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USAPP Managing Editor, Chris Gilson looks at the best in political blogging from around the Beltway. 

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The 2016 Campaign and the Indiana Primary 

On Saturday, Townhall looks at which party – the Republicans or the Democrats – is better for the economy. They argue that compared to George W. Bush’s tax cuts, Obama’s economic legacy –Obamacare and growing regulation – were better for income redistribution, with the 1% percent now paying more of their income in taxes compared to those at the bottom. The Upshot takes on the idea that ‘the economy is rigged’ and other myths promulgated by the current field of presidential candidates. They say that it would be better for the candidates to campaign with a ‘platform of humility’, to avoid the inevitable disappointment that comes when elected presidents can’t deliver on their economic promises.

Much has been made of Donald Trump’s accusations that Hillary Clinton is playing “the women’s card”. The Upshot says that where gender’s concerned, Trump has much to lose when his derogatory comments about women are highlighted by the media than Clinton has to gain by characterising herself as a strong woman.

The big news of the week was Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor, John Kasich’s withdrawal from the GOP presidential nomination race after their pasting by Trump in Indiana. The Atlantic reports that Trump has signalled his change of focus to running against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. White House Dossier says that Trump has the support of 56 percent of Republicans, but that Clinton leads him 43-37 percent in general election polling.

Clinton Trump featured

Credit: DonkeyHotey (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The Upshot comments that even though it’s early days, Trump would likely have an uphill general election fight against Hillary Clinton; Townhall writes that the electoral map is very much in the Democrats’ favor as well. Monkey Cage warns us not to take general election predictions too seriously at this point – Clinton may only have a small (and not insurmountable) lead. Informed Comment really does not agree, commenting that a Trump victory would be ‘unthinkable’. But what if Trump can ‘disrupt’ the general election as he did the primaries, asks Townhall. FreakOutNation worries that Clinton will lose to Trump, given the former’s polling, and the scandals and controversies which surround her. 

American Thinker says that women will be the ones who determine who wins this fall, given that their votes have been the determining factor in five of the last six elections. Red State, meanwhile, writes that the Democrats don’t seem to be taking any chances, having already booked a $20 million ad campaign in June and July targeting Donald Trump.

What political scientists call ‘the fundamentals’ actually favor the GOP this election cycle, writes Monkey Cage – but can they win with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket? Hit & Run doesn’t think so, commenting that with the New York billionaire as the Republican nominee, the party may well have handed the presidency to Hillary Clinton. PoliticusUSA reinforces this view Wednesday, with the news that a new poll shows that 13 percent of Ted Cruz’s supporters would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential campaign, Sabato’s Crystal Ball reckons that it will be ‘fear and loathing’ between Trump and Clinton, with a good deal of that within both parties still to come as well. Outside the Beltway has similar sentiments. Counting on a third party movement to take on Donald Trump this November? Don’t, advises Daily Kos; any such third party candidate would have to be even more extremist than Trump to gain traction with his supporters. Townhall wonders aloud what the difference between Trump and Clinton is, comparing the formers’ “insane and boorish insults” and the other’s “long history of lies and deceit”. FiveThirtyEight echoes this sentiment, reporting that Americans’ distaste for both candidates is record-breaking – Trump’s unfavorables top 50 percent, and Clinton’s are nearing 40 percent. Red State reminds us that no, Clinton is not better than Donald Trump – they are both equally ‘evil’. The Volokh Conspiracy doesn’t share this view, arguing Thursday that Clinton is indeed a lesser evil than Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s candidacy is likely to create a lot of headaches for downticket Republicans. The Federalist says that Democrats haven’t wasted any time, and are already running attack ads in Senate races using Trump as a way to smear GOP candidates.

The Indiana Primary 

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana Credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana Credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

As mentioned above, Tuesday saw the Hoosier State stage its presidential primary. Ahead of the voting, Townhall says that the polls have moved in Senator Ted Cruz’s favor because of Trump’s bombastic and negative campaigning style. On Sunday, Red State has the news that Indiana Governor, Mike Pence would campaign for Cruz, at a time when the polls had Trump and the Texas Senator ‘neck and neck’. FiveThirtyEight commented Monday that Indiana may be the last stand for the #NeverTrump movement.

Daily Kos has the news Wednesday that Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders won the Indiana primary for the Democrats. Hit & Run writes that Sanders’ win was one that was missed by the polls, which had had Clinton leading by seven points. And of course, Donald Trump was the winner for the GOP in Indiana (Daily Kos). Goodbye, #neverTrump.

The Democratic Campaign and the Candidates 

This week, The Federalist argues that Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates are designed to suppress the voice of voters. They say that despite gaining more votes in New Hampshire than Clinton, Bernie Sanders left New Hampshire with two fewer delegates.

American Thinker covers what they say is the ‘secret racist history’ of the Democratic Party. They say that the party long ago erased racist figures from the country’s textbooks, and their involvement with the KKK in the 19th century.

Are the Democrats built to win? The Atlantic thinks so. Writing Thursday, they say that the party is built to defeat the GOP because it’s essentially now an anti-racist party.

Moving on to what the two candidates have been up to this past week: 

Hillary Clinton 

  • Could Clinton’s promise of a gender-equal cabinet change US politics? (Informed Comment)
  • Clinton has been reaching out to Bernie Sanders with a promise of a progressive platform (PoliticusUSA)
  • How Sanders has forced Clinton to compete (Hit & Run)
  • There are still a number of Sanders’ supporters who won’t vote for Clinton in the general election (The Atlantic)
  • What if Clinton was never intended to be the Democratic nominee? (American Thinker)
  • If Clinton does move into the White House, will she be doomed to repeat the Obama presidency? (The American Prospect)
  • Credit: Hillary for America (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

    Credit: Hillary for America (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

    Can Clinton win back Appalachia for the Democrats? (The Atlantic)

  • Clinton’s facing a dilemma – how can she attract both moderate Republicans and Bernie Sanders’ supporters? (The American Prospect)
  • How Clinton has been successfully playing the “woman card” (Townhall)
  • Why is Clinton doing worse among whites now than in 2008? It’s mostly down to attitudes towards race (Monkey Cage)
  • Given that she’s facing an opponent who may well rip the GOP apart, will Hillary Clinton make good on her opportunity to unite a grand cross-party coalition of democrats? (The Atlantic) 

Bernie Sanders 

  • Sanders this week vowed that his supporters would not vote for Donald Trump he is not the Democratic nominee (PoliticusUSA)
  • Sanders thinks that the Democrats’ convention will be contested, and that he will be able to flip Clinton’s superdelegates to his side (Crooks & Liars)
  • When Sanders does go to work for downticket candidates, the effect can be huge (Daily Kos)
  • How Sanders’ Indiana primary win came two weeks too late (PoliticusUSA)
  • With Clinton almost certain to be the Democratic nominee, many reckon Sanders should get out of the race. But why shouldn’t he? (Hit & Run)
  • Indeed, Sanders shouldn’t drop out for Clinton’s sake – there’s little evidence a long primary hurts a nominee (FiveThirtyEight)
  • Two thousand doctors agree with Sanders on health care (Wonkblog)

The Republican Campaign and the Candidates

On Sunday, Smart Politics wonders if 1,237 (the number of delegate votes a GOP candidate needs to gain the party’s presidential nomination at the convention in July) is an elusive number, but ends up finding that we can see it everywhere.

The Atlantic this week writes that the country is running out of undecided voters – bad news for Ted Cruz and John Kasich (well it was before they dropped out of the presidential race). Interpreting Indiana’s exit polling, Red State comments that “anger and divide” within the Republican Party have taken their toll, with 57 percent of those polled believing that the GOP

Credit: joy garnett (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Credit: joy garnett (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

campaign has divided the party. Political Animal reacts to Trump’s walkover in Indiana, arguing that the conservative movement “died” Tuesday night, and that whoever tries to rebuild the GOP post-Trump will need to come up with a new coalition that is different to that of Bush and Eisenhower. On similar lines, Mischiefs of Faction says that with Trump’s now cleared path to the GOP’s presidential nomination, we are now witnessing the biggest failure of a political party in generations. But can Trump unite the Republican Party? The Atlantic mulls on this question, commenting that he may be able to by attacking Hillary Clinton. FiveThirtyEight meanwhile wonders  via Slack chat if the GOP is the party of Trump, or of the US House Speaker, Paul Ryan (WI).

On Wednesday, Hit & Run reports that Google searches for “Libertarian Party” have surged following Ted Cruz’s announcement that he would be dropping out of the presidential race. They comment that despite this surge, it remains to be seen how many in the GOP would actually support a Libertarian Party candidate instead of Hillary Clinton.

Looking at the GOP’s downticket races, Smart Politics has the news that the party has the most (21) US Senators seeking reelection in 90 years. Kevin Drum reckons that “serious” Republicans now face a tough six months until the election. Townhall also looks ahead to November, writing that Republicans must defeat Donald Trump, something that they can do by withholding their support and not voting at all on the top of the ticket.

Turning now to the GOP’s candidates, and beginning with The Donald:

Donald Trump 

  • It turns out that a KKK leader is a big fan of Donald Trump (Red State)
  • How Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz at his own game – mobilizing the Republican base (The American Prospect)
  • Who can we blame for the rise of Donald Trump? (Townhall)
  • Not TV, apparently (The Atlantic)
  • Trump actually doesn’t get most of his support from the “working class” (FiveThirtyEight)
  • How Trump speaks to – and about – minorities (The Atlantic)
  • Donald Trump would be worse than any prior GOP nominee (Red State)
  • So why did the “Stop Trump” movement fall apart? (FiveThirtyEight)
  • Now we’ll find out if the #NeverTrump movement actually means something (United Liberty)
  • How to defeat Donald Trump in the fall without making him stronger by accident (The Atlantic)
  • The five stages of Donald Trump (Townhall)
  • How Republicans are coming back around to Donald Trump (Hit & Run)
  • People aren’t really going to leave the US if Trump wins the presidency (Townhall)
  • Why Trump’s government spending will destroy the economy (The Federalist)
  • What Trump wants to do to America, from trade, to social security, to health care (Wonkblog)
  • Is Trump a threat to the American way of life, or just to the GOP? (Hit & Run)
  • How Trump’s nomination will shake confidence in US democracy (The American Prospect)
  • A lot of Americans dislike the “messiness” of Democracy – but they do like Trump (Monkey Cage)
  • More on why Republican voters decided on Trump (FiveThirtyEight)
  • Trump silent majority sign featured

    Credit: Peter Rukavina (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

    The “war” on Trump’s supporters has got to stop (American Thinker)

  • Trump is living in a fantasy world if he thinks he can beat Hillary Clinton (Red State)
  • Is the GOP in New Hampshire trying to stop Trump’s chances at the July convention? (Red State)
  • A new poll shows that the Republican Party can say goodbye to the Cuban vote in Florida if Trump is the nominee (Red State)…
  • …which comes as no surprise given how poor an opinion Latinos have of him (Daily Kos)
  • Donald Trump is apparently the intellectual heir to Ron Paul (Red State)…
  • … so it makes sense that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), would endorse him (Hit & Run)
  • Trump this week accused Ted Cruz’s father of helping to assassinate JFK (PoliticusUSA)
  • Trump’s and his supporters’ claims are in insulting to our intelligence (American Thinker)
  • Why won’t Trump denounce his anti-Semitic supporters? (The Atlantic)
  • Will Trump’s vice-presidential choice be conventional, or crazy? (Outside the Beltway)
  • We can cross South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, off of Trump’s Veep list, in any case (Red State)
  • Despite his claims to the contrary, Trump’s “new phase” of his campaign is just as unpleasant and less presidential as it has always been (Red State)
  • Trump is something of a chameleon, reversing his stance on the minimum wage from pro-raising to stating that it’s too high in the space of a few days (The Atlantic)
  • He also renounced his own tax plan this week (Red State)
  • How Trump is coherent on monetary policy, but not on debt, given that he seems to advocate discounting US bonds (The Upshot)
  • Five surprising things that Donald Trump has revealed about America (Wonkblog)
  • Why Trump needs to start talking about the Obama economy (Townhall)
  • It turns out that neither George HW nor George W Bush will be endorsing Donald Trump this cycle (Outside the Beltway)…
  • nor will Jeb Bush, unsurprisingly (Red State)
  • Trump’s shocking Cinco de Mayo tweet (Political Mojo)…
  • …which everyone may be getting wrong (Kevin Drum)
  • GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan can’t support Donald Trump at this time (Daily Kos)…
  • … while Trump thinks that Ryan is “unfit” to be the Speaker (FreakOutNation)
  • Trump reckons that West Virginians don’t need to vote for him in the state’s upcoming primary (Daily Kos)

Ted Cruz 

  • This week the Texas Senator turned away a delegation of his own Muslim constituents, branding them as “extremists” (Informed Comment)
  • Ahead of Cruz’s withdrawal from the race, there were some who thought Carly Fiorina would be able to help him win (American Thinker)
  • Will evangelical voters seal Cruz’s doom? (The Atlantic)
  • Cruz quitting the race is a sign of GOP voters’ “battle fatigue” (Red State)
  • Will Cruz be back in 2020? (The Atlantic)

John Kasich 

  • Is the Ohio Governor about to “join the Trump train”? (Red State)
  • This week was the end of the road for Kasich (The Atlantic)
  • How Kasich’s “long, weird” campaign gave in to reality (FiveThirtyEight)

The Obama Administration 

Late last week saw the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The Atlantic praises President Obama’s performance, calling him “comedian in chief”, and comment that no US president has been a better comedian. PoliticusUSA meanwhile reports that Obama’s approval rating has soared to 52 percent, which may be pushing optimism among Democrats for a win in the fall presidential election.

Credit: The White House

Credit: The White House

On Tuesday, Federal Insider has the news that the White House has told federal agencies to begin preparations for a new president, by focusing on bringing together their basic budget information that they will need, rather than drawing up new policy proposals.

On Thursday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners writes The Atlantic. Almost all those who had their sentences commuted were in prison for non-violent drug offences. Hit & Run reckons that if he had wasted less time, Obama could have reached Richard Nixon’s commutation rate, rather than the relatively low number of 306 achieved during his time in office.

On Friday, The Atlantic covers comments from President Obama on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Obama pointed out that the 2016 election is “not a reality show”. 

The Beltway and the Supreme Court 

On Wednesday this week, The Atlantic reports that the US Department of Justice has written to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, to inform him that the state’s HB2 legislation, which prevents the transgendered from using bathrooms, runs afoul of the Civil Rights Act, and therefore should not be enforced.

Wonkblog has the news that the Obama Administration announced rules this week aimed at combatting tax evasion, money laundering, and financial crime. The move comes after the recent release of the ‘Panama Papers’: 11 million leaked documents detailing the global offshore industry.

Capitol clouds

Image credit: United States Government

Moving on to Congress, The Atlantic looks at efforts in the House to pass a bill which would suspend legislators’ salaries if they are unable to pass a budget. It’s not surprising that the bill has not had a great deal of success. Staying in the House, The Daily Signal says that the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has decided not to bring a budget plan to the House floor for a vote, meaning that the House Appropriations Committee can soon begin to move individual spending bills.

Moving on to the Supreme Court, Red State argues that in light of Donald Trump being the presumptive GOP nominee, Senate Republicans should confirm Merrick Garland ASAP. Their logic is that with Trump topping the ticket, Hillary Clinton is likely to win, and if the Democrats retake the Senate, then they can nominate and confirm a Supreme Court justice who is farther to the left. Crooks & Liars, meanwhile talks on the Supreme Court’s consideration of California’s death penalty, and whether it constitutes “cruel and unusual” punishment. 

Foreign policy, defense and trade 

On Monday, Powerline argues that President Obama is still largely “clueless” in Iraq, given that he has stated that the Iraqi government was needed as a partner to defeat ISIS, a government which was unable to stop protestors storming into Baghdad’s Green Zone this week. Speaking of ISIS, is the US war against it illegal? The Atlantic looks into this question after an Army officer filed a lawsuit alleging that the war is illegal since Congress has not given its support within the timeframe of the War Powers Resolution.

Has the US military fallen behind? Monkey Cage ponders this idea, given Donald Trump’s recent statements to the effect that it has. They comment that while the US military may not be at peak readiness, it is still the premier fighting force in the world.

Border Wall Mural in Nogales, Mexico. Credit: Jonathan McIntosh (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Border Wall Mural in Nogales, Mexico. Credit: Jonathan McIntosh (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Turning to America’s southern border, The Daily Signal claims that Central Americas are crossing the border at “crisis levels”. They say that the surge of people crossing the border is at “2014 levels”, with over 27,000 unaccompanied children arriving in the first six months of the fiscal year.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both united in their agreement that there is no need for the US to spend more on nuclear weapons. The Hill’s Congress blog says that the two Democratic presidential candidates are right – new nukes are far too expensive.

Obamacare and health policy 

On Monday, Wonkblog looks into the contradictory reasons why cancer-drug prices are rising. They say that not only have launch-prices for cancer drugs increases, prices also increase steadily after launch. Speaking of drug prices, PoliticusUSA reports that Congress opposed President Obama’s efforts to make prescription drugs cost less. They say that Congressional Republicans have called for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to halt their plans to reduce drug prices by standing up the pharmaceutical industry.

Obamacare put health care reform on to everyone’s radars from the late 2000s onwards – but post-Medicare and Medicaid efforts to make America’s health care system better date back to the 1970s. Kevin Drum gives a potted history of these efforts.

Credit: Fibonacci Blue (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

Credit: Fibonacci Blue (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

On Wednesday, The Daily Signal reports that another major Obamacare insurer – Humana – may be planning to leave the program’s exchanges. The company has seen a 21 percent decrease in customers it has enrolled compared to last year, and will report losses for 2016.

Speaking of Obamacare, White House Dossier reckons that it will hold an “October Surprise” for Democrats, with the potential for health insurance rates to rise, just weeks before Election Day. The Upshot meanwhile says that we should get ready for higher Obamacare rates next year.

The economy and society

On Sunday, Wonkblog has the sad news that toddlers have shot 23 people this year, with the vast majority of these shooting incidents occurring in the South and the Midwest.

The Atlantic looks at a new White House report which suggests that increases to the minimum wage are also linked to lower crime rates. Still on work-related issues, Wonkblog has the news that US employment slowed in April, with only 160,000 jobs

Credit: David (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

Credit: David (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

created. The joblessness rate has also been steady at 5 percent. The Upshot meanwhile writes that workers are now getting a little bit more of the economic pie, at the expense of company shareholders. They comment that much of this is down to the declining profitability of the energy sector, which is also hurting corporate profits.

On Thursday, Wonkblog says that we’ve been ignoring the “tremendously good news” that there have been huge declines in mortality rates for young people and African Americans in recent years.

Puerto Rico is still caught in the midst of a debt crisis. Townhall reckons that it could be turned into another Hong Kong, through regulatory and tax reform. 

Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USAPP– American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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