Ryan Resignation Leaves GOP In Turmoil
A House (and a party) upended as Paul Ryan calmly takes his leave. NYT: "The matter-of-fact way Mr. Ryan handled this bit of personal news belied the tumult that is certain to follow the unusually timed announcement that he would not seek re-election, essentially throwing his party’s leadership up for grabs seven months before an election that will decide whether his successor as speaker will be a Democrat or a Republican. For starters, the Ryan departure is sure to fuel a growing sense that House Republicans are in real trouble given that the top man wants to escape gracefully before being forced out. It will create a power vacuum in the already unruly House even as his top two lieutenants, Representatives Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, maneuver to take Mr. Ryan’s place. It will hurt party fund-raising while intensifying enthusiasm among charged-up Democrats who believe they have Mr. Ryan’s Republicans on the run."
Cruelty To Poor Marks Ryan's Tenure
Cruelty toward the poor trails Paul Ryan’s tenure in Washington. ThinkProgress: "Though Ryan’s public persona has been characterized, off-and-on, as something of a serious and deep thinker on issues related to poverty, taxation, and welfare policy, his record — and now legacy — in public life is one of consistent cruelty. For the entirety of his nearly 20-year career in the House and, especially, since holding the Speaker’s gavel since 2016, Ryan’s single-minded purpose in governance has been to seek and destroy federal support for the poor. Ryan came to Congress in 1998, pledging to bring discipline and reform to Social Security and other federal welfare programs that he’s hated since his college days. Ironically, Ryan owes, in great part, his personal and political success to the Social Security payment he and his family received following his 55-year-old father’s death, when Ryan was 16 years old. In other words, the welfare-cutting Speaker got his start in life by earning a B.A. in economics and political science at the Miami University of Ohio, with money provided by his late father’s welfare payments."
Pompeo Faces Confirmation Scrutiny
Pompeo faces uphill battle in Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of State job. LA Times: "Mike Pompeo, who President Trump has nominated for secretary of State, is likely to need all his diplomatic skills to get through his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday. Pompeo, who is CIA director, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 10 a.m. Pompeo, 54, is likely to face harsh questioning from Democrats who see his appointment as a referendum on Trump's controversial foreign policy. Several Democrats have expressed concern that Pompeo, who is known as a hawk, will back military intervention over diplomacy."
Pruitt Fires EPA Whistleblower
EPA removes staffer who OK’d report on Pruitt’s security. Politico: "EPA removed a career staffer Tuesday who approved an internal report that undermined Administrator Scott Pruitt's claims that he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection, according to two former agency employees familiar with the situation... Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wrote to Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday requesting oversight hearings and quoting the report, making public its doubts about the need for the heightened security."
Striking Teachers Challenge Coal-Country Giveaways
Striking teachers in coal country force states to rethink energy company giveaways. The Intercept: "Like most billionaires, Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm is not accustomed to doing things for himself. For that, there are people: people to drill wells, people to clean up after him, people to drive him from here to there, and — almost certainly — people to write laws. For years, those laws did well by him. Oklahoma’s gross production tax — the levy applied to fossil fuel extracted from the ground — was set at 2 percent for the first three years of a well’s production, giving it the the lowest effective tax rate on oil and gas of any major producing state as of 2017. As teacher unrest spread from West Virginia to Kentucky to Oklahoma, educators in the Sooner State began to zero in on the tax breaks for oil and gas producers, arguing that teacher salaries and school spending could be lifted with a modest boost in the tax. So, Hamm took matters into his own hands, showing up personally at the Capitol as the state legislature debated raising the rate from 2 to 5 percent."