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Salena Zito’s column asks a brilliant question. First, she made the observation that “Few focused on who wasn’t there and why they weren’t. Once again, the pundits were missing the little nuances of how much American politics really has changed, and what that may mean for future results. Once again, the pundits were missing the little nuances of how much American politics really has changed, and what that may mean for future results. Importantly, three people in states that went heavily for Trump in 2016, Indiana’s Sen. Joe Donnelly, West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, and Missouri’s Sen. Claire McCaskill, were all absent. Two less vulnerable incumbent Democrats Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey were also not there.”

Then she made a statement that said “They have made the bet to pick their donors in California and New York over their voters back home.” Democrats don’t have a message but they’re well-financed. Republicans stumbled early but they’ve put together a solid list of accomplishments. Meanwhile, the RNC has been kicking the DNC’s behind in fundraising ever since Ronna McDaniel took over.

None of these so-called ‘moderate’ Democrats voted for the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Then they weren’t anywhere to be found to negotiate a DACA fix. That begs this question: what identifies them as moderates?

If anyone of those senators get caught near Trump, all of those donors would ditch them in a minute. They’re basically asking McCaskill and Manchin and Donnelly to do an act of levitation. Win without doing the things your voters would like you to do.

The question is will the voters hold them accountable? They’re gambling they won’t be held accountable. They’re gambling that Trump is so polarizing that there are no Trump voters available to them on a positive scale. They’re thinking they’re going to have to obliterate their opponent, tear their opponent to shreds.

Yet think about the margins here. Trump won Indiana and Missouri by more than 18 points. He won North Dakota and West Virginia by 30-some points. He won Ohio by 9 points. It’s not like you only need a few Trump voters to stay home, they would need a lot of them, like a third of them, to stay home. And that is just not going to happen.

A quick look around the room speaks volumes:

Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly, McCaskill and Brown better hope that voters didn’t notice that they didn’t support any part of President Trump’s agenda. If they notice, that fivesome is history.

Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s statement about the tax cuts in Michigan is the perfect example of that risk. When tax reform passed late last year, Stabenow issued a statement that read:

“I’ve said from the beginning that we need tax reform that makes the tax system simpler, puts more money in your pocket, closes tax loopholes that send jobs overseas and supports small businesses and farms across Michigan. Unfortunately that isn’t at all what this republican bill does.”

Ten days later, Fiat Chrysler announced that they would invest more than $1 billion to modernize the company’s Warren Truck Plant in Detroit, adding 2,500 jobs and moving production of its Ram trucks from Mexico. They also announced they would be giving $2,000 bonuses to their hourly U.S. workers. The company credited the moves to the new tax law.

The Democrats have been on the wrong side of the tax cuts from the start. As these bonuses, pay raises and other positive announcements get factored in, how will Democrats defend their unanimous vote against the Trump/GOP tax cuts?

The pundits talk about how the President’s party usually does poorly in a new president’s first term. I certainly cant dispute that that’s the history. What’s disputable, though, is that that pattern will apply this time. I see information that indicates it might not.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office put out a less-than-comprehensive list of companies that are either paying their employees bonuses, increasing their hourly wages or adding to their employees’ 401(k)s. The question I have is simple. How long will this list get?

For instance, the report says that “American Airlines Group Inc … and peer Southwest Airlines Co” will “give their employees a $1,000 bonus in light of the recent tax reform bill.” Later, the report states that “Aflac makes the following commitment to our U.S. workforce: 1. Increase the company’s 401(k) match, from 50% to 100% on the first 4% of employee contribution, while making a one-time contribution of $500 to every employee’s 401(k) plan and 2. Offer certain hospital and accident insurance products to all employees free of charge, as the company currently does with its core cancer insurance product.” (Aflac, Press Release, 12/28/2017)

I’m just getting started. The list isn’t comprehensive but it’s quite extensive. Another company getting in on the action is IAT. “IAT Insurance Group ownership and management announced today the company will pay a $3,000 bonus to all non-executive employees on January 15, 2018. The additional bonus comes in response to the newly passed tax reform bill – the tax savings will be shared with approximately 700 employees.” (“IAT Insurance Group Announces $3,000 Tax Reform Bonus for Employees,” Fox8, 12/22/2017)

It’s frightening to think that this tax relief was brought to these workers all across the nation by the Republican Party. It didn’t come from Republicans and Democrats because every Democrat in the House and Senate voted against the Republicans’ tax cuts. That means ‘bipartisan’ Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly voted against the tax bill that’s bringing relief to hundreds of thousands of non-executive employees.

Then there’s this:

FIFTH THIRD BANK: “Fifth Third Bancorp will pay more than 13,500 employees a bonus and raise the minimum wage for its workforce to $15 after the passage of the Republican tax plan that will cut the bank’s corporate tax rate.” (“Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bancorp Unveil Minimum Wage Hikes After Tax Bill Passage,” CNBC, 12/20/2017)

Whichever way you cut this, it’s great news for employees. Each day, the list of people who are directly benefitting from the corporate tax cuts gets longer. Promises to invest in the companies’ personnel keeps growing, too. At some point, it’s going to become obvious that Sen. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi either don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re just liars.

Let’s pound this point home. Democrats put a higher priority on fighting President Trump than they put on helping taxpayers. The evidence keeps mounting proving that. It’s time for Democrats to just admit that they screwed up in voting unanimously against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They accomplished part of their mission in that they achieved solidarity within their ranks. Unfortunately for the American people, that’s failing because the Democrats’ purpose is to help the American people. On that, they failed miserably.

America, the choice is simple. Do you want people running the House and Senate who don’t do what’s right for the people? If that’s what you want, vote for Democrats. If you’d prefer electing politicians who listen to the people and who do the right thing, the only right thing to do is voting for Republicans. Yes, they stumble and fail at times. They aren’t perfect. Still, they’re the people who listen and do the right thing.

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In his farewell speech to the US Senate, Sen. Franken said that as “I leave the Senate, I have to admit that it feels like we’re losing the war for truth. Maybe it’s already lost. If that’s what happens, then we have lost the ability to have the kinds of arguments that help build consensus.”

Later in that speech, Sen. Franken said “Often, the ‘debate’ here in Washington can sometimes seem arcane and tough to understand. Other times—especially in recent years—it can be so bitter that it doesn’t even feel like we’re trying to resolve anything, just venting our spleens at each other. I get that. I get why people want us to stop arguing and start, well, doing stuff. But since I am leaving the Senate, I thought I would take a big risk and say a few words in favor of arguments.”

What BS. Literally the day after all Democrats in the House and Senate voted against the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Sen. Franken is attempting to justify the Democrats’ refusal to cooperate with Republicans in cutting people’s taxes. This is a Democrat difficulty. It isn’t just Sen. Franken who has difficulty working with Republicans. So-called moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester made initial ‘friendly noises’ before voting like Elizabeth Warren.

It used to be said that the US Senate was the “greatest deliberative body in the world.” It isn’t that anymore. The definition of argument is “an oral disagreement; verbal opposition; contention; altercation.” Meanwhile, the definition of deliberation is “careful consideration before decision.”

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Democrats immediately opposed the legislation before the first page was written. That’s the opposite of deliberation. There’s nothing deliberative about that. That fits the definition of argument more than it fits the definition of deliberation.

Here’s Sen. Franken’s final speech on the Senate floor:

There isn’t any proof that Sen. Franken tried identifying the truth. That’s why it’s one of the first casualties upon entering Washington, DC. Rather than lamenting the death of the truth, Democrats should try employing it more consistently.

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It’s apparent that Democrats don’t understand that their unanimous vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has painted them into a political corner. Let’s start with by examining the difficult position Sen. Manchin painted himself into.

Sen. Manchin said “he’s repeatedly tried to find areas to reach across the aisle and vote with Republicans for Mr. Trump’s agenda, but said he couldn’t do it this time. ‘There’s some good in this bill. I acknowledge that,’ Mr. Manchin said on West Virginia talk radio, after host Hoppy Kercheval pointed to the tax cuts he said the state’s middle class residents stood to gain.” Why do I think that Sen. Manchin’s constituents will hold it against him for voting against their tax cuts? Why shouldn’t West Virginians, aka Mountaineers, hold it against Sen. Manchin for voting with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the tax cuts?

Later, Sen. Manchin complained that “the bills seemed too skewed toward business, pointing to the permanent nature of corporate tax cuts, compared to the planned expiration of the reductions in the individual rate.” First, I’m reminded of President Reagan’s saying that you can’t be pro-jobs and hate the employer. Apparently, Sen. Manchin didn’t learn that lesson. Next, Sen. Manchin is whining about the Senate’s rules, which he’s repeatedly voted to approve. If the Senate’s rules weren’t so screwed up, the individual tax cuts could’ve been made permanent.

Sen. Manchin’s excuses sound like ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses than legitimate excuses.

By contrast, Patrick Morrisey, Sen. Manchin’s likely opponent, will be able to vote for eliminating coal industry-hating regulations, great judges and never vote with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren out of party loyalty. Hint: Anyone that thinks Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren plays well with coal miners should view this video:

Hillary lost West Virginia by 40+ points. What should frighten Sen. Manchin is that it wouldn’t surprise me if Hillary is more well liked than Sanders or Warren.

At a town-hall meeting in Missouri last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill framed her vote against the bill as disappointment that the plan favored corporations. She argued the bill betrayed the principles Mr. Trump had originally proposed. “This isn’t Trump’s bill,” she said at the event in suburban St. Louis. “Trump campaigned on the bill being about you.” But one resident told the St. Louis Public Radio before the event that he didn’t understand her opposition to the bill and hoped she’d explain it more. “I’m having a hard time finding a way that it does not benefit the people of Missouri,” said Dennis Hugo, a 32-year-old, self-described Libertarian.

Finally, there’s this:

In Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, another Democrat, told his voters he met with Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence over the tax bill. “From the beginning of this year’s tax reform effort, I’ve been willing to partner with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump and his administration,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Indianapolis Star. “Despite this common ground, the bill produced by Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan was the complete opposite of what the president and I had discussed,” Mr. Donnelly added.

In North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who said last month she was open to voting for the bill, said that the $1.5 trillion in additional deficits piled up by the tax cuts swayed her to vote against it. But some voters in her state don’t see that as a reasonable opposition.

Sen. Heitkamp is gonna have a ton of difficulty peddling that excuse. There wasn’t a tax cut package that wasn’t going to pile up deficits according to the CBO’s scoring. That’s actually the least of Sen. Heitkamp’s worries. She, along with Sen. Donnelly, Sen. Tester, Sen. Baldwin, Sen. Casey and Sen. Brown, voted against significantly reducing the estate tax on farmers’ estates. The full expensing of equipment isn’t insignificant to farmers, either.

In DC, the spin will be that this helps corporations, not working people. In Indiana, Montana and North Dakota, big farms are incorporated. Saying that the Democrats’ messaging doesn’t exactly fit those states is understatement.

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Let’s be clear about something. When Doug Jones won the Alabama special election Tuesday night, he won because Steve Bannon’s candidate did what Bannon’s candidates always do. Bannon’s candidate lost a race that mainstream Republicans couldn’t lose in a million lifetimes. Predictably, Democrats are misreading what tonight’s results mean.

Tuesday night’s victory is the result of a terrible, far-outside-the-mainstream, candidate who thought he had a mandate from God misunderstanding how toxic he’d become. If Democrats think they’ll get to run against a lengthy list of candidates that share the same qualities as tonight’s loser has, they’ll quickly be disabused of that foolish notion.

Martha McSally isn’t a clone of tonight’s loser. Republicans have already recruited top-tier candidates to run against vulnerable incumbents in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana and West Virginia. Any thought that this will turn out well for Democrats in 2018 will quickly be dispatched.

The Democrats’ seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation, and a sudden a rush of confidence, to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ago. Democrat Doug Jones’s triumph, the result of a vigorous turnout of the party’s traditional voters and of Republican splintering in a deeply conservative state, sent a thunder clap across the national political landscape that Democrats hope will signify an emerging comeback at the start of the 2018 midterm election campaign.

There’s no disputing that Democrats are feeling exhilarated after tonight’s victory. That thrill of victory won’t last long, though. Republicans will pass the tax reform bill before Jones is seated as Alabama’s junior senator for the next 3 years.

Tonight’s loser refused to admit that he’d lost:

Most likely, tonight’s winner is thrilled. MSNBC certainly is:

The best news of the night for Republicans is up for debate. Arguments could be made that the best thing is that Republicans don’t have to run with Bannon’s loser strapped to their neck. That’s certainly a positive. Another argument that could be made is that mainstream Republicans can now emphasize tonight’s defeat as proof that Bannon’s candidates are losers in primaries, thereby giving top-tier candidates a better shot at winning primaries. Still another argument could be made that the best news is that Republicans rejected sexist pigs even though it hurt their party.

Democrats tried claiming the moral high ground when Al Franken and John Conyers resigned amidst allegations of sexual harassment. It didn’t take long for Republicans, President Trump especially, to highlight that a special election in Michigan would replace Conyers with either his son or his nephew and that Minnesota’s DFL governor would pick a DFL legislator to replace a DFL senator. In other words, Democrats didn’t stand to lose a thing.

Republicans voted their values despite the fact that they lost an important Senate seat. Finally, it’s worth noting that ‘moderate’ Democrats will have to defend their voting in lockstep with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on judges and on cutting taxes. They also have to explain why they threatened to shut down the government.

This morning’s article highlights how difficult 2018 will be for Senate Democrats. Everyone knows that Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Sherrod Brown and Joe Donnelly are vulnerable in 2018. They’ll be fighting a difficult, uphill fight this time.

There’s another tier of Democrats that are vulnerable, though they aren’t considered to be as vulnerable. That list includes Heidi Heitkamp, Bill Nelson, Tammy Baldwin and Debbie Stabenow. That might be shifting. First, Bill Nelson is in for a dog fight:

Term-limited Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is expected to challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in next year’s Senate race. A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida shows Scott trailing Nelson by just a single point, 37 percent to 36 percent, with one in five voters undecided.

Scott holds a much higher job approval rating than does Nelson among voters in the state, 59 percent to 35 percent, which may be attributed to his recent response to Hurricane Irma. A separate poll out this week from Mason-Dixon showed that two-thirds of Floridians gave Scott a rating of “excellent” or “good” for his handling of the hurricane.

Florida isn’t the only state where Democrats might be in a difficult spot. Salena Zito’s article highlights the possibility of Michigan being more competitive than expected:

DETROIT — John James emerges with confidence from a former Detroit elementary school that has been transformed into a charter high school in the northwest side of the city. It is a stride any parent would hope to see in a son or daughter graduating from this school, founded by Jalen Rose, a former NBA player and member of the University of Michigan’s legendary “Fab 5” squad.

Outside the leafy campus of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy High School, parents wait for their children to emerge as a handful of students play on the school’s clay basketball court. James, a member of the school’s board, has just finished a board meeting, to discuss his decision to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

That isn’t all:

James is young, accomplished, black, determined, devout, and the kind of new conservative that the Grand Old Party needs in order to shake up next year’s midterm election cycle. He is at once full of energy, grace, command, and passion. When he tells you he is running on conviction, everything about this young man tells you he is not a poser. “I am called to a life of service. I want to serve my country and my community and my state. When I would come back from Iraq on leave during the great recession, the economic and societal devastation I saw here in my own state floored me,” he said.

To be fair, James is competing against other GOP candidates. Still, he’s the type of candidate that seems straight from Central Casting. If James wins the GOP primary, he’ll have a better-than-expected shot at defeating Debbie Stabenow.

Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp are 3 of the most vulnerable Democrats in the US Senate that are up for re-election in 2018. They’ve tried portraying themselves as moderates. The importance of Paul Mirengoff’s post is that it provides proof that this trio are phonies.

According to Mirengoff’s post, “President Trump chose Noel Francisco for Solicitor General. Francisco has a distinguished background. He clerked for Judge Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then for Justice Scalia.” Judge Luttig is J. Michael Luttig, one of the most distinguished conservative jurists of the last century or 2. Mirengoff then noted that “the Senate confirmed Francisco” by a vote of 50-47. Mirengoff noted that the vote “was strictly along party lines”, with Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp voting with Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Mirengoff then wondered whether this trio of so-called moderates would vote for a more moderate candidate for President Trump’s administration. This time, he talked about Rachel Brand, the Associate Attorney General. Mirengoff described her as “a center-right figure and thus, decidedly less conservative than Francisco.” Mirengoff then noted Brand’s confirmation vote, which was “52-46,” with “Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp all [voting] no.” Finally, Mirengoff compared these ‘moderates’ votes for Neil Gorsuch, the conservative jurist and the newest member of the Supreme Court. Here’s what he wrote:

Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp all voted to confirm Justice Gorsuch. What does this tell us? It tells us that in a high profile vote that might affect their reelection chances, these three Red State Democrats won’t oppose a very conservative nominee. On an under-the-radar vote, they will oppose not only a very conservative nominee, but also a center-right one.

It tells me they are phonies.

At one point, there was talk that Manchin would switch parties. It’s pretty apparent that won’t happen. The only way to get rid of these phonies is by defeating them in the 2018 midterm elections. It doesn’t bother me that they’re moderates. It’s that they’re dishonest. If people pretend that they’re moderates but then they vote with Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, then they can’t be trusted. It’s time to throw them out if they aren’t trustworthy.

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