax compromise: “Our position is clear. Everybody gets a tax cut. If you make over $250,000 a year, you do not get an extra tax cut, and most of that tax cut, by the way, at the high end, goes to people making — 80 percent of it goes to people making over a million dollars a year as joint filers. We feel very clear about our position” (“NewsHour,” PBS, 9/30).
Time Running Out
National Journal’s Cook writes, “if a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is correct, the tide for the GOP “may have ebbed a bit.” The interesting result is that the GOP’s likely voter edge dropped from 9 points to 3 points since 8/10” (10/1.
ABC News’ Walter writes, “This tightening of the generic ballot does not mean that Democrats are out of the woods or that Republicans are less likely to gain control of the House.” Wave elections are “like tornadoes.” There are some places where the winds will level everything in its path, but “there will inevitably be those candidates who survive” (9/30).
You Call That Bi-Partisan?
Dems have “made clear” what they will be talking about in the closing six weeks of this midterm election cycle: Arguing GOPers will advance an agenda they say “will revive the failed economic policies of” George W. Bush. DSCC Chair Robert Menendez (D-NJ): “That is the choice they will have to make in this election — whether they want to go back to the very essence of those who created the economic anxiety and troubles they are in, or whether they want to continue to move to the future” (Davis, CongressDaily, 10/1).
Bill Clinton, on the midterms: “And it’s almost impossible with only a month to go — and they’ve been doing it for maybe a month — to fill up the tank as much and — but it’s worth reminding Americans that every election is a choice. If you have to run against the ideal, if it’s a referendum, every one of us will get beat. Nobody’d get elected. We’d have nobody in office because there’s no such thing as the perfect public servant. Every — the choices you make in politics are like the choices you make in life. You look at the facts as best you can and you make the best available choice” (“Hardball,” MSNBC, 9/30).
“Hours after adjourning a week early and punting on tax cuts and appropriations bills,” House Dem leaders “offered a broad defense of their agenda, framing their accomplishments as historic while casting” GOPers as “obstructionists not worthy of the public trust.”
“In some of their sharpest, and most coordinated, attacks thus far against” GOPers, Dems “directly took on” House Min. Leader John Boehner. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Boehner’s speech about Congressional reform: “It’s no wonder that Mr. Boehner wants to talk about process. They have no substantive issues to take to the American people, they want to talk about process, we can talk to them about that, but we’d rather be talking about progress than process.”
Dems “took it a step further.” Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who worked with Boehner on “No Child Left Behind,” in a press release: “The fact is, the only bi-partisan moment Rep. Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago on a bill President Bush had made a priority. Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class” (Sherman, Politico, 9/30).
Survival Of The Fittest
Dem leaders “are deciding where to spend precious resources as they debate which Senate candidates can survive” the GOP “onslaught.”
Eight states — CO, IL, KY, MO, NV, PA, WV and WI — “are emerging as the battlegrounds that will decide” who controls the Senate. The DSCC and the NRSC agree CO, IL and NV “will be among the closest” races (Bolton, The Hill, 10/1).
Hitting The Streets
House Dem leaders 9/30 “defended their move to cut their legislative session short.” Pelosi: “Our members left [Wed.] evening in a spirit of optimism. … The job is not just what is happening in Washington, D.C.”
DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen, on the leadership meeting with Obama: “He’s going to be crisscrossing the country, framing the choice for voters very clearly: continuing the progress we’ve made, or going back to failed policies” (Berman, The Hill, 9/30).
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The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.