Opinion & Analysis

Opinion: Avoiding Another ‘Brownbackistan’
Tax cuts in Kansas led to an economic train wreck

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts are a cautionary tale for Washington lawmakers who are hitting the gas to get a tax reform package completed by the end of the year without paying much attention to details, Patricia Murphy writes. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

“Economic gold rush? Or fiscal wreck?” That was the question the Kansas City Star asked on May 23, 2012, the day after Gov. Sam Brownback signed a sweeping series of state tax cuts into law. Five years later, the Kansas tax cuts are looking a lot more train wreck than gold rush, with a $900 million deficit and Brownback’s fellow Republicans stepping in to reverse the cuts he pushed.

Kansas also offers an awfully timely cautionary tale for Washington lawmakers, who are hitting the gas on getting a tax reform package — any tax reform package — done by the end of the year in order to chalk at least one win on the board for 2017, but who don’t seem to be sweating the details just yet.

Capitol Ink | Tax Cut Recruitment Poster

Capitol-Ink-10-24-17

Opinion: Six Presidential Lessons Trump Missed
Mistakes — and moments of glory — could instruct

President Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from major events in his lifetime, Walter Shapiro writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Judging from his comments and tweets, Donald Trump is a leader who divides the sweep of human history into two simple categories: BT (Before Trump) and AT (After Trump).

Before Trump, there was mostly a void populated by a few military heroes like Andrew Jackson and George Patton.

Capitol Ink | Pressure Kick
 

Capitol-Ink-10-23-17

Opinion: Working Around Trump on Issues That Matter
Reaching for compromise, change seekers are tuning out the president

Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Richard J. Durbin sponsored a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenders. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The kiss-and-make-up press conference with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the most awkward dates in the history of, well, dates, as my Roll Call colleague Walter Shapiro pointed out. They need each other, sure, but will tax cuts be the glue to hold intermittent and shaky truces together for any length of time?

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky looked to stay on Trump’s good side over genial rounds of golf, but they’d better not relax. All it takes is a bit of criticism, and the president shows that the loyalty he demands goes only one way. They need not reach all the way back to the personal insults of last year’s GOP primary race for proof.

Capitol Ink | Poetry Sessions

Capitol-Ink-10-19-17

Opinion: The Short Life Span of the Trump-McConnell Buddy Movie
Quest for lower taxes brings unlikely pair together

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House on Monday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dating back to the days of Walter Winchell, there was a standard photo display that newspapers used when celebrity couples headed to Splitsville. Tabloids would feature an earlier picture of the couple frolicking on a beach or walking down the aisle with the caption, “In Happier Days.”

The odds are high that Monday’s buddy-movie Rose Garden press conference with the odd couple of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will soon invite similar “In Happier Days” nostalgia. For did anyone believe Trump’s hyperbolic claims that the two men are “closer than ever” and that “the Republican Party is very, very unified”?

Capitol Ink | Opioid Hill

Capitol-Ink-10-18-17

Opinion: The Women in Washington Staying for the Fight
Collins, Feinstein and Pelosi want to keep fighting for their causes

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is among the women in Congress planning to stick around and keep fighting for their causes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Corker’s leaving the Senate, and who can blame him? At a certain point, life’s just too short to get called “Liddle Bob” on Twitter by anyone, especially by the president of the United States.

But even as Corker announced that he’d retire at the end of his term, two of the Tennessee Republican’s female colleagues decided last week they’re not going anywhere, at least not if they can help it. Both women said while they had considered leaving Washington, the job in the Capitol was too important to walk away from.

Capitol Ink | Meeting of the Minds

Capitol-Ink-10-17-17

Opinion: Harvey Weinstein and the GOP’s Guilt-By-Association Game
A sense of proportion — and less hypocrisy — would be nice

President Donald Trump is among the many politicians who have crossed paths with Harvey Weinstein. Melania Trump, the future president, Georgina Chapman (Weinstein’s now-estranged wife) and Weinstein were photographed together at an after party for the New York premiere of the movie “NINE.” President Trump recently told reporters that he’s known Weinstein a long time and was not surprised by allegations of sexual misconduct against him. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the Weinstein Company)

The odds are high that this autumn members of Congress — maybe both Democrats and Republicans — will pocket campaign contributions from Americans who will later be engulfed in scandal. The besmirched political donors could be exposed as Ponzi scheme promoters, corrupt corporate executives, crooked lawyers or sex offenders.

Amid the predictable uproar when the news stories break, there will be loud partisan cries to return all campaign contributions from these disgraced figures. And so congressional incumbents will scramble to explain a half-forgotten $2,700 check from a fundraiser and a hastily scrawled “To My Dear Friend ...” inscription on a photograph from the event.

Capitol Ink | First Responder

Capitol-Ink-10-16-17

Opinion: In a Culture War, American Values Lose
Nation’s top leaders have already picked a side

Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout at a Colts-49ers NFL game in Indianapolis was a political stunt that disrespected several players’ support of equality, justice and police accountability, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Over the weekend, a group of white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, faces proudly uncovered and tiki torches in hand, with a message of division.

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said to applause, “You are going to have to get used to white identity” — and warned of more to come.

Capitol Ink | The Buttons

Capitol-Ink-10-12-17

Opinion: Bob Corker and the Chairmen Who Hold Trump’s Fate in Their Hands
Alienating key GOP senators unwise for the president

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is among the key Senate chairmen that President Donald Trump has lied about, demeaned, ignored or otherwise alienated, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

We all know that Washington is about relationships. I’ve gotten some of my best scoops (so to to speak) at the dog park and met some of my best sources on “Wing Night” at the Capitol Lounge years ago. On Capitol Hill, good bills have died over years-long grudges, while mediocre bills have gotten by on, “Well, I just like the guy (or lady).”

With a huge legislative agenda to pass and a major international incident looming in North Korea, you’d think that President Donald Trump would be rallying his fellow Republicans to his side, especially the most senior leaders who could shepherd his agenda through the Hill. Instead, he has attacked, lied about, demeaned, ignored or otherwise alienated a host of GOP senators, including the ones crucial to his efforts to build a wall, pass tax reform, reform health care and, if it came to it, escape impeachment.