Controlling the Flow

Friday, August 25, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 11.06.34 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team
On Washington

Trump Fences Himself In With Border Wall Spending Threat

A National Park Service worker at the closed Lincoln Memorial in Washington during the October 2013 government shutdown.

A National Park Service worker at the closed Lincoln Memorial in Washington during the October 2013 government shutdown. Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump handed Democrats a gift this week with his vow to shut down the government if he doesn’t soon get money for his border wall.
Democrats may be only too happy to let him follow through on his threat since it will now be easy for them to blame the president for any government interruption, which would probably aggravate many Americans.
Rather than cowing Democrats, Mr. Trump’s tough talk is more likely to embolden the opposition in continuing negotiations, particularly since he has now twice suggested he was willing to shutter government agencies if he didn’t get his way.
It also puts more pressure on Republicans to find the votes internally to pass spending bills and an increase in the federal debt limit — two things hard-right conservatives in the House and Senate have refused to support in the past. That Republican resistance provides Democrats leverage — Republicans can either grant concessions such as no wall money or produce all the votes for the spending bills and debt limit increase themselves.
Read more »
Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, whose first term ends in February.

If Janet Yellen Goes, the Fed’s Current Policy May Go With Her


President Trump must soon decide whether to nominate Janet Yellen for a second term as Fed chairwoman, or to put a conservative in her place.

“I provide my input through the chain of command,” Gen. John Nicholson said during a news conference in Kabul on Thursday.

Trump’s Afghan Gamble Now Rests on a General He Doubted


The president has empowered Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., his top commander in Afghanistan, with new authorities — only after talking about firing him.

Ironworkers on a highway bridge project in Cleveland. Local-hiring provisions on construction projects have been contentious in Ohio and elsewhere.

Administration Scraps Local-Hiring Plan for Public Works


The Transportation Department is killing an Obama-era initiative to let cities set aside jobs for residents on federally funded infrastructure projects.

16 Americans Sickened After Attack on Embassy Staff in Havana

The American Embassy in Havana. Experts suspect there was a sonic attack on United States diplomats in their homes, which are provided by the Cuban government.By GARDINER HARRIS

The State Department reported on Thursday that at least 16 employees became ill after a possible sonic attack starting last December in homes of U.S. Embassy employees in Cuba.

Supporters of a higher minimum wage, which the service workers’ union has campaigned for, gathered in New York in 2015 to watch a live video of a meeting of the state’s fast-food wage board.

Service Union Plans Big Push to Turn Midwest Political Tide


After several years of setbacks in a region where labor long had the upper hand, leaders aim to spend tens of millions to sway voters on key issues.

A protest last month outside the White House.

Military Transgender Ban to Begin Within 6 Months, Memo Says


The president is preparing to give the Defense Department formal authority to dismiss transgender troops, a person familiar with the directive said.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Newt Gingrich in Fox News
“The real opponents of conservative goals are liberal Democrats. Yet the current conservative anger (including the president’s anger) is targeted at Republicans, rather than Democrats.”
Mr. Gingrich suggests that the infighting in the Republican Party is wasting a “limited amount of time and energy.” The president’s Twitter attacks on congressional Republicans are the greatest examples of this. He points out that 10 Democratic senators are up for re-election in states that President Trump carried in 2016 and that “every one of these 10 senators is vulnerable.” He would prefer for the president and his party to focus their attention on those races so that “2018 could become a very good year.” Read more »
From the Left
Brian Beutler in the New Republic
“Trump gains no more leverage taking his own government hostage than he would robbing a bank with a gun held to his own head. But it does allow him to inflict vast collateral damage out of spite.”
Continue reading the main story
Mr. Beutler sees a path to success for the Republican Party independent of the actions of the administration by “surrendering considerable power to Democrats so that must-pass bills clear Congress with veto-proof majorities.” The alternatives — defaulting on the national debt or enduring an indefinite government shutdown — would be “horrific” and even “immoral,” Mr. Beutler contends. Read more »
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