THE BIG IDEA: In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” a storm shipwrecks Trinculo on an unfamiliar island. To survive, he takes shelter with Caliban, a native who he at first mistakes for a fish. “There is no other shelter hereabout: misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” Trinculo tells the audience near the start of Act 2. “I will here shroud till the dregs of the storm be past.”
Four centuries later, Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency has created a feeling of misery for leading establishment figures of both parties. So much of what they thought they understood about politics turned out to be wrong during the 2016 cycle. Trump violated a dizzying number of shibboleths as a candidate and has tested norms of behavior during his first eight months in office.
Two such figures are teaming up to push back on Trumpism. William Kristol, the founder and editor at large of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, and William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, are launching The New Center Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Their effort is being sponsored by the No Labels Foundation.
Kristol was the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle when Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. Galston joined the new Clinton White House as a top domestic policy adviser. Focused on passing HillaryCare, he vividly remembers Kristol’s searing (and successful) activism against that effort.
They’ve debated each other repeatedly at public events over the years, including on several college campuses, but Trump’s rise inspired the two Bills to recognize how much common ground they share. Until Nov. 8, 2016, each now says he took for granted the public’s support for basic institutions and the core principles of liberal democracy.
After nine months of conversations, the two have co-written a new 70-page pamphlet that outlines seven “Ideas to Re-center America.” This odd couple discussed their collaboration and previewed their proposals during a long lunch yesterday at the Bombay Club, a white-linen-tablecloth Indian restaurant one block from the White House.
“Simply bewailing the demagoguery does not solve the problem,” Kristol said. “There was more general agreement and manageable differences than I expected.”
“This booklet was our effort to figure out what the heck was going on and what we might do about it,” Galston said. “These ideas might appeal to a lot of people between the 35-yard lines in American politics.”
Galston, 71, has devoted most of his career to trying to revive the vital center. (He even worked on John Anderson’s campaign in 1980.) But Kristol, 64, had never dabbled in centrist politics before he became a Never Trumper. An avatar of neoconservatism, it never would have occurred to anyone to refer to Kristol as a moderate before now.
Both men, who have backgrounds in political science, embarked on a period of soul searching after the election to try understanding how the electorate could have possibly grown so disillusioned with the status quo despite years of decent economic growth. It’s not just that Trump won, but they were also puzzled by how Bernie Sanders — a septuagenarian socialist from Vermont — could came so close to toppling Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
The loss of faith in both parties was much worse than they realized from their cushy offices in the Beltway. Kristol said the writing process has made him much more respectful of voter distaste for GOP orthodoxy. “There was more being missed by Republican politicians and think tanks than I realized,” he said. “There’s been far more sclerosis than we wanted to admit,” Galston added.
The Bills say that their vision is for “a new center” that does not split the difference between left and right but offers a principled alternative to both. They spoke with dozens of friends at think tanks across the ideological spectrum, from the libertarian Cato Institute to the liberal Economic Policy Institute and the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Grievance is not a basis for governance,” they declare in their report.
-- Here’s a quick sketch of their seven ideas:
1) Challenging the concentration of power among technology titans with a new antitrust policy: They advocate revising the Sherman Act of 1890 to make it easier for the federal government to go after companies like Google and Facebook, which they see as near monopolies. They call for a crackdown on predatory pricing practices, more scrutiny of mergers and better enforcement by the Justice Department.
2) Taking on China over its theft of American intellectual property: They want to increase federal funding for basic research and development that got slashed because of sequestration, overhaul the patent system and put in place stiffer penalties for IP theft. They believe the U.S. government should not allow any other nation to require American firms to transfer control of their technology as a condition for doing business in that country.
3) Incentivizing work: America’s labor force participation rate has declined more than any other advanced nation since 2000, and the Bills believe there are 10 million Americans who could or should be working but are not. They want to create a new regime of carrots and sticks to slash that number. They argue that better workforce development programs — always the go-to answer for politicians in both parties — don’t address the problem of people who don’t want to work. They think the government should be more willing to “call laziness what it is,” aggressively go after fraud in disability programs, make it easier for convicted criminals to reenter society, and provide more tax credits to help families pay for child care. Inspired by Perkins Loans, they call for the federal government to make more education funding conditional upon students majoring in subjects where future job shortages are projected.
4) Getting economic growth to benefit the middle class more directly: Worried about stagnant median incomes and the increasing concentration of wealth among the richest 1 percent, the Bills call for once again taxing capital gains as income, expanding the earned income tax credit and incentivizing more profit-sharing by corporations. Not only do they want to increase the federal minimum wage, but both think it should be indexed to inflation.
5) Proposing a grand bargain that overhauls the tax code and funds infrastructure at the same time: They advocate for a package that would include a dedicated stream of revenue, such as a tax on repatriated corporate profits, to invest in roads, bridges and the like. With the national debt so large, the Bills agree that overall taxes for high income earners should go no lower than current levels. They want to eliminate credits and deductions so that they can reduce the tax burden on lower- and middle- income families. As part of a deal, they support more user fees — such as a freight tax — to pay for public infrastructure.
6) Encouraging more people to start new businesses: A World Bank study shows that there are 51 countries where it is easier to launch a start-up than in the United States, including Portugal and Panama. Millennials are more risk averse than previous generations because of the Great Recession, so they aren’t launching as many new enterprises. To make it easier to get money, the Bills want to revise provisions of Dodd-Frank that made it harder for community banks to lend to new businesses. They want less red tape, more flexible lending from the Small Business Administration and changes to the tax code to encourage angel investors to funnel more money into venture capital.
7) Trying again on an overhaul of the immigration system: Both guys oppose reducing the net number of immigrants, a proposal by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that Trump recently embraced. They want immigration policy to focus less on giving out visas for family reunification and more on whether someone will contribute directly to the economy. They propose coupling permanent legal status for illegal immigrants with mandatory tracking of expired visas. To encourage assimilation, they agree that basic English competence should be a requirement for completing the naturalization process.
-- This is by no means a comprehensive agenda. Their report does not deal with social issues or national security, for example. The Bills say this is merely a first crack, and that there are many more issues in which they’ve found common ground — such as how to tackle the opioid epidemic. “This is a first draft of the first chapter,” Galston said. “This was proof of a concept,” Kristol added.
Their shared hope is that enterprising presidential candidates in both parties pick up some of these policies and run on them in 2020. They recognize that the 2018 midterms will not be animated by ideas but will rather be a referendum on Trump’s performance.
Galston sees parallels with 1989. Democrats believed for much of the previous year that Michael Dukakis would beat George H.W. Bush, and they found themselves mired in a civil war when he didn’t. That internecine warfare did not get resolved until Bill Clinton prevailed four years later. “There is no shock to a political party greater than losing an election it expects to win,” he said. “We are much closer to the beginning of the process than the end in Democratic politics. 2017 is 1989.”
Most Democrats opposed NAFTA when Clinton endorsed it, Galston recalls. He thinks ambitious pols would be wise to learn from that by embracing ideas that might play better in a general election than in the primaries. “I do think there are opportunities for political entrepreneurship among people who are willing to take risks,” he said.
GET SMART FAST:
- The Supreme Court intervened to temporarily save a piece of Trump’s travel ban, putting on hold an appeals court ruling that prevented the government from blocking refugees with formal assurances from entering the United States. (Matt Zapotosky)
- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose its toughest-ever sanctions against North Korea. Moscow and Beijing got on board after the United States softened its initial demands. The new sanctions limit Pyongyang’s oil and textile exports, and while they are far less sweeping than Washington’s original demands, experts predict their impact will be heavily felt. (Carol Morello)
- The Office of Congressional Ethics concluded that Guam’s delegate to Congress likely broke federal law. Del. Madeleine Z. Bordallo leased a four-bedroom home to the government of Japan, allegedly in conflict with the Constitution’s emoluments clause. (Elise Viebeck)
Trump’s voter fraud commission will hold an open meeting in New Hampshire today. The event will provide critics of the effort their first opportunity to engage with members of the commission. (Politico)
- The University of Virginia released a report finding that the school was ill-prepared for the white nationalist rally on campus last month. A working group argued the university incorrectly believed that rally would be similar to other events viewed as expressions of free speech. (Joe Heim)
- The top members of the Senate Finance Committee demanded a “detailed” accounting of the security systems at Equifax, after a massive security breach exposed the sensitive information of up to 143 million customers. (Craig Timberg)
- Former House speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement imploring Trump to stay in the South Korea-U.S. trade agreement. “For our strategic endeavors to succeed, however, the United States must strengthen – not weaken – its already vital economic relationships in the Pacific,” Boehner wrote.
- Police in London have began deploying futuristic, steel-spiked road mats across the city in a bid to stop vehicular terrorist attacks. Authorities said the giant barbed mats, also known as the “Talon,” will likely become “a familiar sight” at events that attract large crowds. (William Booth)
- CDC officials are investigating a bacterial outbreak that has spread across at least seven states, and is linked to pet store puppies sold at Petland. The bacteria has sickened at least 39 people in Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida, officials said, and nine people have been hospitalized with the infection. (Karin Brulliard and Lena H. Sun)
- Laura Ingraham is set to take over Fox News’s 10 p.m. time slot. The move will push Sean Hannity’s show up to 9 p.m., and “The Five” will move back to the afternoon. (CNN)
THE AFTERMATH OF TWO HURRICANES:
-- Irma’s wrath has left approximately 12 million Floridians without power as it dissipated into a tropical storm on its way up the East Coast. Joel Achenbach, Katie Zezima, Mark Berman and William Wan report from Miami: “The once-powerful storm left trailer homes sliced open like ripe melons, boats tossed upside down on roadways and centuries-old trees strewn across power lines. As it trailed off on Monday, Irma’s rains caused floodwaters to rise from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charleston, S.C., continuing to impact a massive area of the American southeast. But it could have been much worse. …
“Though there was significant property damage in the Florida Keys and in some parts of southwest Florida, officials said it was remarkable that so far they are investigating just a small number of fatalities that came as the storm made landfall. … But in the face of cataclysmic warnings and worries ... Irma largely spared many of the major cities predicted to be in its path. Some, including Tampa and Orlando, escaped relatively unscathed. Others, such as Jacksonville, experienced unlikely — and record-breaking — effects.”
-- An aerial tour of the Florida Keys revealed that the region, while still weeks away from its former self, largely dodged a bullet. Joel Achenbach reports from “above the Florida Keys:” “A Coast Guard C-130 transport plane carrying two U.S. senators, a congressman and a handful of journalists left from the Coast Guard air station in Opa-Locka, just north of Miami, for the two-hour tour of hurricane damage. At 2,000 feet, the journey offered no chance for a granular diagnosis, but the big picture was clear: Southwest Florida and its huge population of retirees emerged relatively unscathed. The storm severely battered some of the small and fragile Keys. Key West itself is generally intact, though without power, a water supply and a functional sewage system.”
-- “Hurricane Irma spared one Florida coast and slammed into another,” by Patricia Sullivan, Perry Stein and John Woodrow Cox: “All around Immokalee — an inland Southwest Florida town of 24,000, where nearly half the residents live in poverty — was evidence of Hurricane Irma’s power. … For days, meteorologists had guessed that the storm would plod west, then veer north and slam into the state’s southeast corner near Miami. … Irma, though, kept churning west — past the South Beach condos, past the Miami high-rises, past Biscayne Bay — until, due south of the Sunshine State’s famous Keys, it finally turned through them. It spared one coast that had been awaiting devastation and devastated another coast that had been awaiting not much at all.”
-- Irma’s sights now shift to Georgia and the Carolinas, which have already begun experiencing extreme flooding.
- “Irma assaults Georgia: Three dead and nearly 1.5 million without power,” from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Three Georgia deaths were blamed on the storm — a 55-year-old Sandy Springs man who was crushed by a tree that fell on his home as he slept, a South Georgia man who was swept off his roof by high winds, and a woman killed when a tree fell on a vehicle in a Forsyth County driveway. Metro Atlanta — which shut down schools, governments and even mass transit in advance of Irma — was pummeled by rain and wind on Monday that sent stately tulip poplars and oak trees careening into houses.”
- “Area sees 'incredible' flooding as Irma pounds Charleston, coastal South Carolina,” from Charleston’s Post and Courier: “In the worst tidal surge since Hurricane Hugo, Irma’s wide, whirling bands thrashed coastal South Carolina on Monday with stinging rains and punishing floods that put vast swaths of the Lowcountry under water. … At its height, the storm generated a nearly 10-foot tide. That was 4 feet more than normal and among the worst tidal surges in 80 years after Hugo in 1989 and a storm in 1940.”
- “Irma downs trees, and at least 270,000 remain without power in the Carolinas,” from the Charlotte Observer: “A wind advisory for the Charlotte area was in effect until 4 a.m. Tuesday, with forecasters predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph. Winds blew limbs, trees and power lines onto roads across the Charlotte region on Monday, and onto homes in Burke, Gaston and Iredell counties.”
-- The U.S. Virgin Islands were not so lucky. The New York Times’s Luis Ferré-Sadurní reports: “Residents on St. John, which suffered even greater damage than St. Thomas, estimated that 80 percent of its structures had been extensively damaged, and those who had not evacuated were huddling together in groups of up to 50 in buildings that had no roofs. With many roads impassible, some had to walk for miles to food pantries to pick up ready-to-eat-meals and bottled water dropped by American military helicopters. … At least four people had been killed but the lack of communication led to widespread concern about who lived and who died. … Many here complained that their suffering was being ignored, by the United States and local government.”
-- Richard Branson, who rode out Irma in a wine-cellar on his private island of Necker, made the drastic suggestion of a “Marshall Plan” for the region to recover. “The region needs a 'Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan' for the BVI and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction and long-term revitalisation of the local economy," Branson wrote in a Sunday blog post. “The UK government will have a massive role to play in the recovery of its territories affected by Irma — both through short-term aid and long-term infrastructure spending." (Alex Horton)
-- A senior White House official falsely claimed during a news briefing on Monday that the administration’s response to Irma was “unprecedented,” telling reporters during a news briefing that the Pentagon had put together “the largest-ever mobilization of our military in a naval and Marine operation.” (He corrected himself in a statement Monday night.) (Dan Lamothe)
-- Tens of thousands of students were able to return to school yesterday in Houston, Moriah Balingit reports: “For a city in recovery … the reopening of 268 of the district’s 280 schools represents a critical step toward normalcy in a city where thousands of homes remain uninhabitable and where signs of the storm still abound. Public officials heralded the reopening of the schools as one of the surest signs the region was bouncing back.”
-- Gross: Floodwaters invading Houston neighborhoods are contaminated, having tested positive for high levels of toxins that can lead to illness, especially in the young and elderly. The Times’s Sheila Kaplan and Jack Healy report: “Water flowing down Briarhills Parkway in the Houston Energy Corridor contained Escherichia coli, a measure of fecal contamination, at a level more than four times that considered safe. In the Clayton Homes public housing development downtown, along the Buffalo Bayou, scientists found what they considered astonishingly high levels of E. coli in standing water in one family’s living room — levels 135 times those considered safe — as well as elevated levels of lead, arsenic and other heavy metals in sediment from the floodwaters in the kitchen. … Residents and medical professionals said they are seeing infections that likely resulted from exposure to the dirty floodwaters.”
-- Congress may allow those affected by the storms to tap into their 401(k) plans. Thomas Heath reports: “House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said he is considering legislation that would suspend a 10 percent penalty that was designed to discourage people from tapping their 401(k) retirement savings before they retire as early as age 59.5. … The package ‘will include tax provisions, some of which will help people access their retirement funds without penalty for rebuilding activities ... "
-- Mexico took back its offer of aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey in neighboring Texas, after being battered last weekend by an earthquake and Hurricane Katia. Reuters reports: “Mexico's government offered to send food, beds, generators, mobile kitchens as well as doctors after torrential rains from Harvey flooded vast parts of Houston. The ministry noted that the U.S. embassy had taken nine days to respond to Mexico's formal offer … While government aid never arrived, Mexico's volunteer Red Cross rushed food and supplies to storm refugees. [Meanwhile], Mexican media highlighted that Trump had not spoken about the quake, which drew pledges of support from the pope and other world leaders, nor publicly acknowledged Mexico's aid offer. The foreign ministry thanked Texas Governor Greg Abbott for sending messages of solidarity following the earthquake.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Some members of Trump’s legal team concluded this summer that Jared Kushner should step down from his White House role because of potential legal complications stemming from the Russia probe. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas, Rebecca Ballhaus and Erica Orden report: “Among their concerns was that Mr. Kushner was the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition ... [Kushner] has said he had four such meetings or interactions. Another issue was Mr. Kushner's initial omission of any contacts with foreign officials from the form required to obtain a security clearance. … After some members of the legal team aired their concerns to Mr. Trump in June, including in at least one meeting in the White House, press aides to the legal team began to prepare for the possibility that Mr. Kushner would step down, drafting a statement explaining his departure … Mr. Trump wasn't persuaded that Mr. Kushner needed to leave.”
-- In an interview with USA Today yesterday, Hillary Clinton said that she is now convinced the Trump campaign aided Russia’s election interference. “There certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort,” Clinton said. “Because there's no doubt in my mind that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win. And there's no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money. And there's no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians.” When asked whether she believed there was collusion with the Trump campaign, she responded, “I'm convinced of it. … I happen to believe in the rule of law and believe in evidence, so I'm not going to go off and make all kinds of outrageous claims. But if you look at what we've learned since (the election), it's pretty troubling.”
-- Lawyers for Trump associates are urging their clients not to lie in the Russia probes to protect the president, but the directive could complicate Trump’s strict sense of loyalty. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “Trump stalwarts know the president is closely following the media coverage of the Russia case – and the last thing they want is to be deemed a turncoat whose answers end up becoming further fuel for investigators. Several of the lawyers representing current and former aides told POLITICO they’re actively warning their clients that any bonds connecting them to Trump won’t protect them from criminal charges if federal prosecutors can nail them for perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice.”
-- The Russian state-funded news agency Sputnik is being investigated by the FBI, as part of a probe into whether its acting as an “undeclared propaganda arm” of the Kremlin. Yahoo’s Hunter Walker and Michael Isikoff report: “As part of the [investigation] … the bureau has obtained a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents … The emails were turned over by Andrew Feinberg, the news agency’s former White House correspondent, who had downloaded the material onto his laptop before he was fired in May.” Feinberg confirmed he was questioned by an FBI agent and Justice Department lawyer earlier this month, who he said “wanted to know where … my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow.”
-- Russian trolls reportedly organized anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rallies at the height of the 2016 campaign. The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer Ackerman report: “A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Beast that the social-media giant ‘shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown we described last week.’ … The Facebook events — one of which echoed Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by pro-Trump media outlets — are the first indication that the Kremlin’s attempts to shape America’s political discourse moved beyond fake news and led unwitting Americans into specific real-life action. … The event was ‘hosted’ by ‘SecuredBorders,’ a putative U.S. anti-immigration community that was outed in March as a Russian front. The Facebook page had 133,000 followers when Facebook closed it last month.”
-- Russian profiteers are quietly undercutting sanctions intended to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a new U.S. assessment, providing Pyongyang with shipments of petroleum and other vital supplies just as China finally agreed to crack down on its neighbor.
Joby Warrick reports: “Official documents and interviews point to a rise in tanker traffic this spring between North Korean ports and [the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok]. With international trade with North Korea increasingly constrained, [Russian] entrepreneurs are seizing opportunities to make a quick profit, setting up a maze of front companies to conceal transactions and launder payments … The smuggled goods mostly are diesel and other fuels, which are vital to North Korea’s economy and can’t be produced indigenously. Traffic between Vladivostok and the port of Rajin in North Korea has become so heavy that local officials this year launched a dedicated ferry line between the two cities.”
CANARIES IN THE COAL MINE?:
-- Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced yesterday that he may not run for reelection next year. Once considered a Trump ally, the Tennessee Republican recently made waves by questioning Trump's temperament, provoking criticism from Trump and his inner circle (Steve Bannon reportedly is trying to recruit a 2018 primary challenge for the senator).
Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis explain the national implications: “If he retires, it would probably put a seat that analysts expect to stay in GOP hands into a more uncertain state. It would also mark the end of the tenure of a well-respected member of the Republican Party’s mainstream governing wing, which has frequently collided with Trump and his nationalist, populist allies. … Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that it has been ‘a tremendous privilege to serve Tennesseans in the Senate’ but added that he was ‘still contemplating’ his electoral future.”
--That's not all: Corker’s news came on the same day that Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.) announced he would not seek reelection in his suburban Detroit district that narrowly went for Trump in November: “Trott became the third Republican in five days to announce his retirement, joining Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) — all of whom represent swing districts vulnerable to Democratic takeover. Key political forecasters have moved their ratings for each of these seats toward Democrats ...
GOP strategists said Monday that the current pace of retirements is in line with historical averages, and that it is too early to tell whether there will be an unusually large number of open seats that will be contested next year. But many are privately wondering if these are the first of a wave of retirements similar to what was seen in 2006, when Democrats took the House by winning 30 seats, and 2010, when Republicans reclaimed the majority with a 64-seat swing.”
-- Mitt Romney may run for Senate in 2018 if Orrin Hatch decides to retire, Utah Policy’s Bryan Schott reports: “So far, Hatch has not made up his mind as to whether he'll run for an eighth term in 2018. He has previously said he was planning on running as long as his and his wife's health holds up. A UtahPolicy.com poll shows Romney would be in great shape to win a Senate race against Democrat Jenny Wilson, [pulling 64 percent] of the vote to Wilson's 26 [percent]. … Earlier this year Hatch said he would be willing to step aside if an 'outstanding person' like Mitt Romney were to run for the seat he currently holds.” Sources say Hatch is expected to make a decision by October or November.
-- And Democrats are ramping up their efforts to unseat Republican incumbents. Sen. Chuck Schumer told Rep. Kyrsten Sinema last month that he would back her in Arizona’s Democratic primary should she decide to challenge Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), delivering the strongest sign yet that Sinema, a three-term representative and centrist Democrat, is gearing up for a Senate bid. (The Hill)
CONGRESS'S TO-DO LIST:
-- Trump is planning to host a bipartisan group of six senators for dinner tonight as the White House tries to launch a debate on overhauling the tax code. The three Democratic invitees — Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) — all face reelection next year in states that Trump won. (Ashley Parker and Ed O’Keefe)
-- But Trump is likely to encounter resistance from his own party when crafting a tax plan. Damian Paletta, Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell report: “The White House and GOP congressional leaders agree with the goal of slashing the corporate income-tax rate and also cutting individual income taxes to benefit the middle class. But they have yet to agree about which existing tax breaks should be eliminated to pay for it all. In private talks with top congressional Republicans, Trump advisers are pressing to eliminate or reduce several popular tax deductions, including the interest companies pay on debt, state and local income taxes paid by families and individuals and the hugely popular mortgage-interest deduction.”
But: “[Paul Ryan] said at a forum hosted by the New York Times last week that individual deductions for mortgage interest, health-insurance premiums and charitable donations should all be preserved. … That leaves lawmakers and Trump advisers with limited options to pay for the tax cuts they all seek. Underlying the whole endeavor is the unresolved tension over whether it will constitute the sort of ‘tax reform’ that Ryan has championed for years or a less ambitious but more politically feasible tax cut.” Two of the largest tax breaks Trump is pushing also have robust lobbying groups to defend them. “One Republican granted anonymity to speak candidly speculated Monday that the White House is lying in wait to cut a deal with Democrats if Ryan and [Mitch McConnell] are unable to pass a budget blueprint[.]”
-- Meanwhile, Trump is accelerating a road campaign to sell a tax overhaul to voters. Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink report: “Trump plans an aggressive travel schedule, taking him to as many as 13 states over the next seven weeks, to sell the idea of a tax overhaul[.] … [The strategy] calls for the president to visit states he won where a Democratic senator is up for re-election next year, including Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.” And the administration is not letting the absence of a clear plan on rewriting the tax code stop them from making these trips: “White House officials have concluded that, even without a specific tax plan, Trump can build support early by making a broad case for lower rates, a simpler tax code and more incentives for multinational corporations based in the U.S. to bring home profits stashed overseas.”
-- Mitch McConnell said in an interview yesterday that the spending deal Trump struck with Democrats may not be “quite as good as my counterpart thought it was.” The New York Times’s Carl Hulse reports: “The reason? Mr. McConnell said that he insisted the newly passed legislation preserve Treasury’s ability to apply ‘extraordinary measures’ and shift money within government accounts to pay off debt and extend federal borrowing power. That will delay the need for another increase in the debt limit well beyond the December deadline that Democrats have been trumpeting as their big moment of leverage. … In fact, Mr. McConnell said, the debt limit will not have to be increased until well into 2018, taking that volatile subject off the table for the December spending talks, and eliminating the Democrats’ most dangerous bargaining chip in the first round of negotiations.”
-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed last night to hold up a $700 billion defense bill unless he got a guaranteed vote on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force within six months. Karoun Demirjian reports: “A growing number of lawmakers have been calling for Congress to pass a new AUMF as the war in Afghanistan drags close to its 17th year. But [Paul] has largely been alone in his quest to force a deadline on Congress, as the chief agitators for a new AUMF, Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), have expressed a firm preference for crafting such a measure in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. … But less than an hour after issuing his threat, Paul and [Mitch McConnell] appeared to have struck a deal, guaranteeing Paul four hours on Tuesday to state his AUMF case on the Senate floor.”
-- While shut out of power, congressional Democrats are stepping up their support of a single-payer health-care system. Aaron Blake writes: “Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) became the fourth co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) ‘Medicare for all’ health-care bill Monday. In doing so, he joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). What do those four senators have in common? Well, they just happen to constitute four of the eight most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominees, according to the handy list I put out Friday.”
THE TRUMP AGENDA:
-- Trump delivered his first 9/11 commemoration as president on Monday – breaking from years of stoking criticism and trafficking in conspiracy theories as he instead struck relatively traditional notes of resolve and patriotism. Anne Gearan reports: “'These are horrible, horrible enemies — enemies like we’ve never seen before,’ Trump said during remarks at the Pentagon[.] … 'The horror and anguish of that dark day were seared into our national memory forever,' Trump said of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. His own memory of the event, however, has often proved unreliable:"
- “In November 2015, Trump claimed [that] residents of a New Jersey town with a large Muslim population had cheered as the twin towers fell.” “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” Trump said then. “And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” (This claim has repeatedly been debunked, including by police.)
- “On the day of the attacks, [Trump told a local television station] that one of his buildings, 40 Wall Street, had reclaimed its position as the tallest building in Lower Manhattan.” He also claimed he saw people jumping to their deaths — even though Trump Tower was more than four miles away.
- "In 2011, he claimed to have predicted the attacks in his 2000 book ‘The America We Deserve.’”
- "On the 9/11 anniversary in 2013, he wrote on Twitter, ‘I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.’”
-- Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back on some of the assertions made by Steve Bannon in his “60 Minutes” interview, emphasizing the shadow that the former senior strategist still casts over the White House. Ashley Parker writes: “Bannon has cast himself as a loyal Trump soldier, attacking only the president’s obvious enemies who need to be ‘put on notice,’ as he told [Charlie] Rose. But Bannon has at times also treated Trump as an imperfect vehicle for his own nationalist agenda, chafing at the advisers and family members the president brought in who did not share that vision. … For now, however, the president is pleased with Bannon’s most recent star turn. Trump watched the ‘60 Minutes’ interview and liked it, telling friends and aides he was appreciative of the praise Bannon offered for him and his policies[.]”
-- Thousands of federal buildings are still missing their customary portraits of the president and vice president on the wall, eight months after Trump’s inauguration. Lisa Rein reports: “The changeover appears to be tangled in a bit of red tape and mystery. Federal agencies ordered photographs of their new commander in chief months ago. But they say they are still waiting for the Government Publishing Office, the printer of official portraits, to send them for distribution by the General Services Administration, which owns or leases 9,600 federal buildings across the country. The Government Publishing Office says it has yet to receive the images from the White House. And the White House says the president and vice president have not yet decided when they will sit for the type of high-quality official photographs usually churned out by the modern GPO[.]”
-- Meanwhile, despite Trump's promise that his family business would not get involved with foreign government entities while he was in office, the Trump Organization hired a construction company owned by the Chinese government to work on a Dubai golf club. McClatchy DC’s Anita Kumar reports: “Trump’s partner, DAMAC Properties, awarded a $32-million contract to the Middle East subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation to build a six-lane road as part of the residential piece of the Trump World Golf Club Dubai project called Akoya Oxygen … The companies’ statements do not detail the exact timing of the contract except to note it was sometime in the first two months of 2017, just as Trump was inaugurated and questions were raised about a slew of potential conflicts of interest between his presidency and his vast real estate empire.”
-- The Justice Department is supporting former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid to erase a judge’s finding that he violated a court order and was guilty of criminal contempt. Matt Zapotosky reports: “In a short court filing, attorneys from the Justice Department’s public integrity section wrote that because President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio … guaranteed he would face no consequences from the verdict against him, ‘the government agrees that the Court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot.’ Arpaio himself had asked for such a result after Trump pardoned him last month, but the judge in the case declined to do before an Oct. 4 hearing on the matter. … [Trump’s] pardon guaranteed Arpaio … would face no punishment for being found guilty. But his attorney said having a judge take the technical step of dismissing her finding against him was a ‘matter of clearing his name.’”
- Meanwhile, two advocacy groups moved yesterday to challenge Trump’s pardon of Arpaio. The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Protect Democracy Project both sought to file amicus briefs arguing that the pardon violated the judicial branch’s authority guaranteed by the Constitution. (Politico’s Madeline Conway)
-- Trump has already been able to nominate 42 U.S. attorneys and only one of them was a woman. In comparison, of President Barack Obama’s first 42 nominees, 12 were women. One of those early Obama nominees, former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, said of the news, “It’s a slap in the face. … It’s a statement that this is not a priority.” (BuzzFeed News’s Zoe Tillman)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Politicians marked yesterday’s somber anniversary:
16 years ago the world changed forever. Today we remember the victims, their families, & brave first responders. We will never forget 9-11. pic.twitter.com/hWIPyBAVRg— Vice President Pence (@VP) September 11, 2017
We remember everyone we lost on 9/11 and honor all who defend our country and our ideals. No act of terror will ever change who we are.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 11, 2017
Today we remember the thousands of innocent lives that were lost 16 years ago.— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 11, 2017
We will never surrender our American ideals and way of life. pic.twitter.com/vOVREi2Z9c
Florida Gov. Rick Scott viewed the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma from the sky:
We'll get through this together. pic.twitter.com/tPamQ8S1Mw— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 11, 2017
Richard Branson offered extensive aid to assist in the British Virgin Islands' Irma recovery:
We are using our foundation @virginunite to coordinate raising money for longer-term reconstruction projects. Virgin Unite is also working with @unitebvi and @virginlimitededition to support the local BVI communities. They will be working with local organisations to identify the ongoing needs of affected individuals, families and communities affected by this disaster. We will support the mid to long term efforts on the ground and help provide support as those affected recover from the disaster. Please donate what you can http://virg.in/oxN
The White House's claim about "unprecedented" aid to Hurricane Irma victims was fact-checked:
White House: Our military response to Irma is unprecedented.— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) September 11, 2017
Current effort: 9 ships
Katrina effort: 19 shipshttps://t.co/gX9Tl5zRiw
News networks took different approaches to their hurricane coverage:
Cable chyrons— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) September 11, 2017
CNN: Storm moving north
MSNBC: Flooding is extensive
Fox News: Looting worries in Florida
Trump's tally of falsehoods went up again. From The Washington Post's resident fact-checker:
Hillary Clinton sent pizzas to the people who lined up overnight for her book signing:
Enjoy! See you all tomorrow! 🍕🤗💪 https://t.co/2wJN2NJGWu— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 12, 2017
And Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) practiced for their Friday performance together at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion:
Kaine has played at the music festival, which occurs at the Virginia and Tennessee state line, twice before, but it will be Alexander's first performance.
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Seven Days of Heroin”: “The Enquirer sent more than 60 reporters, photographers and videographers into their communities to chronicle an ordinary week in this extraordinary time. … This is normal now, a week like any other. But a terrible week is no less terrible because it is typical. When heroin and synthetic opiates kill one American every 16 minutes, there is little comfort in the routine. There is only the struggle to endure and survive.”
-- Wall Street Journal, “Both Parties Turn to Lawyer Abbe Lowell in High-Stakes Cases,” by Del Quentin Wilber: “Last week, Mr. Lowell launched his courtroom defense of Sen. Bob Menendez[.] … Mr. Lowell is also representing Jared Kushner[.] … Mr. Lowell’s decades of representing major Washington figures in trouble, including 2004 Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, led to his unusual situation juggling arguably the two biggest political cases unfolding today.”
-- Politico, “Liberals dominate Democrats' 2020 jockeying,” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “[T]he lion’s share of activity among potential 2020 hopefuls so far is on the progressive end of the Democratic spectrum — an indication of a broader ideological swing in a party struggling to be seen as more populist. The maneuvers shed light not only on the contours of Democrats’ aggressive march toward 2020, but also how fundamentally [Bernie] Sanders’ 2016 bid reshaped ambitious pols’ views of what arguments break through in the age of President Donald Trump.”
-- “Trump’s Republican Civil War,” by National Review’s Jonathan S. Tobin: “Trump is not a true Republican, nor is he anyone’s idea of a conservative. Nothing like Trump has ever happened before in American political history, and the long-term consequences of his presidency are still unknowable. But what is going on is not the birth of a third force in American politics[.] … Trump wants to change American politics in some ways, but he is not seeking to end the two parties’ monopoly on power. … Trump doesn’t have to invent a third party to get around the establishment. What we are witnessing is an attempt to expand upon last year’s hostile takeover of the GOP that will remake the [party] in Trump’s image.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Pope Francis wants President Trump to expand his definition of ‘pro-life’ to include protecting DACA recipients,” from Eugene Scott: “Pope Francis is urging the president to rethink a decision that the religious leader fears could tear families apart. ‘If he is a good pro-life believer, he must understand that family is the cradle of life and one must defend its unity,’ Francis said during an in-flight news conference en route to the Vatican from Colombia. … ‘I hope they rethink it a bit,’ the pope said. ‘Because I heard the U.S. president speak: He presents himself as a person who is pro-life.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“John Kelly fires back at Democrat who called him 'disgrace to the uniform,'” from Fox News: “Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez had leveled the criticism at Kelly over his support of President Trump’s decision to end a controversial program that shielded young illegal immigrants from deportation. … Kelly responded by saying Congress did ‘nothing’ to help so-called Dreamers when they had the chance. ‘As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility,’ Kelly said.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
A Russian politician said on a panel show that U.S. “intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.” The subject of the panel was the decline of U.S. power in the world.
-- Trump will meet throughout the day with members of his Cabinet, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He also has an afternoon meeting with the Malaysia prime minister before a “bipartisan Senators dinner,” which Mike Pence will join.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- D.C. may get some rain today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly cloudy with occasional light showers possible, especially south of the city. Highs range through the 70s. Light winds blow mainly from the east. Rainfall totals should be very light — a trace to one-tenth of an inch. These showers are the outer periphery of Irma’s remnants.”
-- Abortion has become a central issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, possibly foreshadowing a trend in statewide races during Trump’s presidency. Fenit Nirappil reports: “If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade ... [Gov. Terry] McAuliffe’s successor could decide the legality of abortion in the Old Dominion. Planned Parenthood’s Virginia arm has launched a $3 million field operation to support [Democratic candidate Ralph] Northam and other Democrats — surpassing its spending to elect McAuliffe in 2013. … Opponents of abortion are working with urgency, concerned that Virginia’s changing demographics — growing urban areas, more residents of color — are turning the swing state blue. All five of the current statewide officeholders — Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner as well as McAuliffe, Northam and Attorney General Mark R. Herring — are Democrats who support abortion rights.”
-- Maryland’s attorney general has joined three other states in a lawsuit opposing Trump’s efforts to roll back DACA. Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced yesterday that he would argue — alongside California, Maine and Minnesota — that the administration violated due process provisions of the Constitution by ending the immigration program. (Josh Hicks)
-- In a dramatic reversal, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) offered to give an extra $500 million to the Metro system over the next four years if D.C., Virginia, and the federal government agreed to do the same. The proposal was praised by Metro officials and leaders in the region, though it is unclear whether the three other parties would go along. (Robert McCartney and Faiz Siddiqui)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers mocked Steve Bannon's reputation as a "street fighter":
Mike Pence became emotional discussing the sacrifice of those who died on Flight 93 on 9/11:
The Post's Glenn Kessler fact-checked the claim that the House has passed more bills than during other any recent president's first year in office:
This is how animals were kept safe as Irma prepared to make landfall:
And a Colorado truck carrying livestock tipped over, leading to dozens of pigs milling about on the highway: