News Sips for 1/6: Epiphany on Intel, Billing the Great Wall, Cable Drama, and Defunding Debates
Sip News: 4 Hot Takes Before Your Coffee Gets Cool- January 6th Edition
1. Will Intel Chiefs Give Trump an Epiphany on Spy Games?
This afternoon, the President-Elect will meet with the top brass of America’s intelligence community in order to be formally briefed on operations, and, importantly, with respect to the allegations of Russian hacking related to the election. Mr. Trump has been outspokenly critical of the intelligence community and has encouraged looking beyond the traditional sources of information that would be given to the President. This has caused a great deal of concern among hawkish, traditional Republicans and has given fuel to the liberal narrative that Trump is temperamentally unfit to lead the nation.
Expect that Mr. Trump’s tone will not change significantly after the meeting this afternoon, but he will likely soften his broad criticisms of American intelligence (there are a lot of good people who have committed their lives to the service of the nation who Trump would be wise not to simply write-off). However, with reports being circulated that Mr. Trump appears intent on paring down the intelligence bureaucracy and focusing more on a diffuse network around the globe rather than a top-heavy structure, he will likely continue with the refrain that there are problems in intelligence that need fixing.
2. Billing the Great Wall
The President-Elect tweeted this morning that Mexico would pay the United States back for building Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall. This tweet came after speculation in the media that Mr. Trump would seek funding from Congress to begin construction of the Wall immediately. Obviously, asking Congress to pay for the Wall is an admission that the American taxpayers will have to cover the upfront cost of construction (something most analysts have been pointing out throughout Mr. Trump’s candidacy).
Mr. Trump appears set on the idea that the Mexican government will, ultimately, wind up financing the Wall’s construction. There were several proposals that Mr. Trump put forward in order to do this. There’s basically no chance that the Mexican government will simply hand Mr. Trump a check for the cost of the wall, but either through tariffs or a (legally dubious) seizure of assets passing back to Mexico from the United States, Mr. Trump sees that money saved or earned by the United States will defray the cost of construction.
The important part of the story that most in the media aren’t covering this morning (they’re fixated either on the term “Great Wall” or that Mexico won’t be contributing to the up-front cost) is that it looks like Trump will get Congressional cooperation in at least some of the initial cost of some form of border wall (most folks think this will be double-fencing for most of the area). This is a significant win, given the amount of pushback that was anticipated during the primary campaign.
3. More Cable News Drama
On the heels of FoxNews’ Megyn Kelly jumping over to NBC News, MSNBC announced that former FoxNews star Greta Van Susteren would be taking over the 6pm hour on that network. MSNBC has struggled to find its footing as a liberal news media outlet and has never been able to achieve the kind of ratings dominance that FoxNews enjoys. Van Susteren, notably, left FoxNews in September of 2016 by invoking a clause in her contract following the termination of Roger Ailes.
Van Susteren’s new show “For the Record” (her show on Fox was “On the Record”) will compete directly with FoxNews’ Bret Baier’s Special Report, the hard-news anchor program before the prime-time commentary shows.
FoxNews announced that morning anchor Martha McCallum would be stepping into a 7pm role as Tucker Carlson would move to fill the hole left from Kelly’s departure. Carlson has seen a large ratings bump after taking over Van Susterern’s spot in the 7pm hour. McCallum’s new show, the “First 100 Days” is set to focus on the Trump transition. It’s unclear if this is just a temporary show or if McCallum is the long-term replacement at this time slot.
4. Defunding Planned Parenthood
During a press conference, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to a question about whether the budget reconciliation package that was going to cut federal funds from Obamacare was also going to defund abortion provider Planned Parenthood. Ryan responded curtly that it would. Outrage from the left ensued.
Given the fact that the reconciliation plan (which was used to pass Obamacare) avoids the 60-vote threshold rule in the Senate, it is likely that the measures and provisions will pass and that Planned Parenthood, which receives over-half of its operating budget from taxpayer subsidy and government rebates, will lose its funding. The organization has been repeatedly the target of pro-life politicians and activists who see it as an abortion mill. This criticism was enhanced when leaked video surfaced of Planned Parenthood executives talking about the sale of aborted baby parts and making jokes about aborting children.
The left is quick to point out that Planned Parenthood provides non-abortion services and that federal funds aren’t allowed to directly subsidize the practice of abortion because of the Hyde Amendment. However, there are other doctors and hospitals that provide the same non-abortion screenings and tests that could fill the void after the organization is defunded.
Expect the debate over the defunding to continue. Mr. Trump was lukewarm in support of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services during the campaign, but it looks like, if the reconciliation package goes forward, that the Republicans will have enough political capital to eliminate both Obamacare and Planned Parenthood at the same time.
As always, there are other interesting things going on in the world, but these four should get you caught up on what most people are talking about in the political world today.