Why Senator Collins Should Vote Against the GOP Tax Plan

In exchange for her surprising expected vote in favour of the Republican Party tax bill, Senator Collins received commitments from both the Trump Administration and Senate leaders to back two separate bills to fund Obamacare.

Collins has nothing to gain from such a deal and everything to lose.  She should vote against the GOP measure, for the following reasons:

  1. The so-called “commitment” received from the Senate leadership is worthless.  Even if the Senate leadership is faithful to the commitment, it only means that the leadership will try to have its members pass the bills Collins wants passed – there is no guarantee.  Collins need look no further than her own refusal to back the Senate leadership’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, killing the bill despite Senate leadership’s efforts to the contrary.
  2. The so-called “commitment” received from the Trump Administration is less than worthless.  Trump is notoriously mercurial, often changing his mind on a whim, and almost certainly suffering from impulse control.  Of even more concern, Trump has made a lifetime of sacrificing his friends, betraying “commitments” he made to many.  He even threw his allies in the House under the bus after they voted in favour of his favourite pet project: destroying Obamacare! (More on that, later.)  Why would Senator Collins put any stock into a “commitment” from Trump?
  3. Speaking of, hasn’t Senator Collins been paying attention?  Nothing animates Trump more than his hatred for Barack Obama, and nothing is more important to Trump in erasing his predecessor’s legacy than the dismantling of Obamacare.  So, does Senator Collins realistically think that Trump will actually honour his “commitment” to help shore up Obamacare, the very thing he has dedicated his first year in office trying to destroy?
  4. Even if the commitments Senator Collins has received from the Senate leadership and the Trump administration are genuine, and even if both really do try to help Senator Collins shore up Obamacare (despite efforts by both the Senate leadership and Trump administration throughout the year to do the exact opposite), both pieces of legislation championed by Senator Collins would have to pass the Republican Party controlled House – and, that is never going to happen because the House skews far more to the right than the Senate and the Freedom Caucus (the one group that may hate Obama and Obamacare just as much as Trump and Senator majority leader McConnell) would never allow either bill to pass the House.
  5. Let’s also not forget the fact that politics is a dirty sport.  Senator Collins national profile rose considerably during the Obamacare repeal effort when she resisted her own party and voted in line with her constituents wishes.  There are plenty of politicians in Washington that will want to cut Senator Collins back down to size, and this would be the perfect opportunity: manipulate Senator Collins to vote against her constituents’ wishes, in line with the Party, and then leave her all alone in the cold by not passing the two bills she bartered away her votes for in the first place.
  6. Let’s be clear.  The majority of Americans oppose the GOP tax bill.  Only 22% of the people of Maine support the the GOP tax bill (less than the national figure, interestingly).  In a perfect world, Senator Collins would feel obliged to vote in line with the majority of her constituents.  But, even in an imperfect world, Senator Collins will end up expending significant political capital merely to vote against the wishes of her own constituents without anything of significance (see above) in return.
  7. Most importantly, though, is that the Republican Party doesn’t need her vote!  With Senator McCain convalescing in Arizona, the Republican Party still has 51 senators versus 48 senators – even if Senator Collins voted against the measure it would still pass 50-49, and Senator Collins would preserve her political clout.  Although his office has promised he would return for the tax vote, even if Senator Thad Cochran were to miss the vote for some reason, Senator Collins could still vote against the measure to preserve her political clout while ensuring its ultimate passage because Vice President Pence has skipped his planned Mideast trip to stay in Washington for the GOP tax vote allowing him to cast the deciding tie-breaking vote in favour of the bill: 50(+1)-50.

In the final analysis, Senator Collins gets absolutely nothing for voting in favour of the GOP tax plan that will pass without her support anyways.

In fact, she will get less than nothing – the damage to her political clout (dropping her from ‘atop the pack’ to ‘just another politician’) will be staggering in the current political climate.

But, if Senator Collins votes against the measure, she will maintain her political clout (if not increase it to emerge as an influential “swing vote“,  entrenching her as an independent centre of power within Washington) while still letting the bill pass into law.

For these reasons, Senator Collins should vote against the GOP tax plan.

Why The Democrats Must Go On The Offensive On The Mueller Investigation Immediately!

Thus far, perhaps in order to avoid the perception that the Mueller investigation has become politicized, the Democratic Party has generally refrained from getting involved, preferring instead to allow the investigation to continue without (perceived) political ‘interference’.

However, not only are those days now over, but Democratic reticence has already allowed the Republicans to monopolize the political narrative and threatens to allow Trump to end the Special Counsel’s investigation before it snares a member of the Trump family.

In apparent coordination with the White House, the Republican Party has already begun interfering directly with the Mueller investigation by trying to shut it down, or at least force its staff out over claims of conflict of interest.

Trump’s surrogates outside of Washington have also joined in on the offensive against the Mueller, led by Trump’s propaganda arm at Fox News calling for the Mueller team to be jailed – an ironic update on the lock her up” chant made famous by General Flynn, the most infamous criminal convicted by the Mueller team thus far.

Having set the stage, it appears Trump is preparing to terminate the Special Counsel’s investigation by the end of the week.

In this context, then, the Democrats have no option but to enter the field and go on an immediate offensive on behalf of Mueller:

  1. The Democrats must immediately shift the narrative by alleging Trump’s acknowledgement of incriminating emails now the in possession of the Mueller team – the very emails that Trump’s lawyers are now (wrongly) complaining Mueller obtained improperly.  If the emails are not incriminating, then why is Trump so bothered?  If they are incriminating (and, this is what the Democrats must convince the American people of), then Trump’s termination of the Mueller investigation would be the most egregious act of obstruction of justice in the history of the United States of America (even worse than Watergate).  The Democrats must start their media blitz on the Sunday morning talk shows.
  2. The Democrats ought to release a unanimous position statement that terminating the Mueller investigation would be an impeachable offense.  Preferably, the Democrats would (at least try to) obtain some Republican co-signatories.  But, even if no Republican signs on to the position statement, it would change the narrative and force the Republicans on the defence to explain exactly why Trump terminating the Mueller investigation into Trump would not be an impeachable offense (particularly those Republicans that have already suggested the same).
  3. The Democrats must counter Trump’s (and the Republican Party’s and Trump’s allies’) non-stop repetitions alleging that the Mueller investigation has failed to uncover any collusion by continuously and unitedly repeating the mantra ad nauseum that the Mueller investigation has succeeded in convicting members of the Trump campaign and White House for lying about their contacts with the Russians – otherwise known colloquially as “collusion“.

By going on the offensive now, the Democrats can neutralize the Republican interference in the Mueller investigation, immediately shift the narrative towards impeachment, and put the White House on the defensive by forcing Trump to disavow any plans to terminate the Mueller investigation (thereby costing Trump any remaining political capital he may have left if he does backtrack on his forced assurance of impartial neutrality).

Additionally, if the Democrats are successful in shifting the narrative and Trump does attempt to terminate the Mueller investigation, the Democrats can enter the 2018 midterms with an opportunity to play offense in every single electoral seat by forcing Republicans to try and defend Trump’s obvious obstruction of justice.

This would allow the Democrats to nationalize every open seat in the 2018 midterms running against the most unpopular first-year president in history – an unpopularity that will almost assuredly spike if/when Trump attempts to terminate the Mueller investigation.

That’s why the Democrats must go on the offensive on the Mueller investigation immediately!