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Patronage Rules

The 'Patronage' Presidency: James Comey's 'extraordinary' testimony on Trump. Common Dreams: "In one of the most potentially damning moments recounted in the memos, Comey describes a private dinner with Trump at the White House on January 27 in which the president asked the director if he wanted to keep his job. My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant that the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some of patronage relationship.'

House poised to pass bill taking aim at Dodd-Frank regulations. NYT:"The House of Representatives votes on a bill that would gut major elements of the regulatory legislation, drafted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The bill coming up for a vote, the Financial Choice Act, has maintained a low profile compared with Republican plans on health care and taxes, but it represents a major part of an agenda the Republicans say will unshackle the economy and accelerate economic growth."

Debt limit showdown looms sooner as wealthy bet on Trump tax cut. Reuters:"The U.S. Congress may be headed for a reckoning with the federal debt limit within weeks, thanks to wealthy Americans and corporations deferring tax payments in the hope that they would benefit from the lower tax rates promised by President Trump. Trump promised tax cuts during his election campaign last year and has reiterated those promises in recent months leading some wealthy Americans and businesses to shift accounting for income into the future, betting that lower tax rates will arrive."

White House acknowledges more former lobbyists in administration. NPR: "The new release reflects waivers given to agency staffers. For example, one was granted to Lance Leggitt, who last year lobbied to influence Medicare policy at the Department of Health and Human Services — and who is now chief of staff at that agency. Critics say the relatively small number of agency waivers may fall far short of revealing the true level of ethics exemptions. They worry that conflicted agency officials may be avoiding the need for broad waivers simply by following narrow recusal standards, according to Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen... large numbers of former lobbyists and corporate executives have been coming in to government."

States In Play

It's the end of the road for the GOP's big tax experiment in Kansas. LA Times: "The grand economic experiment on the prairie has ended.Kansas’ Republican-held Legislature delivered a stunning defeat to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday, voting to demolish his massive tax cut that led to massive budget shortfalls and sent Kansas into a political tailspin. It was a Waterloo moment for the conservative second-term governor, who refused to back down from the tea-party-inspired plan he signed in 2012 to promote business growth in the state."

Nevada on the verge of trying Medicaid for all. DailyKOS:"The Nevada state legislature has been working in fits and starts toward an innovative healthcare reform effort, and finally reached the milestone of passing it. The idea seems obvious in its simplicity—the option for everyone to buy in to Medicaid. Medicaid would become the public option on the state's health insurance exchange, if Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signs the bill into law."

Georgia GOP candidate Handel: 'I do not support a livable wage." DailyKOS: "At Tuesday night’s debate between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Ossoff said that “the minimum wage should be a living wage.” Handel, apparently on purpose, had this to say: 'This is an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative: I do not support a livable wage. What I support is making sure that we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation.'"

Doublespeak Diary

Senators try to quiet Kamala Harris, but she doesn't back down. CNN: "Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr shut down a line of questioning from California Sen. Kamala Harris at Wednesday's high-profile hearing, admonishing her and other Democrats to stop cutting off witnesses. The move rankled some on Twitter who argued the North Carolina Republican was singling out Harris, one of three women on the intelligence panel, during Wednesday's contentious hearing."

Eric Trump: Democrats in Washington are 'not even people'. CNN: "Eric Trump said Democrats who support the probe into his father's campaign and Russia are "not even people" and he has "never seen hatred like this." Trump - one of President Donald Trump's five children - also said Democrats are obstructing the current administration."They have no message so what do they try and do? They try and obstruct a great man, they try and obstruct his family, they come after us viciously, and its truly, truly horrible," Trump said.

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