Yesterday, after yet another woman accused Senator Al Franken of harassment, the dam broke. Democrat after Democrat began demanding his resignation. By last night, Democrats were expecting him to do so today, though Franken’s office pushed back against claims that he’d reached a final decision. Still, it’s hard to see him carrying on without any support from his caucus, and the governor of Minnesota is ready to appoint his lieutenant governor—a woman—to Franken’s seat if he steps down.
- In North Carolina, Democratic legislative leaders Darren Jackson and Dan Blue both called for Franken’s resignation, though Governor Roy Cooper did not go as far.
WHAT IT MEANS: There’s some political expediency in these calls, to be sure. As terrible as it is, what Franken has allegedly done isn’t nearly as bad as the accusations against Senate candidate Roy Moore—or, for that matter, President Trump. So Democrats, having forced out John Conyers and now turning on Franken, are seeking to claim to the moral high ground, with the Alabama race less than two weeks out.
- “By pushing Franken to resign, Democrats believed they could ‘clean the slate,’ clarify their position on sexual misconduct, and draw a clearer contrast with Republicans, said senior Democratic aides and operatives. ‘His continued presence in the Senate compromised our ability to communicate clearly against Republicans’ complicity in Moore’s candidacy and it subjected Democratic members of Congress
toweeks of painful interviews where they twisted themselves into pretzels trying to defend Franken’s indefensible conduct,’ said Lis Smith, a New York-based Democratic strategist.”
- Indeed, there is a stark contrast here, no matter the motivations. The Republican National Committee just sent a check to Roy Moore, an accused child molester who has been endorsed by the president, while Democrats are forcing their own misbehavers out the door.
Related: Roy Moore’s spokeswoman confirms that the candidate believes the accusations against him are part of a George Soros conspiracy and cites the Duke lacrosse case as evidence that women lie.
Related:Doug Jones is a normal polling error away from defeating Roy Moore.
Related: After Trump called one of his sexual assault accusers a liar, she sued him for defamation. The case could come down to a single club sandwich.
This is as predictable as sunrise. Congressional Republicans, who throughout the Obama presidency held themselves up as deficit hawks outraged by growing government debt, are in the process now of passing a tax cut for the wealthy that will blow a $1.45 trillion hole in the budget, according to an analysis of the plan by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which Republicans simply refuse to believe. And when that’s done, they’re going to look you in the eye and tell you with a straight face that the country is broke so we have to cut Social Security and Medicare. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said as much.
- “House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday said House Republicans will aim to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs next year as a way to trim the federal deficit. ‘We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,’ Ryan said during an interview on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show.”
- “Ryan said he’s been speaking privately with President Trump, who is beginning to warm to the idea of slowing the spending growth in entitlements. During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.”
- Republicans are also planning to take a swing at welfare reform: “Some House Republicans believe that Congress should cut Americans off government anti-poverty programs in part to help grow the national economy. … Other House Republicans similarly argued that there would be “no excuses” for poor Americans to need welfare once economic growth took hold. ‘Once we light this economy up, my brother, there’s going to be jobs for everybody. So there will be no excuses for anyone who can work to sit at home and not work,’ Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) said. ‘If we pass tax reform, we have to have welfare reform. When you have a vibrant economy, there’s no reason for Americans to suffer on welfare.’”
WHAT IT MEANS: It strikes me as very unlikely that the Senate will get behind this new push to gut benefits for seniors and kick the poor in the teeth during an election year, especially one in which Trump is historically unpopular and the GOP brand is downright toxic. The House can make these kamikaze votes if they want—and I suspect Democrats will be more than pleased to watch them do so—but this probably isn’t the hill Republican senators want to die on. Still, the logic here is worth taking in: The country can afford massive corporate tax breaks, but it can’t afford universal health care. The country can afford to eliminate the estate tax, but it can’t afford to keep funding Social Security or Medicare or welfare programs.
- FWIW: Higgins’s belief that corporate tax cuts are going to “light this economy up” is belied by all of the available evidence, which predicts only modest benefits to an already-growing economy that is already nearing full employment.
Related: Lobbyists are desperately fighting to salvage tax breaks in as the tax bill goes to conference.
This post was excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.