On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's trail of destruction continues to spread, as Senate Democrats fumble for a strategy to oppose his new U.S. Supreme Court nominee. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up, the President of the United States attacked Germany in advance of today's NATO summit in Brussels, charging one of our top European allies is "totally controlled by" and "a captive of Russia". Setting diplomatic failures and ironies aside, even worse destruction continues to be waged on Americans back home.
Trump's Administration escalated his trade war with China this week, announcing plans for another $200 billion in tariffs (taxes on the American people) on imported products, after China's dollar-for-dollar retaliation against Trump's previous round of tariffs on $34 billion in imported goods. The damage from that war is already being felt on the U.S. economy, particularly on farmers in Midwestern states, where sales have been plummeting for weeks after China stopped purchasing U.S. soy beans and other agricultural goods in response. BMW, the leading auto-exporter in the U.S., has now announced that new tariffs against China are leading the company to raise prices on SUVs, and move some of their manufacturing in South Carolina (and the jobs that go with it) out of the country --- to China. Vice-President Mike Pence is being dispatched this week to Midwestern states to try and convince GOP donors to stick with the party, despite the damage being done to those voters and companies in "red" states who had supported Trump.
As that self-destruction plays out, the Administration continues its pointless and cruel attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), even though those hurt by several newly announced cuts and refusals to make billions in legally-required payments to insurance companies (paid for by other insurance companies, not by tax-payers) --- as announced over the long holiday weekend, so few would notice --- serve to hurt mostly those who don't receive their healthcare via Obama's 2010 law. The new cuts and blocked payments, according to industry experts, will end up costing both consumers and the federal government itself much more money in the bargain, as premiums will now likely skyrocket again in 2019 and subsidy payments by the Government under the Affordable Care Act will be forced to rise along with them.
Then, we're joined by The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief RYAN GRIM to discuss the less-than-inspiring effort, so far, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify his Democratic caucus against Trump's second U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Schumer is encouraging Americans to call their Senators in opposition to Kavanaugh, and Ryan reports that he is warning colleagues they face a serious backlash from their base voters if they fail to put up a brutal fight against the nominee's confirmation.
Nonetheless, Ryan's sources also suggest that Schumer's leadership on this critical issue (and others) is lacking, to put it nicely. He tells me that Schumer has determined, based on polling and the Dems' failed effort to block Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee last year, that the opposition effort must focus on policy issues relating to Kavanaugh's record and the direct threat he poses to a host of hard-won Constitutional rights and statutes at SCOTUS. That, instead of a fierce procedural fight in response to the GOP's theft of the Court majority when they refused, in 2016, to vote on --- or even meet with --- President Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, for an entire year.
"He saw a lot of polling that was quite conclusive that the argument about substance was going to be the one that won out over the one over process," says Ryan.
That said, we discuss a number of options that Democrats could still pursue to block the nomination against the Republicans very thin Senate majority, including attempts to deny quorums in the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings and/or walking out of the Capitol to deny a Constitutionally-required quorum to prevent a floor vote entirely before the November midterms. Ryan tells me that both options have been and are still being considered by some Democrats, while going on to explain some of the considerable risks those options pose and why Schumer is said to be shying away from such hardball tactics.
"It is something that has risen to the level of leadership conversations, but as of now, it's Schumer's opinion that can't be done," he tells me, adding: "I don't think anybody knows what the best path forward is. It's definitely something that's being considered. And the more attention there is to that strategy and the more pressure there is, then the more energized Senate Democrats are. So it's worth talking about, at a minimum."
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