Opinion writer

* Via Jeff Stein, Rachael Bade, and Jacqueline Alemany, this is terrible news, and a serious failure on the part of Democrats:

House Democrats appear increasingly unlikely to secure President Trump’s tax returns before the 2020 presidential election, according to interviews with legal experts and several lawmakers, as resistance from the Trump administration has stymied the party’s efforts to obtain his personal financial records.

Several Democrats involved in oversight see a long path to getting a final court decision, even if they expect to win in the end. Trevor N. McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who was assigned the case in July, will hear the case first, and any decision is likely to be appealed to higher courts, up to the Supreme Court.

For it to be resolved by fall 2020 would amount to Democrats drawing a possible but improbable legal “perfect straight,” according to Harry Sandick, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), whose panel is leading the pursuit of Trump’s returns, has also thus far opted not to pursue Trump’s state returns despite a new law in New York giving them the authority to do so.

...Neal has led a deliberative probe for the president’s records, relying closely on legal counsel, although he has faced internal criticism from lawmakers for moving too slowly.

This was very predictable -- in fact, this blog reported back in July that this was likely to happen -- but it’s still something that should prompt serious introspection among Democrats. It raises questions as to whether Trump may be in the process of killing the norm of transparency that led candidates in both parties to release their tax returns for decades.

* A new Associated Press poll finds Trump’s approval rating at an abysmal 36 percent, while 62 percent disapprove. That’s worse than the averages, so this might be an outlier -- or a harbinger of more terrible numbers to come.

* Nicole Acevedo reports that experts believe that Trump’s new plan to detain migrant children for a lot longer could increase their health risks. Yeah, that’ll totally weigh on Trump.

* Vanessa Willliams reports that Democrats are investing in trying to flip numerous secretary of state offices from red to blue. These types of races get little attention but they’re key to beating back GOP efforts to restrict voting rights and access.

* Bernie Sanders just rolled out an ambitious new plan to strengthen organized labor, with the admirable goal of doubling union membership in the United States in four years.

* Tim O’Brien reaches deep into Trump’s business past to remind us that he has a long history of lying uncontrollably when he’s panicking over not getting his way.

* James Fallows comes up with a great way of illustrating Trump’s unfitness, imagining people exhibiting equivalent conduct in other professions that would instantly make their removal a no-brainer.

* Beto O’Rourke recently vowed to campaign in the places where Trump is “terrorizing” and “demeaning” our fellow Americans. Will Bunch tracks O’Rourke’s movements and find he’s making good on his promise.

* The progressive group Data for Progress puts out a new polling memo arguing that for all the talk about Joe Biden’s electability, Elizabeth Warren actually has surprisingly high favorability ratings in battleground districts.

* The New Democrat Network’s Chris Taylor argues that new data show that Trump’s economy in 2018 was actually worse than commonly thought.

* Political scientist Alan Abramowitz offers a detailed new analysis showing that when it comes to their positions on actual issues, Democrats are far more united than the constant “Dems in Disarray!” punditry suggests.

* And you’ll be shocked to hear that Fox News has signed up Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a contributor. Perfect! She can continue doing exactly what she did before leaving the White House -- lie for the president relentlessly and shamelessly.