The News Sips Tipsheet July 19: Republicans Face Legislative Scramble
Here’s for what you need to know before your iced coffee gets warm, the July 19, 2017 edition of the tipsheet.
What DC’s Talking About: Tax Reform and Infrastructure
With Repeal and Replace Dead, Can Republicans Move Forward? After another (permanent?) setback in the Senate on any path forward on repealing and/or replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Congress, and the White House, now turn their attention to other agenda items from the President’s to-do list. These include tax reform and infrastructure.
Tax Reform is set to break down on similar sides as the healthcare debate and already threatens to undo major reform. House Conservatives are in a “wait and see” posture, but are not optimistic about leadership’s willingness to make large scale cuts (like the kind the President has asked for). It’s also not clear how the Senate will move forward on, well, really anything at the moment. The White House, on the other hand, would like a win on tax cuts, and is already twisting arms to get it done.
Infrastructure was supposed to be a Trumpian olive branch to Democrats who had seen proposed investments in “America’s crumbling roads and bridges” as a key point in their agenda and somewhere they could find common ground with the Administration. However, this is also fraught with pitfalls, especially given that Democrats have so poisoned the well with Republicans that any cooperation with the Administration could look like making peace with Trump (something the Democrat would not be happy about).
Poison Pill: Republican infrastructure plans being floated are not the same kind of government spending most Democrats are looking for. The “one trillion dollars” of investment the President has called for may be more about private incentives rather than a big public works program. Expect Democrats to balk and some fiscal hawks on the Republican side to join them.
Warning Warning Warning: The Senate only has 35 more days in session until the October 1 deadline for passing a budget (the House is somewhere around 19). If budget debates grind to a halt (as they very well might), that will stop the legislative agenda in its tracks.
Not a Sure Bet: With healthcare reform in flames and the prospect of a budget showdown looming, there is a strong possibility that both tax reform and infrastructure may get booted into 2018. This is certainly not what the White House wants.
News from the Purple States
A bipartisan group of governors, spearheaded by Ohio’s John Kasich, signed a letter yesterday demanding that Congress’ healthcare reform bills not start from a position of simply repealing Obamacare.
Maryland’s Larry Hogan was a signatory to the letter and faced pushback from some Republicans in the State. However, Hogan, who has been critical of the way in which Congressional Republicans have moved forward with the healthcare repeal effort, was stalwart in his position that bipartisan solutions to the collapsing Obamacare system would be the best course forward. Hogan faces re-election next year in Maryland and has worked cooperatively with Maryland’s overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly to spearhead financial solvency, opioid treatment, and ethics reform.
The top 10 most popular governors in America are all Republicans (but, Chris Christie in New Jersey is the least popular) according to a new Morning Consult poll. The two most popular Governors, Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker and Hogan in Maryland, both hail from traditionally blue states. Both Hogan and Baker have charted moderate paths (which have undercut critics from the Left and left Democrats scrambling to challenge both men, who are up for re-election next year).
The Russophobes at CNN are in a tizzy over a previously undisclosed meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit a few days ago. Of course, a meeting between world leaders, especially between the world’s two best armed nuclear states, is probably a good thing– especially when they have a lot of differences to talk about. It’s unclear if the meeting was social (whichis a good thing, we want world leaders to get along) or more about policy (also a good thing given the differences in opinion between the White House and the Kremlin). The President left no room for doubt that the meeting wasn’t a secret.
This “revelation” comes at a sticky time for the White House, which is battling insinuations that the Trump Campaign had some sort of inappropriate contact with Russian officials during the lead up to the 2016 election. Of course, every intelligence agency has admitted that no votes were changed and there is still no evidence of any crime being committed, but, hey, if innuendo gets clicks and viewers, why not rush to print?