FROM John McLaughlin
Will 'Values Voters' Turn to the Economy? To upset Barack Obama next Tuesday, John McCain is counting on a conservative base in small towns, energized by running-mate Sarah Palin . It's the so-called "values vote," focused on social issues -- abortion, gay marriage and gun rights -- as well as cutting the size of government. Four years ago, Thomas Frank published What's the Matter with Kansas? , raising a question about the so-called "values voters" who were crucial to the election and re-election of George W. Bush. This year, big parts of America's "Heartland" have become battlegrounds between McCain and Obama. Is that a temporary phenomenon or will there be lasting political consequences? Is the economy trumping the culture wars? Has the population changed in the past eight years?
The Battle for Basra and the Race for the White House Militias in Basra are not responding to Nouri al-Maliki's three-day ultimatum, and bitter fighting threatens civilian supplies of food and water. In Baghdad, protesters against the crackdown have crowded the streets, and rocket fire has American civilians taking to bunkers inside the Green Zone. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, President Bush said the Prime Minister's effort to crack down shows the progress of Iraqi security forces during the surge. What if it backfires? Maliki's political life could be at stake, along with the prospects for stability. What about American troop withdrawals? What are the implications for the Presidential campaign?
Democrats, Republicans and 'The Mother of All Tax Reform' Polls show Americans believe that President Bush's tax cuts helped the rich at the expense of the middle class. Will Congress do something about it? Last week, led by Democrats, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a $76 billion measure to stop the growth of the alternative minimum tax and provide tax breaks for middle-class homeowners and poor parents. It would be paid for with tax increases on business executives and Wall Street financiers. Those sound like the kind of changes American voters are hoping for, but tax reform and election-year politics don't always mix. Even Democratic consultants warn that it's risky to mess with taxes in an election year. Voters are fickle and campaigns have to be paid for. How will Democrats choose between their votes and their contributors? Will tax reform have traction in the presidential campaign?
Can Congress Be 'The Decider' on Iraq Troop Surge? President Bush says he's "the decider" when it comes to Iraq, but even many Republicans disagree. While such dissent has generated a raging battle in Washington over the Constitutional separation of powers, what clearly matters most to both parties is politics. For the moment, Senate Democrats are unified behind a resolution criticizing the increase of troops in Iraq. Republicans are divided over at least five different measures, amid predictions that their party will be politically damaged for generations. If Democrats don't come up with a more acceptable alternative for Iraq, will they still be able to capitalize politically? We get perspective from Democratic consultant Doug Schoen and Republican strategist John McLaughlin. (An extended version of this discussion was originally broadcast earlier today on To the Point.)
Who Really Is "The Decider?" The dispute over sending more troops to Iraq is becoming, in part, an argument over the Constitutional separation of powers during wartime. Even Republicans dispute the President's claim that he is the sole "decider," insisting that Congress has power over more than just money. Can the Congress tell the President what to do in Iraq, presuming it wants to? Members of both parties are threading their way between opposition to an unpopular war and support for American troops in the field. We speak with political strategists, pollsters, and legal experts about the Constitutional issues and a political battle that’s setting the stage for the 2008 elections.
Tuesday's Primaries and a Look toward November In the biggest primary day of the year, nine states and the District of Columbia have chosen candidates for the November elections. Yesterday’s big political drama was Rhode Island's Republican Senate primary , where moderate incumbent Lincoln Chafee faced a tough challenge from conservative Mayor of Cranston, Steve Laffey . The big question remains: are the Democrats or the Republicans now better positioned to control the House and the Senate? Were voters pro- or anti-incumbent? Are national or local issues most likely to prevail in November? Why are some conservatives saying the Republican Party will be better off if it looses?
What Do Yesterday's Primary Results Mean for the Future? Veteran Senator Joe Lieberman lost to Ned Lamont in yesterday's Democratic primary with 48% to Lamont's 52. This morning Lieberman filed to run as an Independent in November's general election. Connecticut's other Democratic Senator, Chris Dodd , said that he would honor Lieberman's decision, but hopes that voters would unite and support Lamont. Wile all sides recognize the final result in Connecticut's senatorial primary, there's little agreement on what it means. Was it a referendum on the war in Iraq that means trouble for Republicans in other parts of the country, or will it hurt the Democrats most? Is it a sign that moderates are a vanishing breed in both parties, whichever ends up controlling the Congress next year? We hear from reporters and political strategists, pollsters and historians.
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Trump, the GOP and the rule of law Conservatives — and some Republicans — are criticizing the President for "the mess he made" in firing FBI Director James Comey. We hear about a potential successor, the possibility of "obstruction of justice" and the constitutional separation of powers.