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Trump's curious hold on GOP politics – The Washington Post

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Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to be U.S. solicitor general.

The big idea

Trump’s hold on the GOP is “complicated”

The most powerful Republican in America apparently doesn’t dare say the word “vaccine” at his own rallies.

“We did so much in terms of therapeutics and a word that I’m not allowed to mention,” former president Donald Trump said at a weekend rally in Anchorage. “We did that in nine months, and it was supposed to take five years to 12 years. Nobody else could have done it.”

“But I’m not mentioning it in front of my people, but someday we’re gonna have to all sit down and have a little talk,” he continued. “But you know what? We did a hell of a job.”

By now, you’ve guessed that this is yet another entry in the (frequently tedious) journalism genre devoted to exploring whether Trump’s hold on the GOP has slackened or tightened since he lost the 2020 election, with an eye on his influence this year and possible run for reelection in 2024.

The answer, like a Facebook relationship status 20 years ago, is “it’s complicated.”

It’s an interesting question at a time when Republicans are nervously watching for signs Trump may formally announce his reelection campaign before the midterms. That would potentially reframe what looks like a referendum on President Biden into a choice between the incumbent and his defeated 2020 rival.

The GOP would much prefer to run a referendum-style race, inviting Americans to vote based on painfully high gas prices and soaring inflation, both factors in leading a shockingly vast majority of Americans — nearly 9 out of 10 — to say the country is on the wrong track.

Biden and his allies, on the other hand, have been invoking Trump (not always by name) in response to criticisms. Just look at former senior West Wing adviser Cedric Richmond’s quotes here. (Or my reader feedback email, in which some folks warn anything that might be perceived as a slight of the current president risks bringing down the republic.)

On the one hand, Trump’s influence on the GOP is undeniable.

All over America, GOP candidates for office have embraced his false claims of being cheated out of a second term in 2020.

And more Republicans call the Jan. 6 insurrection — when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory — a “legitimate protest” (61 percent) than an insurrection (13 percent) or a riot (45 percent).

Major party figures like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) quickly stopped blaming Trump for the violence and have instead courted his benediction. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went from saying Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection to saying he’d vote for him again in 2024.

And he’s hardly alone.

On the other hand, Trump has been getting warning signs — in polls and in the words and actions of some of the politicians thought to be contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

A recent poll encapsulated some of the contradictions. Yes, 49 percent of GOP primary voters said they’d back him for another nomination, well ahead of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) at 25 percent. That’s still half of Republicans who are ready to support someone else.

Even more remarkable, the poll found Trump trailing Biden 44 percent to 41 percent among voters overall. Yes, that’s inside the margin of error. But Biden’s national job approval rating is a dismal 33 percent.

Trump’s record with endorsements is also decidedly mixed. My colleague Aaron Blake recently reported that “it’s been shown that Trump’s endorsement is often only good for less than one-third of the vote. Sometimes that’s been good enough in crowded races, but more often it hasn’t been.”

At the Hill, Brett Samuels has chronicled how some major players in Trump’s 2020 campaign have begun distancing themselves from the former president — though not necessarily candidates made in his image.

Trump’s political future, like his political past, hinges on the parts of the Republican Party that he helped radicalize — the people still embracing the “big lie” that he was cheated in 2020. The Jan. 6 committee has shown time and time again that senior loyalists in Trump’s orbit — people like former attorney general Bill Barr, former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and others — knew that to be nonsense in late 2020 and early 2021.

Trump’s relationship with the GOP base has always been complicated. He did not invent the racist lie that former president Obama was born in Kenya, but he used it as political rocket fuel to propel his White House aspirations.

His 2020 myths — again, rejected by every serious Trump administration official who looked into them — are largely GOP catechism now.

In 2020, Trump fueled politicization of the response to covid — playing down its severity, disparaging expert responses, promoting unproven and ineffective treatments. He didn’t lead the right-wing conspiracies about the vaccines, but he did little to combat them.

Today he can’t say “vaccine.”

What’s happening now

June inflation soared 9.1%, a new 40-year high, amid high gas prices

“Prices soared by 9.1 percent in June, compared with a year ago, a new peak with inflation remaining at 40-year highs, driven in large part by higher energy prices,” Rachel Siegel reports.

  • “The inflation report, released Wednesday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed June prices rose 1.3 percent, compared with prices the month before, which were also considered high.”

Biden, old-school backer of Israel, arrives at a tricky moment for both nations

“Israel’s unsettled political scene — [Prime Minister Yair Lapid] assumed office when the coalition government collapsed in turmoil at the end of June — means that the leaders will be navigating domestic pressures during a tightly scripted state visit, according to officials in both countries,” Steve Hendrix and Tyler Pager report.

More: Biden stresses deep ties to Israel in arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv

Democrats race to reach deal to prevent spike in health premiums

“The most urgent concern involves the fate of tax credits that help low- and middle-income Americans purchase health insurance annually. Unless Congress extends these subsidies, roughly 13 million people will see their monthly premiums spike in January, according to an estimate from Kaiser Family Foundation — in some cases by hundreds of dollars per person,” Tony Romm and Rachel Roubein report.

Chaos in Sri Lanka after protesters seize prime minister’s office

“Protesters stormed the office of Sri Lanka’s prime minister on Wednesday and took to the streets of the capital to demand the ouster of the island nation’s top leaders as a deadline for the president’s promised resignation arrived,” Niha Masih and Hafeel Farisz report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

The man who has Putin’s ear — and may want his job

“Ever since Putin ordered the Feb. 24 invasion, blindsiding much of the country’s elite, [Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful Security Council secretary and close Putin ally from their days together at the KGB,] has become a hard-line avatar for a militaristic Russia,” Catherine Belton reports.

“Patrushev’s sudden emergence after more than two decades as a behind-the-scenes power broker has underlined his role as a driving force in the Kremlin. For a while, it even prompted questions about whether he was seeking to position himself to take over from Putin, amid persistent speculation about the president’s health and Russia’s retreat from Kyiv.”

‘Unhinged’: The White House meeting that preceded Trump’s ‘will be wild’ tweet

“Late on a Friday night about six weeks after Donald Trump lost his reelection, a fistfight nearly broke out in the White House between the president’s fired national security adviser and a top White House aide,” Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey report.

“For hours, [a motley crew of unofficial Trump advisers] tried to persuade Trump to take extraordinary, potentially illegal action to ignore the election results and try to stay in power. And for hours, some of Trump’s actual White House advisers tried to persuade him that those ideas were, in the words of one lawyer who participated, ‘nuts.’

… and beyond

Critical omissions plague Texas gun background check law

“Despite language in [the] bill that says local courts should report to the state’s top law enforcement agency any time a judge orders any person, regardless of age, to receive inpatient mental health treatment, the news organizations found that they are not reporting juvenile records because of problems with the way the law was written, vague guidance from the state and conflicts with other Texas laws,” Jeremy Schwartz and Kiah Collier report in a collaboration between ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.

PPP was awash in fraud. Now, one lender may finally face a legal reckoning.

“Hundreds of borrowers have been prosecuted for submitting fraudulent [Paycheck Protection Program] applications, but few lenders have been held accountable for their role in approving these fraudulent loans,” the Miami Herald‘s Ben Wieder reports.

“Now, thanks to an obscure filing in one of South Florida’s many PPP fraud cases, it has been revealed that one of the biggest lenders in the program’s first year might soon be facing consequences.”

The latest on covid

Biden officials urge use of booster shots, antivirals against BA.5

“The BA.4 and BA.5 variants now make up 80 percent of circulating virus in the United States, according to federal data, and their greater transmissibility and immune-evading ability have raised alarms as cases and hospitalizations have increased,” Lena H. Sun reports.

The Biden agenda

White House eyes oil and gas projects to woo Manchin on climate bill

“In the past week and a half, the White House has taken steps that would have been considered unimaginable when President Biden first took office, suggesting that it might greenlight drilling plans in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that would produce hundreds of millions more barrels of oil,” Jeff Stein and Anna Phillips report.

Justice Dept. announces task force to fight overreach on abortion bans

“The task force, led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, will be charged with monitoring and evaluating state and local legislation and weighing legal action against states that ban abortion medication or attempt to block a pregnant person from traveling out of state for an abortion, among other measures,” David Nakamura and Rachel Roubein report.

Dangerous conditions persist as migrants wait for Biden administration to stop ‘Remain in Mexico’ program

“Some migrants said they are waiting in constant fear and deplorable surroundings, often in crowded shelters in cities where there have been numerous reports of violence and threats, such as kidnapping, extortion and sexual assault,” NBC News’s Daniella Silva reports.

Biden’s spyware conundrum on Mideast trip

The Biden administration has pledged to crack down on spyware companies and foreign governments that deploy it to snoop on journalists and dissidents. Officials are especially concerned about spyware from Israeli company NSO Group, which a joint investigation by The Guardian and other media groups alleged is used by the Saudi government,” Politico‘s Maggie Miller reports.

“But strong public pressure to bring down the price of gas by strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia, and a wish to foster peace in Israel, could force Biden to push spyware down the list of priorities.”

Month-to-month inflation, visualized

“Inflation is showing few signs of letting up, compounding the pressure on the Federal Reserve and White House to ratchet up their response — and convince the American public that they can significantly slow the economy without causing a recession,” Rachel Siegel reports.

Hot on the left

In CNN interview, John Bolton says he has planned foreign coups

“Bolton’s comments were unusual, as U.S. officials have generally avoided using the term ‘coup’ when speaking about U.S. foreign policy matters. The remarks went viral, with one clip on Twitter amassing more than 2 million views by early Wednesday,” Julian Mark reports.

Hot on the right

A culture warrior goes quiet: DeSantis dodges questions on abortion plans

“DeSantis, a favorite among those Republicans who want to move on from the Trump era, is rarely a reluctant partisan warrior. But his hesitance to detail his plans for abortion policy reflects the new and, in some states, difficult political terrain for Republicans in the post-Roe v. Wade era, as Democrats grasp for advantage on the issue in an otherwise largely hostile midterm election year,” the New York Times‘s Maggie Haberman, Patricia Mazzei and Michael C. Bender report.

Today in Washington

Biden is in Israel today. This morning, the president delivered remarks in Tel Aviv, was briefed on air defense systems and took part in a wreath-laying ceremony in Jerusalem. He does not have any public events scheduled for this afternoon. (ET)

In closing

Capitol statue collection gets first Black American, replacing Confederate

“A statue of Mary McLeod Bethune will be unveiled Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol, making her the first Black American in the National Statuary Hall collection,” Gillian Brockell reports.

“Bethune was a civil rights activist, a presidential adviser and the founder of the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, which became Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. Her statue will represent the state of Florida.”

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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Opinion: Iowans want health care focused on patients, not politics, and Democrats are delivering – Des Moines Register

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President Joe Biden’s health care proposals have received widespread support from voters across the political spectrum.

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Joe Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act to tackle climate, health care

The legislation signed by President Biden aims to address climate change, lower prescription drug costs and provide health care subsidies.

Anthony Jackson, USA TODAY

  • Matt Sinovic is the executive director of Progress Iowa, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization.

No matter where we live or the color of our skin, we all deserve to get the care we need without going broke. Luckily, President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have delivered on their promise to lower costs and improve health care for American families. Along with making key investments in climate and energy, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 drives down prescription drug prices by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, institutes a cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and protects Americans against outrageous and arbitrary price increases. The legislation also includes measures that will lower health care premiums for millions by extending Affordable Care Act financial assistance for three years. 

This bill is testament to the Democrats’ unwavering commitment to ensuring health care is affordable, accessible, and equitable for every American. While Biden and Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to lower health care costs for people like me and other Iowans, Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley are continuing their attacks on health care, putting their own political interests over the health and financial well-being of their own constituents. 

Every single Republican in Congress opposed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. By voting against the bill, Republicans voted to raise health care costs for working families and maintain Big Pharma’s broken system. Even worse, Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst helped block a critical provision that would cap insulin costs at $35 per month for millions of diabetics with insurance. As many as one in four of the 7.5 million Americans dependent on insulin are skipping or skimping on doses, which can lead to death. As voters across the political spectrum have demanded action to rein in drug prices, Republicans have opposed any meaningful reform. 

Another View: Opinion: Democrats’ big government law will hurt Iowa’s families and small businesses

Instead of offering solutions to curb inflation or lower people’s cost of living, Republicans have laid out a radical, corporate plan that would raise costs, threaten Medicare coverage for millions, and rip protections from people with existing conditions. Republicans are still fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to make premiums more expensive for middle-class families. 

The Republican war on health care doesn’t stop there — Republicans have worked to undermine access to care for women, seniors, and people with disabilities. Republicans, especially those aligned with former President Donald Trump, have attacked abortion rights and opposed legislation to end the maternal mortality crisis. They voted against capping drug costs and extending hearing benefits for seniors. Republicans in Congress also continue to fight closing the coverage gap in 12 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion, which has left more than 2 million vulnerable Americans uninsured. Failure to support these policies disproportionately harm people of color, who face increased barriers to accessing care and worse health outcomes. 

By fighting efforts to lower health care costs, Republicans are turning their back on the American people. It isn’t surprising that Biden’s health care proposals have received widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. However, if it were up to Republicans, health care costs would skyrocket, the rich would become richer and millions of Americans would be thrown off their coverage with nowhere to turn. 

The contrast is clear: Between fighting to lower health care costs and expanding affordable coverage to working families in Iowa, Democrats are working tirelessly to lower everyday costs for all Americans. Meanwhile, Republicans unanimously oppose legislation to lower health care costs, expand affordable coverage, and give families more breathing room to pay for other essentials like food, child care, and rent. 

Some things never change: Republicans want to raise health costs, ditch critical protections, and put profits over patients.

Matt Sinovic is the executive director of Progress Iowa, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization. Year-round, Progress Iowa promotes progressive ideas and causes with creative earned media strategies, targeted email campaigns, and cutting-edge new media.

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Mintoff seeks return to politics, running to be Tiny mayor – MidlandToday

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A former Tiny Township councillor, who abruptly resigned in September of 2021, has decided to jump back into the political arena and is seeking to become the municipality’s mayor.

“I truly believe that Tiny’s at a crossroads right now,” said Tony Mintoff. “I think that there has been a need for strong, decisive leadership and a steady hand at the helm, and I think I can offer that to the residents.”

Mintoff has entered as a candidate for mayor of Tiny in the Oct. 24 municipal election. (Recently, David Evans also announced a candidacy for the mayor’s seat next term.)

“I think the elephant in the room is that I resigned my position (as councillor) this current term, this past year. A number of people have some concern about that, and I understand that,” said Mintoff.

Despite plans of a relaxing retirement, the 71-year-old Tiny resident chose to enter the mayoral race after seeing the experience others were offering to bring to the role.

“I’m really concerned, to be quite frank, that we could very well elect both a mayor and deputy mayor that have absolutely no municipal experience or political experience,” Mintoff explained.

“Having gone through the learning curve of just being a councillor who got on with a number of other members of council who had experience, I found it to be a pretty steep and difficult learning curve,” he explained.

“I think, given the fact that the mayor and also the deputy mayor would be not only trying to manage and steer Tiny but also to participate at the county council as well is a pretty tough act if you have no experience or background at all.”

With this intention, Mintoff simultaneously declared a joint candidacy with fellow resident Steve Saltsman as a candidate for deputy mayor.

“You’ll see our campaign signs showing up pretty soon, and you’ll see that our signs have two names on them, not one. We are running as a tandem,” Mintoff said.

As for the mayoral candidacy, Mintoff has more than 40 years of municipal and provincial experience with roles as a Toronto firefighter, fire chief, and throughout six years as an assistant deputy fire marshal for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. He served on Tiny council for 10 years leading up to his resignation.

His reasons for leaving as councillor were multi-faceted involving several concerns, some of which included the municipal handling of short-term rentals, aggregate operations at French’s Hill near Wyebridge and the threat to clean water in the township, and contentious beach ownership along the township’s shores of Georgian Bay.

These issues are on Mintoff’s campaign list to address, along with affordable housing and the potential opportunities the Huronia Airport can provide.

“We’re just on the cusp of that now,” said Mintoff. “There’s a huge opportunity there to develop some of that property to create aerospace-type jobs, or even unrelated jobs, that would be higher-end scale and that would employ skilled workers.

“I think creating jobs for people is just as important as creating houses for them. If you create the jobs around here, then, hopefully, they’re going to want to live around here. They’re hand in hand.”

Tiny council chambers remains physically closed to members of the public, although meetings are livestreamed and archived for residents to participate through phone or by virtual means. However, Mintoff feels more could be done.

“We really need to do a better job to engage the residents, to give them the sense that in a democratic society they have access to their elected representatives in a meaningful way, not just through Zoom,” he said.

“I think what we need to do is open the council chambers. The province has been open for months. There is no legitimate reason for the council chambers to be closed still. People know that. They’re very offended by it; they’re angry about it.”

He added, “People are starting to become apathetic, which is probably one of the worst ways to undermine our system.”

Information on the Tiny municipal election can be found on the Tiny Township website.

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The politics of climate change | TheRecord.com – Waterloo Region Record

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In her brilliant 2019 article “The challenging politics of climate change,” Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, explores how “the lack of intensity around (climate change) is simultaneously incomprehensible and totally understandable.”

She offers four explanations: “complexity; jurisdiction and accountability; collective action and trust; and imagination.”

Our climate crisis is a political hot potato because it is complex and voters don’t like complexity. As well, it isn’t obvious how our actions impact the climate — for good or bad. We can’t see greenhouse gas emissions the way we can see water pollution from a chemical plant, or toxic smoke pouring out of a smokestack.

Kamarck says climate change and cybersecurity are “two of the stickiest problems of the 21st century … because it’s so difficult to nail down jurisdiction.” Who is responsible for what? Where does the buck stop? And do we trust our government and politicians to do the right thing?

A half-credit of Civics in high school is not enough for most of us to untangle the Gordian knot of responsibilities in the multiple levels of government impacting our lives.

The politics of climate change is about government action, or the lack of it, but it’s also about navigating the strategies we use to tackle the issue. Since we politicized climate change in the 1970s, our response has been highly divisive. This has to change because everyone is affected and a vigorous and collaborative political response is essential.

Despite the sound science, we still have climate deniers and liars, who come in many forms. The Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, categorizes them as “the shill, the grifter, the egomaniac and the ideological fool.”

In a Scientific American interview, climate scientist Michael Mann, famous for his hockey stick graph showing the exponential growth in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from human activity, said that climate deniers have been replaced by inactivists. The deep pockets from the fossil fuel industry are now funding “legislative efforts blocking clean-energy policies” through “deflection, delay, division, despair mongering, doomism.”

Both the oil and tobacco industries share the same devious strategy to shift the blame and responsibility from the corporation to the individual. In 2005, British Petroleum created a marketing campaign for people to calculate their personal carbon footprints. There is no question that we each bear responsibility for our own actions to live sustainably, but who is holding corporations to account?

For the past 10 years, Ottawa-based Gerald Kutney has taken on the climate denialists, bots and trolls to clean up the Twitter-verse. His goal is to stop the propaganda and lies being repeated by the “denial-saurs” from becoming the truth.

Kutney picked Twitter because it’s “the best, ongoing teaching ground about climate denialism in the world, day in and day out.” To counter the piling on from followers of the biggest climate deniers, Kutney introduced #climatebrawl. Just like the bat signal in Batman’s Gotham City, the hashtag alerts an international support system prepared to do battle, armed with the truth about our climate crisis.

We have to trust the evidence-based solutions from our best climate scientists and not the ramblings and rants of disbelievers. Denial-saurs, like most of the contenders for the Canadian Conservative party leadership, are treating our future like a political football.

Kutney’s best advice is “Vote. Just vote,” and hold our elected officials to effective climate-action plans. We cannot afford to be silent in our winner-take-all electoral systems unless we want to be governed by the choices of a minority of climate denialists.

This goes for municipal politics as well. There will be many new faces on councils after this fall’s municipal elections. Our future depends on their commitment to climate action.

Susan Koswan is a freelance contributing columnist for The Record, based in Waterloo Region. Follow her on Twitter: @SKoswan

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