6:24 AM 4/14/2018 – Ricardo Rossello and the Republican Party’s Opposition to Trump

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Ricardo Rossello and the Republican Party’s Opposition to Trump

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America has let down its Puerto Rican citizens

The EconomistApr 12, 2018
“A senator told me that if the power hadn’t been fully restored in his state within a month, there would have been mayhem,” says its governor, Ricardo Rosselló, seated in his elegant 16th-century residence in San Juan. “Puerto Rico has been part of the US for more than 100 years, but we’re still treated as …
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Multiple congressional staffers and people with direct knowledge of the arrangement said White House officials told Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, that if he didn’t agree to the experimental formula, the island wouldn’t get the money, effectively forcing the island to take a huge gamble since it …

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On Tuesday, the Trump administration shifted the responsibility for regulating carbon storage in North Dakota from the federal government to the state. The idea …. In February, Governor Ricardo Rossellórevealed a plan that would close hundreds of public schools in favor of privately administered charter schools. Rosselló …
Opinion | The Dream of a Republican New Deal – The New York Times
 

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Opinion

The Dream of a Republican New Deal

Republicans in Congress are in a bind. As they look to the 2018 midterm elections, they see a Democratic blue wave, energized by opposition to President Trump, poised to sweep away their majorities. The announcement that Paul Ryan, the House speaker, will retire confirms, and will contribute to, the coming electoral catastrophe.

Many Republican officeholders would like to distance themselves from Mr. Trump, yet they can’t as long as his approval rating from their voters remains sky-high. But these legislators have an alternative: They can rally around Mr. Trump’s 2016 vision of a Republican Party no longer bound by unpopular conservative dogma. They could even support a Trump New Deal.

Despite Mr. Trump’s considerable flaws as a presidential candidate, he effectively diagnosed the reasons the Republican Party is widely disliked, even by its own voters. It has become the party of the white working class — six out of 10 Republicans are now whites without a college degree — but it has done next to nothing to address the terrible problems that disproportionately affect that class.

These afflictions include economic stagnation, the opioid epidemic, family dissolution, high rates of work force nonparticipation and the “deaths of despair” that have driven down overall life expectancy in the United States for the past two years. The impact of these problems is greatest in the “left-behind” rural and nonurban areas that overwhelmingly vote Republican.

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Mr. Trump also recognized that the principal reason for this disconnection is that the party’s penchant for tax-cutting has devolved from a policy preference into a sacred cult, unconnected to reality or anything resembling fiscal conservatism. Revenue-draining cuts inevitably starve the public services that the aging and economically insecure white working class increasingly depends on. Popular support for the teachers’ strikes in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia in recent weeks indicates that even solidly Republican states are turning against this kind of anti-government economic doctrine.

The example of Kansas shows that Republicans are capable of curbing the radicalism in their ranks. Gov. Sam Brownback’s “real live experiment” in reckless tax cuts led to economic stagnation; a collapse in state revenues; and hugely unpopular cutbacks in public services that damaged not just schools but also hospitals, highways, law enforcement agencies, programs for the disabled and children in foster care. In 2016, moderate Republicans replaced dozens of Mr. Brownback’s conservative allies in the Kansas Legislature and, a year later, voted to restore state revenues over his veto.

Mr. Ryan, who served as Mr. Brownback’s legislative director when Mr. Brownback was a senator, was the Republican Party’s most prominent cheerleader for the Ayn Rand-inspired idea that society’s “makers” should be lavished with tax cuts while its “takers” should be deprived of a social safety net. The downfall of Ryanism, and the rise of Trumpism, indicates that the decades-long domination of the Republican Party by ideological conservatism is finally giving way to an outlook that, for good or ill, better reflects the party’s changed base.

The white working class clearly wants to protect and build upon the public sector, not destroy it. In a comprehensive recent study of voter attitudes, Larry Bartels, a political scientist at Vanderbilt, found that Republican voters are still inflamed by cultural issues but are nowhere near as hostile to government as most political analysts imagine. A majority of Republicans support government action to ensure access to quality health care and provide a decent standard of living for people unable to work. A substantial minority favors reducing income differences and helping families pay for child care and college. The anti-government agenda pushed by Republican megadonors like the Koch brothers simply doesn’t resonate with rank-and-file party voters.

It’s no secret that the interests of the party’s donor class have been sharply at odds with those of its base. But political parties ultimately have to deliver concrete benefits to their core constituents if they want to retain their support. And politicians have to respond to the needs and hopes of their voters, not just pander to their fears and hatreds.

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Desperation focuses the mind. As the elections loom, Republicans must resist the impulse to become full-time campaigners instead of legislators. That would only reinforce the public perception of Congress as a dysfunctional mess and incumbents as swamp-dwellers more concerned with their political survival (and self-enrichment) than with the national welfare.

Instead, the party should approach the elections under the banner of an ambitious program to bring economic revival to the working class. The starting point for such a program would be Mr. Trump’s campaign-trail commitment to rebuild our decaying national infrastructure — including the roads, schools, hospitals and other civic assets that have been squeezed by conservative cutbacks.

A Trump New Deal could also include other elements with strong appeal to working-class voters, such as vigorous support for universal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare (as opposed to means-tested programs that benefit only the poor), robust wage subsidies, a generous child care tax credit and apprenticeship programs linked to specific high-skilled jobs. Republicans might also consider a national version of a California proposal to make housing more affordable.

A Republican campaigning on the back of a Trump New Deal could sell himself or herself as someone who shares the values of voters in the economically ravaged American heartland but who also has a real program to address their problems. It would be a lot more persuasive than just touting the magic of tax cuts.

The president would relish an initiative built around the most popular parts of his agenda; he might even find it in his self-interest to call Congress into a special session to pass it. Republicans running for re-election could present themselves as loyal to Mr. Trump’s overarching goals while avoiding the president’s toxic tweets and scandals. Democrats would be reluctant to give Mr. Trump a political win heading into the elections, but equally reluctant to offer him a legitimate opportunity to paint them as partisan obstructionists. Entrenched special interests would be outraged by any Republican move toward the economic center, but the Koch brothers and other big donors would still work for Republican majorities to supply the regulatory relief and conservative justices they crave.

The idea of a New Deal advanced by Republicans, even as unorthodox a Republican as Mr. Trump, sounds like alternate-reality science fiction. But historically the Republican Party has not been an organization with a fixed identity. Its transformation into a conservative ideological force began to take root only in the 1960s and took half a century to complete. It’s hardly impossible for the party to move toward the economic center while continuing to embrace Trump-style cultural populism.

Political scientists who specialize in what’s called “realignment theory” point out that America’s two main political parties have flipped constituencies and ideologies in the past. Before the New Deal, the Democrats were predominantly a rural, socially conservative agrarian party allied with a number of urban political machines, while Republicans were advocates of powerful government and the party of intellectuals, African-Americans and the native-born working class.

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A reborn Republican Party with economic policies oriented toward the working class isn’t beyond imagining. If it succeeded in restoring working-class prosperity, that might also lower the temperature of the culture wars, since economically secure people tend to be less prone to outrage and scapegoating. Such a party might even have considerable appeal to minority voters who currently have little reason to consider it.

In all likelihood, Mr. Trump is too divisive and ideologically inconsistent a leader to create a Republican version of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition. But the ongoing transformation of the party under Mr. Trump points toward a future when it is more attuned to the economic needs of working-class Americans — and more popular than the conservative party that faces ruinous defeat in November.

Geoffrey Kabaservice (@RuleandRuin) is director of political studies at the Niskanen Center and the author of “Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: The Dream of a Republican New Deal. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Republicans in Congress are in a bind. As they look to the 2018 midterm elections, they see a Democratic blue wave, energized by opposition to President Trump, poised to sweep away their majorities. The announcement that Paul Ryan, the House speaker, will retire confirms, and will contribute to, the …

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With House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement, it’s Trump’s Republican Party now, United States News & Top Stories – The Straits Times
 

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – US House Speaker Paul Ryan’s shock retirement announcement marks the latest victory in a populist, anti-establishment revolution that brought its champion Mr Donald Trump to power and is remaking the Republican Party.

Whether that spells long-term GOP success in policy-making, diplomacy and at the ballot box remains unclear. Trumpism is ascendant in Washington, but is a permanent Republican shift away from conservative orthodoxy and the establishment underway – or is the party makeover temporary?

Mr Ryan, 48, is the traditional conservative who over a two-decade political career came to symbolise Republican power on Capitol Hill.

But if Mr Ryan had the party in his hands, Mr Donald Trump pulled it away.

A wonkish budget hawk early on, Mr Ryan chaired the all-important Ways and Means Committee, was plucked as the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, and rose to become speaker in 2015, in part to serve as a bridge between feuding moderates and tea party conservatives.

His announced departure after just 30 months as the most powerful Republican in Congress suggests that what once belonged to establishment Republicans – those buoyed by the conservative revolution of Mr Ronald Reagan – is now up for grabs.

“It’s no longer firmly in their control,” history professor Michelle Nickerson, of Loyola University in Chicago, told AFP.

“And I think that with the departure of Ryan, what we’re seeing is that we’re not going back,” she added.

“There’s a willingness” to embrace populism, she added.

That theory was tested – and proven – in 2016 by political rabble-rouser Steve Bannon, who helped Mr Trump win the presidency and became his chief strategist in the White House.

And while Mr Bannon’s ouster last year suggested the establishment was striking back, other signals defied that narrative.

Mr Ryan and other prominent pro-trade, inclusive lawmakers warned against Mr Trump’s trade war threats and his sabre-rattling, but their concerns appear to have been swept aside.

Immigration reform has failed and “build the wall” remains a common refrain at Trump events.

Some critics see Mr Ryan as a Trump enabler, denying his own fiscal austerity convictions to lead the charge on a US$1.3 trillion (S$1.71 trillion) Trump-backed spending Bill that passed Congress last month.

In a daring speech on the Senate floor last October, Republican Senator Jeff Flake warned that the coarseness of the Trump era was becoming the “new normal” – a flash of “destructive politics” that could set the conservative cause back a generation.

Mr Flake has announced he is retiring this year, acknowledging he would not be able to win his own primary in the current anti-establishment environment.

Mr Ryan and Mr Flake join a record number of other congressional Republicans heading for the exits, retiring in part because of a potential Democratic takeover in the upcoming mid-term elections in November.

They include prominent traditionalists like Senator Bob Corker, congressmen Ed Royce, Mr Bob Goodlatte, and centrists Charlie Dent and Mr Dave Reichert.

“They’re middle of the road in temperament, and I think that no matter what happens in November, that’s a big brain drain and loss of experience in Congress for the Republican Party,” said Dr Matthew Green, a Catholic University professor who has taught on politics in the age of Trump.

“I think we’re in a really interesting zone of uncertainty,” he added.

“If there are successful candidates modelling themselves after Trump, that’s a sign that the party is moving in Trump’s direction… November is going to be really telling.”

Equally important might be who the party chooses as its new leader in the House.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the clear front-runner, and the Republican number three, Mr Steve Scalise, may also seek the gavel. Mr Trump is said to be close to both of them.

But a Republican leader built in Mr Trump’s own image – a political bomb-thrower, ruled by impulse – is unlikely, Dr Green said.

“I don’t see a Trump acolyte becoming speaker.”

Trumpism has its work cut out to show the world it is a viable political brand that can hold its own against likely Democratic advances in November – and can survive after Mr Trump himself steps off the stage in either three or seven years.

But if change is the only constant, Trumpism itself might soon be under threat.

Dr Green, the Catholic University professor, said it is not uncommon for a party to support its President “pretty much on anything”.

“Then, when he leaves the White House, they revert back.”

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Inside Puerto Ricos Plan to Influence the Midterm Elections
 

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Subscribe to Off Message on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says months have gone by since he’s talked to President Donald Trump.

Story Continued Below

But more than 200 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall—what Rosselló in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast called “the most catastrophic event in the modern history of the United States”—the governor is gearing up to get everyone else’s attention in November: Rosselló and allies are finalizing plans to push their way into the midterms on the mainland.

The Trump administration and Congress offered prayers and promises for help last year, but many Puerto Ricans haven’t seen the follow-through. Six months in, 55,000 Puerto Ricans still don’t have electricity.

“It’s all based on one thing: political power. We don’t have it,” Rosselló said.

Rosselló and allies want to reward the politicians who’ve helped and punish those who haven’t.

“We need to demonstrate that we have a hammer,” Rosselló said. “Congressmen need to know that if we go to their office, they can’t just give us a happy talk, as has happened in the past. So, if you’re going to give us happy talk and then take actions that clearly affect the people of Puerto Rico, then the only strategy that we have left … is to go to your districts.”

Rosselló kicked off the effort in January with a trip to Florida, which was already home to many Puerto Ricans before they were joined by many others who had been displaced by the hurricane—but which also holds critical elections this year for governor and U.S. Senate in addition to a collection of tight House races.

With Senate and House races getting priority, Rosselló and allies have already started voter-registration drives in Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, and are eyeing New Jersey, Ohio and Texas. They’ll build a list of voters to activate, put money and effort into keeping after them throughout the year and push them to the polls for the primaries and midterms. There will be more travel and fundraising to support the efforts.

Rosselló’s model: Cuban-Americans, who for 60 years have mobilized what are still fewer than 2 million people into a force that’s shaped American politics and foreign policy. Compare that with the 5.6 million Puerto Ricans concentrated in just a few states.

Details are still coming together, but Rosselló thinks that under these circumstances he can kick-start that kind of action in just a few months and keep building it into the 2020 election.

“Puerto Rico has never had a structure like the one that we’re forming. It has never demonstrated to have the national wherewithal and political power that we hope to showcase in this election,” he said. “And if we do that, I think it will start pressing on these issues of second-class citizenship, equality and then what are the solutions for Puerto Rico.”

Rosselló grew up the son of a governor but went about as far away from the family business as he could: first to MIT, then to the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. He envisioned a life for himself in science. But Puerto Rican statehood remained a passion, and eventually that pulled him back to the island full time, and into politics more broadly. In 2016, he was elected governor at age 37, and likes to point out that he’s the only governor in the country who’s anywhere close to being a millennial (he’s older than the cutoff by about a year and a half).

He was elected to a much different job than the one he’s had since October. He expected to use his bully pulpit to push for Puerto Rico statehood. Instead, he’s been trying to get the island back to the basics of food, electricity and running water—though that, he argues, is about statehood, too.

It’s great, he says, that post-hurricane, so many more Americans now know that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Now it’s time to do something about it.

“When they ask the question ‘why’ [Puerto Rico has been treated differently], it opens this whole new Pandora’s box of reasons that I think showcase one of the weaknesses that we have as a nation. It hurts me because I’m a very proud U.S. citizen,” Rosselló said. “But how can we talk about democracy in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Afghanistan, if in the United States, we have 3.5 million U.S. citizens that are disenfranchised, essentially?”

It’s personal; it’s professional. He has uncles who made it to March without any power at home. So did some employees in the governor’s office.

“Some people ask me, you know, ‘What do you say to somebody that doesn’t have energy?’ You can’t say anything, right? I mean, I can explain all the process and so forth, but all I can do is share their frustration,” he said.

One sure way to rile him: Bring up the idea that Americans are apprehensive about Puerto Rican statehood because 50 states is a round number, and that many people find it hard to envision an American flag with another star on it or a U.S. Senate with 102 members.

Story Continued Below

He’s become a regular arguing the case for statehood behind closed doors in Washington, and wrangling Puerto Rican leaders from both parties for an ongoing series of public events. “We don’t want to be more. We don’t want to be less. We just want to be equal,” said former Puerto Rican Gov. Carlos Romero.

Rosselló says it’s a mission everyone else should be cheering on. Puerto Ricans have voted for statehood in their own organized elections, so now they need Congress to initiate the formal process with a mandated vote, which if successful, begins a process that includes a formal petition for inclusion, followed by House and Senate votes and the signature of the president.

Rosselló is sure Puerto Ricans will pass it again, and believes the combination of the hurricane, Trump and the pressure in Congress opens a window in which statehood can actually happen.

“I can see that, if we showcase that we have political power, that we can affect different races and that we’re serious about making this push,” Rosselló said.

Or, the governor says, there’s the less desirable alternative of just cutting Puerto Rico loose and letting it be an independent country.

“What I am trying to do,” Rosselló said, “is help facilitate the unfinished business of American democracy, where we finally eliminate colonialism.”

Edward-Isaac Dovere is Politico’s chief Washington correspondent and the host of Politico’s Off Message podcast.

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Pimco, Long Shy of Puerto Rico, Bought In. Then the Bonds Soared
Bloomberg
In May, when Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy, Pimco analyst Sean McCarthy said bondholders likely faced deeper losses than trading prices suggested. General-obligation debt was trading at about 60 cents on the dollar at the time. Then Maria arrived and more »

Puerto Rico’s governor pledged to unite the island’s displaced voters. Will they follow him?
 

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Speaking to a packed room of Puerto Ricans in Kissimmee, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló vowed in January to unify the island’s post-Hurricane Maria diaspora into political action, an effort he said would influence the U.S. midterm elections.

But organizations leading get-out-the-vote efforts in the Puerto Rican community say they haven’t heard from Rosselló since his visit, or seen any indication that the organization he proposed is taking shape in Central Florida. Some said his plan is destined to fail.

Jimmy Torres Velez, a coordinator with the Orlando-based organization Boricua Vota, called Rosselló’s proposal an “attempt to meddle” and said, as of now, the initiative the governor described “doesn’t exist.”

“That’s made up. And if something like that exists, it should be imploded,” he said. “We have enough of a capacity to know who are the politicians who haven’t helped Puerto Rico. … They don’t have to come here and give us a lecture on democracy. It’s disrespectful.”

Rosselló again touted his plan for Florida Puerto Ricans in an interview with Politico released this week, telling the publication that he had already begun voter-registration efforts in the state, along with his allies.

But months after his initial announcement, little is known about Rosselló’s plan to organize Puerto Ricans to vote against candidates who don’t support the island’s interests, including federal hurricane relief funds and ongoing restoration efforts.

Yennifer Álvarez, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Rosselló has continued working to build his organization since his January trip and would roll out the details during another visit to Central Floridaat the end of the month. She would not comment on what organizations he has been in touch with.

Torres Velez said neither Rosselló nor the Puerto Rican government had reached out to his organization to help mobilize Puerto Ricans who fled here after Hurricane Maria or educate them on the state’s political process.

His main concern, echoed by others doing similar voter-outreach efforts, is that an organization led by Rosselló — who heads the island’s pro-statehood party — would inject island politics into an already-divided voting bloc that they have worked for years to unify.

Though Álvarez said the governor’s plan is to lead the organization through a nonpartisan approach, she said Rosselló would not shy away from explicitly supporting statehood as a solution for the question of Puerto Rico’s status, an issue that deeply divides Puerto Rican voters.

“I’m not really seeing how Rosselló can do that when he brings up statehood,” said Adela López, president of the Central Florida nonprofit Misión Boricua. “I’m not sure if what Rosselló is explaining will come to fruition because … it’s such a divisive issue.”

López said her organization decided to “table the topic” of political status and focus on educating voters on the process of electing local leaders, so they will be inclined to show up at the polls.

“Voter registration is important, but we need to educate ourselves,” she said.

Even though there’s “anger and animosity” toward the federal government’s post-Maria restoration efforts on the island, she said Puerto Ricans on the mainland don’t usually vote for one cause.

“We’re not Cubans,” Lopez said. “We’re still coming from different diasporas and even between those diasporas … we don’t have a common enemy” like the late longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, she said.

With tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing to Central Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, experts agree that the idea of an organization that can unify Puerto Ricans could be powerful to address the island’s problems from the mainland.

UCF Professor Dr. Luis Martinez-Fernandez, who specializes in Latin American history and Puerto Rican studies, said that the governor’s proposal comes at an important time for the island’s history.

Because of a number of circumstances that have stripped power away from the island, including a federally appointed board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances, he said the local government’s strategy to look to the diaspora to make a difference could prove viable.

However, he questioned whether Rosselló could successfully lead such an effort.

“There’s something that has united Puerto Ricans and that’s a general rejection of the actions of the federal government,” Martinez-Fernandez said. “But why does it have to be a political leader who is in the vanguard of this movement?”

He said Puerto Rican politicians would have to work across parties and stay away from the topic of statehood for the movement to earn credibility.

“He won’t have the support. It’s very sad but I wouldn’t augur any success,” he said.

Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, a consultant and expert on the Puerto Rican diaspora based in Washington D.C., also argued the governor was not the right person to lead the effort he was proposing.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “He’s in the middle of some very controversial negotiations with the [oversight] board … he has a lot of balls in the air.”

She said Rosselló should prioritize the challenges people are still facing in Puerto Rico.

“Why are we doing this in the middle of the post-Maria hurricane recovery, we’re still in the middle of it. Why are we diverting resources … this energy and focus into this?”

<a href=”mailto:bpadro@orlandosentinel.com”>bpadro@orlandosentinel.com</a> or 407-232-0202. Follow me on Twitter @BiancaJoanie

Confirm that the attack on ex Skopipal was done with Russian neurotoxin
 

mikenova shared this story .

London – The international organization that oversees the use of chemical weapons confirmed on Thursday the result of the British investigation, that  an ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with a neurotoxin , while Russia insisted on rejecting the suggestions that he is the mastermind of the attack .

Researchers from the  Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)  “confirm the conclusions of the United Kingdom regarding the identity of the toxic substance used in Salisbury”. Headded that the details about the “high purity” toxin used are included in the full report, which is confidential.

Britain blames Russia for the attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and her daughter Yulia , who were found unconscious on a park bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. Russia rejects the accusation and says that Britain has not provided evidence to support it.

British Foreign Secretary  Boris Johnson  said the results of the report confirm the British thesis.

 


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