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“GOP Convention Chaos”: The Next Three Months Will Be Awful For Republicans — And Good For Democrats

Three months from now, on July 18, the Republican Party will open its convention in Cleveland, to be followed a week later by the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. A lot is going to happen in those three months.

But it’s not too early to predict that most of it is going to be good for the Democrats and bad for the Republicans.

At this point in the campaign, both parties have a straightforward, though by no means easy, set of tasks. They each want to get their nomination settled, unify and motivate their own voters, and start making their case to the broader electorate that will vote in the general election. Democrats will have an easier time on all counts.

While we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the upcoming primaries, at the moment we can say that Hillary Clinton will almost certainly have the Democratic nomination wrapped up by the end of the primaries in June. Donald Trump, on the other hand, may or may not have the Republican nomination in hand at that point. Right now FiveThirtyEight’s projections show Clinton running at 108 percent of what she needs to meet her target for the nomination, while they have Trump at 95 percent of what he needs, meaning he could well fall short.

The possibility that he won’t win 1,237 delegates, triggering a contested convention with multiple votes, is consuming the Republican Party (and the media) right now. That means that all of the discussion on the Republican side is about the process, with Trump complaining about unfairness, Ted Cruz supporters talking about their plan to snatch the nomination on the second or third vote, and everyone speculating madly about the drama that will ensue in Cleveland.

And what are the consequences of that discussion? The first is that it prevents Republicans from talking about issues. This came up earlier this week when Ted Cruz was being interviewed by Sean Hannity, who asked Cruz about his efforts to persuade delegates to shift their votes on a second or third ballot. Cruz responded: “Sean, with all respect, that’s not what people are concerned about,” and tried to shift the discussion back to issues. Hannity was having none of it: “I’m asking you more than a process question, it’s an integrity of the election question, and everybody is asking me this question.” That’s a microcosm of the entire Republican race at this point.

There’s some of that kind of talk on the Democratic side, but not nearly as much. Which means that while Clinton and Bernie Sanders are talking about issues — which can at least in theory win more voters to the Democratic cause — voters only see Republicans consumed by these process questions.

That’s not to mention the fact that the process argument serves to divide Republicans, stoking longstanding resentments and making Trump supporters dislike Cruz and Cruz supporters dislike Trump. The debate on the Democratic side, even if it highlights some differences between Clinton and Sanders, still reminds Democratic voters of what they all have in common and what differentiates them from Republicans, while the debate on the Republican side only deepens their internal divisions.

Don’t be surprised if in the coming days you hear Hillary Clinton talking much more like a general election candidate, reaching out to all voters and contrasting herself with Donald Trump. She’s already shifting to unifying rhetoric; in her victory speech last night, she said, “To all the people who supported Senator Sanders: I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us” (though she also repeated her now oft-used line about how identifying problems is not enough, you also have to propose solutions, which is a jab at Sanders).

So while Trump is complaining about being treated unfairly and predicting chaos in Cleveland, Clinton can talk to voters about raising the minimum wage, supporting clean energy, reforming immigration, and a whole range of other issues where the Democratic position is more popular than the Republican one.

And she’ll have help: Priorities USA, the most well-funded Democratic super PAC, is planning on spending $90 million on broadcast ads and another $35 million on online ads promoting Clinton in swing states over the summer. My guess is that they’ll spend a lot of that money reinforcing people’s negative opinions of Trump, to make it harder for him to pivot away from everything he’s said in the primaries in order to present a friendlier face for the general election.

Even little things, like the selection of a running mate, will probably work to Clinton’s advantage. Though that choice doesn’t have a profound effect on the final outcome of the race, Clinton will get a few days of positive news coverage out of her selection, with stories all about this person filled with admiring quotes from Democrats.

Republicans, on the other hand, may not even know who their vice presidential nominee is until the convention, if Trump hasn’t secured the nomination before then. The selection will then happen in the middle of all the convention’s chaos, so it won’t be the media’s sole focus for any length of time. And call me crazy, but I’m guessing Donald Trump isn’t going to pick a running mate whom everyone will agree is a terrific choice.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course. Trump could do better than he’s currently projected to and secure the nomination before the convention, and everyone in the GOP might quickly rally around him. There could be some unexpected event, in the world or on the campaign trail, that changes the race’s agenda in the Republicans’ favor. But from the perspective of today, it looks like the next few months are going to be a rough period for the Republicans, in ways that make winning the general election even harder than it already was.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 20, 2016

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Democratic National Convention, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The (c) Stands For Cha-Ching”: The IRS Went After Small Fish, But Let The Big Ones Get Away

“Please provide copies of all your current web pages, including your blog posts. Please provide copies of all your newsletters, bulletins, flyers or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.”

That’s the Internal Revenue Service calling.

Or, more precisely, sending questionnaires. They went out to scores of Tea Party groups that were seeking tax-exempt status as “social welfare” organizations.

The organizations were targeted for special scrutiny because they had the words “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their titles. Some questionnaires even requested the names of all donors and the amounts of each contribution.

It was a political abuse of power aimed, ironically, at groups who are pretending not to be political just to get a juicy tax break.

IRS supervisors were wrong to single out local Tea Parties when there’s a host of flagrant, big-time violators controlled by supporters of both major political parties.

The gimmick of choice is Section 501(c)(4) of the revenue code. Groups receiving that golden designation are allowed to collect unlimited contributions without paying taxes.

They’re not banned from political involvement, but by law they’re supposed to be “primarily engaged” in activities promoting “social welfare” and “the common good” — not partisan politics.

It’s a total farce.

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent untold millions of dollars on behalf of Republican candidates while attacking Democrats during the last election cycle. On the other side, Priorities USA spent a fortune helping Democratic candidates while trashing Republicans.

Both rabidly partisan organizations enjoy tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4). They claim to run strictly “issue” advertisements that aren’t really political, which is a hoot.

What’s not so hilarious is that the IRS sidestepped these heavyweight scammers to go after small-time outfits such as the Liberty Township Tea Party in Ohio.

Initially, the tax agency suggested that the crackdown was an isolated operation by agents in its Cincinnati office. However, in recent days it was revealed that a few IRS officials in Washington were aware of the targeting campaign in early 2010, and that similar inquiries of conservative groups had been conducted in other states.

A Treasury inspector general’s report issued last week criticized IRS managers who didn’t stop employees from focusing on conservative groups that were seeking 501(c)(4) designations.

President Obama said the actions described in the report “are intolerable and inexcusable.” He didn’t use the word “stupid,” but it applies.

There’s no sign that the president knew about the IRS targeting campaign, which began a few years ago while the agency was led by Douglas Shulman, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Owing his job to a Republican, Shulman seems an unlikely instigator of an IRS campaign against conservative groups. No evidence has surfaced that he was aware of it.

After Shulman completed his term last November, IRS Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller became acting commissioner. Six months earlier, Miller had been briefed about some cases involving increased scrutiny of Tea Party-affiliated groups.

However, in letters to Congress, Miller, who’s been with the tax agency almost 25 years, didn’t mention the existence of the Tea Party cases. He resigned on Wednesday at Obama’s request.

The FBI and Justice Department are rightly investigating to see whether the IRS broke any laws by zeroing in on the tax-exempt applications of conservative groups.

Congress will hold long hearings, brimming with outrage.

No such pious fervor exists for investigating and exposing the fraudulent status of large groups like Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA, which collectively take in hundreds of millions of dollars.

They’re not “social welfare” organizations worthy of a tax exemption. They’re wealthy partisan advocacy machines with purely political missions — to promote their candidates, and to influence voters.

They are prized by both parties as safe and bottomless repositories for huge campaign donations, which is why you don’t see congressional leaders declaring war on the 501(c)(4) charade.

The c stands for “cha-ching.”

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, The National Memo, May 22, 2013

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Internal Revenue Service | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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