THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
It all seemed so easy, so … normal. GOP leaders released their consensus framework, the president delivered a coordinated address, and the Freedom Caucus and conservative outside groups spoke with one voice. Tax reform means so much to the Republican Party at this moment – the only legislative item with any real shot at passing in 2017 – that it’s easy to lose focus on how long a shot that really is. The lack of numbers in the outline wasn’t strategy – it was the reality of proposing something that wouldn’t balloon the deficit, fork over billions to the wealthy, and get away with erasing spreadsheets full of popular tax breaks. Selling it as a populist victory – a “middle-class miracle,” as President Trump described it? Careful going here: Only 45 percent of Americans want a tax cut for businesses, with 48 percent opposed, according to the new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Sixty-two percent oppose a tax cut for higher-income people. The president is expected to be more involved than he was in health care. Clearly he wants a tax cut, but his conflicting priorities – and, of course, the erratic and unpredictable ways he expresses them – leave him as the biggest wild card in the equation, yet again. This bill has to survive the swamp, and it also has to survive the president.
CALIFORNIA LOOMING LARGE
Frustrated that the largest state in the union, and arguably the most diverse, was an afterthought in the race to select presidential nominees last go-around, California chose to move up its primary to early March in 2020. On the Democratic side, California voters will likely favor a proven progressive, a recognized resister. There is buzz already about whether locals considering a run, like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Sen. Kamala Harris, could benefit. Could the change reduce the inflated role of early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire? Maybe, but that’s unlikely. A candidate could arguably try skipping those very white, very particular states to focus on competing out west. But from the Redwood Forest to the border with Mexico, from the Golden Gate to Hollywood, face-to-face, hand-shaking, retail politics can be next to impossible in California. It could mean Iowa and New Hampshire wind up counting more than ever. A candidate who enters the race strong, gains some momentum and airtime, could wrap it up fast with a delegate haul from California. The move could end up leaving little time for an underdog or alternative voice to build steam. It could favor the favorite, ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks writes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think they’re afraid of their players, you want to know the truth.”– President Trump to Fox News on NFL owners
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch headlines the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) “Defending Freedom” Luncheon at the Trump Hotel at 12 p.m.
NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Paola Chavez
Russian-generated Facebook posts pushed Trump as ‘only viable option’. Several anti-immigrant messages with an explicit pro-Trump slant are included among the 3,000 pieces of Russian-linked political content Facebook plans to turn over to Congressional investigators, ABC News has learned. Posts that circulated to a targeted, swing-state audience on the social media site railed against illegal immigrants and claimed “the only viable option is to elect Trump.” http://abcn.ws/2yu4mVR
Trump administration planning to cap refugees at 45,000 for FY18. The Trump administration has confirmed that the U.S. plans to set a limit of 45,000 refugees for the next fiscal year -– a drop from Trump’s 50,000 cap last year and the 110,000 that Obama pledged the U.S. would take in during his final months in office. This is the lowest cap since the refugee admissions program began in 1975, although in some past years actual admissions were lower, sparking outrage from refugee resettlement groups and top Democrats. http://abcn.ws/2wXpKRW
Russian internet trolls pushing #TakeAKnee, #BoycottNFL to sow discord in US: Senator. Russian internet trolls are trying to stoke the controversy in the U.S. over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem by using opposing hashtags such as #TakeAKnee and #BoycottNFL, a Senate Homeland Security Committee member said Wednesday. http://abcn.ws/2wXiTZ4
Trump says Republicans ‘have the votes’ to repeal Obamacare. In two separate appearances Wednesday, President Trump claimed Republicans have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare – despite a vote on the bill being derailed this week after enough senators publicly voiced their opposition. The president first made this claim while speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House ahead of his trip to Indianapolis to sell his tax plan. http://abcn.ws/2fAwKlr
Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose. Politico
Twitter, with accounts linked to Russia, to face Congress over role in election. The New York Times