Category: Paul Ryan

Trump’s real constituency isn’t the white working class at all

Trump’s real constituency isn’t the white working class at all

The Washington Post
By E.J. Dionne Jr.

The focus on President Trump’s political strength among white working-class voters distracts from a truth that may be more important: His rise depended on support from rich conservatives, and his program serves the interests of those who have accumulated enormous wealth.

This explains why so few congressional Republicans denounce him, no matter how close he edges toward autocracy, how much bigotry he spreads — or how often he panders to Vladimir Putin and denounces our own intelligence officials, as he did again this weekend.

The GOP leadership knows Trump is tilting our economy toward people just like him, the objective they care about most.

To borrow from the president, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and still not lose House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as long as they have a reactionary tax bill to push into law.

Trump’s willingness to help Republican leaders pay off their largest contributors is the clearest explanation for why they debase themselves through their complicity with him. If you think this is harsh, consider the words of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.): “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get this done or don’t ever call me again.’ ”

I bet they are.

Republicans search for proof their tax plans will pay for themselves

Republicans search for proof their tax plans will pay for themselves

The New York Times
By Jim Tankersley
Image courtesy of Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Republican leaders keep insisting that their plans to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade will not add to the national debt — yet economic analyses of the Senate and House proposals keep predicting that the plans will do just that.

The disconnect is prompting House and Senate Republican leaders and the Trump administration to hunt down — and promote — more optimistic forecasts, even if they exclude large parts of the tax bills from their analyses or assume growth-boosting features that are not, in fact, in the bills.

Republican leaders have said the tax cuts they are planning will essentially pay for themselves. Lawmakers gave themselves, via their 2018 budget resolution, space for $1.5 trillion in revenue losses from tax cuts, but they have promised those losses will be offset by increased economic growth spurred by the tax overhaul. Finding a model that supports the ambitious economic growth projections is critical to their ability to pass a tax cut along party lines.

The House and Senate bills have been introduced and amended at a rapid clip, and economists are only now beginning to plug their details into sophisticated models that predict how much additional growth the cuts might produce. So far, every so-called dynamic analysis that scrutinizes the full details of the bills and factors in economic growth finds that those plans would add at least $500 billion and as much as $1.7 trillion to the deficit.

In an interview on Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said that “we’re confident that the $1.5 trillion gap would be filled” by economic growth. Mr. McConnell said the tax bill would add 0.4 percentage points to annual economic growth, though he did not cite a specific analysis suggesting that assertion. “So we believe this is a responsible budget and a responsible tax reform,” he said.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin insisted last week that the House bill would not add to the deficit, even after an analysis by the independent Tax Foundation, which uses a model that tends to find large growth effects from tax cuts, found that the bill would add $1 trillion to deficits over a decade.

“We believe that we’re going to be fine on that,” Mr. Ryan said. “We believe that when you look at other analysis, whether it’s going to be Treasury or the rest, that we’re right there in the sweet spot, with economic growth that gives us more revenue with where we need to be.”

Paul Ryan is choking on his own mystery meat

Paul Ryan is choking on his own mystery meat

The New York Times
By Paul Krugman

House Republicans were supposed to unveil their tax proposal today, but it has been put off — and not, as you might imagine, because they’re a bit worried that their grand opening might be overshadowed by the indictment of Trump’s campaign manager and sworn testimony of collusion between campaign officials and Russia.

No, they’re delaying because on the verge of trying to pass a huge change in the U.S. tax system, they still haven’t settled on key parts of the proposal — specifically, how to pay for huge corporate tax cuts and large cuts to wealthy individuals.

But wait — how is this possible? Republicans, and specifically Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, have been talking about tax “reform” and putting out white papers for years — actually, since 2010. How can basic things be up in the air at this late date?

The answer, of course, is that Ryan and friends have been faking it all these years.

So will the GOP pass something? Probably — but it’s more likely to be a miniature Christmas tree of handouts to the wealthy than the grand tax reform they’ve been promising.

And let’s hope that whatever happens gets reported as the failure it is. Ryan and company promised big stuff, but never had any way to deliver. When it comes to big lies, Donald Trump is actually a very good, very normal Republican.

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

The Washington Post
By Aaron Blake

President Trump almost admitted Monday that he is failing on his agenda. Then he caught himself.

“We’re not getting the job done,” he began, before quickly shifting course. “And I’m not going to blame myself. I’ll be honest: They are not getting the job done,” he said, referring to Congress.

You hear that, Congress? Trump is washing his hands of you. That “bully pulpit” that Theodore Roosevelt talked about? Overrated. Lyndon Johnson’s physical intimidation of wavering lawmakers? Trump shouldn’t be expected to dirty his hands. Harry Truman’s “buck stop here?” Nope, it actually stops over there, down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Points for honesty, I guess. If there was one microcosm of Trump’s attitude toward blame acceptance, this was it. In the span of a few seconds, Trump served notice that he separates himself from any responsibility for what Congress does or doesn’t do. It’s all on them.

This might be the most obvious bit of blame-shifting from Trump, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s done it.

It’s fine to note that things aren’t completely under your control as president — we don’t have a dictator — but presidents do get a chance to exert influence over the things the country talks about and Congress passes. The president can bring to bear plenty of pressure when it comes to swaying wavering lawmakers. When it comes to health care, Trump needed only to help win over skeptical Republican senators.

But Trump has shown considerably less interest in providing a helping hand to McConnell and Ryan than he has in absolving himself of the blame for their failures to produce. He has frequently given conflicting signals about what he wants to see from the health-care effort, has feuded with senators who provide key votes — often after the bills have already failed — and has generally shown very little interest in policy details. It’s one thing to not be a details guy; it’s another to seem completely clueless about what’s working its way through Congress at any given moment. Trump is almost always far to the latter end of the spectrum.

And at it’s core, it’s more a sign of desperation than it is of his power as president. To be clear: The president admitted Monday that he’s been neutered in the Oval Office. And whether you think he shoulders lots of blame or even just a little, he certainly carries at least some of the blame for that.

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

The Washington Post
Dana Milbank

House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”

“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants . . . a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before.

What does the president want? Nobody knows — not his advisers, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, and probably not Trump himself.

The latest Republican defense of Trump is built on a massive lie

Opinion from The Washington Post — Written by Greg Sargent —

Now that James B. Comey’s testimony to Congress has painted a picture of President Trump’s contempt for the rule of law that’s far more forceful and persuasive in its dramatic details than Republicans ever bargained for, the new and emerging GOP defense is that Trump is a political and procedural naif. He merely needs to learn the rules. This line of obfuscation requires pretending that many of the events of the past six months never happened.

But this spin from Republicans has a significance that runs deeper than merely revealing the absurd lengths to which they’ll go to protect Trump from political and legal harm. More urgently, their new line unwittingly reveals the degree to which Trump’s abuses of power and assault on our democracy have depended all along upon their tacit and willful complicity — and, perhaps worse, it leaves little doubt that this enabling will continue, with unforeseen consequences.

This strategy takes various forms. Paul Ryan casts Trump’s interactions with Comey as a mere matter of inexperience. “The president’s new at this,” Ryan says, adding that Trump “probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols” that under our system establish law enforcement’s independence from the White House. Others ground the argument in Trump’s business past or affection for the theatrics of disruption. “He’s used to being the CEO,” insists one House Republican. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) adds that Trump is merely being “crude, rude and a bull in a china shop.”

But Republicans making this argument are dishonestly feigning naivete about much of what we’ve seen from Trump since the beginning of his presidency. The problem with the idea that Trump merely needs to learn the rules is that we have a large pile of evidence showing that Trump is deeply convinced that the rules should not apply to him.

 

Resigned to Trump’s woes, G.O.P. keeps working on legislative goals

From The New York Times — Written by Jonathan Martin and Jennifer Steinhauer — Image Courtesy of Yuri Gripas / Reuters

As James B. Comey was testifying that President Trump was a liar, Senator John Hoeven held two meetings about health care, and pondered ideas about infrastructure.

“We’re working,” said Mr. Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, though he conceded that the president’s travails “make it tougher.”

For their part, his Republicans colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee made it clear at Mr. Comey’s hearing that they had no appetite to confront the president, saving their criticism for Hillary Clinton and spending much of their time focused on the fact that Mr. Trump himself was not under investigation.

As they have traveled through the various stages of grief over the unpredictability of their president and the realization that Mr. Trump is unlikely to change, congressional Republicans appear to have landed at acceptance, basically hoping that the president does not get in their way.

They have largely ceased defending or explaining Mr. Trump’s more ostentatiously reckless remarks or Twitter posts, and at their most critical they casually chide his behavior — as did Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who told Mr. Comey at the hearing that Mr. Trump “never should have asked you, as you reported, to let the investigation go.”

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, seemed to chalk up Mr. Trump’s attempt to pressure Mr. Comey into backing off an investigation into his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, to the incompetence of a newcomer. “The president’s new at this,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Realizing that Mr. Trump has served as neither a strong advocate for their positions — indeed he often criticizes them — nor a focused student of public policy, Republicans are letting Democrats serve as Mr. Trump’s loudest critics while trying to establish the president as inept, perhaps, but not criminal.