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On the roster: Trump goes all in on tax cuts - No consensus yet on new TrumpCare plan - White House sets up showdown on NAFTA - maybe call it ‘The Trump Global Initiative’ - ‘That's kind of the excitement of this job’
TRUMP GOES ALL IN ON TAX CUTS
There’s an almost surefire system for winning at roulette. Pick a number, place your bet and keep doubling it until it pays off.
Of course, geometric progression being what it is, a player has to have pretty deep pockets to try it. Start out with $5 and you’ll be placing a $1,280 bet on your eighth turn. But then again, if you hit, the payout that round would be $44,800.
The stack of chips President Trump had on the table was already pretty tall, and with his proposal today for a massive tax overhaul, they’re going to have to call out the pit boss.
We still have a lot to learn about what the president’s plan will actually entail, but the broad-brush outlines painted by his treasury secretary and chief economic advisor live up to Trump’s campaign and post-election hype: slash the corporate tax rate, cut, flatten and simplify personal tax rates and repeal the estate tax.
We also don’t know whether Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress mean to do this as a temporary stimulus or not. If it were to be jammed through using a procedural maneuver called “budget reconciliation” that would allow for a simple majority in the Senate. Or, the goal could be to broker some bi-partisan agreement for the kind of lasting change Americans have not seen since 1986.
It probably depends on how it goes. Trump can aim for permanent changes but end up settling for sun setting cuts that would expire after he left office like he predecessor George W. Bush did twice.
Whatever happens, though, one gets the sense that we are finally seeing the real Trump agenda.
It is tempting to imagine how these past 97 days would have gone had Trump made this his first initiative rather than opening on the scotched refugee ban and the TrumpCare bust. Even so, this will change the game in Washington.
Americans like tax cuts, and that’s a fact. Democrats know that and will have to come up with better than demanding Trump release his own tax returns before considering his proposal. Americans may want the president to conduct himself more ethically, but it’s doubtful that they would let that get in the way of keeping more of their own money.
Republicans also know the potency of this issue and can’t be as cavalier about raising their objections to these policy provisions as they were about those in Trump’s health-insurance plan.
If Trump can make the fight over his tax plan the central conflict for the rest of the year, voters and the press will lose some interest in the stalled initiatives on health insurance and other campaign promises.
With a big win on taxes, a Supreme Court appointment and decrease in illegal immigration, it would be hard not to call the first half of Trump’s term a success. Even staunch conservatives would forgive him for punting on ObamaCare and letting other initiatives slide.
As with our hypothetical roulette player, though, the stakes could become prohibitive before the wheel of fortune delivers a win.
THE RULEBOOK: TWO TO TANGO
“They who make laws may, without doubt, amend or repeal them; and it will not be disputed that they who make treaties may alter or cancel them; but still let us not forget that treaties are made, not by only one of the contracting parties, but by both; and consequently, that as the consent of both was essential to their formation at first, so must it ever afterwards be to alter or cancel them.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 64
TIME OUT: HISTORY REVISITED
NPR: “In the summer of 1945, John F. Kennedy traveled across Europe working as a journalist. He kept a diary during those months on the road, which reveals a future president trying to make sense of a rapidly changing post-war world. The leather-bound diary will be put up for auction Wednesday, after sitting quietly for nearly six decades in the hands of a former campaign worker. … Kennedy wrote the diary in between his military service and first campaign for Congress, when he worked for Hearst Newspapers. Deirdre Henderson, then a research assistant in charge of coordinating one of JFK's campaign advisory committees, was overworked by the demands of the campaign and couldn't find the time to read it. … After Kennedy's election, Henderson found herself with a White House job… She was returning to her office on November 22, 1963 when she heard news of the assassination. After that moment, she says the diary became too painful to consider.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: Unchanged
NO CONSENSUS YET ON NEW TRUMPCARE PLAN
Politico: “The White House, top House conservatives and a key moderate Republican have finalized a new Obamacare repeal and replace plan they hope will break a month-long logjam on a key priority for President Donald Trump. But it is far from clear that the fragile agreement will provide Speaker Paul Ryan the 216 votes needed for the House to pass the stalled legislation. Optimism is growing among Republican officials on the Hill and in the White House. Leadership will likely need at least 15 to 20 new House Freedom Caucus votes to have any shot at passing the bill. The million-dollar question: Can Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who helped author the changes, deliver the votes needed to get the bill over the finish line? The North Carolina Republican is said to support the amendment, sources say, but it's still unclear how many of his group will flip from ‘no’ to ‘yes.’”
Plan would exempt members of Congress from cuts - Vox: “House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan. The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people. Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations.”
Conservative groups push for passage - The Hill: “Two influential conservative groups that opposed the GOP's original ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan will now support the latest version of it. Club for Growth and FreedomWorks on Wednesday announced their support for the American Health Care Act after seeing proposed text of an amendment that would make conservative changes to the bill. … ‘Today, we believe the hard work of Meadows and MacArthur facilitated by Vice President Mike Pence, has yielded a compromise that the Club for Growth can support,’ Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement.”
HOUSE ‘WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE’ ON SPENDING PLAN
Roll Call: “Appropriators think they are close to a deal to fund the government through September, but the hour is fast approaching where a stopgap might be needed to prevent a shutdown at midnight Friday. Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, a former Appropriations chairman and still a senior member of the committee, described the leaders as, ‘within striking distance’ on a fiscal 2017 spending bill.Rogers added there are some still some ‘knotty issues’ lawmakers need to contend with. ‘I don’t want to see an extension,’ Rogers said. ‘I want to see us finish this thing on time. However, if the time runs out on a Friday there is a little extra play room there.’ But House and Senate appropriators always prefer to get their bills through to the president’s desk before a funding deadline rather than resorting to continuing resolutions that effectively lock the government into existing funding and prevent lawmakers from really putting their stamp on operations.”
Pro-lifers frustrated on Planned Parenthood funding - Columnist Terry Jeffrey says Republicans aren’t keeping their promises. CNS News: “The Republican House can pass and send to the Republican Senate a bill that funds the border wall but not Planned Parenthood. Or they can pass one that funds Planned Parenthood but not the border wall. The former course of action would fulfill the campaign promises that got their president elected. The latter would appease congressional Democrats and the liberal press. So, which will it be?
Protest planned for today - Pro-life organization, Students for Life of America, will present over 176,000 baby socks to Congress on Wednesday afternoon. Student groups have been collecting baby socks as a “visual reminder” of every abortion Planned Parenthood did last year, according to their press release.
WHITE HOUSE SETS UP SHOWDOWN ON NAFTA
Politico: “The Trump administration is considering an executive order on withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA, according to two White House officials. A draft order has been submitted for the final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next week, the officials said. The effort, which still could change in the coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal. The approach appears designed to extract better terms with Canada and Mexico. President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to renegotiate NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton that removes tariffs and allows for the free flow of goods and services between the three countries in North America. Trump in recent weeks has stepped up his rhetoric vowing to terminate the agreement altogether.”
Conservatives worry - In an editorial today, WashEx voices concerns about Trump’s new hardline approach on North American trade: “Trump is upset that Canada has been letting its timber industries pay what he considers excessively low royalties to cut down Canadian trees. This means Canadian lumber companies can sell softwood for lower prices to American industries… Trump is standing up to this threat by imposing a retroactive, punitive 20 percent tariff on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. … The U.S. logging industry that Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are trying to protect from competition employs 53,000 Americans. The construction industry, which prefers to buy wood at lower prices rather than higher ones, employs 7 million, and it is not the only industry that will be hurt by this tariff.”
MAYBE CALL IT ‘THE TRUMP GLOBAL INITIATIVE’
Axios’ Mike Allen reports: “Ivanka Trump told me yesterday from Berlin that she has begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe. Both countries and companies will contribute to create a pool of capital to economically empower women ‘The statistics and results prove that when you invest in women and girls, it benefits both developed and developing economies,’ she said. ‘Women are an enormous untapped resource, critical to the growth of all countries.’ Canadians, Germans and a few Middle Eastern countries have already made quiet commitments, as have several corporations, a source said. The fund will provide working and growth capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises. President Trump is a huge supporter of his daughter's idea, and she has consulted with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim about how to pull it off in a huge way.”
Ethics watchers cry foul - WaPo ‘Right Turn’ columnist Jennifer Rubin was not impressed: “It was bad enough when Hillary Clinton as secretary of state agreed to have meetings with people who had given to her foundation. Now, according to news reports, Ivanka Trump, while a federal employee, is soliciting donations for a new fund from foreigners. This comes on top of instances in which she sat with heads of state (from Japan and China) at a time that her business was doing deals in their countries.”
Chaffetz says Flynn may have broken law with Russian payments - USA Today
Poll shows declining Trump support in North Carolina - Elon University
Ya think? Neither McConnell or Schumer are viewed positively - Gallup
Obama courts controversy with $400,000 speech to Wall Street group - WaPo
Build the wall and make one Mexican pay for it: Ted Cruz says money seized from drug boss El Chapo should pay for Trump border wall - Dallas Morning News
Naked ambition: Dem House candidate in Montana a regular performer at nudist resort - Free Beacon
“You can win by reconciliation, if you just decide to hardball your way through it, but the track record shows it’s not sustainable and it’s not successful.” – Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview with WSJ regarding not hearing from the White House on its tax plan.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Your discussion [on Tuesday] of why the Dems may be overplaying their hand in celebrating Pres. Trump’s not insisting on his $1 billion for the Wall was interesting, but there was a little too much that sounded like “Don’t worry folks, Pres. Trump is coming around. Washington is getting back to normal as defined by all of us wicked smart insiders” for me to be comfortable. Maybe you are right, but I sincerely hope not. If you are, Pres. Trump’s presidency will fail and we may see open civil strife. Also interesting is that Dr. Krauthammer acknowledges a slight advantage to the Dems concerning the Wall’s popularity nationwide, but emphasis on the “slight”, and he himself has no objection to one whereas you are almost gleeful at the idea of one not being built.” – Jonathan Kahnoski, Meridian, Idaho
[Ed. note: There is not much for anyone to be “gleeful” about in American politics these days, Mr. Kahnoski, except, I suppose, for fans of rank cynicism. I take no position on whether a wall of any kind should or shouldn’t be built. That’s up to the leaders of our government and, eventually, the voters. What we were discussing on Tuesday was the bizarre penchant among Democrats to try to make an issue out of the president’s abandonment of unpopular positions. You may like the idea of a wall or dislike it, but the polling is unambiguous: Most Americans are opposed to the idea and only a third or fewer are reliably in support. Now, if Trump believes in the wall as a necessity, he can choose to push it through, even at the expense of other, more popular priorities. This is still (mostly) a republic, after all. My point is that certainly as far as shutting down the government over a mostly-symbolic down payment on the project would be a bonanza for Democrats. There is still time enough for Trump to make the wall part of the federal budget for the fiscal year that starts in October, but he is on track right now to not only avoid a shutdown but also increase spending for the very popular idea of enhanced border security. That’s hardly anything for Democrats to crow about.]
“In [Tuesday's] column, you state that ‘In legislating, like joke-telling, timing is everything.’ Is it just me, or do the two things seem to be one and the same nowadays?” – Thomas C. Cook, Las Vegas
[Ed. note: See, now that’s funny!]
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‘THAT'S KIND OF THE EXCITEMENT OF THIS JOB’
WCCU: “Charleston Police responded to an unusual call Sunday night about a goat trotting down 18th Street. The Charleston Illinois Police Department posted the pictures on their Facebook page describing what led to the goat's ‘arrest.’ Officers say they’re not sure where the goat came from, but they are working to locate its owner. Pictures of the goat from the call created quite a stir on Facebook. Officers say this is just another reminder that they never know what they’ll be called out on each day at work. ‘You'll get a call at 8:30, middle of the night that there's a goat that needs to be captured and taken somewhere,’ Charleston Police Detective Joel Schute said. ‘From the silly and inane, to the ones that can certainly stop your heart at any given moment... So you're ready for anything, but that's kind of the excitement of this job.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Look, I think this is Trump proclaiming a principle that we are going to be really tough on trade… And what he's doing, he is bargaining. He's a real estate guy saying, ‘Here is my opening bid. I threaten you with tariffs on lumber.’” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.