In mid-October, at the height of the government shutdown, House Democrats celebrated the decision of Omaha politician Pete Festersen to restart his candidacy against Republican Rep. Lee Terry—a move, they said, that showed the toll the weeks-long imbroglio had taken on Republicans. Festersen, who earlier has opted out of a campaign, cited the shutdown as a primary reason he was reentering the race.
As it happens, what goes around comes around.
Festersen said Monday that, for the second time, he was no longer running for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District seat. Although he cited family obligations, Republicans immediately jumped on the news as evidence that political fortunes had once again changed—this time thanks to the health care law’s disastrous rollout.
“This is the biggest and most humiliating recruitment fail of the year for House Democrats, and they don’t have anyone to blame but themselves,” said Andrea Bozek, a National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman. “Their continued commitment to Obamacare is not only costing them votes, it is now costing them their star candidates.”
The Affordable Care Act, plagued by malfunctioning websites and people losing their health care coverage, has been a major political problem for Democrats since the site debuted Oct. 1—so much so that the party’s once prodigious lead in the generic-ballot matchup has been reversed in a matter of months, as Charlie Cook observed last week.
Festersen’s decision to drop out doesn’t tangibly affect House Democrats’ efforts next year much. It’s only one seat among 435, and they can still find another candidate to take his place. Other Democratic recruits continue to line up to run in other battleground districts.
But national Democrats had touted the City Council member’s original reversal as a sign they had capitalized on the current political environment to make a lasting difference in House campaigns. Festersen’s decision Monday is the most tangible manifestation yet that Republicans are now doing the same.
What We're Following See More »
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.