2017 Politics open thread, July 16-22

Here’s the place to discuss politics!

Hillary’s White House would be no different from Trump’s

What do you think?

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102 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, July 16-22

  1. Rhett, that couple… one little fashion misstep and they will break up.

  2. That couple… that article reads like the framework of a crappy Hallmark Christmas movie… or if it turns dark, a Lifetime movie.

  3. Scarlett,

    I wonder if either of those authors took issue with the dramatic rise in the amount of busy work required to succeed academically?

  4. Rhett, Samuelson points put that some 30% of top quintile kids fail to graduate from college, and even more fail to earn enough to stay in that quintile. He suggests that is significant downward mobility to allow bright poorer kids to move up.
    I’m not sure that there is more busywork in college. Much depends on the school and the major I think.

  5. “The criticism some of us have of those who are obsessively anti-Trump isn’t that they are necessarily wrong about the president. I personally share many of their harsh assessments, especially of his fixation on petty feuds at a time of international peril, not to mention his overall temperament.

    Yet they can also be almost naive in their evaluations of politicians and government pre-Trump, blind to how the governing class’ failures and character flaws made this presidency possible in the first place. Indeed, they often risk becoming the resistance that cried wolf.”
    http://theweek.com/articles/712023/resistance-that-cried-wolf

    This is often my thought on reading the WaPo.

  6. Rhett, Samuelson points put that some 30% of top quintile kids fail to graduate from college, and even more fail to earn enough to stay in that quintile

    Which is notable in that he didn’t mention how many in the lower quintiles manage it. I assume he didn’t mention it because it would undermine his entire argument.

  7. Scarlett,

    Your assumption is that they publish this anti-trump articles as part of some elaborate opposition strategy. They publish these stories because they get a lot of clicks. There reasons are mainly financial not political.

  8. I read the Samuelson article, and largely agreed with it. I mean, wtf are we supposed to do? Go spend all our money on drugs and join the homeless? I thought the prescription for the poor and lower middle class was to do things the way the UMC does it – saving money, being involved in kids education, reading books, being married. I guess we should all get divorced and make sure the kids suffer as much as possible.

    That being said, I also think the UMC are blind to their privilege in many ways, and I will start with the Northeast love of microdistricts, which serve mainly to enforce class distinctions at the finest possible level. We should really be in a district that contains much of southern Westhester, including the large black district to our south and the two richie-rich districts to our immediate north and south. It is just embarrassing to have such segregationist districts.

  9. I mean, wtf are we supposed to do?

    You’ve railed against the dramatic expansion of busy work many times in the past. An amount of work that most kids can’t navigate without intense parental involvement.
    One thing UMC parents could do is push back against it.

  10. One of the commenters on the Samuelson article says this:

    You know, Samuelson for many years now has had an almost pathological need to be a contrarian, but he has this story and Richard Reeves’ thesis dead wrong – and I have read “Dream Hoarders” cover to cover.

    Reeves says, quite simply, that even with the best of intentions (and sometimes not), the upper 20% has rigged the system in its favor.

    And he is dead right – and I say this as a member of the upper 20.

    Reeves does not at all fault parents for trying to do the best by their kids – by for instance moving into an expensive “good schools” suburb.

    But he says – and documents – that thoroughly unmerited advantages like the mortgage interest deduction and tax-advantaged 529 college savings plans create and magnify inequality. If memory serves, charts in the book show that 90 PERCENT OF THE TAX ADVANTAGES from those programs accrue to the top 20 percent. Which makes sense – who has the biggest mortgages, or the wherewithal to saves tens or hundreds of thousands in college savings accounts?

    These unfair advantages – legacy college admissions are another – must stop. They must simply stop. Almost all of us don’t need them. And because they’re an affront to real meritocracy and to any realistic concept of the “level playing field,” which is more and more a mockery in this country.

  11. So I think it’s not that we’re supposed to sabotage our kids, but we’re supposed to give up some tax advantages.

  12. And since when did the mortgage tax deduction become a tool of oprresion for the UMC? It was designed as a benefit for the entire middle class, including the lower middle class. We can argue whether that policy still makes sense today, but certainly there are an awful lot of people at truly middle income levels who are buying houses. One of the reasons why pundits say the mortgage tax deduction is untouchable is because it benefits such a huge swath of people

  13. there are an awful lot of people at truly middle income levels who are buying houses.

    If you’re buying a median price home in the US you won’t be paying enough mortgage interest to warrant itemizing – you’ll take the standard deduction.

  14. I have long believed that funding public higher ed adequately, as they used to do, to keep tution low, is a much better and fairer approach than those 529 plans. No question. I feel the same way about HSAs for healthcare. These are all things that benefit higher earners. But as long as lower middle class voters in red states vote conservative, especially at the state level, this stuff will persist. The paradox to me is why non college educated voters, at least white voters, do not vote their own interests.

  15. MM,

    The median home price in the US is 188,900. With 10% down you’re paying 6k in interest a year. The standard deduction for married filing jointly is $12,700.

  16. if so few benefit, why do so many voters support it?

    They’re ignorant of the facts.

  17. Scarlett, the same thing could be said of the anti-Obama people. It’s funny how we see things so differently depending on whether our party is in the office.

  18. I do think things like that the tax advantages of the mortgage deduction and 529 really benefit the UMC and disadvantage LMC/MC. But, blame the lobbyists, campaign finance laws and gerrymandering. The UMC people don’t have that much say in what laws get passed. Same reason they are working to pass a health ins law that no one likes.

  19. The median home price in the US is 188,900. With 10% down you’re paying 6k in interest a year. The standard deduction for married filing jointly is $12,700.

    Yeah, but how many people are above the standard deduction, especially with the addition of that 6k?

  20. Something like 70% of filers take the standard deduction. And the vast majority of those who itemize are >$200k in income.

  21. I agree with Birdie. For years I have hated the trend to shift costs away from using taxes and onto individuals instead. These are trends that defintiely benefit higher earners. But my vote doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I don’t have the clout to get the ear of lawmakers. I bought a raffle ticket recently where the prize was lunch with the Republican county executive, so I could give him a piece of my mind about the Republican party, but I didn’t win the raffle :-(

  22. Mooshi: If these tax benefits were really targeted at the middle class, they should be phased out for people making $150K+ in household income. All tax loopholes including mortgage deduction, college savings, HSA, etc. We should be paying a lot more in taxes than we actually do, if this country is to become more equal.

  23. My own take on the UMC, from looking at the people around me, is that this is a reasonably large group of people who do not have the political clout of the investor class, and in fact probably have no more political clout than the plain ol’ middle class, but who do have the work habits and intelligence to have figured out how to survive the big structural changes to the economy that started under Reagan and simply got worse over time. The middle class were not able to make the transition and the poor were always poor. But in the end, the people pulling the political strings are the members of the investor class, the ones who can lunch with politicians without resorting to raffle tickets, and who make the donations that get the attention of lawmakers. That is the reason the Republicans are trying so hard to pass a healthcare plan that is not wanted by the general public. We have no say, but we UMCers will find some way to survive this horror, whereas the lower middle class will not.

  24. Houston, I agree with you although my own take is that we shouldn’t be using tax deductions in general as way to provide benefits. Tax deductions never help the truly poor.

  25. “the people pulling the political strings are the members of the investor class”

    I think we are members of the investor class, given how much we talk about stocks, bonds, REITs, and trusts! We hold more power than we think we do, because we are a pretty powerful voting bloc–and we always vote.

  26. Agreed, regarding taxes and the poor! However, the UMC will fight tooth and nail to keep the tax deductions.

  27. “The middle class were not able to make the transition”

    Keep in mind that we’re talking about a nurse/plumber couple here. I think they made the transition.

    Basically, two married full-time workers are now upper-middle-class.

  28. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a nurse/plumber couple here.

    The nurse did, her wages soared. The plumber’s wages tumbled.

  29. Peggy Noonan’s column this past week was one of the best political columns I’ve read in a long time (the last one also being hers. She’s pretty brilliant.). We get the paper version of the WSJ, but if any of you can access it, it’s worth the read.

  30. I guess I consisder the investor class to be people who live off their investments. Although that probably includes retirees? But I really mean people who can afford to make political donations at a level that gets the attention of politicians. I don’t think the amount I gave to Hillary really got her ear :-).
    As a class, we have power in numbers – but so does the middle and lower middle class. And it mainly comes from votes. We don’t set the agenda in the same way that say my husband’s boss (whose net worth is pushing 5billion) does.

  31. Milo said “Keep in mind that we’re talking about a nurse/plumber couple here. I think they made the transition.”

    Yes, exactly. They are now in the dreaded UMC. They did it by both members going to work, which is actually how a lot of the UMC made the transtion.

  32. But I really mean people who can afford to make political donations at a level that gets the attention of politicians.

    I bet you’d be surprised how much access you could buy for say 5% of income. For a typical totebagger that would be $13,500/year in donations.

  33. “I agree with Birdie. For years I have hated the trend to shift costs away from using taxes and onto individuals instead. These are trends that defintiely benefit higher earners.”

    ITA. We are where we are because of a multi-decade shift away from the idea of government providing services through taxes to an “ownership” society, which, like unbundled cable, theoretically allows us all to put our money where we prefer. The inevitable result of that sort of system — a feature, not a bug, to its proponents — is that those who have more money to devote to all of these different needs end up better-off than under the old system, and those who do not end up worse-off, because they do not have sufficient funds to cover all of their needs and so must choose.

    I also think those who succeeded have done so largely in spite of the tax code instead of because of it — or, rather, they came up with new work-arounds, such as the 401(k). Back in the ’70s, the professional classes had a huge variety of deductions, so that individual doctors and lawyers could basically gain the same tax advantages as businesses. But that went away with the Reagan tax reforms; under that plan, businesses could still take this whole variety of deductions, but wage earners could not (unless they incorporated their own business). So now you have doctors and lawyers and all the other Yuppies took a huge tax hit. And then, as always, we created more tax loopholes, like 401(k)s and 529s, that benefitted that class and allowed them to shelter at least some of their earnings.

    But at least the Reagan tax reform treated all income as generally the same — dividends and capital gains and such were subject to taxation at the same level as earned income. But then Bush came along in 2003 and created separate, lower brackets for investment gains(as before the Reagan tax reform). Which basically means that I get a better tax rate sitting around on my butt watching my money than I do by going out and working for a living. Talk about stacking the deck.

    So to my mind, if you want to level the playing field, before you even get to the mortgage interest deduction and 529 deductions, you need to tax all income on the same basis, rather than under a system that directly penalizes those who need to work for a living. [This would of course screw my retirement plans, but to my mind would be worth it. Not that that’s going to happen in our current environment, of course]

  34. Small individual contributions are drowned out by soft money, PACs and Super PACs. I give to my local reps but $2700 to Barbara Comstock doesn’t matter.

  35. For a typical totebagger that would be $13,500/year in donations.

    And, honestly, I think I get more utility from spending than $13,500 on a lot of something elses: vacations, maintaining/improving our home, paying college tuitions/setting aside $ in 529s, funding our retirement & HSAs. How many years would I need to kick in $13,500 (along with enough of my like-minded neighbors) before some policy would get changed to be more to my liking and, even then, would I feel I got enough value from the changed rules/law that it was worth my investment?

  36. How many years would I need to kick in $13,500

    I think you’d be surprised. And the idea would be to do something for the greater good not just for you and yours. Think of it as well spent charity rather than pissing it away on some bloated scam like the Red Cross or United Way.

  37. On the WaPo article on Dream Hoarders
    1) I don’t understand the fixation/assumption that members of upper fifth couples will/should have bachelor’s degrees. People with mechatronics/electronics degrees, RN’s without bachelor’s degrees and electricians/plumbers all will make ~$60k+.
    2) I’m curious what the income distribution is of two parent families with high school seniors. That seems to be a more relevant metric than comparison to the population as a whole (including college students and retirees), given how income changes with hours worked and work experience.
    3) In much of the country, living on one income is doable and parents of young children, in particular, often make that choice. If I compared dual income couples at my kids’ school who likely hit the $117k household threshold to single income families earning ~$70k with a SAHP, I don’t think I’d see much difference in child outcomes. When I think of the dozen couples in the group of friends I made 20 years ago, two have maintained full-time dual careers and in both cases, the Mom is a teacher whose own mother lives nearby and helps with childcare/sick kids.

    The tax discussion is interesting, because as Romney so tactlessly pointed out, 47% of Americans already pay no federal income tax so you can’t cut taxes on them.

    Educationally, we seem to have decided that prestigious educations should belong to people with families who prioritize education spending or who are willing to take out significant loans. I think the European model of prioritizing admission based on aptitude and limiting slots is more sensible, but that would limit access by the UMC and exclude poor/minorities from “opportunity” at the same time so that’s politically a nonstarter..

  38. $13,500 might buy me access to our town executive, or maybe to a county legislator.

  39. ” And the idea would be to do something for the greater good not just for you and yours.”

    Never said anything about just me and mine. I just said “some policy would get changed to be more to my liking and, even then, would I feel I got enough value from the changed rules/law”. Never named the specific beneficiaries (thinking about single payer, btw)

  40. Houston, great article. I think Canada works because it has a logical immigration system and shared cultural values. If you set up a Canada-type government for the 35 million people (equivalent to Canada’s population) in the border states from Wisconsin to Idaho and extending south to make the numbers even, you would probably wind up with similar statistics to what Canada has. Canada doesn’t have much better statistics than we do with indigenous people who have different cultural values.

    I think the reluctance of many U.S. citizens to pay more taxes is due to the perception that middle class Americans don’t benefit from taxes paid. I remember the comment from the Finnish person who immigrated to NYC (?), whose quote was basically, “In Scandinavia, everyone works, everyone pays taxes, everyone receives services. Here, UMC people pay taxes but don’t receive [adequate?] healthcare/education services.” Many/most healthcare and education proposals benefit the 47% and still expect UMC families like mine to fund their own healthcare and college educations.

  41. Using 529 plans as an example of UMC hoarding simply doesn’t make sense. Families with incomes closer to the median don’t NEED the tax benefits attached to these plans because they are paying little or no federal tax already. So of course the benefits flow primarily to UMC families, especially those with incomes above $200K who will not qualify for need-based financial aid but who lack the ability to pay college tuition out of current income.

  42. especially those with incomes above $200K who will not qualify for need-based financial aid

    At $270k Harvard is still giving you $10k off tuition.

  43. WCE said about Canada “shared cultural values.”.

    Um, Canada is the country that can’t even agree on a language. That almost split apart several times in modern history. Canada never believed in the melting pot theory that Americans bought into, so immigrant communities have tended to stay closer to their roots than in the US. Look at the persistence of Gaelic in Nova Scotia or the prevalence of Chinese only signs in Vancouver. Canada is a far less homogenous country than the US

  44. Most kids aren’t going to Harvard or another school that offers those deals to UMC families.

  45. Yes the financial aid at Harvard is pretty sweet
    But first you need to get in.

  46. Scarlett,

    While true those sorts of numbers continue as you go down the ranking. If you can get into Duke full pay, Wake Forrest will give you a decent discount.

  47. “I don’t understand the fixation/assumption that members of upper fifth couples will/should have bachelor’s degrees. People with mechatronics/electronics degrees, RN’s without bachelor’s degrees and electricians/plumbers all will make ~$60k+.”

    A few years ago, in news coverage of the trial of a pest control employee, who was one of the guys who drove the truck to peoples’ homes and applied the pesticides, it was mentioned that he was making somewhere in the $70k or $80k range, and he was, IIRC, in his late 20s.

    “The tax discussion is interesting, because as Romney so tactlessly pointed out, 47% of Americans already pay no federal income tax so you can’t cut taxes on them.”

    Wouldn’t expanding the EIC do exactly that?

    “Educationally, we seem to have decided that prestigious educations should belong to people with families who prioritize education spending or who are willing to take out significant loans.”

    No. As Rhett points out, HSS are very generous with kids from families with low incomes and few assets.

  48. “I think the reluctance of many U.S. citizens to pay more taxes is due to the perception that middle class Americans don’t benefit from taxes paid.”

    In some TV coverage I’ve seen where reporters go to places like Kentucky to ask about Trump and Obamacare, one common refrain was the complaint that the unemployed get better medical coverage than taxpayers.

  49. “The median home price in the US is 188,900. With 10% down you’re paying 6k in interest a year. The standard deduction for married filing jointly is $12,700.”

    Homeowners typically also pay property tax. Add in state income tax or sales tax, and my guess is that will take a lot of them over the standard deduction threshold.

  50. “One thing UMC parents could do is push back against it.”

    Typical UMC parents are too busy, between both having >40hour/week jobs and attending their kids’ EC activities (and often helping coach or being room parents or studio parents) and generally dealing with personal and family tasks, to do more than learn the system enough to work it to their kids’ advantage.

    They have no bandwidth left to push for change. If such change is predicated on UMC parents pushing back, it’s not going to happen.

  51. “My own take on the UMC, from looking at the people around me, is that this is a reasonably large group of people who do not have the political clout of the investor class, and in fact probably have no more political clout than the plain ol’ middle class, but who do have the work habits and intelligence to have figured out how to survive the big structural changes to the economy that started under Reagan and simply got worse over time.”

    My take is similar; the UMC has the work habits and intelligence to figure out enough of the system to advance themselves and their kids, but not enough bandwidth or clout to effect major change.

  52. “But that went away with the Reagan tax reforms; under that plan, businesses could still take this whole variety of deductions”

    By reducing tax rates, the Reagan reforms greatly reduced the value of deductions.

    “And then, as always, we created more tax loopholes, like 401(k)s and 529s, that benefitted that class and allowed them to shelter at least some of their earnings.”

    IIRC, 401ks came about sort of as an unintended consequence of an accounting change that forced companies away from pension plans. IIRC again, the 401(k) rules had previously existed, but plans taking advantage of them only became common when the accounting change forced employers away from pensions.

    Many (all?) 401(k) plans also have limitations on the participation of the more highly compensated employees that depend on the participation of the more lowly compensated employees.

    IOW, I don’t see 401(k) plans as part of a concerted plan to benefit UMC.

  53. “But at least the Reagan tax reform treated all income as generally the same — dividends and capital gains and such were subject to taxation at the same level as earned income.”

    One could argue that much of that amounted to taxing inflation, and discouraging investment and, more generally, delaying of gratification.

  54. Homeowners typically also pay property tax. Add in state income tax or sales tax, and my guess is that will take a lot of them over the standard deduction threshold.

    The median US property tax rate is 1% so about 2k. 5% of 60k in income is $3k. That gets you to 11k.

  55. For the record, it was in 1997 under President Clinton that the capital gains preference was reinstated. It was increased in 2003 under President Bush and more importantly taxes on qualified dividends were reduced to cap gains rates.

  56. So the current version of the health care bill is dead. Now apparently they’re (McConnell) talking about just introducing a straight repeal, which I can’t see going anywhere given opposition from Collins, now Moran who said the proposed Senate version would have negative impacts on healthcare delivery in rural Kansas, and still probably Heller who wants to be re-elected next year from Nevada. Probably others, too, who don’t want to face constituents having to say “now, now, it’ll all work out” when they ask what the roadmap is once repeal were enacted.

  57. If they do a straight repeal, it will be chaos, and we could end up with single payer at some point. Which I am not convinced is even the best outcome, though it could work if well planned. I would prefer to see the ACA made better. The framework is similar to that used in many countries, but it had too many compromises for it to be fully effective.

  58. I actually think they might be able to get corporate/international tax reform through this Congress, with a few bits on the individual side. The need to “score” reform as neutral was one reason that they wanted to repeal the ACA taxes, especially the investment income taxes, as a “reconciliation” qualified offset to the rollback of Medicaid expansion plus further evisceration of Medicaid in ACA repeal/replace. That would have taken care of the desired tax cut for the 1%. Then they could go forward with sweeping corporate tax cut and earned income credit expansion with a limited duration repatriation discount tax rate for offshore corporate earnings and a few UMC/1% targeted deduction limitations on the individual side and repeal of carried interest. But they can still do phase 2; they just won’t be able to accomplish a significant tax cut for the rich right now.

  59. So, I don’t think it is a coincidence that Lee and Moran are the defectors. They are safe for 6 more years. McConnell must be losing his mind. I hope they keep up the repeal shenanigans for a while longer. Whichever way they go, they lose supporters. They should have cut their losses after their first failed attempt.

  60. I saw a comment on RedState (on an article assigning blame for the repeal debacle) that was similar, wishing McCain would croak
    ——————————————————-
    markvol SomeGuy1 • 8 hours ago
    McCain out of the hospital, yet?
    1

    andrew_curlutu markvol • 6 hours ago
    Probably. Singularly unfortunate he didn’t die on the operating table. It would have been one way of being rid of that RINO scumbag.

    ————————————————-

    Ah well, plenty if nastiness to go around.

    http://www.redstate.com/patterico/2017/07/19/means-war-obamacare-betrayal-senators-capito-murkowski-can-never-forgotten-forgiven/

  61. Rhett – I don’t see anything in that Twitter feed about McCain. Where am I missing it?

  62. I was in Arizona not long after the election. I remember seeing quite a few McCain lawn signs and thinking that there were a lot of people who liked to display past Presidential campaign posters. It took me a few seconds to remember that he actually was in his own election in 2016.

  63. “Amen,” Orrock wrote in a now-deleted tweet sharing a post on Medium titled “Please Just F***ing Die Already.”

    And she’s the chairwoman.

  64. Sadly, McCain has been diagnosed with glioblastoma. That’s tough. Hope he gets some time with his family. That’s a terrible thing to have.

  65. Oh jeez, that’s sad. Even at 80.

    I met him once at an Army Navy game, when we were both in line at a concession stand.

  66. Is that the same kind that Jimmy Carter has? He did an experimental treatment, immunotherapy I think, and it has clearly bought him some extra time

  67. Glioblastoma is probably one of the worst cancers. My friend had it and died fast. A seemingly healthy young person. It was awful. My understanding is that it is super aggressive and invasive with little hope for a treatment that will work (Duke had some trials going on with polio that looked promising, but by promising I mean they increased survival in terms of months. Not sure what happened with them). Jimmy Carter’s cancer, while not great, is different. He is pretty lucky, though.

  68. ^also, in met melanoma, immunotherapies are kind of the new thing that is helping people. There isn’t anything like that for GBM.

  69. I felt so sad reading about John McCain. I felt that after brushes with death, he deserved a more peaceful way to go.

  70. Trump is clearly about to try to take down Mueller. I wish my parents were still around to tell me if this feels like Watergate or not. How did we get here?

  71. So you have more memory of it than I did. I was around, but just not old enough to appreciate it.

  72. I also feel so sad about McCain. DH and saw him speak in Seattle in 1999, and were big supporters of his when he ran against GWB in the primaries. I wanted to support him again against Obama, but the pick of Palin was too much for me.

    He is the definition to me of a true patriot. I definitely did not always agree with his politics or approach to politics, but no doubt he was a Country First guy. I really have been sad about this.

  73. FIL was in his 20’s and he says this gets to be more & more like Watergate everyday, including the slow trickle of intensity of the accusations.

    I am very sad about John McCain. I have always respected him greatly.

  74. It is very difficult to compare the present to Watergate, not only because of the significant differences between Nixon and Trump, but also because of the transformation of the news and entertainment industries over the past decades. Even political junkies had to wait for the evening news or the morning paper or the weekly newsmagazine in order to follow the events, and those of us living in flyover country had zero access to the WaPo or the NYT. The vast majority of the public couldn’t keep up and honestly, as I recall from those years, was not particularly interested.

  75. “The vast majority of the public couldn’t keep up and honestly, as I recall from those years, was not particularly interested.”
    I dunno, I was just a kid, but it seemed to me that Watergate was the only thing grownups were talking about. And those hearings seemed to always be on TV.

  76. I wrote a long post with detailed reason why Watergate was different. My browser rebelled .

    1. Nixon was not a respected individual. His personal support was very soft. Still, he had been a public servant for many decades and was held to some standards of behavior.
    2. The Ellsberg and Watergate break ins occurred during the time when he was a sitting president, not just a candidate although the cover up, etc. occurred after the election.
    3. The dirty tricks of CREEP, the committee to reelect the president, were straight out the 19th century. However, this was the twilight of the post WWII sunshine period where we still clung to the idea that there were norms of civil behavior, at least for those who were not radicals or rioters or hooligans. This was new stuff.
    4. There were actual tapes, and the 16 minute gap erased by his private secretary, and a degree of vulgarity and profanity from his mouth that probably did more to cause the people to turn away from him than any other one thing.
    5. The henchmen had committed actual white collar crimes and perjury for which they were mostly convicted. These crimes were not, however, at the level of treason or abetting a foreign power. The attempts to go after federal officials and their associates/families since then show a lack of will or hard evidence to prosecute far less serious crimes.

  77. You forget the biggest difference of all: the Democrats controlled Congress. I suspect that if the Republicans had been in control, as they are today, they never would have gotten to the bottom of it.

  78. The Watergate burglars were arrested and indicted before the 72 election, but they were presumed to be connected somehow with the CIA, not the Nixon white house. The cover up and interference in the FBI investigation began before the election, as did the first WaPo articles. Yes, it is unlikely that articles of impeachment would have been drafted against Nixon by a Republican house.

    However, Andrew Johnson was impeached by his own party – he tried to move it to the center and it backfired, creating a veto proof Radical Republican majority. They passed an unconstitutional bill to prevent him from firing the sitting Secretary of War who oversaw Reconstruction. Johnson fired him anyway, and was impeached and tried.

    The biggest difference is the tapes. (expletive deleted) plus the actual evidence of conspiracy and disregard for the laws he was elected to carry out did him in. Evidence of Trump family obliviousness/disregard of Russian interference and business self dealing (Mar A Lago put in a request for more foreign workers the day after the number of visas in the category was increased) is not going to result in anything, even if he fires everybody who isn’t loyal. No one, Democrat or Republican, is going remove an unqualified President simply because he turned out to be who he appeared to be.

  79. Interesting comparison of Nixon and Watergate with another recent President.

    “Watergate was not only about a break-in. The meticulous reporting started by the now famous Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein revealed an underbelly of nefarious activities in which our government actively participated. Watergate chiefly involved spying on American citizens for political gain; using political operative techniques to sabotage political opponents; and weaponizing government agencies, then failing to properly investigate their behavior to cover up for a president.

    So far, the evidence seems to suggest the Obama administration engaged in these activities big time. And where were the Watergate comparisons then? Let’s do a run-down.”

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/20/watergate-comparison-best-fits-obama-administration/

  80. Yes, I think the leak came from someone at the White House advancing Trump’s agenda. Interesting that so far, the NY Times is not going with the story

  81. There was a big fight, though, about obtaining access to the tapes. I suspect a Republican congress would not have pushed very hard.

    The other thing that could have gotten Nixon impeached, was the fact that he tried to interfere in the Paris peace process before the 1968 election. It was suspected at the time but there was no proof. In recent years, historians have been able to confirm that this happened.

  82. The point of my discussion about Watergate was not that Nixon and his White House was so much worse than any other administration in history. It was to explain the historical context of why his actions led to his resignation before he would certainly have been not only impeached but convicted (is that the technical term?). This discussion started because someone claimed that few on this site were old enough to have experienced Watergate fully. All of these factors contributed

    a) opposition Congressional majority to investigate, less partisan era so 2/3 of the Senate would have convicted
    b) top notch reporting when the MSM was still respected
    c) underlings caught red handed in criminal activity as the starting point
    d) unlikeable POTUS exposed via tapes and reporting as a megalomaniac and vulgarian, in an era when most people still encountered in daily life a higher standard of behavior and expected still higher from public figures.
    e) the country was not at that time resigned to executive overreach, congressional impotence, and far reaching but sometimes head scratching Supreme Court decisions as the default state of government (unlike the past 40 years at least).

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