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On the roster: Washington well represented in spending deal - Stocks slide as China trade concerns remain - Dem Senate committee outraises GOP - White House Counsel McGahn heading for the exit? - Crash into you
WASHINGTON WELL REPRESENTED IN SPENDING DEAL
You can’t blame the spending bill that just plopped out of your government for our debt and deficit any more than you could blame the last box of Nilla Wafers for the 500-pound man’s waistline.
It sure didn’t help, but at this point what’s another 1,400 calories or another $1.3 trillion?
In announcing that he was signing the measure, President Trump vowed that he would never again sign legislation like it. He seemed to be talking about the additional spending he wanted in the bill, particularly for his signature initiative: a wall along sections of the U.S. southern border.
But if he was talking about a bill that spends money the government does not have, he will sign plenty more just like it.
Even in an era of robust economic growth, Republicans have already managed to add more than $1 trillion to the national debt in just 14 months. Current projections are that they will do so again in less than a year, and given what we are seeing in markets these days, it could come very soon indeed.
The license plates in the District of Columbia take up the cry of our colonial forebears: “Taxation without representation.”
And it is certainly true that the residents of the District of Columbia, some 700,000 souls, do not have voting members in the House and Senate. But it would be hard to say that their interests are not represented. The federal district is a growing, increasingly affluent medium-sized American city arranged around a single industry. But the good thing about this company town is that the company never has a bad year because it can borrow whatever it likes.
When the United States went off the gold standard, the doom-and-gloomers of the day warned that a floating currency would be an invitation to irresponsible conduct on the part of the government. If the Feds could just print their way out of shortfalls or economic problems, ruinous inflation and instability would sure follow.
Our government (mostly) did not do that, but what it did do was find a way to cook the books.
Most of the money the federal government owes -- currently zooming toward the $22 trillion mark -- it owes to you. The Treasury Department takes from the Social Security trust fund and promises to pay back later. They don’t, but do make interest payments. That’s why the fourth largest expenditure of the government is debt service.
This spending bill, like the ones that have come before it and the ones that come after it was predicated on the idea that spending rates must be increased to keep the government and the economy humming along.
Every new high rise condominium complex on Massachusetts Avenue, every new Michelin starred restaurant and every gleaming glass facade on another building full of influence peddlers are monuments to this arrangement.
Should we have more defense spending or more domestic spending? Yup. Should we lower taxes or expand the social safety net? You betcha. Should we engage in nation building abroad or nation building here at home? Like, duh.
This arrangement that suits Washington so well also suits politicians quite nicely. They have avoided hard choices for decades, always arguing that addressing systemic problems would be too disruptive. And down goes another box of Nilla Wafers. Chomp.
So in the interest of Washingtonians, in and out of office are certainly well represented, even if the District doesn’t get a vote on the final spending bills. But there is one group that has neither a voice nor an advocate in this process: future generations.
Our Constitution says that the purpose of our republic is, in part, to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Well, there is plenty of posterior covering, but not a lot of evident care for posterity.
The orgiastic spending of the past five decades, facilitated by the military and economic might of the world’s great super power, has seldom come with any tax increases on the living. But make no mistake, deficit spending is every bit as much taxation as what the folks at the IRS do.
Thomas Jefferson, the first fiscal hawk, argued that the government should never borrow what could be paid back by the current generation. He argued that the earth belongs to the living and that “the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.”
James Madison tried to temper Jefferson’s point of view arguing to his friend that debts incurred for the purpose of securing liberty for future generations should be allowed. Borrowing money to raise money to build an army to repel an invading force but that any debt had to be for a purpose that serves “the unborn, as well as the living.”
You would have to cut the bologna pretty thin to argue that much of what the government does today is in the interest of securing blessings for future generations. Perhaps the better place for a “taxation without representation” license plate is not on the bumper of a BMW idling outside Fiola Mare but instead on a baby carriage.
THE RULEBOOK: THE WORST, EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST
“It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 62
TIME OUT: BROTHERS AND OTHERS
NatGeo: “So how can biological siblings have different [genetic] results? The family mismatch (usually) isn’t due to skeletons in the closet and is instead because of slight variations in egg and sperm DNA. When the body creates sperm or eggs, the cells engage in some reshuffling known as genetic recombination. This process cuts the number of chromosomes that normal cells have in half—from 46 to 23—so that when a sperm and egg combine during fertilization, they form a complete genetic package. … Because of recombination, siblings only share about 50 percent of the same DNA, on average, [Megan Dennis] says. So while biological siblings have the same family tree, their genetic code might be different in at least one of the areas looked at in a given test. That’s true even for fraternal twins. The more diverse your recent ancestors are, Dennis says, the more pronounced the effects of genetic recombination can be.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41 percent
Average disapproval: 54.8 percent
Net Score: -13.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; CBS News: 38% approve - 57% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 39.2 percent
Democratic average: 49 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; George Washington University: 49% Dems - 40% GOP; Monmouth University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP.]
STOCKS SLIDE AS CHINA TRADE CONCERNS REMAIN
Fox Business: “The S&P 500 notched its worst week in more than two years Friday, as stocks continued to retreat while investors weigh the impact of tariffs and higher interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 424.69 points, or 1.77%, to 23,533.20. The S&P 500 fell 55.43 points, or 2.1%, to 2,588.26. The Nasdaq Composite was down 174.01 points, or 2.43%, at 6,992.67. The S&P and Nasdaq recorded their worst weekly performances since January 2016, led by a sell-off in financial and technology stocks. The S&P was down 5.95% this week, while the 30-member Dow lost 5.67% and entered correction territory. President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he plans to impose tariffs on roughly $50 billion in Chinese imports. China has threatened to fight back, saying it will pursue tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. products such as steel, pork and wine."
DEM SENATE COMMITTEE OUTRAISES GOP
National Journal: “The DSCC raised $6.2 million in February, and has $15.2 million cash on hand. The committee lowered its operational debt to less than $1 million. The NRSC raised $4.8 million in the same month, and reported $16.2 million in the bank.”
GOP primary for Mississippi Senate seat getting crowded - Clarion Ledger: “Author and attorney Andy Taggart, a Republican patriarch in Mississippi, said Thursday he is ‘very seriously considering running’ for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Thad Cochran. ‘I believe the outcome of this (Nov. 6) special election is of such crucial importance to our state and to the nation,’ Taggart said in a written statement. Taggart's statement comes a day after Republican Gov. Phil Bryant announced he will appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to Cochran's seat temporarily and support her election to the post in November. It also comes amid Bryant facing some Republican backlash over his choice.”
DCCC continues to add to their Red to Blue list - Roll Call: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is releasing its fourth round of Red to Blue candidates Thursday. The nine latest additions include two African-Americans. The DCCC had been criticized for not including any black candidates on the list so far this cycle. ‘For us, it doesn’t make any sense,’ Quentin James, the co-founder of Collective PAC, which backs black candidates, told BuzzFeed last month about the lack of African-Americans on the Red to Blue list. ‘We are excited our efforts to ensure the DCCC uplifts, highlights and prioritizes black candidates are achieving results,’ James said in a statement Thursday. A majority of the 33 candidates now on Red to Blue are women. To earn their spot in the program, the candidates surpassed goals for fundraising, grass-roots engagement, local support and campaign organization, the DCCC said.”
GOP women’s group announces House and Senate endorsements - The Hill: “A GOP group that backs female candidates who support free-market policies and national security unveiled its second round of endorsements in top Senate and House races. … Winning For Women aims to ‘build an infrastructure that will allow right-of-center women to succeed in their pursuit of leadership opportunities.’ … In the Senate, the organization is backing state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who’s running for the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). … The group is also backing five House candidates… Those include: attorney Tiffany Shedd, who’s running against Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.); Lea Márquez Peterson, CEO of a local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who’s running to succeed Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.); and state Sen. Carla Nelson, who is looking to succeed Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). … Sen. Debbie Lesko who’s running in the special election to replace ex-Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and state Rep. Carol Miller who’s running to succeed Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.).”
Steyer spending big in Michigan - The Detroit News: “Billionaire activist Tom Steyer plans to spend at least $3.5 million in Michigan to engage and register young voters ahead of the 2018 election as part of a larger $30 million campaign to flip statewide and congressional seats for Democrats in 10 states. Steyer’s NextGen America said this week it will target a minimum of 700,000 young Michigan voters through mail and digital outreach. It is hoping to influence congressional contests and the contest to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.”
Courts deal Walker a blow in Wisconsin - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Dealing a setback to Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans, a judge ruled Thursday the governor must call special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature. Walker declined to call those elections after two GOP lawmakers stepped down to join his administration in December. His plan would have left the seats vacant for more than a year. Voters in those areas took him to court with the help of a group headed by Eric Holder, the first attorney general under Democratic President Barack Obama. Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds — whom Walker appointed to the bench in 2014 — determined Walker had a duty under state law to hold special elections so voters could have representation in the Legislature.”
Poll shows Massachusetts Gov. Baker staying strong - WBUR: “Massachusetts voters continue to give high approval ratings to Gov. Charlie Baker, who maintains a commanding lead over this three Democratic challengers, according to a new WBUR poll. The survey of 504 registered voters (topline results, crosstabs) found that two-thirds of them have a favorable view of the governor, while a majority still have not heard of the three Democrats: Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie or Setti Warren. There are still more than seven months to go until election day, so the Democrats still have time to turn things around -- and they are running hard to try to do that. Among them is Warren, a former Newton mayor, who addressed the Democratic caucus in the town of Hull last month.”
WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL MCGAHN HEADING FOR THE EXIT?
Politico: “President Donald Trump’s top White House lawyer, Don McGahn, is expected to step down later this year, though his resignation is contingent on the president finding a replacement and several other factors, according to four sources familiar with McGahn’s thinking. McGahn, according to two of the sources, has signaled interest in returning to the Jones Day law firm where he previously worked and reprising a role he had during the 2016 campaign by handling legal matters for Trump’s reelection. But the exact timing for McGahn to make any move remains in flux. He’s told associates he’d like to leave the White House by the summer, but it could also be put on hold through the 2018 midterms. Concerned about the velocity of turnover inside his White House and beyond … sources said Trump wants to have a new White House counsel in place who he’s comfortable with before clearing McGahn for the exits.”
Eliana Johnson: ‘Why Trump Hasn’t Fired Mattis’ - Politico: “Trump is said to divide the members of his Cabinet into first-tier ‘killers’ and second-tier ‘winners.’ [James Mattis] is indisputably a killer, but he’s also something rarer: a sometime loser — of policy arguments, that is — who manages to disagree with the president without squandering his clout or getting under Trump’s skin. … Yet Mattis has been able to present the president with views he doesn’t like without bearing the brunt of his frustration. … Trump remains as enthused about Mattis, one of his first Cabinet picks, as he was when he tapped him for the job in December 2016, according to several White House aides. … People close to the president sense that on a subset of important issues, he will defer to Mattis, who represents an institution, the military, that the president venerates, and whose status as a combat veteran has earned him Trump’s respect.”
HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE FOLDS UP RUSSIA PROBE
Politico: “House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted Thursday to end their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, declaring that a string of contacts between Donald Trump's associates and Russian government affiliates fell short of collusion and recommending dramatic new steps to crack down on intelligence leaks. In a summary of their findings, committee Republicans cataloged a string of meetings between Trump associates — from Donald Trump Jr.'s run-in with a Russian government official at a 2016 National Rifle Association event to what the report called ‘possible’ attempts by Moscow to set up a back channel with Trump's transition team after the election. The committee dinged Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, for providing an ‘incomplete’ account of his July 2016 trip to Moscow, which drew FBI investigators' interest. And the report said Trump associates had ‘ill-advised’ contacts with WikiLeaks, the online platform that intelligence agencies say aided Russia's attempt to disseminate hacked Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails.”
Goodlatte keeps heat on FBI - WaPo: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to the Justice Department on Thursday night, demanding documents related to the role that information from a controversial dossier played in securing a surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign adviser, the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and the firing of Andrew McCabe as deputy FBI director. In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) complained that the Justice Department has been taking too long to produce the materials, some of which he and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) began asking the department for last October. Gowdy did not join Goodlatte in issuing any of the subpoenas.”
Former Playboy model accusing Trump of an affair apologizes to Melania during interview - The Hill
‘March for Our Lives’ gun control rally to draw thousands across nation - Fox News
House Energy and Commerce Committee will call Zuckerberg to testify - Politico
House Ethics Committee swats two Illinois Dems - Politico
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Chris will sit down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Why don't you include the Rasmussen ratings in your averaging? As of today, Trump’s ratings are: total approval 47 total disapproval 52. It seems you don't want to be fair and balanced when it comes to Trump. Or, of course, I could just be having one of those dang conspiracy theory moments.” – Carlton Clunn, Eureka, Mont.
[Ed. note: A little suspicion is a healthy thing, Mr. Clunn! We don’t care what the polls say, we only care how they are made, and Rasmussen doesn’t make them in a way that meets our standards. I don’t want to bore you with excessive detail, but it comes down to this: the system they use doesn’t allow them to make calls to voters who rely on mobile phones. And as mobile phones increasingly supplant landlines that issue becomes more and more significant.]
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CRASH INTO YOU
[Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “A teenage driver’s attempt to get her license didn’t go so well. In fact, her behind-the-wheel test on Wednesday in Buffalo, Minn., failed at the start as she crashed into the driver’s examination station before she even got on the road. The 17-year-old from Monticello inadvertently put the 2014 Chevy Equinox into drive instead of reverse as the test began about 2 p.m., bringing the test to a halt. When she stepped on the accelerator, the vehicle lurched forward, jumped the curb and plowed through the front of the station in a strip mall on 1st Avenue S., said Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke. She was not hurt, but her vehicle suffered significant damage, the chief said. The examiner, a 60-year-old woman from Buffalo, was taken to a local hospital with noncritical injuries. No one inside the office was hurt, Budke said. No charges will be filed, Budke said.”
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.