House Speaker Paul Ryan just handed Democrats a gift…. (More)

“We already made that choice. We’re with Trump.”

Speaking as a Democratic squirrel, thank you, Speaker Ryan:

Speaking with Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade, Ryan offered perhaps his biggest bear hug of Trump to date. Kilmeade asked Ryan if the GOP has to choose between Bush-style Republican policies and Trump, and Ryan didn’t equivocate.

“We already made that choice,” he said. “We’re with Trump.”

And a thousand Democratic campaign ads were born.

I suspect it will be more than a thousand, if you count state and local races.

Ryan continued:

“We already made that choice,” Ryan repeated. “That’s a choice we made at the beginning of the year. That’s a choice we made during the campaign, which is we merged our agendas. We ran on a joint agenda with Donald Trump. We got together with Donald Trump when he was President-elect Trump and walked through what is it we want to accomplish in the next two years. We all agreed on that agenda. We’re processing that agenda.”

I suppose that’s true, in the sense that the body “processes” food. When they’re not too constipated to pass anything, what they pass is … well, you can follow the metaphor into the toilet. And on Tuesday, voters decided to flush.

“I mean, it could, because the elections went against the Republicans”

Conservatives are now howling that, to stave off complete disaster in 2018, Republicans absolutely must give pass something big and smelly:

If [Ed] Gillespie had won his race for the [Virginia] governorship and the Republicans kept the House of Delegates despite the lack of progress by Republicans who control the congressional and executive branches, maybe there would be an argument for continuing in that vein. But with Democrats emboldened by their huge win in Virginia and a demoralized Republican base, members of Congress are delusional if they think they can keep their jobs without passing tax reform, repealing Obamacare, and some other dramatic achievement.

Republicans have to make the case for their survival.

Never mind that very few voters actually want the GOP’s version of tax reform and aren’t buying the lies being told to sell it, just as most voters don’t want to repeal Obamacare. Most Republican voters still want both of those, and that’s who GOP candidates have to satisfy if they face primary races.

But at least a few Republicans see the handwriting on the wall:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch ­(R-UT) said the losses could complicate the tax push. “I mean, it could, because the elections went against the Republicans,” Hatch said Wednesday morning.

Asked whether he is feeling pressure to tilt the tax plan’s benefits more toward the middle class, Hatch said, “I think we’ve been moving that way anyway.”

Cough. The Washington Post’s Paul Kane sees a different story:

The suggestion is that if Republicans can unite around a tax-cut deal in the House and get that signed into law, they will have a real achievement to sell to voters back home.

But that’s a long way from the emerging proposals in the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which appear to be headed in different directions on key principles.

Senate Republicans, for instance, seem to favor a complete elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes on federal returns. In the House, that proposal is a potential death sentence for the more than two dozen Republicans from California, New Jersey and New York, a move that would be construed as a tax hike on their middle-class constituents in those wealthy, high-tax states.

Republicans even have reason to fear in districts that swung to Trump, such as LoBiondo’s in southern New Jersey. The 23-year veteran, having already opposed the GOP proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voted against the budget outline that set the framework for the tax debate, over concerns about local tax deductions.

Even if they can sell the tax plan as benefiting most voters, Republicans have to look at Tuesday’s results and worry whether their playbook on taxes might come across as stale in this polarizing environment.

And the Post’s Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe report that business interests are lining up with their hands out:

“Something happened here today,” [Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)] said, pointing to long stretches Wednesday where [House Ways and Means Committee chair Kevin] Brady was absent from the committee dais, huddled with aides as lobbyists and business executives walked the halls of the Capitol seeking to influence the bill.

Aides and lobbyists familiar with the behind-the-scenes discussions over the bill said GOP tax writers are under pressure to expand eligibility for a new 25 percent business tax rate and rewrite provisions affecting life insurers. One prominent tax lobbyist, Ken Kies, was spotted leading a phalanx of two dozen life insurance executives into the Capitol on Wednesday.
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While a change on Monday restored a $3.2 billion middle-class provision allowing those enrolled in employer-sponsored dependent-care savings plans to deduct up to $5,000 from their taxes, a revision on Friday rolled back individual tax cuts by nearly $82 billion by indexing individual tax parameters to a different measure of inflation that tends to grow more slowly.

Another amendment adopted Monday mostly reversed a 20 percent excise tax levied on certain transactions between subsidiaries of multinational corporations – largely creating the $74 billion hole. The tax, intended to prevent companies from shifting profits to lower-tax overseas affiliates, had generated strong resistance from powerful business interests.

And again, polls show voters know this is what Republicans mean by “tax reform.” Shoveling money at the rich and big business while saying “middle class tax cuts” won’t pull the wool over their eyes.

“They got mad and they got active”

That’s especially true for women, who ran and won in huge numbers on Tuesday:

Until yesterday, only 17 of the 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates were women. Now, the number will surge to nearly 30.

Women racked up victories across the country on Tuesday, and are being credited with the Democrats’ big night overall. It is a testament to the remarkable explosion of women candidates who have entered the political stage since Donald Trump was elected president one year ago.

The wave is likely to continue. In 2018, 40 women are already planning to run for governor. Dozens more are considering congressional and other statewide office bids. And Tuesday’s result has already become a rallying cry for activists seeking to draw even more women into the public square.

At that link, the Post’s Mary Jordan, Karen Tumulty, and Michael Alison Chandler report the amazing numbers:

In 2016, EMILY’s List had discussions with a record 920 women interested in running for office, part of what was called the “Hillary bump.” Since that election, nearly 20,800 women have expressed an interest in running for office, according to its own tally.

Many of the newly elected women heading to the statehouse had never run for office before.

And it’s easy to see why:

Women voters were key in Ralph Northam’s resounding gubernatorial victory. The Democratic candidate won women by a 61 to 39 percent margin. Among black women, he won against Republican Ed Gillespie by 91 to 8 percent, according to exit polls.

“It’s pretty simple. We have had a very divisive president, and women in particular are fed up,” [EMILY’s List President Stephanie] Schiock said. “They got mad and they got active.”

Oh, and women don’t like the GOP’s tax plan:

In addition to Democrats and liberals, opposition peaks among blacks (70 percent), Hispanics (55 percent), urbanites (51 percent) and adults age 39 and younger (50 percent).
[…]
There’s a similar gender gap. Men are 13 points more likely than women to support Trump’s plan and 12 points more likely to think it’ll treat both the wealthy and the middle class about equally. Women are 12 points more likely to think the plan’ll help the wealthy.

So yes, Speaker Ryan and Republicans, please stay with the God-King and keep trying to push out that turd. Women and people of color are watching … and running for office … and voting.

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Photo Credit: Zach Gibson (Getty Images)

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Good day and good nuts