It’s a political hazard to start thinking about a presidential race while you still have your day job. Ask Mitt Romney, whose approval ratings plummeted as he plotted a 2008 presidential campaign. Or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), whose sky-high popularity dropped as he spent more time away from Louisiana. Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D) often drew comparisons with Bill Clinton — that is, before he was blindsided in a 2002 reelection upset against Sonny Perdue.
— That’s the situation that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is in, as he faces another reelection campaign (sans recall) while his name is regularly being touted as presidential timber. His new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” is designed to enhance his national profile, but it’s unlikely to convince Wisconsin voters that he’s committed to serving out a full second term.
— Don’t assume Walker is a shoo-in for reelection. Instead of catering to the base, Dems recruited a moderate businesswoman, Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke, who has the ability to self-finance a campaign. A new Marquette Law School poll shows just how competitive the race could be. Walker’s job approval rating is at 49%, and he narrowly leads the little-known Burke, 47-45%.
— To be sure, Walker is a very intriguing dark-horse presidential candidate for 2016. He’s an executive with a record of principled conservative governance in a Democratic-leaning state. Unlike the conservative rhetoric of a Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, he can point to tangible accomplishments. He’s one of the few prospective candidates who could generate tea party excitement along with boasting establishment cred.
But Walker has to get to the starting line first. And if he takes his reelection for granted in the face of a credible Democratic challenger, that would be a recipe for trouble.
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President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
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.