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 Senator Corker Should Vote Against The GOP Tax Bill

The Republican Party tax bill threatens to destroy Senator Corker’s legacy, and flip the Senate to the Democrats.

Until recently, Senator Corker had garnered (rare) widespread bipartisan praise for standing up to Trump and bucking his own party leadership by originally voting against the Senate version of the GOP tax bill because it will explode the U.S. national debt by over an additional $1 trillion, contrary to every principle that Senator Corker (and every conservative in the pre-Trump era) holds dear.

Principle over Party.

Senator Corker was still a “noas of last week, maintaining his principle that he would not vote in favour of a tax bill that would add a single penny to the deficit.

Well, until recently.

Seemingly miraculously, Senator Corker switched his vote to a “yesafter a provision was added to the bill that would personally enrich Senator Corker (and Trump), despite the fact that the bill will still add over 100 trillion “pennies” to the U.S. national debt.

In fact, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn specifically stated that the aforementioned provision was added to the GOP Tax Bill to “cobble together [the] votes” necessary to pass the measure – remember, the only Republican Senator who had voted “no” was Senator Corker.

That looks bad.  Really, really bad.

In fact, #CorkerKickback has been trending on social media as citizen outrage continues to grow over such a seemingly blatant demonstration of corruption as Senator Corker’s flip-flop on the GOP Tax Bill.  So much so, that Senator Corker has had to defend himself by claiming he switched his intention to “yes” before actually having read the full text of the GOP Tax Bill.

That’s an odd defence – essentially, Senator Corker feels his only recourse his to admit to negligence (that he failed to do his job as an elected official).

Needless to say, most citizens will find Senator Corker’s explanation wanting, leaving him as the ‘poster-boy’ image of modern-day political corruption.

Unless he votes “no“.

This is why Senator Corker should immediately declare that after having had an opportunity to review the full text of the GOP Tax Bill, he will vote against it:

  1. Senator Corker may be retiring, but even retired politicians care about their legacy.  Perhaps even more so than active politicians.  After all, Senator Corker’s legacy is all he will leave with when he does retire.  Up until this weekend, his legacy would have been that he had put his principles and his country above his party.  Not a bad legacy to have, in this polarizing age of partisanship.  As of today, his legacy will be of the ‘poster-boy’ of modern-day political corruption.  Even a retiring politician would never choose the latter.
  2. He may be retiring, but he’s not dead.  Not only do many politicians ‘unretire’ (a door that Senator Corker would forever foreclose if he retires after voting for the GOP Tax Bill that enriches himself personally), but as with most individuals of Senator Corker’s passions and ambitions, he is expected to continue to be active, whether in business or in the community, or both.  Again, leaving with a legacy of such blatant corruption would undo any post-retirement plans he may have otherwise had for continuing to be engaged.  Simply put, he’ll be toxic for the remainder of his life.
  3. A clear plurality of Tennessean voters are opposed to the GOP Tax Bill.  By voting against the measure, Senator Corker can loudly and publicly claim that he voted in line with the wishes of his constituents’ wishes, once again reclaiming the moral high ground (and, incidentally, setting himself up as one of the leading post-Trump voices in the conservative movement).
  4. Senator Corker’s vote in favour of the GOP Tax Bill would inevitably embolden the Democratic base in Tennessee, further endangering an open Senate seat that the Democrats are already eyeing to flip the Senate in 2018.  Popular two-term former governor Phil Bredesen has already announced his candidacy for Senator Corker’s upcoming open seat – if Senator Corker saddles the Republican candidate for the open Tennesee Senate seat in 2018 with his vote in favour of the unpopular GOP Tax Bill, Senator Corker’s ultimate legacy may end up being flipping the Senate to the Democrats in 2018.
  5. But, most importantly, the Republican Party doesn’t need Senator Corker’s vote!  With Senator McCain home in Arizona, the Republican Party still has an extra Senate vote it can afford to lose – even if Senator Corker votes “no“, the measure will pass 50-49.  (In fact, up to 3 GOP Senators could simply abstain and the measure would still pass 48(+1)-48 with a Vice President Pence tie-breaking vote, the very reason he skipped out on his Mideast visit to stay in Washington.)

For these reasons, Senator Corker should vote against the GOP Tax Bill.

 

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!

Why Trump Should Not Endorse Moore

Now that Trump is on his way back to the United States and will be under intense scrutiny to weigh in on the Alabama Senate special election (to replace Jeff Sessions, current Attorney General of the United States), he should not endorse Roy Moore.

On his way back from an Asian junket, Trump has already deflected questions about embattled Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore.  These questions will only continue to increase in both intensity and volume, journalists confidant that Trump will almost certainly be unable to ‘stick to the script’ and restrain himself from expressing his opinion.

Speaking of the ‘script’, the White House has already released a statement that Trump believes Moore will “do the right thing and step aside” if the allegations are true.

That’s a very, very big caveat, leaving Trump plenty of room to find a way to endorse Moore if he continues to deny the allegations.  Almost certainly, Trump’s instincts are to endorse Moore, the candidate he regrets not endorsing in the Republican primary.

But, there is almost no upside to Trump endorsing Moore, whereas the downside risks to him, the Republicans Party, Trump’s agenda and Trump’s own power are formidable.

First, by endorsing Moore, Trump will solidify the perception that he is a misogynist.  Remember, Trump lost the female vote 54% to 42% in the 2016 Presidential election.  That gender gap has only widened since: 59% of 2016 female voters now view Trump as biased against women.  Trump’s surprise 2016 victory relied primarily upon white college educated women who backed the Republican candidate (by 6 points) despite his own history of allegations of rape, attempted rape, sexual battery, sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. In Virginia’s recent Gubernatorial special election, the Republican Trump-esque candidate lost the white college educated female vote by 16 points.  It is all but inconceivable that Trump could repeat anything close to his stunning 2016 upset if he continues to bleed support among white college educated women, which he undoubtedly will if he openly backs Moore.

Second, and in a related vein, Trump will no doubt remind voters of his own sordid history of allegations of rape, attempted rape, serial sexual battery, sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, a reminder that will continue throughout Trump’s presidency (so long as Moore remains in the Senate), and into the 2020 presidential election if Trump decides to run again.  If Trump were to openly embrace Moore now, it would be a daily reminder of his own (similar) past, a constant association that will shadow Trump throughout the remainder of his presidency.

Third, by endorsing Moore, Trump will crown the ascendancy of Steve Bannon as the true power behind the throne, neutering himself in the process.  Bannon has openly declared war upon Trump’s Republican Party, declared the Trump presidency over (after being ousted from the White House by Trump’s Chief-of-Staff John Kelly), and predicted Trump has only a 30% chance of surviving his first term as president.  If Trump meekly follows Bannon and Moore does win, it will be Bannon who will get all the partisan credit (because he is a partisan) empowering Bannon’s agenda, while Trump will assume all the scorn for his association with such an unsavoury candidate (because, despite what Trump thinks, at  least as demonstrated by his behaviour thus far, he is not properly a partisan, but actually president of all Americans).

Fourth, there is little reason to believe that Trump’s endorsement is even necessary.  A Democratic Senate candidate hasn’t won in Alabama in 27 years!  Alabama is won of the deepest red states in the Union.  Trump won Alabama in 2016 by almost 26 points90% of Trump supporters indicated they were not affected by the infamous Access Hollywood tape that showed Trump openly admit to, and brag about, having committed serial sexual battery.  Another poll found that 11% of Republican voters had a more favourable view of Trump after viewing the Access Hollywood tape that showed Trump openly admit to, and brag about, having committed serial sexual battery.  In fact, a Alabamian Republican female representative (Martha Roby) lost support in Alabama (losing 18% points and dropping below 50%) after she retracted her endorsement of Trump after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape that showed Trump openly admit to, and brag about, having committed serial sexual battery.

Fifth, the Republicans can actually afford to lose the Alabama Senate seat because the Republicans hold a 2 seat majority in the Senate with Vice President Mike Pence serving as Trump’s loyal tie-breaker.  Even if the Republicans do lose the seat, losing it because they took a moral stance will do them better come the 2018 midterm elections; whereas keeping it by embracing a man accused of such immorality tarnishes the Republican brand even further going into 2018.  By keeping the damage to a single senate seat in 2017, the Republicans will remain on offense in 2018; but, filling the seat in 2017 with Moore will put almost all open Republican seats on the defensive in the 2018 midterms, threatening the Republican majority.

Sixth, if Trump’s presidency wasn’t already enough of a catalyst, his endorsement of Moore, and the Republican Party’s inevitable bowing to his will and seating Moore in the Senate, would skyrocket the passions of the Democratic base – all but ensuring a ‘blue wave‘ in 2018 that could flip both the House and the Senate giving a majority to the Democrats and, if the wave extends to the state level (as it almost always does), it will break just in time for the 2020 census that will allow for redistricting in the Democrats’ favour.

Seventh, a Trump endorsement of such a controversial figure as Moore could continue to fracture the Republican party, at a time that divisions within Trump’s party has already cost him a shocking defeat in his most important legislative goal: the repeal of his hated predecessors eponymous Obamacare.  Trump has already suffered unprecedented attacks from within his own party – if Trump backs Moore and Moore manages to lose in deep red Alabama, what little restraint remains in the Republican ranks could quickly disappear and it would be open-season for Republican attacks against the President.

Eighth, if a Trump backed Moore candidacy loses even in Alabama (a bastion of Trump country), Trump’s base may well start imploding – least of all from the perception that Trump’s base is abandoning him, which will only go on to accelerate such abandonment in a cycle of self-fulfilling political prophecy.

Ninth, and perhaps most importantly, if Moore does go on to lose even after a Trump endorsement, coming on the heels of the shocking defeat of a Trump-esque gubernatorial candidate in (what may be newly minted ‘blue’) Virginia, the Trump brand could be fatally tarnished heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

Finally, there is always the possibility that some more damaging allegations/information emerges between now and the special election which will vicariously taint all of Moore’s prominent supporters, Trump among them if he decides to publicly back Moore.

The bottom line is that though a Trump endorsement does little, if anything, to help him, his presidency, or the Republican Party (even a Moore victory merely preserves the status quo), Trump’s endorsement of Moore threatens to harm him, his presidency and the Republican Party heading into the 2018 midterms regardless of whether Moore wins.

Trump’s support is at historic record lows.  He simply has no room for error.  In the midst of the emerging #MeToo movement, the downside risks to Trump far, far outweigh the negligible (if non-existent) benefit he may gain from backing Moore now.

That’s why Trump should not endorse Moore.