Swing State Pres

Friday, July 28, 2017

This Maverick Moment

John McCain saved Obamacare last night by casting the deciding vote to defeat the so-called "Skinny Repeal," the last option in Mitch McConnell's toolkit to get a bill -- any bill -- to a conference with the House.

McCain joined fellow Republicans Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and all the Democrats (and Independents) to defeat the bill 51-49. Last minute appeals by Trump and Pence failed to sway the Arizona Republican, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last week.

Where the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress goes from here is anyone's guess, but after months of wrangling, the GOP still has not been able to find a bill that can pass the Senate, and the one that passed the House is remarkably unpopular among Americans.

McCain's vote was an eerie echo of the events of 2010, when Ted Kennedy -- McCain's friend and colleague -- died of the exact same disease that struck McCain, thereby denying Barack Obama the 60th vote the Democratic-controlled Senate required to pass the legislation.  But the Democrats were able to secure the support of Kennedy's ultimate replacement, Republican Scott Brown, and fulfill Kennedy's dream of expanded health care.  Thus minimal support across the aisle, delivered under epic circumstances, was crucial in both the passing of Obamacare in 2010 and the saving of it in 2017.

And, of course, in another irony, McCain's action could secure for good the signature achievement of Barack Obama -- the man who defeated him for the presidency in 2008, thus setting off this historic legislative chapter in our history.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Topping the Fall Reality TV Line-Up: Constitutional Crisis!

The jigsaw pieces of this past week are falling in place, and the picture they are creating is crystal clear: Donald Trump appears intent on driving this country into a constitutional crisis... #worstrealitytvshowinhistory.

The waves of breaking news cascading around the White House were so frequent and so intense this past week that even fresh news about O.J. Simpson was relegated to the second block. Geez, once upon a time, the entire country had to go through Johnny Cochran detox in order to make it through a news cycle without cutting a vein for an O.J. fix. But in the fairy land of Trumpelstiltskin, even old Mr. “the glove don’t fit!” was gasping for media oxygen.

O.J. was mercifully buried under a steady flow of breaking news items that appeared at face value to be just another week of routine mayhem in the Trump White House. Stepping back a bit, however, these news items suddenly seem to be jigsaw pieces falling into place toward a seismic day of reckoning. By week’s end it had become apparent that Donald Trump is laying the groundwork for firing Robert Mueller, and, in all likelihood, doing anything and everything he perceives to be within his power to cripple the Russia investigation permanently.

If this comes to pass, the United States could very well face the gravest constitutional crisis in its history. But there is constitutional crisis – as in, the unwillingness of one branch of government to accede to the limits of its constitutional authority – and then there is a crisis of our national constitution … a challenge to our character and will as a people. Once the facts are established that Trump is overstepping his constitutional authority, are we as a people willing to act in order to force our representatives to rein in or remove a President who is brazenly and nakedly intent on subverting a vital investigation into the most serious threat to our democracy in the history of our republic?

Let’s begin to assemble the pieces with the news that at the G-20 Summit in Europe last week, Donald Trump actually had a second meeting with Vladimir Putin. There were only three people in that meeting: Putin, the Russian translator, and Trump. Trump had foolishly taken a meeting with Putin without a single representative from the U.S. government to stand as witness, ally, and safeguard for himself. He was winging it.

No one except those three people knows what was discussed.

The only thing we know for sure is that when Donald Trump arrived back in the United States, he suddenly began pressing a variety of buttons that clearly signaled a circling of the wagons around the White House.  

He eagerly submitted himself to an hour of questions from the organization he routinely excoriates as “fake news.” On this particular day, however, Trump used The New York Times as a megaphone to get a new message into the public square: the President felt Jeff Sessions had essentially betrayed him by recusing himself from the Russian investigation. It was, of course, Sessions' decision to recuse himself that put the Russia investigation in the sole authority of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who promptly hired Robert Mueller as Special Prosecutor. Trump let The New York Times know that Sessions’ decision to recuse was “very unfair” to the President, and that he would not have hired Sessions for the job if he had known that Sessions would take that step.

Well, there’s hanging someone out to dry, and then there is holding them in a hammerlock directly underneath the nozzle of an industrial strength Dyson Airblade. No one could quite recall the last time a U.S. President filleted one of his cabinet officers quite so publicly and so comprehensively. It did not take a Freudian analysis of the President’s subconscious motives to get the point: “Hey, Jeff… time to resign, so that I can hire a new Attorney General who fire Mueller.”

More startling still was the fact that Sessions did not take the hint. The Attorney General seemed oddly unperturbed by the fire hose of disrespect dished out in an audio recording released by The Times, and in a stream of invective as Trump resorted to social media to angrily mistweat his Attorney General. Sessions, to his credit, simply issued a bland statement about continuing to serve as long as it was appropriate and went back to work.

However, a second and perhaps even more consequential Trump quote emerged from the Times interview. Trump told The New York Times that he felt that it would not be appropriate for Special Prosecutor Mueller to go “beyond the scope” of the Russian election-tampering investigation by looking into Donald Trump’s personal finances. As Bill Clinton learned while watching Ken Starr take the Scandal Local from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky with all stops in between, presidents don’t get to tell special prosecutors what is and is not “in the scope of the investigation.” The message was unmistakable: if Mueller went after Trump's finances, the President would find a way to fire Mueller. Therein lies the germinating seed of constitutional crisis.

Shortly after came the reports that Trump lawyers are doing diligence on the nature and scope of the President’s authority to grant pardons. (Please excuse us if we take a quick victory lap on this one, as BTRTN was out ahead of the Huffington Post and The New York Times with  our post last week, entitled “Pardon Me. And Me. Me, too! Don’t Forget Me.” You can find it at http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2017/07/pardon-me-and-me-me-too-dont-forget-me.html.) The clear message in each of these reports is that Trump is gauging how to employ the pardon to undercut Mueller’s ability to secure honest testimony from Trump’s inner circle.

Then came the Times reporting that Trump’s legal team was busy researching how to slime the individuals selected to serve on Robert Mueller’s staff. The clear intent of this initiative was to prepare a “kitchen sink” rationale for firing Mueller. When Trump is ready to take the big leap in the unknown by firing Mueller, he wants to cloak his true reason under layers of camo netting in the form of spurious unrelated accusations of conflict of interest, liberal bias, and alleged past misdeeds on the part of Mueller’s elite investigate team.

On Friday, we learned that Sean Spicer had resigned from his position as the White House Communications Director in protest of the President’s decision to name Anthony Scaramucci to the Comms Director spot, layering Spicer in the pecking order. 

Scaramucci is widely known as “The Mooch,” and no, that is not a lame attempt at comedy. This guy actually is widely known as “The Mooch.” Having a slick, smarmy guy known as “The Mooch” pimping for a thug boss called “The Donald” is what you’d expect from a cheesy screenwriter peddling a sequel to “Jersey Shore.”

Those who watched The Mooch in action on Day One had to be impressed, if only because Scaramucci had not yet been neutered by his boss and made a singular point of oozing alpha from every pore. He did not merely project confidence, he visually exuded a radioactive hubris, calling to mind the advertising executive who once proudly recounted how much effort he had put into learning how to pretend to look sincere.

But make no mistake: Scaramucci is a howitzer next to Spicer’s water pistol. The Mooch is not the loopy, terrified marionette that Spicer became over the course of six months under Donald Trump. Also, given the litigious waters that lie ahead, it wasn’t dumb to put a Harvard lawyer out in front of communications.  In short (ok, that was cheap), replacing Spicer with Scaramucci was a serious upgrade in Trump’s communications arsenal, replacing a weak milquetoast and pathetically inept liar with a weapons grade propagandist. Trump had gamed this out and knew that Spicer would not be up to the task of defending the administration when time came to fire Mueller.

Just when we thought that Spicer’s exit was going to be the last explosion before a much-needed weekend came the latest episode of Friday Night Blights. Well after happy hour commenced on the Beltway, the Washington Post reported on leaked intel that Sergey Kislyak had reported back to the Kremlin during the election season that he had spoken with Jeff Sessions about the Trump campaign.

What seems most curious about this one is realizing just how many parties could have wanted this tidbit leaked. Sure, maybe it was yet another amazing bit of reporting by the Washington Post. Maybe it was a senior whistle-blower at the FBI or CIA tired of watching Trump and Sessions undermining intelligence operations. Or, could it have been Trump himself? Perhaps the President heard this tidbit and decided to air it out as further grounds for nailing Sessions. Or, try this: who, of all the players is in the best position to leak Russian-to-Russian communications? Why, one would have to believe that would be Vlad the Unveiler himself.

Maybe Putin decided to do his buddy Don a favor. Maybe Putin doesn’t think that Mueller’s investigation is in Russia’s interest, either. Maybe he thinks that having Donald Trump under his thumb is the best possible scenario, so he is now happy to help torpedo the Mueller investigation.

Which brings us full circle… back to that one-on-one conversation back at the G-20 summit. Vladimir Putin is a trained KGB operative. He knows when he has a once-in-a-lifetime moment… a one-on-one meeting with the President with no other American witness to be found. He is not a guy, Mr. Hamilton, who is going to miss his shot. Hey, Putin worked hard to elect Donald Trump, and he was not going to stand on the sideline and watch the bungling U.S. President slide from mere incompetence to becoming pathetically ineffectual before crash-landing at an impeachment trial. So maybe Putin used his private time to give Trump some advice.

Why, we can practically hear the Russian strongman lecturing the neophyte…

“Donald, I think you and I can accomplish great things together, but not if you let the weaklings in your government push you around! Start acting like a real man, not a sissy man! From what I can see, you have the full power to cripple this investigation. You fire Sessions. You get a new Attorney General who will fire Mueller and close down the Office of the Special Prosecutor. You tell your Republicans in the House and Senate to vote down an independent Congressional Committee. You understand?  Donald, my people are monitoring this investigation very closely. We have a good sense about what information the Special Prosecutor already has. It does not look good for you. And, of course, we know what our own intelligence officers have collected on your campaign, which – if it were ever to get out – would be a disaster. In sum, the walls are closing in all around you. You better act fast, or you will lose the ability to act entirely. If the wrong information were to get out, you could lose the presidency.  And, Donald... not even I would not have the power to stop it.”

Who knows?

All we know now is that Trump came back from the G-20, running scared and guns blazing. It’s easy to see one way this all plays out:  Mueller will subpoena a raft of financial records – including personal taxes -- from Trump. Trump will refuse to comply, citing executive privilege. The case will go directly to the Supreme Court, which will follow the lead of the 1974 Court that required Richard Nixon to turn over the tapes. Trump will continue to refuse to provide the financial information, triggering a Def Con One constitutional crisis.  And the only thing protecting democracy as we know it will be if enough Republicans perceive the outright rejection of a Supreme Court ruling as grounds for impeachment.

Or, the alternative scenario:  Trump’s lawyers will lay out this exact scenario and urge the President to take the risk and fire Mueller now.  Trump could easily conclude that he is impervious to impeachment, as it would take a full 17 Republican Senators to succeed. It’s possible that Congress would launch its own special prosecutor, but in that circumstance, Trump’s act of firing Mueller succeeds as a huge delaying tactic, pushing any investigation back to square one.

The first scenario is a textbook constitutional crisis – one branch of government openly and flagrantly defying the constitutional authority decreed to another branch of government.

The second is a crisis of our national constitution: our will to survive as a democracy of the people, for the people, by the people.  Do the people of the United States have the strength and the will to get out on the streets and defy a tyrant abusing his power to undermine our elections, subvert our government, and crush the United States Constitution?

It’s coming this fall on your favorite television network.

But do remember one thing. It is not reality TV.

It will be reality.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pardon Me! (And me! Me, too! Don't forget me!)

Wonder why nobody in TrumpWorld seems fazed about MoronGate? Steve reflects on the reason that the cold, hard evidence of Junior's intent to collude is being shrugged off at the White House.

The news that Donald Trump, Jr. recorded a mile-long email trail documenting his salivating eagerness to collude with the Russian government should not have come as a shock. Profoundly stupid as this appeared, it was still and all the act of a man whose most consequential life accomplishment to date has been emerging intact from the birthing canal, enabling him to coast his ensuing 39 years on a name that represents the pinnacle of taste to all those who possess no taste. This man makes one think that DNA is actually an acronym for Does Not Achieve. Of all the hypotheses as to why the younger Trump placed the smoking gun to his own temple, the one with that singular ring of truth is that he is an idiot. People say he is dumber than a box of hammers, but then again, hammers do not post wildly incriminating email trails on their Twitter feeds.

Trump proceeded to offer a most unlikely defense for having taken a meeting with a Russian government emissary that was essentially characterized as an opportunity for collusion: he willingly tweeted absolute proof of his intent to collude, but appeared angry and disappointed that there wasn’t anything worth colluding about. I went to that branch with every intention of robbing the bank, he seems to be saying, but when I demanded the money, they didn’t have much, so I left.  How much more innocent can I get?

To round out his day, Trump handled incoming lobbed softballs from Sean Hannity by taking his moron defense to the airwaves, arguing that in the he-man, testosterone-driven world of business, everyone is going to take a meeting in which they are offered juicy tidbits to take down their competitors. Funny how the Trumps appear to understand the differing standards between business and government when they are chanting “lock her up,” but are tripped up by those nuances when eagerly entertaining illicit offers from hostile sovereign nations.

A delicious side dish in Don Jr.’s comprehensive bungle was that when he learned from The New York Times that it was about to release the full text of his emails, he disingenuously raced to pre-empt the Times’ scoop by tweeting the full trail himself. The Trump White House’s entire strategy of dealing with bad news is to label any such bombshell as just so much fake news disseminated by a lying liberal press on the devil’s mission to delegitimize the Donald’s presidency. However, it became a bit harder to call it fake news when Don Jr. was the one actually sent the tweet.

Indeed, many in the liberal press cracked open the vintage Dom Perignon, believing that MoronGate would finally set in motion an inexorable chain of events that would bring the Presidency of Donald Trump to its knees. Time magazine’s cover headline was “Red Handed,” which seemed to capture the permanent delusion among progressives that anyone in the Republican Party gives a rat’s ass about what the liberal media says. 

But in the long view, the real implication of MoronGate has little to do with Donald Trump Jr.

As the foggy shroud of bullshit burned away from his initial claims of an innocent meeting about “adoptions,” the true significance of this event is that Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort found it worth their while to attend a meeting in June specifically billed as an opportunity to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.  The implications of this fact are seismic: while private citizen Donald Trump Jr. can very credibly retreat to the idiot defense, Advisor to the President Jared Kushner does not have that latitude.   

Make no mistake: it is Kushner’s reputation that Trump Junior’s tweet shredded. It was only two months ago that Kushner was forced to acknowledge that he had attempted in December to set up a secret “back channel” to the Kremlin. Then followed the disclosure that Kushner was a subject of the FBI’s investigation. More recently, Kushner had to amend his disclosure of meeting with Russians for the third time to acknowledge his attendance in Trump Junior’s meeting in June.  And now Trump Junior tweets that the specific intent of this meeting was to find out whether the Kremlin could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Jared Kushner is now in the position of being the senior-most official of the United States government who has acknowledged direct meetings with Russian government emissaries about highly questionable topics at a time when all U.S. intelligence and investigative agencies agree that Russia intentionally took actions to undermine the U.S. elections.  In Kushner, we now have reasonably concrete evidence of the means, motive, institutional authority, and now even intention to authorize collusion with the Russian government.

Indeed, it’s still early in the evidence-gathering game. Who knows how many more meetings, emails, and crazy Russian rock stars are going to emerge as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, the FBI, and the congressional committees continue to dredge the swamp? Will still more Kushner meetings with the Russians materialize? That sounds just about as risky as betting against the Knicks.

Which brings us all the way to the hardened, gnarly nut yet to be cracked open.

We have, on the one hand, the narrative of a President who micro-managed his campaign, making every single important decision himself, and taking counsel only from a tiny group of fiercely loyal aides and family members. On the other hand, we have those very fiercely loyal family members insisting that they never told the micro-managing candidate of a potential game-changing opportunity to gain information that could mortally wound Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.  It simply defies logic or common sense that none of Don Jr., Kushner, or Manafort  ever mentioned this meeting to Trump Sr.

Kushner, in particular, is at the center of every bulls-eye: it is simply unfathomable that Kushner had repeated substantive discussions with Russian operatives about a wide array of topics and yet did not discuss a single one of them with his father-in-law, which is essentially what President Trump has maintained throughout his “witch hunt” counter-attack.  How are we to believe that such a scenario was executed? 

  • Are we to believe that Kushner was free-lancing -- repeatedly engaging in unauthorized, rogue, and wildly dangerous secret meetings with Russian operatives at his own initiative and authority?
  • Or that Kushner took all these meetings believing that it is what the old man wanted him to do, all the while keeping Trump Senior insulated from any specific incriminating involvement or information?
  • Or, perhaps this: Kushner was man-Friday for every scheme Donald Trump wanted to explore, and was empowered to pursue clandestine and borderline-illegal activities because he had been completely reassured that he would never, ever be negatively affected by a single one of his actions.

The President of the United States has the power to grant whole, unreserved, and permanent pardons regarding any crime of any magnitude to any citizen he so wishes to bestow this awesome gift upon. Donald Trump received, among many other things, an endless supply of “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards when he received the gold-plated Monopoly Game from Vladimir Putin and James Comey in November, 2016.

Among the crimes that Jared Kushner need not worry about are treason, election tampering, and perjury. All he needs to do is stand up, raise his right hand, and swear that every meeting he ever took with Russians was his own idea, his own doing, his own initiative, and that he never told the boss.

Flynn? Same deal. Never told the boss a thing. Pardon me.

Manafort? Me? Tell Trump?  I beg your pardon!

And Donald Trump, Junior, the only one (so far) stupid enough to fully document and publish his intent to collude? Please pardon the behavior of my idiot son.

Make no mistake: the point here is not that Kushner and this gang plan to plead the Fifth or invoke executive privilege. Either of those routes would be interpreted as tantamount to a confession, and would risk sowing doubt among the party faithful. No, these people would be more likely to brazenly lie, knowing that no penalty -- perjury, treason, destroying evidence -- cannot be undone by a Presidential pardon. Lying is the lingua franca of Trump's motley crew, and it is the native form of communication of its cult leader. Why do we think any of them would stop in the face of sworn testimony?
Don’t be surprised when all these people materialize at the end of the Trump Presidency with the Kush-iest of jobs at Trump Enterprises. Go to prison? These guys are going to be paid millions for their cooperation.

The parade of testimony from each of these four players may be all that die-hard Republican representatives and senators may need to claim that there is no case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Think Trump wouldn’t have the audacity to promise a full pardon and fat reward to every flunkie who promises to lie under oath on his behalf? Perhaps you do not truly understand this man. He has already demonstrated a full willingness to use every power the office accords him, with no restraint born of custom, history, or patriotic behavior. Release my taxes? Respect the press? Ban immigrants based on religion? 

Let’s just hope that Special Prosecutor Mueller has already long-since gamed this one out.  A prosecutor’s usual approach is to attempt to flip the underlings in order to gain their testimony on the big target. Knowing that Trump has, in the power of presidential pardon, the ultimate trump card, Mueller may have to take an entirely different approach to this case.

We can hope that the administration has more idiots like Donald Trump Jr., who have created similar electronic trails that provide the hard evidence of collusion.

We can hope that the Mueller is relying on wholly separate sources of evidence and never needs to hear a word of testimony from anyone in the administration to make a case for collusion or obstruction.

But all we learned from Donald Trump Jr. last week is that this President isn’t even fazed by hard, tangible evidence of intent to collude by his son, his son-in-law and key White House advisor, and a top-ranking manager in his campaign.

Pardon me if I suggest that there is a reason why.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

BTRTN June 2017 Month in Review: The Dirge

Tom on another miserable month in a miserable presidency.

THE MONTH

Donald Trump's sad excuse of a presidency is settling into a wretched dirge.  The world may be on fire -- another round of frightening terror attacks, no deterrent to North Korea’s escalating nuclear weapons program, an extraordinarily devastating health care insurance bill hanging in the balance – but the President of the United States is occupying his time and attention with an ongoing personal brawl with two television hosts over plastic surgery and The National Enquirer.  That is, when he is not "obsessed" (using Dan Coats' word) by the Russia investigation.  It has come to this.

The month has proven to be another exercise in distraction, with the Trump Administration pursuing, single-mindedly, an active strategy of all-out war with the media.  The White House has been shut out of the health care talks by Mitch McConnell, has delegated military strategy to the Pentagon, and is essentially running a different foreign policy than that of its very own Secretary of State.  In the wake of Trump’s decision to revoke U.S. support of the Paris Accords, our allies have given up on us.  Trump admitted that his “China Strategy” of controlling North Korea has failed (surprise!), there is no Afghanistan policy, and Trump can’t seem to strike the right tone in the wake of various UK terrorist attacks, using them as forums to pick fights on issues and people (e.g. the Mayor of London) rather than a show of solidarity.

Did we mention that this was the month that James Comey publicly testified to what at the very least seems to be, to any layman, a strong case for obstruction of justice?  That the Washington Post reported that Trump himself was now officially under investigation for obstruction, a report apparently confirmed by Trump himself and then reversed by one of his lawyers, who made the absurd argument that Trump was confined to 140 characters and thus could not explain himself fully?  (Trump, of course, is expert at running series of tweets that collectively allow for many multiples of 140.)  That Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Mike Rogers and Dan Coates, who have nothing to do with the collusion case but are intimately involved in the obstruction issue, thereby essentially confirming the Post?

Here is what passed for “wins” this month for the White House:  abandoning 194 other nations in the Paris Accords, joining only two others in rejecting them (one of whom because the Accords did not go far enough, in their view); the Supreme Court’s decision to lift parts of the notorious travel ban, until the case is heard this fall; and Trump not blowing the message after a gunman badly wounded House Whip Steve Scalise at a GOP baseball practice.  That…is….it.

We are well past the novelty of an unconventional president, well past the point when a “New Trump” (like the many “New Nixons”) might have emerged, well past any thoughts of Trump translating his victory into a legislative record the GOP could be proud of (however hideous it might be).  We have settled into this miserable march, replete with senseless tweets, personal vendettas, classless insults, a stalled agenda, sycophantic Cabinet meetings, titillating statements (e.g., White House Tapes) that are later withdrawn, discrediting Robert Mueller, self-proclaimed P.R. plays like “Infrastructure Week” and “Energy Week” that are trampled in the message game by Trump himself, no foreign policy and an increasingly exhausted and frustrated America.

There is no end in sight.  Many of us are truly horrified by all of this and have been since Election night; some of us were willing to give Trump a shot and are now basically unhappy, and some of us are still applauding.  The Mueller investigation has begun in earnest and it will be methodical and lengthy.  Steel yourself America, this is the way it is going to be for many, many months.

THE NUMBERS

Trump’s approval rating remains at roughly 40%, in and of itself another sign of our collective stalemate.  I am often asked how anyone could possibly approve of the way things are going.  There is truth, of course, to the parallel universe theory that Trump supporters live in their own world of media, blogs and alternative facts that support the notion that this has been a successful presidency.

But I think other factors – that take into account the many misfires – are also at play.  First, Trump supporters are simply happy that, after eight years of Obama, the agenda in play and the discussion around it, is a conservative one.  Second, even if Trump supporters believe he has not accomplished much as yet, they are far more likely to blame Congress (see: health care), or the courts (travel ban) or, less rationally, the Deep State (that they believe exists for the sole purpose of trying to torpedo Trump)  rather than Trump himself.  And third, even those Trump supporters who accept that he is utterly failing can still take solace in the fact that, in their view, it was much worse under Obama and would have been even worse under Hillary Clinton.

But the approval rating is falling, about a point a month, and the “net negative” is widening, now at -14.  Trump may not be in the true Danger Zone of the 20-30% range, where GOP congressmen dump him as the midterms approach.  But he is also a long way from the Reelection Zone that is much closer to 50%.  The trajectory is downward, and there does not appear to be any near-term catalyst to break the trend.

TRUMP APPROVAL RATING

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Approve
46
46
43
43
42
41
Disapprove
46
50
52
52
54
55
Net
0
-4
-8
-9
-12
-14

TRUMPOMETER

It’s easy to forget that Trump was essentially elected on an economic platform – the promise of jobs for the working class.  “America First” seems to be playing out more on the foreign policy side, with the Paris Accords and the lukewarm stance on NATO.  But “America First” was first and foremost about jobs.

Trump, despite his protestations otherwise, inherited a good situation, with a dwindling unemployment rate, modest GDP growth, and good prospects for both.  While he is claiming credit for the continuation of good news, the burden is shifting to him to make good on his promise for 4% GDP growth.  He surely will  point to tax reform as a key pillar required to achieve such a huge spike, and that is no lay-up.  The Administration has already walked back its promise for August passage of the bill, and they will be laughably later than that, if they achieve a bill at all.

For now, we track the Trumpometer, which is at -2, little changed since the Inaugural.  The unemployment rate has dropped, the stock market has been strong, consumer confidence remains high and the price of gas has fallen.  But Trump now owns that GDP number…stay tuned.

"Clinton-ometer"        1/20/2001
"Bush-      ometer"        1/20/2009
"Obameter"      1/20/2017
"Trump-ometer" 5/31/2017
"Trump-ometer" 6/30/2017

25
-53
0
-4
-2
  Unemployment Rate
4.2
7.8
4.7
4.4
4.3
  Consumer Confidence
129
38
114
118
119
  Price of Gas
1.27
1.84
2.44
2.52
2.40
  Dow Jones
10,588
8,281
19,732
21,009
21,350
  GDP
4.5
-6.2
2.1
1.4
1.4