Abbreviated pundit roundup: Nunes admits to putting party over country

CNN / YouTube Audio leaked of Rep Devin Nunes...
CNN / YouTube

We begin today’s roundup with reaction to a leaked recording of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes admitting his priority is covering up and protecting the president. First up, Julian Zelizer at CNN:

More than the President’s Twitter distractions and more than the conservative news media, it has been the Republicans in the House and Senate who have been vital to the survival of this presidency. […] This is another indication of why the midterm elections will be so important to the next two years of the Trump presidency. This is why Trump has been so active on the campaign trail, although there is growing evidence after Tuesday that his presence at rallies around the country might do more than anything else to hand Democrats both chambers.

Here’s Scott Martelle’s take at The Los Angeles Times:

There must be limits to political solidarity. Where exactly the line should be drawn can be debated, but one would hope that members of a political party would not let their desire to hang on to power preclude a chance to determine the scope of meddling by a foreign power in an American election – and whether those efforts implicate the president himself.

Congress is meant to be a check on the executive, not a political security detail protecting him. Voters would be wise to keep that in mind as the midterm approaches.

Turning to the insider trading charges against Republican Rep. Chris Collins, The Washington Post calls for common sense anti-corruption reform:

[C]ongressional rules should require lawmakers to steer clear of potential conflicts of interest. Currently, the rules fall far short. Tthough the Senate forbids members from serving on boards of publicly held or publicly regulated companies, the House of Representatives does not impose such restrictions. Perhaps this made sense back in the day, when a local bank director got elected to Congress or a lawmaker was invited to sit on the board of a local hospital. But Mr. Collins’s case illustrates the danger of such arrangements.

The House should forbid all of its members from sitting on the boards of for-profit companies, and the Senate should consider whether its own rules, which permit service on nonprofit boards, need tightening. The temptation for lawmakers to use Congress’s sprawling oversight and legislative powers to advance private interests is too great, and the appearance of impropriety practically unavoidable.

Also at The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell keeps the focus on the Trump administration’s cruel and ineffective immigration policies:

On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Trump administration is readying a new rule that should make your blood boil. The initiative, in the works for more than a year, would make it harder for legal immigrants to receive either green cards or citizenship if they — or anyone in their households — has ever benefited from a long list of safety-net programs. These include the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), food stamps or even health insurance purchased on the Obamacare exchanges. […]

Legal-immigrant moms and dads may soon face a choice between (A) guaranteeing their U.S.-born children medical care, preschool classes and infant formula today, or (B) not threatening their own ability to qualify for green cards or citizenship tomorrow.

The universe of U.S.-citizen children who could be affected is large. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that, in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment alone in 2016, about 5.8 million citizen children had a noncitizen parent.

The USA Today editorial board says it’s just doesn’t make sense to create a “Space Force” as an entirely new military branch:

[C]yberattacks against the United States are more urgent threats than the militarization of the final frontier, and an entirely new service branch seems unnecessary. In the past several years, the military’s focus — as Defense Secretary James Mattis noted last year in opposing the idea — has been to better integrate existing services to reduce overhead and duplication.

Outfitting a new branch would be turning that doctrine on its head, particularly if it involves cramming 10,000 to 15,000 new headquarters staff into the Pentagon or some annex to duplicate bureaucracies of the nation’s five existing branches (the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy).

Ryan Cooper at The Week details how progressives are making inroads in the Democratic Party’s policy debate:

Perhaps most impressively, a state ballot measure in Missouri to overturn the state’s so called “right-to-work” law — in reality, a measure to prevent union organizing and increase worker exploitation — won by a staggering two-to-one margin. To repeat, this was in Missouri, where Republicans occupy the governor’s seat and have supermajorities in both houses of the legislature.

The Missouri example, in particular, highlights one area where the left has already routed the center: ideas. […]  Practically all the policy debates happening in the Democratic Party are over leftist ideas. Just look at the exhausted centrism of Third Way, which can offer little more than tepid disagreement with the left, not their own worked-out program. They’re even abandoning education reform, long the centrist Democrat lodestar.

And on a final note, Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times makes a similar point about how the Democratic Party is benefiting from a progressive policy debate and a fresh crop of candidates:

In truth, there’s nothing surprising about left-wing candidates losing their primaries. The happy surprise is how many are winning. Unsexy as it sounds, the real story of progressive politics right now is the steady accumulation of victories — some small, some major — thanks to a welcome and unaccustomed outbreak of left-wing pragmatism. […]

The Democratic Party will likely be weighing the precise balance between […] progressive priorities for a long time. But the point is, they are all progressive priorities. After Davids’s victory, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her congratulations: “Your win is an incredible inspiration to so many, myself included.”

“Democrats in disarray” is a take that writes itself, but not every disagreement is a war.

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Let Send Nunes out to live on the first Space Force space station. Make it a life test!