Washington’s debt farce

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On the roster: Washington’s debt farce - Poll finds Bernie blooming - Major support for Trump challenge in Iowa GOP - Pelosi pooh poohs impeachment: ‘He’s just not worth it’ - ‘Go big or go home’

It’s a remarkable time for America.

If our economy keeps growing, we will break the record this summer for the longest period of growth in our history, 10 unbroken years of economic expansion.

We are at full employment, with essentially every American who wants a job able to find one. And workers are earning more. February saw the fastest wage growth in a decade, with private sector workers earning an average of $27.66 an hour. Poverty rates haven’t been this low since the late 1990s.

We are safer in our homes and lives than we’ve been in ages. Crime rates have plummeted in the past 25 years. Violent crime is down by almost half since 1993. Property crime rates have fallen by even more.

We are safe as nation, too. There are certainly long-term and strategic threats to the Pax Americana, but this is a remarkably peaceful moment in our recent history by any measure. Combat deaths, overall deployments and terror attacks are all at post-9/11 lows. 

So answer us this: If the federal government can’t get its fiscal house in order under such sublime circumstances, when do you suppose that it ever would?

We’ve got peace and prosperity enough to be the envy not just the whole world but of our own ancestors, and yet somehow our government continues to live dramatically beyond its means, borrowing about a quarter of the money it spends.

The White House today released a spending plan for the next decade that calls for adding another $10.5 trillion to our $22 trillion federal debt. And the administration’s debt forecast is wildly optimistic, assuming as it does not just another decade of uninterrupted growth but growth at booming levels.

It’s quite a lot of chutzpah for this White House to even talk about balanced budgets, but it gets into out-and-out farce to have government economists talking about doing so in the year 2034.

We just need another 14 years of peace and a booming economy and then we’ll quit spending more than we have. Oh yeah, and we’ll totally find the political will to cut entitlements and domestic spending along the way. Just not now.

Cool, cool.

This administration should be credited at least for following the law that requires presidents to submit budgets, something the Obama administration abandoned rather than having to produce politically damaging laughers like this one.

Of course it's Congress that’s actually tasked with minding the books and setting spending priorities, and there you’ll find an equally unserious attitude about fiscal matters. As their party veers toward confiscatory tax policy to finance astonishingly large new spending programs, now is hardly the time that mainstream Democrats want to get caught talking about restraint.  

House Democrats today denounced the Trump budget blueprint for being too miserly while Senate Republicans mostly just ignored the matter. They know, as we all do now, that there will be no serious effort to address spending. 

Congress will just wait until the end of September when the current spending legislation and borrowing authority will expire. Another shutdown. Another bloated deficit. Another year of budgetary drift.

Every serious person in politics and government knows what the consequences will be and that there will be a moment when the interest payments on our swollen debt mean disaster, likely in the form of massive tax increases and, eventually, default. But they will mortgage the futures of the next three generations anyway because there’s no political gain in being a good steward.  
When we are judged for our failings in this era of political disruption and realignment, high on the list will be the fact that while we were obsessing over the manufactured outrages of the moment we wasted a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put our finances in order.

The next era of real crisis and recession – and it will surely come – will make for a hard lesson about the foolishness of our current political class. 

“The public debt of the Union would be a further cause of collision between the separate States or confederacies.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 7

Smithsonian: “The spot where Julius Caesar was murdered by members of the Roman Senate is one of the most infamous sites in world history. As a tourist spot, however, it’s infamous in a different way: The ruins in the Largo di Torre Argentina, where dozens of stray cats now call home, are currently crumbling and fenced off from the public. But that's set to change. Julia Buckley at Conde Nast Traveler reports the area will soon undergo renovations before opening to the public in 2021. Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, announced that the restoration is being funded by the fashion house Bulgari, which will drop about $1.1 million on the project, funding earmarked to go toward cleaning up and securing the ruins, building walkways through the site and installing public restrooms, TheLocal.it reports. Though the spot of Caesar’s murder was immortalized by ancient historians and, later, William Shakespeare, it was actually covered over by the expanding city of Rome and lost to history until the 1920s.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -10.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.6 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 55% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% unapproved; IBD: 41% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 46% approve - 52% disapprove.]

Monmouth University: “Among a possible field of 23 announced and potential contenders, former Vice President Joe Biden currently has the support of 28% of Democratic voters (similar to his 29% support in January), closely followed by Vermont’s [Bernie] Sanders at 25% (up from 16% in January). Other candidate support remains largely unchanged from January, including California Sen. Kamala Harris (10%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (8%), former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke (6%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (5%), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (3%).”

Big gains in Iowa, too - Des Moines Register: “According to a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers, 27 percent say [former Vice President Joe Biden] is their first choice for president. That’s down slightly from the 32 percent who said the same in December, but it tops the 19 other declared and potential candidates tested. Biden has a 2-percentage-point advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. … According to the poll, 25 percent now say Sanders is their first choice for president — up 6 percentage points since December. Right now, the contest in Iowa could be characterized as a two-person race. The next-closest challenger, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, trails Sanders by 16 percentage points.  Support has ticked up slightly for Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris is in fourth place. Warren is now at 9 percent, up from 8 percent, and Harris is at 7 percent, up from 5 percent.”

Taps into voters outrage - WaPo: “Sanders bested Clinton by 22 points in the Granite State three years ago. Eleven months is an eternity in politics, especially during the fast-paced Trump era. A lot can — and will — change between now and next February. The 77-year-old benefits from high name recognition, but he cannot count on supporters staying loyal as fresher faces file through town. Bernie’s inroads with folks who didn’t support him in 2016, however, suggest that he has a genuine opportunity to broaden his appeal and credibly compete for the nomination despite persisting resistance from the party establishment. … Something working to Sanders’s advantage right now is how many liberal activists — emboldened by the party’s success in the midterms and the president’s low approval rating — believe that basically any of their candidates could beat Trump next year.”

Stacey Abrams gives muddled answer on 2020 run - Politico: “Democrat Stacey Abrams … referred to a quote from her book where she said she keeps a spreadsheet to document her goals. ‘In the spreadsheet with all the jobs I wanted to do, 2028 would be the earliest I would be ready to stand for president because I would have done the work I thought necessary to be effective in that job,’ Abrams said. After the interview, Abrams insisted in a tweet that the comment did not mean she has ruled out running for president next year. ‘In #LeadFromTheOutside, I explore how to be intentional about plans, but flexible enough to adapt. 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be ready to run for POTUS before 2028. But life comes at you fast,’ Abrams tweeted. ‘2020 is definitely on the table...’”

Dems: Hello, Wisconsin - AP: “Democrats selected Milwaukee to host their 2020 national convention Monday, setting up the party’s 2020 standard-bearer to accept the presidential nomination in the heart of the old industrial belt that delivered Donald Trump to the White House. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez chose Milwaukee over Houston and Miami after deliberations lingered longer than party leaders or officials from the three finalist cities had expected. The convention is scheduled for July 13-16, 2020. It will be the first time in over a century that Democrats will be in a Midwest city other than Chicago to nominate their presidential candidate. Instead, the political spotlight will shine for a week on a metro area of about 1.6 million people. Once dubbed as ‘The Machine Shop of the World,’ the famously working-class city also is known for its long love affair with beer and as the birthplace of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.”

Gillibrand in hot water over handling of office harassment claim - Politico: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of the most outspoken advocates of the #MeToo movement who has made fighting sexual misconduct a centerpiece of her presidential campaign… [During the summer], a mid-20s female aide to Gillibrand resigned in protest over the handling of her sexual harassment complaint by Gillibrand‘s office, and criticized the senator for failing to abide by her own public standards. … Less than three weeks after reporting the alleged harassment and subsequently claiming that the man retaliated against her for doing so, the woman told chief of staff Jess Fassler that she was resigning because of the office’s handling of the matter. … ‘I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.’ Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation,’ the woman wrote.”

Castro: Bernie likes big checks for everything but reparations - Politico: “Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro is skeptical about how fellow candidate Bernie Sanders has responded to proposed reparations for descendants of slaves. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and San Antonio mayor has joined several of his fellow 2020 Democratic contenders in calling for reparations for the descendants of slaves — whether in the form of tax credits, subsidized education costs or something else entirely. … ‘And so, if the issue is compensating the descendants of slaves, I don’t think the argument about writing a big check ought to be the argument that you make, if you’re making an argument that a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff,’ Castro said. ‘So, if, under the Constitution, we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn't you compensate people who actually were property?’”

Republicans try to bushwhack Beto in Iowa - Politico: “A prominent conservative group is thrusting itself into the Democratic primary with a TV ad assailing Beto O’Rourke — a move that comes as Republicans consider a broader campaign to meddle in the opposing party's contest to take on President Donald Trump. The anti-tax Club for Growth is expected to begin airing a two-minute commercial in Iowa this week aimed at dampening liberal support for O’Rourke, who's expected to enter the race any day. The spot paints the former Texas congressman as a politician dripping with ‘white male privilege’ who's undeserving of the comparisons he's drawing to Barack Obama. … The offensive represents the GOP’s first concerted effort to wreak havoc in the Democratic race, and it arrives as senior Republicans have begun deliberating how the party should seek to influence the Democratic primary.”

Des Moines Register: “Most registered Republicans think President Donald Trump is doing a good job, but they are split over whether another GOP candidate should challenge him for their party’s nomination in 2020, a new Iowa Poll shows. The Iowa Poll, sponsored by the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, also finds 90 percent of registered Republicans want Trump to run a positive re-election campaign, focusing on the good things he’s done for the country. … Eighty-one percent approve of the job he is doing as president. That’s the same level of approval as in a December 2018 Iowa Poll. Just 12 percent of Iowa Republicans disapprove of the job he’s doing, and 7 percent are unsure. … The new Iowa Poll shows registered Republicans in the state are split on hoping for a challenger: 40 percent hope there will be one, and 41 percent hope there won't. Nineteen percent are unsure.”

Trump’s campaign aims to be a behemoth - WaPo: “President Trump and his advisers are launching a behemoth 2020 campaign operation combining his raw populist message from 2016 with a massive data-gathering and get-out-the-vote push aimed at dwarfing any previous presidential reelection effort… The president’s strategy, however, relies on a risky and relatively narrow path for victory, hinged on demonizing Trump’s eventual opponent and juicing turnout among his most avid supporters in Florida, Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest — the same areas that won him the White House but where his popularity has waned since he was elected. Some advisers are particularly concerned about the president’s persistent unpopularity among female and suburban voters, and fear it will be difficult to replicate the outcome of 2016 without former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a foil.”

Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., revealed she's opposed to the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the absence of evidence that is ‘compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.’ ‘I’m not for impeachment,’ Pelosi told The Washington Post in an interview published Monday. ‘Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.’ The speaker's remarks ran counter to sentiments expressed by some freshman members of her caucus, most notably Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who vowed to Democratic activists that she would help ‘impeach the motherf---er’ hours after she was sworn in this past January.”

House Dems push for Mueller report - Roll Call: “House Democrats intend to send a message this week that the full report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should be sent to Capitol Hill and released. So for the second week in a row, a nonbinding resolution will be among the headliners on the House floor. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Monday evening on the concurrent resolution introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, with the backing of other Democratic chairmen. The Nadler resolution ‘calls for the public release of any report special counsel Mueller provides to the attorney general, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.’ Unlike former Attorney General Jeff SessionsWilliam P. Barr, his replacement, is not recused from the Mueller probe… The resolution would also express the sense of Congress that the entire report should be transmitted to members of Congress.”

Dem 2020 hopefuls sweat the Mueller moment - New York Magazine: “By now you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Robert Mueller almost never comes up on the 2020 campaign trail. … Many of the campaign teams have, at some point in recent months, sat down to discuss what exactly they should do or say when the report drops, but each has also run up against a seemingly insurmountable problem: There’s very little telling what’s in it, and no lean and overstretched campaign staff is realistically going to be able to draw up useful road maps for so many different scenarios. … The result is a partial paralysis for some campaigns: More than one candidate’s advisers said they’re holding off on scheduling major speeches, newsmaking announcements, or TV town halls until after the initial Mueller dust has eventually settled, concerned that their news will be completely overwhelmed if they inadvertently schedule something for the day the report is eventually filed, or revealed.”

“At a recent round table meeting of business executives, & long after formally introducing Tim Cook of Apple, I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words.” – President Trump said in a tweet Monday morning. Tim Cook found humor in the situation, changing his Twitter name to Tim Apple, with the Apple logo. 

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UPI: “A New Jersey man is fielding a flood of calls and text messages after his sons took out a billboard asking people to send him birthday greetings. Chris Ferry said he woke early one morning at his Linwood home to phone calls from birthday well-wishers who told him they had seen a billboard bearing his photo and phone number, with a message asking viewers to wish him a happy birthday. Ferry, who turns 62 March 16, said he knew his sons were behind the prank even before he knew they had signed the billboard. … He said some people just want to give him a quick birthday greeting, but others engage him in conversation. … Ferry's son, Christopher Ferry Jr., said he and his brother, who both live in Florida, wanted to make their dad's birthday special. ‘We wanted it to be a birthday for him to remember,’ he said. ‘Yeah, there was a little piece of me that was scared at first, putting his phone number out there, but we thought to ourselves ‘go big or go home.’’”

“…I offer the Krauthammer Conjecture: In sports, the pleasure of winning is less than the pain of losing. By any Benthamite pleasure/pain calculation, the sum is less than zero. A net negative of suffering. Which makes you wonder why anybody plays at all.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 29, 2017.

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.