In it, but not of it. TPM DC

As the Senate races toward a vote Thursday or Friday on a 250-plus page bill to overhaul the American tax code, with no hearings and without a complete analysis of the bill’s impact, a cadre of Republican senators say they’re working “feverishly” on a last-minute rewrite. Skeptical of the wild economic growth GOP leadership promises will make up for all the revenue lost in the legislation, the change they’re seeking would create a “backstop” or “trigger” mechanism to undo some of the deepest tax cuts in the bill after several years if that magic economic growth doesn’t materialize.

Read More →

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) has regained a slight lead against Democrat Doug Jones in the first post-Thanksgiving poll, a sign that while the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have bruised his campaign, he’s not done yet.

Moore leads Jones by 49 percent to 44 percent in a new online survey from Change Research, reversing a small 3-point lead Jones had held in the pollster’s first survey after the allegations against Moore surfaced two weeks ago.

The poll shouldn’t be taken as gospel: It was conducted completely online using a methodology some pollsters are still wary of; no single poll should be used to fully judge a race; and the pollster isn’t well-established in the industry, so there’s no lengthy track record to judge it by.

But the survey provides the first public numbers of where the race is since Alabama voters have had time to digest the accusations of nine women that Moore acted inappropriately towards them, including one who accused him of sexual assault when she was 16 years old and another who was 14 when she says Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her. Moore has denied the allegations.

Polls conducted in the immediate aftermath of the accusations and before Thanksgiving painted a mixed picture of the race, with Moore leading by as much as 10 and Jones leading by as much as 6 points, though all pollsters showed a shift towards Jones since the allegations surfaced.

Moore held a narrow 47 percent to 45 percent lead in a one-day Strategy Research survey released last Monday, numbers that were actually good news for Jones since that pollster had found him trailing by 11 in its previous two surveys.

The online poll of 1,868 self-reported Alabama registered voters was conducted from Nov. 26-27.

Read More →

With a vote on the controversial Republican tax bill expected in the Senate later this week, GOP leaders are furiously whipping the handful of lawmakers who could make or break the bill’s success. But for every vote they pull on board, more seem to fall off the wagon.

On Monday, yet another Republican senator aired concerns about the bill, particularly estimates that it would balloon the federal deficit by $1.2 to $1.4 trillion. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) told reporters in a Capitol Hill press conference that he’s skeptical the promised economic growth will fill that hole, and refused to say how he will vote on the tax bill itself.

Read More →

President Trump won’t campaign with Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore after floating the idea last week, according to the Associated Press.

A White House official tells the AP that Trump won’t head to Alabama to help Moore, whom Trump is standing by even as other party leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have moved to dump him.

Trump stuck by his endorsement of Moore last week even though nine women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct — including a number who say they had encounters with Moore when they were teenagers. In a brief conversation with reporters, Trump questioned whether those women were telling the truth, attacked Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, and said he’d let them know this week whether or not he’d stump with Moore.

He’s doubled down on the anti-Jones attacks in recent days.

Even if Trump won’t campaign with Moore, his support is providing cover for the controversial candidate as he tries to weather the storm of accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, initiated a consensual sexual encounter with a 14-year-old, and regularly hit on teenagers. It’s unclear whether Trump will go further than his current tweets backing Moore and record robocalls or campaign ads for the embattled Republican, whose campaign struggles could risk the GOP’s control of the Senate.

White House officials didn’t immediately respond to requests from TPM to confirm the AP’s report.

Moore, for his part, has blamed everyone from Democrats to journalists to McConnell and establishment Republicans for trying to scuttle his campaign.

In a new TV spot, he attacks all three groups while not mentioning Jones.

“Roy Moore has been intensely scrutinized, and not a hint of scandal,” the ad’s narrator says. “But, four weeks before the election, false allegations — a scheme by liberal elites and the Republican establishment to protect their big government trough.”

Most polls taken since the scandal broke two weeks ago show a close race, with the accusations taking a toll on Moore.

Read More →

Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, resigned on Friday, after announcing earlier in November that he would be stepping down from his post. No matter who President Trump appoints to succeed Cordray at the agency, there is sure to be a fight over that confirmation, as Democratic lawmakers fear an attempt to roll back the protections put in place after the Great Recession.

Read More →

As more women come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of unwanted touching and other forms of sexual harassment, the embattled lawmaker issued another statement on Thanksgiving Day apologizing for his behavior and vowing to be “much more careful and sensitive” going forward.

Yet the statement appears to downplay recent allegations that Franken grabbed the buttocks of women who had asked to pose with him for photos at political events, with the senator describing the interactions as “greetings or embraces.”

Read More →

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized Wednesday for a nude photo of himself posted by an anonymous Twitter account that made the rounds on social media, saying he was “sorry that I let my constituents down.”

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said in a statement. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days.”

Read More →

We have reached the halfway point of this year’s open enrollment period—Obamacare’s first under the Trump presidency—and the pace of signups continues to be strong, well ahead of last year. Still, Trump’s actions, including gutting outreach funding by 90 percent and cutting off subsidies to insurance companies, are likely to put a damper on overall enrollment.

The Department of Health and Human Services released an enrollment “snapshot” Wednesday morning showing that nearly 2.3 million people have enrolled so far this year during the first three weeks of open enrollment. That’s several thousand more people than had enrolled in the first four weeks last year, when the Obama administration was pulling out all the stops to encourage signups. Crucially, the number of new consumers signing up for health insurance is also ahead of last year.

Read More →

LiveWire