FROM Jonathan Tobin
Republicans go home again — keeping their heads down Normally, town halls at home are a staple of Congressional recesses. But this week, with advice from leaders on Capitol Hill, just seven percent of Republican Congress members and Senators are following that practice. Angry constituents make for sound bites on TV and radio, and GOP leaders want to avoid that kind of coverage. Meantime, liberal Democrats hope grassroots Tea-Party tactics will give them more clout in their party. But will the backlash to the assault on Obamacare be strong enough to unify them against Republicans in next year’s elections?
Who will police presidential conflicts of interest? The 538 members of the Electoral College cast their votes today for a Commander-in-Chief with the most extensive potential conflicts of interest in the history of the presidency. Watchdogs say the law requires Donald Trump to sell off his holdings, but he's postponed addressing the issue until January, tweeting that his sons will run the business -- the same sons that are deeply involved in the Trump transition team. Democrats, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, have vowed to hold Trump to the standard of a little known constitutional principle, the Emoluments Clause , claiming it gives grounds for impeachment if Trump doesn't fully divest himself of his holdings. Why are Republican voters seemingly unconcerned with the blurring of the lines between the Trump Organization and the White House? With a Republican controlled Congress who can hold the President accountable?
Vintage Political Theater on Capitol Hill A committee of Congress today grilled Hillary Clinton about the deaths of four American officials in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 while she was Secretary of State. Republicans used stacks of emails and charts to bolster their claim that she was lax about security. Democrats used video to accuse Republicans of another partisan witch-hunt that has failed to turn up any new information. All this as the GOP continued to struggle with Paul Ryan’s conditions for taking what could turn out to be the thankless assignment of House Speaker.
Obamacare Subsidies at Risk for Millions of Americans June is the month for major decisions from the US Supreme Court, and no case is being watched more closely by more people than King v. Burwell . At stake is continuation of the Affordable Care Act. And it all comes down to four little words. The Court may give Republicans what they've been demanding: a ruling that strikes at the heart of Obamacare. But the GOP can't agree on what to do when millions of Americans lose subsides for health insurance and the industry is thrown into chaos. There's no contingency plan from the Obama White House either, and politicians of both parties are worried about taking the blame in next year's elections. Possible options include an end to individual and corporate mandates — along with coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Is "Bibi" on the Ropes in Israel? Israel's parliament, called the Knesset, has 120 seats. In Tuesday's election, neither of the two major political parties is expected to win more than 25. That means there won't be a new government until Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud or Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union assembles a coalition big enough to constitute a majority. Recent polls show Netanyahu's in trouble . If Republicans on Capitol Hill could decide Tuesday's election, Netanyahu would get a record fourth term as Prime Minister. Israeli voters may have other ideas. The latest polls show his conservative Likud Party lagging behind the center-left Zionist Union. But forming a government means assembling a coalition in Israel's parliament of many parties — so nothing is certain. Adding to this year's drama, Israeli Arabs may win enough seats to make a difference.
Playing Politics with Homeland Security Just hours after Republicans won control of the Senate last November, the new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised no more government shutdowns. But the budget for the Department of Homeland Security still hasn't passed — and the current money runs out on Friday. Republicans are divided over what to do to protest the President's unilateral action on immigration. At stake is the budget for Homeland Security -- including the Border Patrol, the Coast Guard and the TSA. Democrats are warning about a terrorist threat to Minnesota's Mall of America and the need for FEMA workers in the snowbound Northeast. It's politics and public safety with time running out: the deadline is Friday.
Benghazi, the IRS and the Business of Government Did the Obama White House cover up the real reason four Americans were killed in Benghazi in September, 2012? Did an IRS official conduct a political witch hunt? During 13 hearings by four committees over the past year, Congress has accumulated 25,000 pages of documents and testimony. Last week, insisting that Americans want to know the answers, House Speaker John Boehner appointed seven fellow Republicans to a special committee to conduct further investigation. Democrats claim the GOP's conducting a witch hunt of its own, using old news to raise money and motivate voters in this election year — and even in 2016. Will Hillary Clinton be tarnished? Will the IRS face a special prosecutor? Will serious business take a backseat to politics from now until November?
Obama-Romney Town Hall: The Thrilla in Nassau County Last night's presidential debate turned into a prime-time political confrontation, this time including a president fully engaged with a challenger ready for action. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney , his Republican rival, touched on what seemed like dozens of issues, from contraception to immigration to the deadly attack on the Libyan consulate. We hear excerpts and contrasting assessments.
The Thrilla in Nassau County In last night's town hall , they circled like prizefighters, pointed their fingers and interrupted each other -- while ignoring the moderator — and trading accusations of lying. It was presidential campaigning as prime-time political drama: as intensely personal as any such confrontation in memory. The President and the Governor touched on what seemed like dozens of issues, from contraception to immigration to the deadly attack on the Libyan consulate. President Obama won the early opinion polls because of the contrast to last week's performance, but Governor Romney held his own. We hear some examples and sample a variety of opinions on the possible impact of last night's battle of the candidates.
Who Is Sheldon Adelson and Is He behind Gingrich's Rise? After Newt Gingrich 's big win in South Carolina , polls showed him neck and neck with Mitt Romney in Florida. Commentators agree that Romney was the aggressor in last night's debate and Gingrich almost passive compared to past performances. If Romney can win Florida, establishment Republicans will be very relieved. But Gingrich supporters will air a blitz of TV-commercials before Tuesday's primary. It's financed by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson , who's contributed $10 million to Gingrich's Super PAC. Has last night's debate role-reversal made a difference? Who is Sheldon Adelson, and is he making Republicans more hawkish in defense of Israel?
Republicans Are Still Waiting for Superman Last night at the Reagan Library in California, Chris Christie talked about America's greatness, disparaged both President Obama and Congress. Most Americans haven't heard much about the New Jersey Governor, but with Rick Perry becoming a joke for late-night comedians, Christie's being touted by influential Republicans and financial backers as the latest instant white knight. We hear how Christie, despite denials, is keeping the prospect alive.
Chris Christie: The Man Who Didn't Say 'No' Rick Perry 's performance in last week's debate of GOP presidential candidates has been called a "train wreck," and "close to disqualifying" by fellow Republicans cool to Mitt Romney . GOP pundits, professionals and political donors are looking for somebody new, but after denying any interest, the Governor of New Jersey is now playing it coy. What did he say, and what didn't he say last night at the Reagan Library in California. If he did get in, who would he hurt most? Could he mount an effective campaign in time for next year's primaries? Can anybody unite the Republican Party?
Israel, the West Bank and the Palestinians at the UN On of the biggest protests in the history of Israel is a development that's not being covered much in the US news media. What's at stake for the Netanyahu government? What does it have to do with settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem?
Israel, the West Bank and the Palestinians at the UN Israel's month-long protest movement has spread beyond Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some 30,000 protesters turned out this weekend in Haifa, 10,000 in Beersheba and thousands more in smaller cities. The total was less than the 300,000 in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem a week ago, but enough to demonstrate widespread unhappiness. The biggest protests in Israeli history are taking place as the United Nations prepares to vote on demands for statehood from the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas has called for mass action leading up to a possible showdown next month. What's at stake for Prime Minister Netanyahu and new settlements in the West Bank?
Netanyahu Wows Them on Capitol Hill Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got more than two dozen standing ovations today in his 50-minute address to a joint session of Congress. Several times, he promised compromises with the Palestinians--but always with firm pre-conditions. We hear some conflicting assessments.
Netanyahu Addresses a Joint Session of Congress Today's reception on Capitol Hill was a far cry from last week's tense encounter at the Obama White House. In his 50-minute address to a joint session of Congress, Israel's Prime Minister got more than two dozen standing ovations. Several times, he promised what he called "painful compromises" with the Palestinians, at the same time laying down a set of pre-conditions unlikely to restart negotiations. That seemed to be a reference to last week's apparent conflict with President Obama. We get varied reactions to how he framed some hot-button issues, including Hamas, the right of return, Jerusalem and the 1967 borders.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
What happens when America retreats from the world? Is President Trump taking his "America First" agenda to extremes, withdrawing the country from the international stage on trade and climate change, distancing America from its traditional allies across the Atlantic and even threatening to physically isolate the country through the building of a wall along its southern border? León Krauze guest hosts.