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).
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."