House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the trial balloons he’s been floating about retiring after tax reform passes have nothing to do with his plans to run against Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. “I am not planning and will not plan to offer Republican voters an alternative to the crazy man in the White House today,” Ryan said.
Ryan said there’s no truth to the rumor that he would seek to give an alternative to Republican voters who don’t want to see Trump reelected but also don’t want to see a Democrat take the White House. “I know there’s speculation that I would put myself out there as a safe vote for Republicans who don’t want another Roy Moore-type debacle in 2020, but that is not the case,” he said.
Nor is it true that wealthy conservative donors like the Mercers and the Koch brothers want him to run so they can get a normal Republican in the White House and install Trump back in his New York penthouse. “Although I am giving wealthy Republican donors the tax cut they want, they are not asking me to be their horse in the next race,” he said. “It’s not true that they know Donald Trump is going to lose. It’s also not true that they think I am one of the few Republicans who will have a chance against the Democrats in 2020, given how fired up the Democratic base is.”
What’s more, it’s not true he believes he would be leaving the House on a high note and distancing himself from the storm that’s brewing in 2018. “The fact is, I couldn’t be happier and I expect I’ll. be just as happy two years from now, four years from now, six years from now,” he said—“especially if I’m no where near this shit show that’s called Congress today, although I didn’t say that.”
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President Donald Trump today said he wants to put the partisan bickering behind him and focus on policy goals both sides can agree on, like infrastructure investment. “It’s important for the country that we work together,” he said at a White House breakfast with Republican and Democratic leaders to welcome in the new year. “Americans want us to come together and I plan to do that—with or without the Democrats.” Trump said it would be nice if the Democrats were part of the effort to be bipartisan, but he’s not counting on it. “Frankly, we can do it without them,” he said. “We have shared goals. We want better airports. We want first-class airports, the best airports in the world. We’ll get those whether we have help from the Democrats or not. We’d rather work together.” More.
Republican voters across the country say the tax returns of Donald Trump that no one has seen make it clear he will personally take a big financial hit once he signs tax reform into law. “You’ve got to hand it to the president,” said Joe Carter, a retired accountant in Biloxi, Miss. “Based on the tax returns he’s refused to share with the American people, he’ll lose millions of dollars from the bill that he himself is going to sign. What a selfless act on the part of our president. Not too many people would of that, but he’s doing that for us.” Since the race between Richard Nixon and John F, Kennedy in 1959, presidential contenders have made their tax returns available so the public can get a picture of their finances and analysts can determine if the laws they sign as president benefit them personally. More.
Influential Republican strategist Stephen Bannon wasted no time after his party’s big loss in the Alabama Senate race this week to unveil a plan for losing in South Carolina, Texas, and other deep-red states in coming elections. “We have that rare opportunity to hand over Republican states to Democrats next year and in 2020 if we’re ready to seize the moment,” Bannon said in remarks to Republican supporters last night. “After decades of Republican control, we can hand these states over to Democrats by draining the swamp of the mainstream, establishment conservatives who people are willing to vote for and replace them with people that many mainstream conservatives aren’t willing to vote for.” More.
Corporations and wealthy individuals say they’ll pour their millions of dollars in cuts they stand to get from tax reform into the reelection fight of Republicans whose seats are now at risk from angry middle-class voters whose tax increases will pay for the bill. “We told the GOP they needed to pass tax cuts for the wealthy or they could forget about calling us again for political contributions,” says one billionaire who stands to save millions from tax cuts. “Now that they’re poised to deliver, we understand they need help. There are a lot of people who will want to retaliate by voting out of office anyone who voted for the tax cuts. What we’re saying is, we’re putting our new money where our mouth is.” According to polls, voters are angry that they’re facing tax hikes to pay for the cuts to corporations and the wealthy. One voter who responded to a poll was so angry she couldn’t see straight. More.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate say they urgently must pass tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy before the end of the year because of pressure coming from Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “Would it be better to slow down and better think through our tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy? Of course,” says John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate whip. “Right now our own analysis is showing a $1 trillion addition to the budget deficit even after projected growth in the economy. So, if we had more time we could craft changes that address that and still give our wealthy donors what they want. Unfortunately, time is a luxury we don’t have.” That’s because Mueller’s investigation is winding down. More.
Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore said accounts of him dating teenage girls whose parents gave him permission to date them when he was in his thirties is fake news. “Let me be clear,” said Moore. “It’s not true that I dated the teenage girls whose parents gave me permission to date them.” Moore also said there’s nothing wrong with him as a man in his thirties walking around shopping malls by himself as the press accused him of doing. “The press is wrong to say I innocently and lawfully walked around malls by myself as a man in my thirties,” he said. Moore, 70, is an evangelical Christian who has been an uncompromising critic of homosexuality. He was the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court before he was removed from office in 2003 for defying a court order to take down a statute of the Ten Commandments he had erected on the courthouse grounds. More.
The U.S. Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion today to condemn the acts of gun violence that will plague the country in the months and years ahead. “We condemn the senseless taking of innocent life that we will experience in the future,” the resolution reads. “We call on all Americans to come together during these times of national trauma that will inflict us, probably twice a year if not more frequently.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the sponsors of the resolution, says it’s a step in the right direction for lawmakers to get all of their future condemnations of acts of gun violence out of the way at once, because that will free up time for other legislative priorities. More.
Weary lawmakers in the Senate, still bruised and battered from previous repeal and replace bills that swept through the chamber, are gearing up for yet another potential direct hit as the Cassidy-Graham bill strengthens into a Category 5 bill. “We’re already rationing our time and energy to get things done after dealing with the previous three bills—‘repeal-and-replace,’ ‘partial repeal,’ and ‘skinny repeal,'” says Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose no vote on the previous measures has been credited as a key to the chamber’s recovery after the unusually heavy repeal-and-replace season. Storm preparation[/caption]Collins said the Senate was just starting to make progress on other priorities like tax reform after devoting weeks to cleaning up after the previous bills, but that progress could be upended if, as predicted, Cassidy-Graham hits the chamber as a Category 5 bill. More.
California Republican Duncan Hunter, an anti-immigration hard-liner in Congress who said last week that, while President Donald Trump might be an a**hole, he’s at least “our a**hole,” lashed out in anger today at reports that his a**hole has struck an immigration deal with Democrats. “So, my a**hole isn’t my a**hole after all?” he told reporters at the Capitol this morning. “I wake up, look in the mirror, and I find there’s no a**hole attached to my backside and instead find it attached to the backside of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer?” Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) are the House and Senate minority leaders, respectively. More.
After he or someone on his staff liked a porn video on his Twitter account, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said his office had reported the incident to Twitter. “The offensive tweet posted on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter,” said Catherine Frazier, Cruz’s communications aide. What else has his office reported to Twitter? We investigate. More.
Crafting Health Bill in Secret Necessary to Keep Cheering People From Delaying Passage, McConnell Says
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says it’s necessary for Republicans to write their bill to replace Obamacare in secret because having millions of people cheering them on while they hammer out the details would unnecessarily slow the legislative process, an injustice to the 23 million Americans waiting impatiently to lose their health insurance. “We owe it to all of the struggling Americans who stand to lose their coverage to move as quickly as we can,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol today. McConnell said many additional people will see their premiums go up and their level of coverage go down, so it’s understandable that lawmakers don’t want to take any longer than is absolutely necessary to pass the bill. “We still have to reconcile our bill with the House bill, so we’re champing at the bit to get our bill out there,” McConnell said. More.
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) in an NPR interview this morning refused to say whether everyone in the United States is entitled to eat food, drink water, occupy space, and breathe air. “People are given bootstraps for a reason,” Smith told NPR’s Scott Simon in an interview about federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration. “If we’re not willing to pull ourselves up by them, why do we have them? Why do we have these bootstraps?” “Not everyone is born with bootstraps,” Simon said. “We have people who are born into poverty who don’t get adequate nutrition, don’t have heat in the winter . . . .” “But they have bootstraps,” said Smith, “because God wants us to pull ourselves up by them. Government isn’t a shoe store for poor people.” More.
Exasperated by President Donald Trump’s repeated preference for Russian national interests over those of the United States, all 48 Democratic lawmakers in the Senate sponsored a bill, “The Put America First Again Act of 2017,” to require the President to look out for American interests. “We believe the President of the United States, among all Americans, should put American interests first,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the minority leader in the Senate, said in introducing the bill. “We think it’s the least he can do.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill a “desperate act of grandstanding” by the Democrats and said it has as much chance of getting brought up on the Senate floor as a health care bill that would make insurance better and cheaper for more Americans. More.
Republican lawmakers in the United States Congress say they’re flabbergasted they couldn’t pull out a win yesterday by passing a bill that no one wanted and that would make the lives of Americans worse. “Who would have thought that a bill that strips health insurance away from 24 million people, raises the premiums for everyone else, and allows insurance companies to pay for less care couldn’t generate enough votes to pass?” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said last night after pulling the plug on his signature health care reform bill. Ryan said he’s stunned that his fellow Republicans didn’t want to commit political suicide by making the lives of their constituents worse by publicly voting “yea” for his bill, called the American Health Care Act. More.