Opinion & Analysis

Capitol Ink | Beep Beep

Opinion: Trump Needs to Reread ‘The Art of the Comeback’
The president’s political embrace and his threats are both equally empty

President Donald Trump waves to the crowd after addressing a joint session of Congress in the Capitol's House Chamber, February 28, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After just nine weeks in the Oval Office, Donald Trump is already forced to resort to his third book, “The Art of the Comeback.”

From James Comey’s artfully cloaked shiv in last Monday’s congressional testimony to the head-for-the-lifeboats abandonment of Trumpcare on Friday, it is hard to recall a president who has had a worse week without someone being indicted.

Opinion: The GOP’s Big Health Care Winner — Mitch McConnell
House in flames but crisis avoided in the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains untarnished by the GOP effort to repeal the 2010 health care law, Allen writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s exactly one big winner in the Republican leadership right now: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The Kentucky Republican, long known for his sixth-sense acumen as a political and legislative strategist, completely avoided the direct and collateral damage of the GOP health care debacle of 2017.

Opinion: Art as Soul Food – A Tough Yet Essential Case to Make
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are ill-advised

Funding for humanities programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, is only a fraction of the federal budget and should not be cut, Curtis writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Most critics expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s proposed budget have focused on cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program that funnels money to Meals on Wheels. And who can blame them? 

If you’re looking for allies for your cause, that’s the narrative you want — one that sets up clear-cut heroes and villains, especially with budget director Mick Mulvaney, sent from central casting and all but twirling a mustache as he says, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” or “There’s no demonstrable evidence” that after-school programs that also feed children are actually “helping kids do better at school.”

Capitol Ink | Booster Shot

Opinion: Are Republicans Storming the Castle or Walking the Plank on Health Care?
Upcoming health care vote could have consequences for 2018

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was singled out by President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s House GOP conference meeting for not yet voicing his support for the Republican health care plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are getting leaned on, hard, to vote for the GOP health care bill. First came the invitations to the White House Bowling Alley. Then the lunch dates. Still hunting for votes over the weekend, President Donald Trump flew members to Mar-a-Lago. But by Tuesday, with a floor vote looming, President Trump was naming names at the GOP caucus meeting. “Mark Meadows?” the president said, looking for the leader of the Freedom Caucus, who has still not said he’ll vote for the bill. “Stand up, Mark. … Mark, I’m going to come after you.”

The White House later said that the president was “just having fun” at the caucus meeting. But when a White House goes into full whip mode, which this White House obviously has, it’s time for the members on the sharp side of the whip to ask themselves whether they’re being asked to storm the castle or walk the plank. In other words, will their vote on health care this week help deliver a successful, necessary legislative victory, or are they being asked to support a bill that may not pass, may not work, or may cost them and their party their seats in two years’ time.

Capitol Ink | Gorsuch On Ice

Opinion: The Trump White House: A Modest Proposal
Forget Orwell. Jonathan Swift is more appropriate for this president

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, doesn't think much of Meals on Wheels . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Big Brother does one thing well, it’s stay on message. Big Brother has a consistent voice. Big Brother would not allow the FBI director to testify before The House Intelligence Committee. Big Brother would not allow for broadcast of the hearing. Big Brother would cancel the hearing and air two minutes of hate. Big Brother does not exist. We are not living in “1984.”

Like a lot of Americans, I revisited “1984" after 20 years on the shelf. The most in-vogue dystopian novel is popular for obvious reasons. Orwell’s view isn’t even his most apt for these times (that would be “Animal Farm”). It may seem like we’re living in a time of Newspeak and never ending war, but we’re not headed to Oceania.

Opinion: James Comey and the Art of the Shiv
FBI director has the credibility to oppose the White House

In his testimony Monday, James B. Comey dropped enough bombshells to solidify his reputation as the most significant FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Late in Monday’s marathon hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey reminded the nation that he was something of a hostile witness, reluctantly summoned to talk about Russia, Donald Trump and the 2016 campaign.

“I’d rather not be talking about this at all,” Comey said. “Now we are going to close our mouths and do our work.”

Opinion: Echoes of Watergate Could Spell Danger for Trump
But the bar for impeachment is high

Bipartisan consensus on impeaching the president, as was the case with President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal, can be reached only if the American people demand it, Holtzman writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard M. Nixon, the only impeachment effort to force a president from office in our country’s history. Today, many Americans, alarmed at President Donald Trump’s conduct, want him to be impeached and removed from office.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974, I found that impeachment was not easy or quick. Still, that impeachment effort may provide a useful road map for how to proceed today.

Capitol Ink | Trump Watergate Complex

Opinion: Trump, Yul Brynner and a Results-Free Presidency
Like the King of Siam, Trump is lionized by his fans as ‘a man who tries’

In President Donald Trump’s world, talking a good game matters more than tangible accomplishments, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At the core of Donald Trump’s Friday press conference with Angela Merkel was a theme that he has been harping on since he became a candidate — America is being played for a patsy on the global stage.

Sure, now that he is president, Trump feels compelled to ritualistically affirm his “strong support for NATO.” But at the press conference, a German reporter challenged Trump over his “isolationist policy.” The president pointedly responded, “The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years. And that’s going to stop. But I’m not an isolationist.”

Opinion: This Budget Isn’t Dead on Arrival
Trump’s budget draws the battle lines between the parties

A president’s budget sets the tone, direction and parameters of the debate over government operations and Republicans in Congress will be hard-pressed to go against a president of their own party, Allen writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Every year, Congress affixes the same toe tag to the White House budget within minutes of its delivery: “Dead on Arrival.”

The phrase is such a cliche, and so often repeated by members of Congress who dislike the president’s numbers, that it’s hard to find a news story about each year’s budget that doesn’t include those three words. It’s also discounted as just a “blueprint,” “a political document” or a “proposal” written for disposal. When I was a budget reporter for CQ, and at other publications, these were my watchwords.

Opinion: The GOP and White Evangelicals — A Forever Match?
Less than compassionate policies might be fraying ties

The rise of President Donald Trump has exposed a few cracks in the long-standing relationship between white evangelical Protestants and the Republican Party, Curtis writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Will a health care proposal that could toss “the least of these” off its rolls cause divisions between evangelicals uncomfortable with a close relationship with the Republican Party and those who feel just fine with the political association?

A shared anti-abortion stance, with the promise to appoint like-minded judges, has so far helped to keep the link between evangelicals and the GOP strong. But strains — along policy, generational, and racial lines — are showing within conservative faith groups, despite agreement on core beliefs. 

Capitol Ink | Nightmare at 20,000 Feet