The Debt Ceiling Distraction

Much to the surprise of the Republican Party and the press, President Trump and Democratic leaders have been coming to agreements lately, including an alleged deal on DACA legislation this week and an agreement last week to put the debt ceiling debate off until December, as Democrats wanted. There were even whispers that they might do away with the ceiling altogether.

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The GOP is Breaking. It’s not Trump’s Fault.

We now have something like consensus: The rise of Donald Trump portends the end of the Republican Party as we know it. As longtime GOP operative and commentator Steve Schmidt said last week, “The Republican Party has an outstanding chance of fracturing.” Trump’s opponents, inside and outside the party, are united in the belief that he has almost single-handedly undone an institution founded on the eve of the Civil War that has lasted for more than 150 years and has immeasurably shaped the United States.

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An Economy of Chicken Littles

The “nattering nabobs of negativism” (a phrase we have to thank Spiro Agnew for, via William Safire) are out in full force again in the financial and pundit world. While there was only occasional mention of the economy during the Republican debate last week, both the GOP contenders and market mavens seem to agree that the world is going to hell. They have different reasons: The Republicans think the world has become dangerously unstable and that Obama is a cause. Investors, who have pushed global financial markets sharply lower (the S&P 500 is now down almost 10 percent since January 1) to the worst start to a year ever, see the root cause as heedless central banks, a U.S. economy grinding to a halt, and a collapsing debt-laden China.

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Jobs Numbers: Get Used to Bad Employment Data

Today’s employment figures show that America has entered job stasis. The headline number—69,000 jobs added—was weak at best, made worse by revised data for March and April that subtracted another 50,000 jobs, give or take. The unemployment rate nudged up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent, but truly the most notable thing about this release was that there was nothing truly notable.

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GOP Debate Showed Irrational War on Fed by Gingrich & Other Republicans

Early in last night’s Republican primary debate, the ever-provocative, always-entertaining and occasionally astute Newt Gingrich launched a broadside against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: “Bernanke has in secret spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing out another group. 

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The U.S. Is Not Drowning In Debt

In case you haven’t noticed, Washington is currently consumed in an acrimonious debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling. There is no agreement about whether to do so or how, but both parties appear to accept the logic that the United States is suffering from an unacceptably high level of government debt and that further debt will doom the U.S. to generations of decline. Judging by polling data, large swaths of the country agree. Nonetheless, that consensus is wrong.

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Ports Post-Mortem

The Dubai deal is dead, and few are sorry to see it end this way. In fact, there hasn’t been this much bipartisanship since the Era of Good Feelings nearly two hundred years ago. The Republicans in the Senate and the House, led by the likes of Rep. Peter King (R- New York), have asserted their independence from an increasingly unpopular president, and the Democrats have managed simultaneously to reconnect with their populist base and seem more stringent on national security. Polls show that upwards of 70% of the American public either strongly opposed or somewhat opposed the takeover, and with the capitulation of the company, there has been no dearth of back-patting, from Capitol Hill to the blogsphere.

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What if the Supremes Overturned Roe?

In this quiet time as the left and the right polish their swords, huddle with their strategists, and burnish their armor, in these weeks before Judge Samuel Alito goes before the Senate Judiciary Committe in January (a veritable lifetime away in the ADD world of Beltway affairs), the lines are being drawn, and Roe v. Wade is once again the battleground. The presumption is that Alito is primed to rule against Roe. Whether he would or wouldn’t, the Democrats are prepared to oppose him.

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They’d Better Do Better Than We Can Do Better

Libby indicted! Miers withdraws! Polls register vertiginous drop in support for Bush, the war, the Republicans in Congress. Rove not off the hook, a prosecutor who, gasp, does not leak - everything seems to be breaking in the Democrats’ direction. But remember the last time the left side of the aisle was this giddy? The fall of 2004, when Bush seemed to be sinking himself and Kerry appeared on the verge of victory. Certain that the Republicans would implode, the Democrats forgot that they had to actually do and say something that someone would find meaningful.

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