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Democratic primaries: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders face crucial test as six states vote – live | US news




























Biden and Sanders cancel Cleveland rallies due to coronavirus










Here’s when polls close










Six states hold primaries in a make-or-break moment for Sanders

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Over Twice as Many Democrats as Republicans Approve of Mitt Romney: Poll

News

Over twice as many Democratic voters as Republican voters approve of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, according to a recently released poll.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday revealed 56 percent of Democrats approve of the Republican senator while just 23 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of him.

Overall, Romney has a favorability rating of 39 percent among U.S. adults.

Romney’s favorability rating fell 22 points among Republicans and jumped 19 points among Democrats when compared to Gallup’s poll in February 2019.

TRENDING: After Years of Slamming Trump, Joy Behar Downplays Clinton’s Lewinsky Affair

The Utah Republican voted with Democrats in February to convict President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial for abuse of power.

Following his impeachment vote, the Utah Republican Party considered a resolution calling for Romney to “immediately resign” from office, according to KUTV.

“A lot of people in the party, the Republican party, as well as people across the state, felt like Sen. Romney misrepresented our support for the president,” GOP activist Brandon Beckham said.

Do you think Romney should be removed from office?

Last week, Romney said he would not support a Senate investigation into Burisma Holdings, but has since reversed his position.

Gallup’s latest poll measured the overall approval of U.S. congressional Republicans and Democrats.

According to the poll, more Americans approve of congressional Republicans than Democrats, with 40 percent and 35 percent approval respectively.

Approval of Republicans has risen six percentage points since October while approval of Democrats has dropped three percentage points.

Gallup’s analysis said that Republicans in Congress seem to have benefited from the impeachment investigations, while public opinion of their Democratic colleagues has dropped.

RELATED: Romney Backtracks, Announces He’ll Vote with Republicans for Burisma Subpoena

President Donald Trump’s favorability rating is currently at 46 percent overall and 89 percent among Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s favorability rating has also increased by six points since October to 33 percent, his highest rating since his first reading in 2010.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unfavorable rating has climbed to 55 percent while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s current 46 percent unfavorable rating is his highest to date.

Gallup’s survey was based on telephone interviews conducted between Feb. 17-28 with a random sample of 1,020 voting-age adults with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Michigan primary results: live updates

With its 125 delegates, Michigan is the biggest prize of the March 10 primaries.

It’s also one of the most fiercely contested elections on Tuesday night: Sen. Bernie Sanders had a surprise win here in 2016 after most polls showed him losing to Hillary Clinton by double digits. Polls in the state have shown a similarly lopsided lead for Vice President Joe Biden in recent days.

In addition to having the largest number of delegates, Michigan is also important symbolically; it’s one of the key Midwestern states Democrats are desperate to win back from President Donald Trump during the November general election. The victor here can make an electability argument going into the fall.

Polls in the state close at 8 pm ET, and the state was accepting absentee ballots until 4 pm on Monday, March 9.

Vox will be covering the results live Tuesday night and until the race is called. It could take a while until we find out which candidate was successful; Michigan election officials are anticipating delays in reporting results Tuesday night owing to the over 800,000 absentee ballots that have been submitted so far, according to NBC News. The Michigan secretary of state in anticipating not having final results until Wednesday, per MLive.

What we know about who will win

A slew of recent polls in Michigan largely showed Biden with a commanding lead. But Sanders has been in this situation before, in 2016.

A Monday Monmouth University poll found Biden ahead of Sanders by 15 points, and a Data for Progress poll released the same day showed Biden 21 points ahead. Earlier polls by Mitchell Research and EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press in the days before Tuesday showed Biden 21 points and 24 points ahead of Sanders in the state, respectively.

It’s important to note that Sanders pulled off an upset win in the 2016 primary after polls showed him 21 points behind Clinton. But while those polls had not accounted for the young voters who make up much of Sanders’s enthusiastic base, the 2020 polls have been adjusted to account for young voters.

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Democrats weigh how to get Sanders out if he loses Tuesday

The major caveat with the calculation is that polling has been very wrong in the past. In 2016, pollsters predicted Hillary Clinton would win big in Michigan. Instead, Sanders eked out a win in the state, breathing new life into his campaign and dragging out the fight for another month. If Sanders does better than expected in Michigan on Tuesday then moves into a weekend debate against Biden, it could give him renewed momentum.

The fear among some Democrats is that Sanders and his supporters could do damage waging a fruitless battle against Biden at the same time Trump and Republicans are attacking him. While the Democratic National Committee has not intervened in the primary in the past, the party’s flagship super PAC, Priorities USA, is now preparing to provide air cover for Biden against the Republican onslaught.

“No one wants to repeat the political sins of 2016 because we all know there’s little to no education in the second kick of the mule,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright. “The stakes are too high for the Democrats to do anything but to be one band, one sound to go into the most politically consequential election of some of our lifetimes.”

Sanders in recent days has blamed “the establishment” for pressuring Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg to drop out and endorse Biden on the eve of Super Tuesday. Both candidates suffered major losses in South Carolina and were already struggling to raise money.

Democrats said they have to avoid feeding any narrative that the Democratic establishment pushed Sanders out.

“Throughout this primary it’s Democratic voters who dictated the contours of this race and there’s really no role for Democratic leaders to engage in any public pressure campaign,” said Neera Tanden, the President of the Center for American Progress. “The primaries will play themselves out tonight and in the future.”

The Sanders campaign did not respond for comment.

Even if Sanders loses big on Tuesday and his future looks grim, a Sanders senior aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said it would be difficult to envision the Vermont senator passing up Sunday’s debate in Arizona.

“I can’t imagine him dropping out without getting his chance to get this guy one on one in a debate,” the Sanders aide said.

And Sanders himself has hinted he’s not preparing for a drawn-out fight.

“I’m not a masochist who wants to stay in a race that can’t be won. But right now, that’s a little bit premature,” Sanders told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “Let’s not determine what will happen on Tuesday and what will happen in the future.”

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Trump’s Desired Coronavirus Payroll Tax Cuts Met With Pushback Amid Debate Over Stimulus Package

President Donald Trump is pushing for an economic stimulus package that includes payroll tax cuts for workers and financial relief for businesses as the spread of the novel coronavirus exacerbates fears of a global recession.

But as the details for such a plan remain absent, so too does the support among members of Congress, including some Republicans. Democrats are putting forth proposals of their own that they say would better prevent the American economy from slipping into a prolonged period of economic downturn.

In order for a politically divided Washington to reach a speedy agreement, it appears likely that the president will need to go further than the payroll tax cuts he’s proposed.

“Stopping all this depends on stopping the spread of the disease. That’s where the priority must be,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. “We don’t want people having to choose between a paycheck and preventing the spread of the disease.”

Trump and his top administration officials have sought to quell fears over potential economic impacts coronavirus could have on the American economy. However, those fears have only grown in the wake of the Dow Jones industrial average on Monday experiencing a record plummet of more than 2,000 points, on top of plunging oil prices.

The president is pushing for payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses, a rate that is currently at 6.2 percent on an employee’s first $137,700 earned for Social Security and 1.45 percent of all earned income for Medicare. As of Tuesday, it remained yet to be seen by what amount and for how long the tax would be slashed.


President Donald Trump arrives at the US Capitol to attend the Republicans weekly policy luncheon on March 10 in Washington, DC. He is flanked by (L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the majority whip, suggested it would be cut by roughly 2 percent as it was under President Barack Obama in response to the Great Recession.

Trump has also said they’ll provide small businesses with loans and work to prop up travel industries like airlines and cruises hit hard as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending consumers skip such forms of travel.

And Vice President Mike Pence said that after meeting with private health insurance companies, they agreed to waive copays for coronavirus testing and treatment, in addition to promising no surprise medical billing and covering telemedicine sessions for elderly patients so they can avoid leaving their home. Medicaid and Medicare said last week they would also cover all coronavirus costs.

“We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise industry, cruise ships. We want to protect our airline industry,” Trump told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday after meeting with Senate Republicans during their weekly luncheon. “The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things.”

But the payroll tax cut proposal has been met with opposition by Democrats and skepticism from some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally to Trump. Various GOP lawmakers argue that such a loss in tax revenue would be costly for the government and do little to help the overall economy.

“I’m not so sure that’s the right stimulus,” Graham said. “But we need something.”

Democrats argue that payroll tax cuts would only benefit a certain portion of workers and would leave out the unemployed and retired. And they also point to the fact that many workers, particularly those who are paid hourly, don’t receive paid time off, decreasing the likelihood they would choose to forgo paychecks by staying home and self-quarantining.

Democrats have come out with a laundry list of solutions they say need to be included in any stimulus package in order to reach all corners of the U.S. economy. That includes paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, expanding federal food assistance programs like SNAP and school lunches, enhancing unemployment insurance, providing loans and grants to small businesses and reimbursing patients for any non-covered coronavirus-related costs.

“That’ll get money into the economy where it belongs—the people who are affected—not dropping money out of an airplane and hoping a few dollars land on the people who are affected,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“You know what doesn’t help stop the spread of the coronavirus? More corporate tax cuts,” he added, citing a Washington Post story that the White House will likely provide aid to oil and natural gas producers impacted by the drop in oil prices.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, Congress passed a bipartisan supplemental funding bill of more than $8 billion last week. The measure will fund research for treatments and vaccines, as well as help state and local health facilities that may be resource-strapped or ill-prepared for such a pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will have “ball control for the administration” when it comes to negotiations with Congress on a stimulus package.

Mnuchin and Trump senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow also met with GOP senators at lunch on Tuesday. Afterward, Mnuchin crossed the Capitol to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has called for the same proposals outlined by Schumer.

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Sanders and Biden campaigns cancel events over coronavirus

Former vice president Joe Biden followed suit soon thereafter, canceling his own event in Cleveland “in accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution,” according to a tweet from Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager.

“We will continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events in the coming days,” Bedingfield said. “Vice President Biden thanks all of his supporters who wanted to be with us in Cleveland … Additional details on where Vice President Biden will address the press are forthcoming.”

As coronavirus cases rise across the country, Sanders, Biden and President Donald Trump have been pressed on whether or not they will cancel rallies to prevent further spread. The Democratic candidates’ latest moves come after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday tweeted about the state’s preparedness measures, including limiting large events.

“Through the limiting of large events, our goal is to dramatically slow down the spread of #COVID19 and save lives. Now is the time to take action. #COVID19OhioReady,” the governor posted on Twitter.

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Deadbeat Dad Hunter Biden to Skip Scheduled Deposition, Cites Coronavirus and His Pregnant Wife as Excuse

Deadbeat Dad Hunter Biden to Skip Scheduled Deposition, Cites Coronavirus and His Pregnant Wife as Excuse


Hunter Biden

Deadbeat dad Hunter Biden told the Arkansas judge in a new filing Tuesday that he won’t be able to make this week’s scheduled deposition, citing the Coronavirus and his pregnant wife who is due to give birth within a couple weeks.

The crackhead-turned-hipster-artist was ordered to appear in an Arkansas court deposition on Wednesday in the ongoing paternity suit filed by his baby mama Lunden Roberts.

An Arkansas judge recently demanded Hunter Biden show up for a deposition on Wednesday, rejecting his requests to wait until April.

“He needs to make himself available and unless his hair is on fire, he needs to be in Arkansas and he needs to be in a deposition,” Independence County Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer told Biden’s attorneys. “My question to you is, why could your client not be available until after April 1? All the information I have is that he’s unemployed.”

Hunter is once again snubbing the court because he believes he is above the law.

“Defendant requests continuance of the hearing as he is unavailable to attend due to his wife’s due date in 2 and a half weeks or less and risks involved with travel,” the new filing states accroding to the Free Beacon.

Biden’s lawyers argued that Hunter should not be required to travel to Arkansas at all because traveling is “burdensome and oppressive.”

“It is unsafe for the Defendant to travel, as travel restrictions have been implemented both domestically and internationally, particularly on airlines, due to the coronavirus,” the filing states. “Setting aside personal endangerment, Defendant reasonably believes that such travel unnecessarily exposes his wife and unborn child to this virus. California, in particular, has been the site of numerous reported cases of exposure.”

“The tremendously elevated media scrutiny creates some physical risks and logistics difficulties with travel to Arkansas, invades the privacy of the Defendant and his 8 and a half month pregnant wife, threatens to complicate the Court’s ability to conduct a public hearing, creates a highly prejudicial environment from Defendant, and cannot be in the child’s or his mother’s interest in any way,” the lawyers argue.

Hunter Biden’s baby mama Lunden Roberts last week filed a new motion requesting Biden be held in contempt for continuing to withhold financial documents from the court in her paternity suit.

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James Carville thinks Trump will lose the 2020 presidential election

After working for Bill Clinton during Clinton’s long-shot presidential campaign in the early ’90s, Democratic political strategist James Carville gained a reputation for being a shrewd and salty political strategist. And he’s basically been on TV ever since, says Today, Explained host Sean Rameswaram.

So what does a 70-something-year-old white man think about the three 70-something-year-old white men who are vying for the presidency right now? Do Democrats need to change their strategy online to win the 2020 election? And in Carville’s dream scenario, which Rameswaram points out is clearly a Biden nomination, who does he think would be the best vice presidential pick?

Listen to the full episode of Today, Explained — Vox’s daily explainer podcast — to hear the answers. Below is a lightly edited transcript of Carville’s conversation with Rameswaram.

Subscribe to Today, Explained wherever you get your podcasts, including: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.


Sean Rameswaram

It seems like what you were calling for in your conversation with our colleague Sean Illing was for the Democratic Party to get its act together and rally around a moderate candidate who could win the election.

James Carville

This moderate, this word that people throw out. In other words, if you’re not Bernie Sanders, you’re part of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. It’s a bullshit word. I don’t consider myself a moderate. I consider myself a liberal. But it doesn’t matter because it’s just become a convenient way to describe anybody that is not Bernie Sanders. And the Democratic Party has taken what would historically be some pretty liberal positions going into this race.

Sean Rameswaram

Do you think there’s something to be said that Bernie Sanders, being such a progressive, could have excited a younger base and perhaps that way taken the —

James Carville

No, no, that’s the equivalent of climate denial or creationism. You’re not going to change the turnout model. It’s never been done and it’s not going to be done.

Sean Rameswaram

So you weren’t impressed by Bernie’s win in California?

James Carville

No. I mean, Bernie can’t. He has no relationship with the most important constituency in the Democratic Party: African Americans. The newest and most exciting demographic in a Democratic Party are these college-educated white voters, particularly women. He has no relationship with them. They came out and voted against him in droves. He got a third of the California Democrats. I’m sorry. I’m just not that impressed.

Let’s talk about Joe for a minute here. A smart man once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The economy has been in pretty good shape until these Covid-19-related dips recently. How does Biden do against Donald Trump in a race where Trump plans on bragging about how well he’s done with the economy?

James Carville

So he inherits a country. It has 2 percent growth. He sticks a trillion dollars’ worth of stimulus, gives a green light for every polluter to go. And what do we get? Drum roll, please … 2.1. Trump got 46.1 in 2016. The Republicans got 44.8 in 2018. His approval on FiveThirtyEight is 43.4. Whatever he did, it didn’t.

There’s 55 percent of the country that wants to not be for this guy. That’s a big number. We should do everything we can to maximize that number. Political parties don’t exist to make arguments. They exist to win elections. Without power, there is nothing. It’s all a bunch of people sitting around talking to each other in cities.

Sean Rameswaram

I take your point. But Trump, of course, lost the popular vote in 2016 and still won the Electoral College. So in the states that matter here, do you think people are feeling like the economy is good and thus maybe we should just vote for the incumbent? Or do you think they’re hurting and thus Joe Biden has a strong argument?

James Carville

All of the evidence I see is people do not want Trump back. But we got to run a strong persuasion campaign in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Florida. We can’t go with this urban strategy that we are the growing party. Eighteen percent of the country elects 52 senators. Take that, urban strategy. The party has to have a majoritarian instinct. We’ve got to be skilled enough to excite our most important voters, African Americans, to get our own new exciting demographic out, these college-educated women, and also to cut into the margins in the more rural and small-town parts of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, places like that. And I think we can do that.

Sean Rameswaram

What do you think the strongest argument Vice President Biden can make in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin might be?

James Carville

“I want to get Trump out of there. You’re not going to live like this anymore.” You know, “You’re not going to be waking up to tweets.” And, “People that are trying to inspire young people are not to have this for an example; we’re going to put competent people to run the government.”

Sean Rameswaram

But, I mean, Democrats are hoping that Biden will convince people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 to switch their vote back to the Democratic Party. Is the argument that we’ve got to get Trump out of there as strong as an argument that might appeal more to things that affect their lives personally?

James Carville

What you do is you talk about things that affect their lives personally. You think they think that Trump’s done something about prescription drug prices? You think they think that his tax cut went to anybody but the richest people in the country? You think that people are not so stupid that they know Donald Trump went to Davos and while he was in Davos said he was going to cut Medicare after he was elected again?

And he’s probably ruined morale in the diplomatic corps. They’ve tried to hollow out the CDC and NIH, I don’t know. That don’t seem very good to me. We’ve added a trillion dollars in debt in a functioning economy, which I don’t think is a very good idea at all. We’ve abandoned any environmental regulation. We’ve just become, the government has become an assistance center for the fossil fuel industry. We’ve pitted one American against another American. We’ve told citizens of the United States that they should go back to the country they came from. It’s the most repulsive thing anybody can say about anything in this country. I think it’s just a violation of everything. None of us needs to go back anyway, you’re here.

Sean Rameswaram

What do you think it says that he’s got near-record approval ratings with the Republican base?

James Carville

That it’s a personality cult. The Republican voter very much wants Donald Trump where he is. And the way to deal with this is defeat Republican politicians and then get power and win the Senate back. And, you know, look at where you got to win a Senate seat. You gotta win in North Carolina. You’ve got two in Georgia. You’ve got to hold Alabama. You’ve got a shot in Texas. You should win Arizona. You should win Colorado. You now got a shot in Montana. Believe it or not, you got a shot in Kansas. You’re probably ahead in Maine. You gotta hold Michigan. That’s the reality of politics. This is an opportunity that you just don’t see very often in politics. I mean, we have a chance to come in if we’re smart, we have a chance to run the table in November.

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When The Washington Post Was Silent On The Clinton-Obama Purges

The Washington Post recently had another Trump meltdown. The topic this time? The great Trump “purge.”

Here’s a sample of the hysterical headlines: “Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates.”

This jewel begins as follows:

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Then there was this from The Post’s editorial board: “Trump puts an unqualified loyalist in charge of national intelligence.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S campaign to purge the government of anyone not blindly loyal to him continued Wednesday with the appointment of Richard Grenell as acting director of national intelligence.

These stories were not alone either, as elsewhere in the leftist media there was much the same theme of handwringing and teeth-gnashing over Trumpian “purges” of those “not blindly loyal to him.”

Hmmmm. Hypocrisy, much?

U.S. President Donald Trump looks up toward the Solar Eclipse on the Truman Balcony at the White House on August 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Millions of people have flocked to areas of the U.S. that are in the “path of totality” in order to experience a total solar eclipse. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Let me start with a personal story so that, as The Post motto goes, we don’t let democracy die in darkness. Back in the time of the ancients known as 1992 and the end of the Bush 41 administration, I was working as a senior Bush political appointee, ensconced at the Department of Housing and Urban Development toiling as a congressional relations aide for my boss, Secretary Jack Kemp. (RELATED: ‘Obviously I Can Beat Him Again’: Hillary Clinton Says She Could Win In 2020)

The 1992 election was over and the transition between the outgoing George H. W. Bush administration and the incoming Bill Clinton administration had begun. One fine transition day I showed up for work to find a letter waiting for me. The letter was from one Bruce Lindsey. He had served as the National Campaign Director for the Clinton campaign, and he would soon be in the White House with his friend the new president. As today’s Clinton Foundation helpfully points out in a bio of Mr. Lindsey (he is now on the board of directors for the foundation), he was director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, supervising the approval of political appointees.

The letter I had received said, in essence, “Dear Jeffrey. Thank you for your government service. You are dismissed. Please be out of your office by noon on January 20, 1993.”

I was not alone in receiving this letter. Every single Bush political appointee at HUD received the same letter from Mr. Lindsey a pattern repeated at every government agency staffed by Bush political appointees. (RELATED: Trump Invites Hillary Clinton To Jump In 2020 Presidential Race On One Condition)

To borrow from The Post of current days, I and my colleagues were targets of a great Clinton “purge.” My loyalty to the new president was suspect, as was that of all my colleagues. So we had to go. And we did.

I don’t recall any hot and bothered stories from The Post in 1993 treating Bruce Lindsey as they are treating Johnny McEntee, the Trump aide now taking over exactly the same office of presidential personnel once run by Bill Clinton’s Bruce Lindsey. The Bruce Lindsey who, to borrow from The Post on Mr. McEntee, had a “mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty”– to Bill Clinton.

U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Former U.S. President Bill Clinton attend a memorial service for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on January 14, 2011 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Holbrooke passed away in December after undergoing heart surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images)

In fact, as the transition began between the outgoing George W. Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration, The Post was running a story headlined, “Obama Gives Political Ambassadors Their Pink Slips.” The December 2008 story by The Post’s Glenn Kessler began:

The incoming Obama administration has notified all politically-appointed ambassadors that they must vacate their posts as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, a State Department official said.

The clean slate will open up prime opportunities for the president-elect to reward political supporters with posts in London, Paris, Tokyo and the like. The notice to diplomatic posts was issued this week.

Then there was a story in The Hill, also from December of 2008, headlined, “Obama dismisses Bush Pentagon appointees.” This story began:

Despite keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Pentagon, President-elect Obama’s transition team informed 90 Bush appointees their services will not be needed after Inauguration Day.
Scott Gration, a senior official on Obama’s transition team, called and emailed several of President Bush’s Pentagon appointees about 10 days ago to inform them they were being dismissed.

But curiously, there was this story from The Washington Times towards the end of Mr. Trump’s first year in the White House, in September of 2017 The headline, “78 Obama appointees ‘burrowed’ into career jobs, watchdog finds.” This story said:

A government watchdog found that 78 political appointees of President Obama managed to “burrow” into career government jobs over a six-year period.

A Government Accountability Office report obtained by The Washington Times on Wednesday shows that seven of Mr. Obama’s political appointees switched to career jobs without obtaining necessary approval from the Office of Personnel Management. Of those, four were later denied the jobs by OPM and three left their posts.

Congressional Republicans warned Mr. Obama last year against moving political appointees into career positions, and President Trump has stated frequently that he believes some employees in the federal workforce are Obama holdovers working against his agenda.

In fact, no less than The Post itself headlined this a mere 11 days after President Donald Trump had been sworn in; “Resistance from within: Federal workers push back against Trump.” The story said:

The signs of popular dissent from President Trump’s opening volley of actions have been plain to see on the nation’s streets, at airports in the aftermath of his refu­gee and visa ban, and in the blizzard of outrage on social media. But there’s another level of resistance to the new president that is less visible and potentially more troublesome to the administration: a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing any new president’s agenda.

Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make.

So taken altogether, what do we have here?

What we have is what should be blindingly obvious: new presidents want their own team of political appointees — appointees loyal to them — running the various departments and agencies of the government that new president was elected to head. And they have the constitutional right to do so. (RELATED: Hillary Refuses To Answer Question On 2020 Run)

That is why I was being told by Lindsey, soon to be the new director of the Office of Presidential Personnel in the Clinton White House, to clear my desk and be out the HUD doors by noon on Jan. 20, 1993 — the exact moment Gov. Clinton became President Clinton. I was not a Clinton loyalist — so I had to go. And to the point, I agreed completely that it was improper to stay on and pretend to something that wasn’t true, not to mention to pretend that it was true while secretly using my position to sabotage the Clinton agenda.

What Trump is doing with the appointment of Johnny McEntee to exactly the same job once held by Lindsey is to have McEntee do exactly what Lindsey did: root out the non-loyalists and replace them with, in this case, Trump loyalists. It is precisely what was done when President Barack Obama took office and promptly began dismissing everybody from Bush-appointed ambassadors to Bush political appointees in the Pentagon.

The McEntee task has been complicated because the Obama-appointees played cute with the incoming Trump administration and moved to “burrow” themselves into the bureaucracy as career workers, precisely as the Government Accountability Office reported. From which perches they could sabotage the new president they detested.

In other words?

In other words, Trump is not only right to task McEntee with rooting out those appointees who are not Trump loyalists — just as predecessors Obama and Clinton did. But just as was true of Obama and Clinton it is also true that Trump is well within his rights to fire appointees not seen as Trump loyalists.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) jokes with former U.S. President Bill Clinton before awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room at the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Post was silent as a church mouse about Clinton or Obama “purges” when Bush 41 or Bush 43 appointees were shown the door because of a presumed lack of loyalty to President Clinton or President Obama.

Now The Post pretends to an obvious bald untruth, which is that Clinton and Obama did not do exactly what Trump is doing. When, in fact, they did.

Without a peep of objection from The Washington Post.

Imagine that.

Jeffrey Lord, a former CNN contributor, is a columnist and author. He is a former associate political director in the Reagan White House. In his Washington career, he has served successively as a senior aide for a U.S. congressman and a U.S. senator, chief of staff for former Reagan cabinet member Drew Lewis in the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign, and as an aide to HUD Secretary Jack Kemp. He writes at his website, TheJeffreyLord.com.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Content created by the DCNF is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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The fight over Trump’s payroll tax cut and other coronavirus economic stimulus ideas, explained

The biggest thing standing in the way of a coronavirus-targeted economic stimulus package could be the Trump administration’s proposed payroll tax cut.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would rather prioritize expanding benefits and delivering relief directly to American workers and families hit by the coronavirus, and making testing free, than imposing a tax cut that’s likely to benefit only companies and a subset of workers.

Some Democrats said they’re especially concerned a payroll tax cut could leave out workers who have already been laid off, given that coronavirus-related layoffs are already happening. Even Senate Republicans aren’t convinced it’s the correct course of action.

“One of the dilemmas with the payroll tax is if you’ve lost your job or you’re in the gig economy, you’re not going to get anything,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), vice chair of the US Congress Joint Economic Committee. “Or if you’re like so many Americans — making $25,000 or less — it ends up being $10 a week, not enough to really do anything.”

Some Republicans are skeptical of the payroll tax cut idea, too, which could limit the administration’s leverage in negotiations. “I certainly want information on this. Obama did a payroll tax; I’m not sure how well that worked. I think this president is planning something more dramatic than that,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Trump acknowledged this in a press conference Monday. “I was just with the Republican senators and they were just about all there,” Trump said. “There’s a great feeling about doing a lot of things, and that’s one of the things we talked about.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, mentioned concerns about exactly who would benefit from these policies. “A payroll tax cut can be an effective tool, but it’s not the best answer in this case,” he told Vox in a statement. “A payroll tax cut would do little to help workers without paid sick days or those who have lost shifts and tips.”

Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who is now head of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has been echoing Wyden’s concerns on social media for days, calling for direct payments to all individuals. Similarly, “if we are doing stimulus too, per person checks much better than payroll tax cut,” tweeted Jay Shambaugh, a former member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and now director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. “If people miss work, can’t do gig work, or are unemployed: no payroll tax cut.”

Pelosi is negotiating a stimulus deal directly with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; the two met Tuesday afternoon and Pelosi later told reporters Democrats are “ready with our legislation.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Pelosi and Mnuchin have worked well together in the past and he’s hopeful they can reach a bipartisan deal.

Congress and Trump have a very tight timeline. The House was already scheduled to be on recess next week, and members are scheduled to fly out on Thursday. The Senate, too, is slated to be on recess from March 16 to 20.

“Coming up with something is likely; having it voted on this week is going to be challenging,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), adding that Congress could potentially stay longer or come back next week to vote on a package.

Democrats want to prioritize public health and relief for workers

Whether it’s paid sick leave or free coronavirus testing, there’s a common theme to Democrats’ proposals. They want to make sure cost doesn’t impede workers from getting the health care they need, or taking the time off from work to quarantine if they suspect they have coronavirus.

“For the families, we want to be sure from the standpoint of being tested if need be that there be no cost to the families,” Pelosi said at a press conference Monday night.

“If people don’t go for that — go for testing — if they can’t go to get tested and can’t go to get the treatment because they are afraid they can’t afford the bill, this will get worse,” Schumer added.

Here is what’s likely to be in Democrats’ proposal, based on what Pelosi and Schumer have so far outlined. Both have continued meeting with their members and are likely to release a full proposal in the coming days.

  • Paid sick leave: Sick leave would be directed to those workers impacted by quarantine orders, or those who must stay home to care for their children. Some lawmakers expressed concerns that not doing so would result in those infected with coronavirus continuing to go to work, thus continuing to spread the virus.
  • Enhanced unemployment insurance: Democrats want to expand unemployment benefits for workers laid off due to the coronavirus, which is already happening in the US.
  • Expanding food security: Expanding access to programs like SNAP, WIC, and school lunch programs throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Progressive economists have long believed that expanding existing safety net programs is a highly effective way of stimulating the economy because the sorts of low-income people who benefit from them are highly likely to immediately spend any extra money they get — helping stabilize economy-wide demand. The 2009 stimulus bill featured many provisions along these lines. Conservatives, who are critical of those programs in general, tend to be highly skeptical of putting more money into them.
  • Free coronavirus testing: Democratic leaders are proposing making coronavirus testing free to increase access. Free testing is being offered in a number of states, but there’s no federal regulation mandating it so far.
  • Increasing the capacity of the US medical system and ensuring affordable treatment: Pelosi and Schumer are calling for insurance providers to reimburse coronavirus patients for any non-covered costs related to coronavirus. Again, they’re hoping this gets more people treated and makes it so people don’t put off going to the doctor because they are worried about costs.

Trump is focused on tax relief. Republicans are still weighing their options.

Trump met with Senate Republicans during the party’s weekly lunch on Tuesday and presented a proposal featuring a couple of priorities, including a payroll tax cut. It’s a plan that Republicans have said they’re open to hearing, though many said that a lot of details still needed to be ironed out.

“The administration is seriously considering a fiscal stimulus. What that will be, I don’t think anybody has decided yet,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told reporters following the lunch.

The policies — which Trump first laid out in remarks on Monday — were just broad outlines, according to Republican senators. His statements this week, however, touched on a couple of areas:

  • Payroll tax cut: A payroll tax cut would reduce the amount of taxes that both workers and companies contribute, putting money back in the pockets of both corporations and their employees in the near term. Given the lack of specifics we have so far, it’s unclear whether companies or workers would benefit more from this move. A payroll tax cut was used as part of a stimulus package the Obama administration negotiated in 2010, but Jason Furman, one of Obama’s top economic policy hands and lead negotiators on the stimulus deal, tweeted Monday that “it was far from optimal then and would be even further from optimal now.” The key drawback of payroll tax cuts is they dribble out slowly over time, bit by bit, in each paycheck and fail to reach the people most in need of help — those who have lost their paychecks entirely.
  • Loan expansion to small businesses: Small businesses are among those that could be hit hardest by short-term changes in consumer behavior, and Trump has hinted that expanding access to such loans could help cushion some of these shortfalls.
  • Aid for hourly workers: There’s some potential overlap between this idea and the expansion of paid sick leave that Democrats have proposed. Trump has signaled that he wants to ensure hourly workers have a safety net they can rely on if their wages and work are compromised by illness — which a paid sick leave program would specifically help provide.

Efforts like this have historically faced Republican opposition, and those same roadblocks could come up again. “I like the idea as long as it’s the choice of the company,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) said, signaling that he wasn’t supportive of a measure that would mandate such benefits.

  • Airline, cruise, and hotel industry support: We don’t know much about what this assistance would look like, but Trump has said his administration intends to help these industries given the dips in travel that have taken place in the wake of the coronavirus. Sahm counters that what businesses really need is customers, so the right approach is to “help everyone” rather than trying to target particularly industries or companies.

Key gaps remain between what Democrats have proposed and what Trump put forth on Tuesday. Working through these differences and the specifics of a potential plan will be a major challenge for lawmakers as they continue to grapple with the outbreak. Multiple Democratic House lawmakers told Vox they want to see economic relief going directly to workers rather than benefiting big businesses and corporations.

“A lot of us are traditionally skeptical about stimulus, generally, but it depends on what it’s for, how much it’s going to cost, how we’re going to pay for it, and what it’s going to do,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the head of the upper chamber’s appropriations committee, told reporters Tuesday morning.

Time to pass a stimulus package is running out

Congress is running against the clock; after the stock market appeared to recover from Monday’s dive — its worst day since the 2008 financial crisis — stocks fluctuated again as of Tuesday afternoon.

With coronavirus spreading to multiple US states, economists predicted a greater likelihood that the US could experience a recession in 2020. “I think it is very difficult to avoid a recession,” Moody’s economist Mark Zandi told CNBC on Monday. “The depth of the recession will depend on how the [Trump] administration reacts.”

As Vox’s Emily Stewart wrote, “An old adage among economists is that [economic] expansions don’t die of old age; something has to happen to cause them.” Economists worry the coronavirus could be the thing to curb the expansion of a previously booming economy.

Recalling a recent trip to the port of Los Angeles, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) told Vox the coronavirus outbreak means shipments of goods from China to California are halting, causing bookings for dock space to unload container ships to go down substantially. That could have enormous effects on local workers there.

“A lot of the longshoremen that work there are not as impacted, but some of the people who are more on contract are — the drivers, the teamsters, and the truck drivers who get paid by haul are impacted,” Gomez said. “We’re going to start seeing a ripple effect throughout our supply chain and our economy.”

Layoffs in other sectors of the economy are already happening. Some airlines are planning layoffs, and the parent company of Austin’s South by Southwest festival announced it’s laying off one-third of its staff after the annual festival was canceled due to coronavirus concerns. That could be the tip of the iceberg, unless Congress intervenes in time.

Matt Yglesias contributed reporting to this piece.