First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
Trump’s next 100 days won’t be any easier than his first
The good news for President Trump is that his rocky first 100 days in office won’t make or break his presidency, as we wrote last month. The bad news is that the next 100 to 200 days won’t get any easier for him, especially with a job-approval rating in the low 40s. Here are the issues where Trump can rack up some important victories — or some big defeats:
- Health care redux: There’s chatter that House Republicans this week might try to hold another vote. Can they get the 216 votes needed for passage (as House Freedom Caucus members have warmed to the legislation after the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, but as moderate distanced themselves from it)? Is the legislation dead on arrival in the Senate? And did Trump, in his CBS interview over the weekend, undermine that MacArthur-Meadows amendment?
- Trump’s tax cuts: The White House last week released its tax plan outline, but there were few (if any) specifics. What’s more, the administration and Capitol Hill Republicans aren’t exactly on the same page right now. The next 100 to 200 days will be crucial in determining whether ANY kind of tax-cut plan can become law.
- Will that border wall ever get funded? The budget deal that Republicans and Democrats reached last night (more on that below) did NOT include funding for Trumps’ border wall. We assume that will be a big fight in the fall. Is that when the government could really shut down?
- Don’t forget that the debt ceiling will have to be raised: And speaking of battles in the fall, remember that the debt limit will have to be raised, which is always a dicey political situation.
Budget expert Stan Collender isn’t bullish on Trump’s next 100 to 200 days, because he says the same three problems that existed in the first 100 days still remain: 1) a poor relationship with Congress, 2) an incoherent style of governing, and 3) an administration that still hasn’t filled important jobs. “These three major failures deprive Trump with the positive momentum and enhanced credibility that is needed by every president after the first 100 days end,” Collender writes.
Congress reaches budget deal, averts government shutdown
“A deal has been reached on a $1 trillion-plus bill to fund the government for the final five months of this fiscal year, an agreement that is likely to avert a government shutdown,” per NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, Kasie Hunt, and Frank Thorp. “The deal includes an additional $12 billion in defense spending, which is $18 billion less than Trump asked for. It also includes a permanent fix to fund coal miners' health care instead of a temporary extension.... Democrats stressed that there is no money not only for a border wall, but also for a deportation force, and they said there would be no cut in funding for so-called sanctuary cities... A big moment in these negotiations was when Trump backed down from two of his demands last week on money for a border wall and withholding subsidies to help lower-income people buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.”
For Trump, the campaign never ever ends
Just check out this new TV ad the Trump campaign is airing. (Folks, November 2020 is nearly 1,300 days from now.) “Donald Trump, sworn in as president one hundred days ago. America has rarely seen such success,” the ad’s narrator says. A respected Supreme Court justice -- confirmed. Companies investing in American jobs again… Regulations that kill American jobs – eliminated. The biggest tax cut plan in history.” The ad concludes, “You wouldn’t know it from watching the news. America is winning again and President Trump is making America great again.”
“Could’ve been China”: Trump once again casts doubt on whether Russia intervened in the ’16 election
In his interview on CBS, President Trump once again cast doubt on whether Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election. “[I]t's very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I'll go along with Russia. Could've been China, could've been a lot of different groups.” We’ll remind the president what the U.S. intelligence concluded (and briefed him on): “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”
More: “We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.”
Pence concedes Trump tax plan could increase deficit "in the short term"
“Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday morning acknowledged that the Trump administration's tax proposal could increase the deficit, at least at first,” NBC’s Kailani Koenig writes. “‘Maybe in the short term,’ he said during an exclusive interview on NBC's ‘Meet The Press,’ while predicting that it would eventually be overcome by economic ‘growth.’ ‘The truth is,’ he added, ‘if we don't get this economy [growing] at 3 percent or more as the president believes that we can, we are never going to meet the obligations that we've made today.’”
Now let us praise authoritarian men, part 3
Donald Trump has complimented Vladimir Putin. He congratulated Erdogan’s recent political victory in Turkey. And now he’s invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, even though Duterte has order extrajudicial killings of drug suspects. NBC News: "According to leading international campaign group Human Rights Watch, Duterte's crackdown has claimed some 7,000 lives, with half of those attributed to the Philippine National Police." The New York Times adds, “It is not even clear, given the accusations of human rights abuses against him, that Mr. Duterte would be granted a visa to the United States were he not a head of state, according to human rights advocates.” By the way, Trump has business in the Philippines (see this billboard promoting Ivanka Trump, per NBC’s Peter Alexander).
GOP congresswoman announces retirement, giving Dems prime pickup opportunity
“U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the dean of the Florida legislative delegation and the first Cuban American elected to Congress, is retiring at the end of her term next year, saying it’s time to move on after more than 35 years in elected office,” the Miami Herald reported yesterday. “Her unexpected retirement marks the end of a storied career in which Ros-Lehtinen repeatedly broke political ground as a Cuban-American woman -- and gives Democrats an opportunity to pick up a South Florida congressional seat in 2018. Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected last November to Florida’s redrawn 27th district, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton's biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country.”
Meet the man who might have the toughest race in 2017
Here’s the profile that one of us wrote about Ed Gillespie, the Republican running in this year’s gubernatorial race in Virginia – who is going to have to navigate a tricky political sea. “It hasn't been easy being a Republican running for statewide office in Virginia over the past decade. And this year, Ed Gillespie's run for governor could be even harder. How difficult? For starters the GOP has won just one major statewide political race in Virginia (for president, governor or Senate) since 2005. Additionally, with just one exception, the party controlling the White House has lost every gubernatorial race in the state since the 1970s — a sign of backlash against the new or re-elected president. Then there's the Trump Factor in the general election, with the president's job-approval rating sitting at just 36 percent in the state, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in Virginia in 2016, 50 percent to 44 percent. But if Gillespie — who narrowly lost a Senate race in 2014 to Democrat Mark Warner — wanted to distance himself from Trump, he faces a primary challenge from a pro-Trump Republican who has been campaigning on immigration and protecting Confederate monuments. Add it all up — history, Trump, a primary fight — and Gillespie has a difficult, but still winnable, path to the governor's mansion.”