The one thing Washington agrees on

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On the roster: The one thing Washington agrees on - Independents aren’t sold on Trump or Dems - Pelosi tells Dems ‘get back to basics’ in Mueller hearing - Audible: Easy there Spartacus - Who you callin’ a trash panda?


Given the way they talk about each other – shrieking, faces melting like they had just gazed upon the contents of the Ark of the Covenant – one could be forgiven for thinking that the extremists in our two parties agree on very little.

You might even think that we were standing on the precipice of some new civil war, or at least that the outcome of the next election was a make-or-break proposition for the nation.

But if you pay attention to what they do instead of what they say, you’ll quickly see that a powerful consensus has formed around government’s most essential function. Spending must always go up, up, up and government must always do more, more, more.

The practical difference between the socialists and the nationalists in Washington is which groups they seek to punish and which groups they seek to reward in their pursuits of permanent majority and ever-greater control.

Nationalists say it’s good to give welfare to farmers but bad to make it too easy for poor people to get food stamps.

Socialists say it’s good to make college free for students but bad to spend money on enforcing immigration laws.

Those attitudes are about social engineering, not about money. As Washington is proving conclusively this week, the great breakthrough of bipartisan consensus of our lifetimes is here: Nobody really cares about spending anymore.

After a 75-year struggle over how much money the federal government ought to spend, members of both parties have realized that the politically expedient answer for everyone involved is simple: All of it, plus another $1.3 trillion.

It would have, until recently, been unimaginable that either party would risk the political devastation that would come from running a $1 trillion deficit at a time like this. Voters tend to be forgiving of big spending when times are tough, but what’s the excuse when the economy is growing briskly, the workforce is fully engaged, wages are growing and markets are through the roof?

It’s the same reason that the current president badgers the Federal Reserve for rate cuts amid a gangbusters economy. Both parties have agreed that anything other than bang-zoom-to-the-moon growth is politically unpopular. It was once said that, “We’re all Keynesians now.” The joke is that both parties are Keynesians and supply-siders. 

The important thing, your elected leaders have decided, is to continue to hurl bails of money into the furnace while simultaneously keeping taxes relatively low. To talk of a cut in spending that is not politically motivated to target a despised group or to imagine a tax increase not designed as a punishment for a disfavored sector of society is unimaginable.

This is what’s happening while the nationalists and the socialists keep themselves busy and you distracted by calling each other racists who hate America. 

Once partisans came to accept that the loss of any election meant doom for the republic, they became willing to tolerate almost any depredation, as long as it was in the name of victory against the evil ones. 

How do you get Democrats who once felt that running large deficits was “unpatriotic” and Republicans who just eight years ago made debt reduction their rallying cry to simultaneously swallow fiscal profligacy of this magnitude? 

You first convince them that winning is the only thing.

The next time you’re tempted to care too deeply about who said what about whom, just remember that when it comes to the central responsibility of our government, they’re all in it together.

“Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments of their errors.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 9

WaPo: “Read the words ‘biscuits and gravy,’ and an image of flaky, buttery biscuits topped with a decadent, sausage-studded cream gravy comes to mind. You can find some version of the dish served in diners and cafes, food trucks, fast-food outlets and even white-tablecloth restaurants the nation over — not just in the South, its birthplace. … But its origins were decidedly modest. Biscuits and gravy in some form may go back as early as the Revolutionary War, but many food writers and culinary historians position its birthplace in Southern Appalachia in the late 1800s. Lumber was one of the main industries of the region, which supports the origin story that sausage gravy was also called sawmill gravy. It was the ideal cheap and calorie-dense fuel for sawmill workers lifting heavy logs all day long, and the perfect tool for making the era’s biscuits more palatable.”

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Trump job performance
Average approval
: 45 percent
Average disapproval: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -6.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.6 points 
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 47% approve - 50% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve - 51% disapprove.]

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NPR: “Democratic presidential candidates are proposing lots of progressive policies in this election. And while those policies may resonate with the party base, some of those ideas are not popular with a general election electorate, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. And overall, independent voters said they were not impressed with the direction either President Trump or Democrats want to take the country at this point ahead of the 2020 election, the findings show. ‘Independents are on the fence overall,’ said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, which conducted the poll. … Trump did his best in this polling since taking office, but his approval rating is still just 44%. Fewer independents are undecided about the president and give him a 42% approval rating, up from 35% in June. … Among independents, a third said they would definitely vote for the president, up from one quarter. A majority — 54% — say they definitely won't, about the same as last month.”

Biden unveils sweeping criminal justice plan - Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a wide ranging plan to reduce the country’s prison population, reform the nation’s criminal justice system and eliminate racial and income disparities in sentencing. The former vice president’s campaign also highlighted that the proposal, officially titled the ‘Biden Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice,’ would prioritize reform of the juvenile justice system - using $1 billion per year ‘to make sure we give more children a second chance to live up to their potential.’ Senior Biden campaign officials tell Fox news that the sweeping plan would be paid for using costs saved from reducing mass incarcerations. Biden’s expected to spotlight his plan this week while addressing an NAACP presidential candidate’s forum Wednesday in Detroit, as well as the next day in Indianapolis when he speaks at the National Urban League’s annual conference.”

Booker accuses Biden of creating mass incarceration system - Fox News: “Just a couple of hours after the former vice president on Tuesday morning unveiled a wide-ranging plan to reduce the country’s prison population, reform the nation’s criminal justice system and eliminate racial and income disparities in sentencing, [Sen. Cory] Booker took aim. ‘It’s not enough to tell us what you’re going to do for our communities, show us what you’ve done for the last 40 years. You created this system. We’ll dismantle it,’ tweeted the senator from New Jersey, who is black. Booker was referencing Biden’s deep involvement in drafting the 1994 crime bill, which has made criminal justice reform a tricky issue for the current front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. … Biden’s new criminal justice plan – in fact – would reverse the stricter sentences terms for crack versus powder cocaine that were implemented by the 1994 law.”

Steinberger: Does America want to go back to a time before Trump? - NYT: “Biden is still trim and spry, and in two recent interviews with him, I saw no evidence that his mind has slipped — to the contrary, his memory was impressively sharp. But there is no getting around the fact that he is in his mid-70s. The grayness of his complexion emphasizes the point. So much about Biden, right down to his manner of speech — he may be all that stands between the word ‘malarkey’ and its extinction — says yesterday’s man. And yet this can obscure the fact that he is an enormously popular figure in the Democratic Party, commanding a degree of affection that is rare in politics. … The political calculation driving Biden’s campaign — and the main reason he has been assumed by many to be the most electable Democrat — is the belief that the Scranton native can win back enough of those voters to carry Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin and deny Trump a second term.”

Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson backs Biden - Dallas Morning News: “U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas on Monday endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president. ‘During my tenure in Congress, I've seen firsthand Vice President Biden's commitment to getting real work done on behalf of all Americans,’ Johnson said in a prepared statement. … Johnson, the longtime representative for Congressional District 30, told The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV (NBC5) earlier this year that she would back Biden, if he entered the Democratic Party presidential primary. At the time she was considering supporting Sen. Kamala Harris of California, but added that Biden would be her first choice. In backing Biden, Johnson has spurned Texas presidential candidates Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro, the former Housing secretary and former San Antonio mayor.”

Bernie campaign organizers reach agreement on pay raise - WaPo: “Unionized organizers for the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) approved a pay raise proposal from management late Monday, following a tense internal standoff in which employees had argued they were not being paid the wages Sanders advocates in his rhetoric. Sanders confirmed the deal in an interview Tuesday on CNN, saying he was ‘happy to tell you . . . that offer was just accepted.’ Details of the plan were not immediately known. The arrangement came after organizers battled Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir for higher salaries. … It was unclear whether the changes would satisfy most of the field organizers for the long run, or whether future tensions would arise with management. It also was unclear what if any role Sanders played in the process and when he first learned about the dispute.”

Axios: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office will blast out a six-page memo to all members of the Democratic caucus Tuesday on how party leadership wants members to frame tomorrow's hearings for former special counsel Robert Mueller. Why it matters: The document, which reads like an election ad, is Democrats' version of the short summary Attorney General Bill Barr released days after Mueller's report was submitted to the Justice Department. A Democratic leadership aide said Pelosi wants members to drive home the message that the chaos consuming President Trump ‘did not begin, nor does it end, with Mueller.’ ‘This is back to the basics,’ the aide added. … The first four pages are a collection of what Pelosi's office sees as the most important and damaging quotes from Mueller's report.”

Dems ready social media storm - Politico: “House Democrats are preparing an all-out messaging blitz over the next three days to refocus Americans' attention on special counsel Robert Mueller's report, hoping to channel the intense focus on Mueller's congressional testimony Wednesday into a public outcry against President Donald Trump, as well as the prospect of future foreign interference in U.S. elections. Democratic leadership aides say their entire caucus will be involved in the effort, blasting out messages on social media beginning Tuesday morning under the hashtag #RetweetTheReport, which they'll use to elevate excerpts from Mueller's findings that present vivid details of the Trump 2016 campaign's contacts with Russia, as well as Trump's efforts to derail Mueller's investigation.”

Justice Department cautions Mueller - Reuters: “The U.S. Justice Department told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Monday he should limit his testimony before Congress this week to discussing his public report on the Russia probe. In a letter to Mueller, Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said his testimony set for Wednesday ‘must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege.’ The letter said ‘these privileges would include discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation not otherwise described in the public version of your report.’ … A spokesman for Mueller, Jim Popkin, said no one at the Justice Department, Congress or the White House would review Mueller’s statement before he delivers it on Wednesday.”

Republicans launch Mueller hearing spin shop - Fox News: “Republicans are preparing an aggressive defense of President Trump surrounding former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony Wednesday, with the president's campaign and the party firing up a war room meant to highlight ‘Democrat hypocrisy’ -- and GOP lawmakers poised to use the hearing to scrutinize the origins of the Russia probe itself. … On the sidelines will be a political operation that rivals the counter-messaging from Republicans during Democratic presidential primary debates. This week, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee are working together on a ‘multi-day bracketing effort’ involving a rapid response team and full social media and digital presence.”

Boris Johnson 
will become Britain’s next prime minister - WaPo

Who is Boris Johnson? - National Review

Gillibrand defends leading the charge to oust Franken - AP

House Dems outraise Republicans by almost $20 million - WaPo

“My testosterone sometimes makes me want to feel like punching [Trump], which would be bad for this elderly, out-of-shape man that he is if I did that… a physically weak specimen.” – Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in an interview on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

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WBNS: “Officials say a raccoon caused nearly 10,000 AEP Ohio customers to lose power Monday evening. The massive outage was reported just after 5 p.m. due to an equipment issue at the Grove City substation. AEP Ohio said a raccoon got into a breaker at the substation. Power was restored around 7 p.m.”

“The problem for conservatives, however, is that while the new national consensus is decidedly, undeniably anti-liberal—the word can hardly be spoken without disdain or embarrassment—it is not yet conservative. There is no new conservative consensus.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Weekly Standard on Sept. 17, 1995. 

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.