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On the roster: Can Trump have a boom without a bust? - Candidates pressed on reparations in New Hampshire - Trump walking back from background checks? - Manchin back and forth on leaving Senate - When you gotta catch ‘em all

What ever happened to the Romney Republicans?

If you’ll recall, those were the folks who believed in “creative destruction.” And while they might have disapproved of the headline slapped on the former Massachusetts governor’s 2008 op-ed on the auto-industry meltdown, the sentiment behind “let Detroit go bankrupt” was very much part of the free-market conservative playbook.

The basic idea there is that economics – of nations, of sectors, of individual enterprises – are cyclical. Sometimes you’re expanding, sometimes you’re contracting, but both are inevitable and useful. Like a small forest fire burning away the underbrush, occasional economic “corrections” burn away the scrub and leave what’s left behind healthier.

This argument was, in fact, central to the eight years of Republican criticisms of Barack Obama’s management of the economy. Obama touted quarter after quarter of job growth and economic expansion, while conservatives complained that was that he was too worried about a potential recession.

Where Obama and his conservative economic critics agreed was that the American economy had entered into a “new normal” where relatively high unemployment and relatively low growth – say 2 percent annual increases in the gross domestic product – were the facts of life.

Where they differed was whether this was desirable or even avoidable. 

In post-World War II America, the norm had been stretches of several years (sometimes as long as a decade) of economic expansion interrupted by brief recessions, usually of about a year in length. Taken together, it averaged out to generations living at an average growth rate of about 3.5 percent. That’s not just good by contemporary global standards, that’s very good by American historical standards.

But while conservatives were assailing Obama for letting his fear of creative destruction keep the economy bottled up, something was happening inside the same Republican Party that had so recently nominated Mr. Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

As it turns out, much of the collateral damage to the American cycle of expansion-contraction-expansion-contraction fell to the very kinds of voters who were increasingly crucial to Republican electoral ambitions. 

When Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital turned around businesses in bankruptcy, it often meant dumping middle managers and automating manufacturing jobs to be competitive. When Obama’s campaign called Romney “a vampire” for so doing, Republican complaints were surprisingly muted. We knew then of the populist rebellion inside the GOP, but would only subsequently find out how many in Romney’s party actually agreed with Obama.

Free markets were rapidly falling out of fashion, even among Republican elites. Economic nationalism and the same kind of central planning once derided as “picking winners and losers” was increasingly popular on the right. When then-candidate Donald Trump denounced free trade, mass immigration and outsourcing his way had already been paved by a host of dissenters from the party’s longtime Reaganomic model. 

The voters who supported Trump in the GOP primary may have despised Obama’s expansion of the welfare state and leftward charge in the culture wars, but they certainly agreed (whether they could admit it or not) with the center beam of his economic policies that favored equality of outcomes over the boom-and-bust dynamism of their party’s more recent past.

The only problem was that Trump had been elected promising to do both things. Trump said he would deliver the kind of robust growth Obama had eschewed but also to prevent the kind of Romnesian burning of the economic underbrush. 

We are now in our longest-ever period of economic expansion as a nation, but clouds are gathering. 

Trump certainly delivered on the first part of his promise, which was to take off the brakes Obama had set against rapid growth. Trump oversaw not just the undoing of lots of business regulations, including essentially suspending ObamaCare, but also delivered a huge tax cut. Adding that supply side stimulus to a Keynesian dreamboat of a budget deficit of more than $1 trillion and business and consumers were ready for liftoff.

The boom we saw in late 2017 and 2018 were very real consequences of Trump cashing in on what Obama and the Democrats left on the table.

Now the second part of the proposal – that he could deliver red-hot growth without repeating the same cycle that so often disadvantaged working-class, older Americans – is getting its test.

The administration is evaluating some extraordinary measures, including the same kind of cut in the payroll taxes that fund Social Security that Obama favored, to either stave off or reverse a recessionary trend. 

Trump is also keeping up his aggressive efforts to revive the manufacturing sector by fighting China and Europe over trade. But, as it was for Obama, the planned effort to remake the economy in a way that treats his supporters more kindly, runs smack into his ambitions for higher overall growth.

While Republicans were riding the gusts of a rapidly growing economy last year, they still managed to get pasted in the midterm elections, so everyone in the GOP – populists and conservatives alike – is well aware that a 2020 recession would probably mean electoral doom.

The test for Trump may not be whether he can deliver on promises of rapid growth, but whether he, like Obama, can pull enough levers at home and abroad to keep recession at bay for at least another few quarters.   

“Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons, of individuals. The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 54

The Atlantic: “The Dutch have suffered some brutal occupations, from the Roman empire and Viking raids to Spanish and Nazi rule. But now they face an even larger army of invaders: tourists. In the era of cheap flights and Airbnb, their numbers are staggering. Some 19 million tourists visited the Netherlands last year, more people than live there. For a country half the size of South Carolina, with one of the world’s highest population densities, that’s a lot. [The] the number of annual visitors is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next decade, to 29 million. Urban planners and city officials have a word for what the Netherlands and quite a few other European countries are experiencing: overtourism. With such an influx of humanity comes a decline in quality of life. Residents’ complaints range from inconvenience (crowds spilling from sidewalks to streets) to vandalism to alcohol-induced defilement (vomiting in flower boxes, urinating in mailboxes).”

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Trump job performance
Average approval: 
41.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55 percent
Net Score: -13.4 percent
Change from one week ago: down 2.2 points
[Average includes: NBC News/WSJ: 43% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve - 56% disapprove; IBD: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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WaPo: “Over the past two years, a series of racist incidents has shaken New Hampshire, a state that’s nearly 95 percent white. … These voters are peppering the Democratic presidential hopefuls who visit this key early state with questions about reparations, racial justice and white supremacy. That’s a major shift from the past, says Gibson’s Bookstore owner Michael Herrmann. Herrmann’s quaint shop in Concord has served as a pit stop for politicos for years. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro, all Democratic presidential hopefuls, have stopped by in the past few months. … When candidates visited in 2016, reparations never came up, Herrmann said. … Nearly all the 2020 candidates support a commission to study the issue. … [Few] contenders have laid out exactly what a reparations system might look like.”

Harris ditches Medicare for all - WaPo: “The idea of Medicare-for-all — a unified government health program that would take over the basic function of private insurance — became a liberal litmus test at the outset of the presidential campaign, distinguishing Democratic contenders who cast themselves as bold visionaries from more moderate pragmatists. But in recent months, amid polling that shows concern among voters about ending private insurance, several of the Democratic hopefuls have shifted their positions or their tone, moderating full-throated endorsement of Medicare-for-all and adopting ideas for allowing private insurance in some form. ‘What I think has happened in the Democratic primary is people recognize that some of the concerns about single-payer are not coming from special interests but the public,’ said Neera Tanden, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton and now president of the Center for American Progress.”

Jill Biden: ‘Swallow a little bit’ so we can beat Trump -Fox News: “Speaking at a bookstore in Manchester, N.H., Dr. Jill Biden urged voters on Monday to consider the ‘electability’ of her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, ahead of the 2020 Democratic primaries, and how they may have to ‘swallow a little bit’ with the Democratic front-runner in order to defeat President Trump. ‘I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that, but I want you to think about your candidate, his or her electability, and who’s going to win this race,’ Dr. Biden said. … The former second lady insisted the party's eventual nominee ‘just can't have Democrats’ in order to win a general election, stressing that person must win over independents. She also pointed to polls in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where her husband is leading in matchups against Trump.”

Biden has double the support of closest competitor in new poll - CNN: “Joe Biden has expanded his edge over the Democratic field in a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, with 29% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters saying they back the former vice president. That's up 7 points compared with a late June CNN survey. No other candidate has made meaningful gains over that time. The shift returns Biden to a double-digit lead over his nearest competitors, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 15% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14%. Their support is largely unchanged since earlier this summer. Aside from Biden's increase, the only statistically meaningful change in the candidate standings is a 12-point decline in support for California Sen. Kamala Harris, who stood at 17% support in the June poll but now has the backing of 5% of potential Democratic voters. That's similar to the level of support she had in the spring before a surge following her initial debate performance.”

WaPo: “President Trump appears to be backing away from potential support for gun background check legislation, according to White House aides, congressional leaders and gun advocates, dimming prospects that Washington will approve significant new gun measures in the wake of mass shootings that left 31 dead. Immediately after the carnage in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said ‘there is a great appetite’ for tightening background checks on people who buy firearms. But in recent days, Trump has focused in public remarks on the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while emphasizing that the nation already has ‘very strong background checks right now’ — positions that hew more closely to the views of the National Rifle Association. Behind the scenes, Trump’s communication with key lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin III … has gone mostly cold, according to Capitol Hill aides, in part because Congress has left town for its summer recess.”

Pelosi, Schumer aren’t backing down - The Hill: “Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill pressed President Trump on Monday to support tougher gun laws, a move that comes as the president attempts to shift the focus of gun-violence prevention from firearms to mental illness. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) contend that the most effective prescription for reining in shooting deaths is to expand background checks prior to the sale of firearms. A pair of House-passed measures, they argued, would do just that. … Pelosi and Schumer are pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take up the House bills… Monday's pushback from the Democratic leaders is in response to Trump's remarks Sunday night, when he blamed the country's ‘very, very big mental health problem’ — not easy access to firearms — as the driving force behind gun violence.”

First Republican to support assault weapon ban steps forward - N.Y. Daily News: “An assault weapons ban that Democratic leaders have been reluctant to advance despite strong support among their rank-and-file members in the House just got its first Republican backer — Long Island Rep. Pete King. ‘They are weapons of mass slaughter,’ King said shortly after his backing became public on Congress’ website Monday. ‘I don’t see any need for them in everyday society,’ King said. The Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 was rolled out in February by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), with 190 other Democrats onboard. … King stepping forward could encourage other Republicans to do so and prod Democrats in districts that have partisan makeups similar to King’s district, which leans only slightly Republican.”

W. Va. Metro News: “With just weeks until he is set to announce his future political plans, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said a possible run for governor has been ‘the toughest decision I have ever made in my life.’ ‘I change from morning to afternoon to night. It’s so difficult because I know both jobs and I know them extremely well,’ he said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline.’ Manchin, who won reelection to the Senate last November, previously said he will announce if he is running for governor after Labor Day. Manchin previously served as governor from January 2005 to December 2010 when he left to join the Senate. Manchin said he doesn’t like what is going on in West Virginia or the leadership of Gov. Jim Justice, whom Manchin endorsed in the 2016 election cycle when Justice was a Democrat.”

North Carolina begins early voting for special election - Roll Call: “Chris Council, a 53-year-old African American landscaper, is fired up about Democrat Dan McCready’s campaign for Congress. ‘I’m not a betting man, but he’s going to win this race,’ Council said after attending a McCready event in this 3,500-person town, the county seat of Bladen County, North Carolina. Council is the kind of base Democratic voter McCready needs to turn out in the 9th District, where early voting begins Wednesday ahead of the Sept. 10 special election. Bladen County has a special significance too. Along with nearby Robeson County, it was ground zero last year for a Republican ballot fraud scandal that resulted in the 9th District election being thrown out by state officials and a redo election, with a new GOP nominee, being ordered.”

States prepare legal action against big tech firms WSJ

Twitter says China is spreading disinformation The Independent

Local Oregon newspaper may face criminal charges for investigative work - WaPo

“Unconfirmed rumors from scouts suggest that some on the opposing team — having realized Bernie ‘the Bern’ Sanders was the scheduled pitcher for tonight's contest — decided to stand down.” – Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote in a lighthearted email to Politico regarding the softball game between Sanders’ campaign staff and members of the press corps at Iowa’s Field of Dreams Monday night.

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UPI: “A Washington State Patrol trooper checking on what he thought was a disabled vehicle discovered the driver had pulled over to play Pokemon Go -- on eight phones. Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Rick Johnson said Sgt. Kyle Smith stopped to check on a car at the side of State Route 518, near Sea-Tac Airport, and discovered the driver was using a blue foam holder to play the popular game on eight phones at once. Johnson said the driver was not ticketed because Smith did not see him using the phones while the vehicle was in motion. The driver was advised to move the phones to the back seat and not to stop on the shoulder of the road except for an emergency situation.”

“But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that [Alexis de]Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the National Review on July 20, 2012. 

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.