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Top Ten Craziest Donald Trump Quotes - What a fucking idiot! The Top Ten 1 "I am officially running for

I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House

In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman––I was the only hijabi in the West Wing––and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.

Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America's Muslim citizens.

I lasted eight days.

When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.

The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.

I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.

He looked at me and said nothing.

It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”

My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.

I was 12 when I started wearing a hijab. It was encouraged in my family, but it was always my choice. It was a matter of faith, identity, and resilience for me. After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a “terrorist” and told me, “go back to your country.”

My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.

I never intended to work in government. I was among those who assumed the government was inherently corrupt and ineffective. Working in the Obama White House proved me wrong. You can’t know or understand what you haven’t been a part of.

Still, inspired by President Obama, I joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. I had interned there during my junior year, reading letters and taking calls from constituents at the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It felt surreal––here I was, a 22-year-old American Muslim woman from Maryland who had been mocked and called names for covering my hair, working for the president of the United States.

In 2012, I moved to the West Wing to join the Office of Public Engagement, where I worked with various communities, including American Muslims, on domestic issues such as health care. In early 2014, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes offered me a position on the National Security Council (NSC). For two and a half years I worked down the hall from the Situation Room, advising President Obama’s engagements with American Muslims, and working on issues ranging from advancing relations with Cuba and Laos to promoting global entrepreneurship among women and youth.

A harsher world began to reemerge in 2015. In February, three young American Muslim students were killed in their Chapel Hill home by an Islamophobe. Both the media and administration were slow to address the attack, as if the dead had to be vetted before they could be mourned. It was emotionally devastating. But when a statement was finally released condemning the attack and mourning their loss, Rhodes took me aside to to tell me how grateful he was to have me there and wished there were more American Muslims working throughout government.  America’s government and decision-making should reflect its people.

Later that month, the evangelist Franklin Graham declared that the government had “been infiltrated by Muslims.” One of my colleagues sought me out with a smile on his face and said, “If only he knew they were in the halls of the West Wing and briefed the president of the United States multiple times!” I thought: Damn right I’m here, exactly where I belong, a proud American dedicated to protecting and serving my country.

Graham’s hateful provocations weren’t new. Over the Obama years, right-wing websites spread  an abundance of absurd conspiracy theories and lies, targeting some American Muslim organizations and individuals––even those of us serving in government. They called us “terrorists,” Sharia-law whisperers, or Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Little did I realize that some of these conspiracy theorists would someday end up in the White House.

Over the course of the campaign, even when I was able to storm through the bad days, I realized the rhetoric was taking a toll on American communities. When Trump first called for a Muslim ban, reports of hate crimes against Muslims spiked. The trend of anti-Muslim hate crimes is ongoing, as mosques are set on fire and individuals attacked––six were killed at a mosque in Canada by a self-identified Trump supporter.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, I watched with disbelief, apprehension, and anxiety, as Trump’s style of campaigning instigated fear and emboldened xenophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes. While cognizant of the possibility of Trump winning, I hoped a majority of the electorate would never condone such a hateful and divisive worldview.

During the campaign last February, Obama visited a Baltimore mosque and reminded the public that “we’re one American family, and when any part of our family starts to feel separate … It’s a challenge to our values.” His words would go unheeded by his successor.

The climate in 2016 felt like it did just after 9/11. What made it worse was that this fear and hatred were being fueled by Americans in positions of power. Fifth-grade students at a local Sunday school where I volunteered shared stories of being bullied by classmates and teachers, feeling like they didn’t belong here anymore, and asked if they might get kicked out of this country if Trump won. I was almost hit by a car by a white man laughing as he drove by in a Costco parking lot, and on another occasion was followed out of the metro by a man screaming profanities: “Fuck you! Fuck Islam! Trump will send you back!”  

Then, on election night, I was left in shock.

The morning after the election, we lined up in the West Colonnade as Obama stood in the Rose Garden and called for national unity and a smooth transition. Trump seemed the antithesis of everything we stood for. I felt lost. I could not fully grasp the idea that he would soon be sitting where Obama sat.

I debated whether I should leave my job. Since I was not a political appointee, but a direct hire of the NSC, I had the option to stay. The incoming and now departed national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had said things like “fear of Muslims is rational.” Some colleagues and community leaders encouraged me to stay, while others expressed concern for my safety. Cautiously optimistic, and feeling a responsibility to try to help them continue our work and be heard, I decided that Trump's NSC could benefit from a colored, female, hijab-wearing, American Muslim patriot.

The weeks leading up to the inauguration prepared me and my colleagues for what we thought would come, but not for what actually came. On Monday, January 23, I walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with the new staffers there. Rather than the excitement I encountered when I first came to the White House under Obama, the new staff looked at me with a cold surprise. The diverse White House I had worked in became a monochromatic and male bastion.

The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing. As one staffer serving since the Reagan administration said, “This place has been turned upside down. It’s chaos. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.” This was not typical Republican leadership, or even that of a businessman. It was a chaotic attempt at authoritarianism––legally questionable executive orders, accusations of the press being “fake,” peddling countless lies as “alternative facts,” and assertions by White House surrogates that the president’s national security authority would “not be questioned.”

The entire presidential support structure of nonpartisan national security and legal experts within the White House complex and across federal agencies was being undermined. Decision-making authority was now centralized to a few in the West Wing. Frustration and mistrust developed as some staff felt out of the loop on issues within their purview. There was no structure or clear guidance. Hallways were eerily quiet as key positions and offices responsible for national security or engagement with Americans were left unfilled.

I might have lasted a little longer. Then came January 30. The executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries caused chaos, without making America any safer. Discrimination that has existed for years at airports was now legitimized, sparking mass protests, while the president railed against the courts for halting his ban. Not only was this discrimination and un-American, the administration’s actions defending the ban threatened the nation’s security and its system of checks and balances.

Alt-right writers, now on the White House staff, have claimed that Islam and the West are at war with each other. Disturbingly, ISIS also makes such claims to justify their attacks, which for the most part target Muslims. The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like “radical Islamic terror,” legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked.

Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a “weakness” is dangerous. It is false.

People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true––American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of  justice and equality.

American history is not without stumbles, which have proven that the nation is only made more prosperous and resilient through struggle, compassion and inclusiveness. It’s why my parents came here. It’s why I told my former 5th grade students, who wondered if they still belonged here, that this country would not be great without them.

I Was a Muslim in Trump's White House

In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman––I was the only hijabi in the West Wing––and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.

Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America's Muslim citizens.

I lasted eight days.

When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.

The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.

I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.

He looked at me and said nothing.

It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”

My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.

I was 12 when I started wearing a hijab. It was encouraged in my family, but it was always my choice. It was a matter of faith, identity, and resilience for me. After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a “terrorist” and told me, “go back to your country.”

My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.

I never intended to work in government. I was among those who assumed the government was inherently corrupt and ineffective. Working in the Obama White House proved me wrong. You can’t know or understand what you haven’t been a part of.

Still, inspired by President Obama, I joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. I had interned there during my junior year, reading letters and taking calls from constituents at the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It felt surreal––here I was, a 22-year-old American Muslim woman from Maryland who had been mocked and called names for covering my hair, working for the president of the United States.

In 2012, I moved to the West Wing to join the Office of Public Engagement, where I worked with various communities, including American Muslims, on domestic issues such as health care. In early 2014, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes offered me a position on the National Security Council (NSC). For two and a half years I worked down the hall from the Situation Room, advising President Obama’s engagements with American Muslims, and working on issues ranging from advancing relations with Cuba and Laos to promoting global entrepreneurship among women and youth.

A harsher world began to reemerge in 2015. In February, three young American Muslim students were killed in their Chapel Hill home by an Islamophobe. Both the media and administration were slow to address the attack, as if the dead had to be vetted before they could be mourned. It was emotionally devastating. But when a statement was finally released condemning the attack and mourning their loss, Rhodes took me aside to to tell me how grateful he was to have me there and wished there were more American Muslims working throughout government.  America’s government and decision-making should reflect its people.

Later that month, the evangelist Franklin Graham declared that the government had “been infiltrated by Muslims.” One of my colleagues sought me out with a smile on his face and said, “If only he knew they were in the halls of the West Wing and briefed the president of the United States multiple times!” I thought: Damn right I’m here, exactly where I belong, a proud American dedicated to protecting and serving my country.

Graham’s hateful provocations weren’t new. Over the Obama years, right-wing websites spread  an abundance of absurd conspiracy theories and lies, targeting some American Muslim organizations and individuals––even those of us serving in government. They called us “terrorists,” Sharia-law whisperers, or Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Little did I realize that some of these conspiracy theorists would someday end up in the White House.

Over the course of the campaign, even when I was able to storm through the bad days, I realized the rhetoric was taking a toll on American communities. When Trump first called for a Muslim ban, reports of hate crimes against Muslims spiked. The trend of anti-Muslim hate crimes is ongoing, as mosques are set on fire and individuals attacked––six were killed at a mosque in Canada by a self-identified Trump supporter.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, I watched with disbelief, apprehension, and anxiety, as Trump’s style of campaigning instigated fear and emboldened xenophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes. While cognizant of the possibility of Trump winning, I hoped a majority of the electorate would never condone such a hateful and divisive worldview.

During the campaign last February, Obama visited a Baltimore mosque and reminded the public that “we’re one American family, and when any part of our family starts to f eel separate … It’s a challenge to our values.” His words would go unheeded by his successor.

The climate in 2016 felt like it did just after 9/11. What made it worse was that this fear and hatred were being fueled by Americans in positions of power. Fifth-grade students at a local Sunday school where I volunteered shared stories of being bullied by classmates and teachers, feeling like they didn’t belong here anymore, and asked if they might get kicked out of this country if Trump won. I was almost hit by a car by a white man laughing as he drove by in a Costco parking lot, and on another occasion was followed out of the metro by a man screaming profanities: “Fuck you! Fuck Islam! Trump will send you back!”  

Then, on election night, I was left in shock.

The morning after the election, we lined up in the West Colonnade as Obama stood in the Rose Garden and called for national unity and a smooth transition. Trump seemed the antithesis of everything we stood for. I felt lost. I could not fully grasp the idea that he would soon be sitting where Obama sat.

I debated whether I should leave my job. Since I was not a political appointee, but a direct hire of the NSC, I had the option to stay. The incoming and now departed national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had said things like “fear of Muslims is rational.” Some colleagues and community leaders encouraged me to stay, while others expressed concern for my safety. Cautiously optimistic, and feeling a responsibility to try to help them continue our work and be heard, I decided that Trump's NSC could benefit from a colored, female, hijab-wearing, American Muslim patriot.

The weeks leading up to the inauguration prepared me and my colleagues for what we thought would come, but not for what actually came. On Monday, January 23, I walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with the new staffers there. Rather than the excitement I encountered when I first came to the White House under Obama, the new staff looked at me with a cold surprise. The diverse White House I had worked in became a monochromatic and male bastion.

The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing. As one staffer serving since the Reagan administration said, “This place has been turned upside down. It’s chaos. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.” This was not typical Republican leadership, or even that of a businessman. It was a chaotic attempt at authoritarianism––legally questionable executive orders, accusations of the press being “fake,” peddling countless lies as “alternative facts,” and assertions by White House surrogates that the president’s national security authority would “not be questioned.”

The entire presidential support structure of nonpartisan national security and legal experts within the White House complex and across federal agencies was being undermined. Decision-making authority was now centralized to a few in the West Wing. Frustration and mistrust developed as some staff felt out of the loop on issues within their purview. There was no structure or clear guidance. Hallways were eerily quiet as key positions and offices responsible for national security or engagement with Americans were left unfilled.

I might have lasted a little longer. Then came January 30. The executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries caused chaos, without making America any safer. Discrimination that has existed for years at airports was now legitimized, sparking mass protests, while the president railed against the courts for halting his ban. Not only was this discrimination and un-American, the administration’s actions defending the ban threatened the nation’s security and its system of checks and balances.

Alt-right writers, now on the White House staff, have claimed that Islam and the West are at war with each other. Disturbingly, ISIS also makes such claims to justify their attacks, which for the most part target Muslims. The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like “radical Islamic terror,” legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked.

Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a “weakness” is dangerous. It is false.

People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true––American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of  justice and equality.

American history is not without stumbles, which have proven that the nation is only made more prosperous and resilient through struggle, compassion and inclusiveness. It’s why my parents came here. It’s why I told my former 5th grade students, who wondered if they still belonged here, that this country would not be great without them.

Can the Democratic Party Win Back Voters It Lost to Trump?

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection in the red state of Missouri in 2018, recently told a St. Louis radio host she may face a primary challenge. “I may have a primary because there is, in our party now, some of the same kind of enthusiasm at the base that the Republican Party had with the Tea Party,” she said during an interview earlier this month. “Many of those people are very impatient with me because they don’t think I’m pure,” she added.

As the Democratic Party contemplates what’s next in the wake of its defeat in the presidential election, liberals may have to decide what matters more: Building a big tent party where far-left voters and moderate centrists can co-exist even if they occasionally disagree on policy and strategy, or focusing on the demands of the party’s progressive base, potentially creating a more like-minded and ideologically rigid coalition in the process.

In an effort to persuade Democrats to embrace a big-tent strategy, Third Way, a center-left think tank, argues in a new report that voters aren’t necessarily rigidly attached to a particular party, and might be won over as a result. The report, titled “Why Demography Does Not Equal Destiny,” concludes that demographic change in the United States won’t deliver Democrats a winning electoral coalition by default, but that there are still opportunities for the party to convince Americans to vote for Democratic candidates even if they haven’t always done so in the past.

“There are definitely persuadable voters out there and the question we should be asking right now is: ‘Who can be persuaded to embrace our vision of the future?’” report co-author Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of Third Way said in an interview. “The idea that there was this rising electorate that would automatically deliver progressive victories wooed us away from doing the hard work of trying to find common ground with people since it seemed easier to just find people who agreed with us.”

Erickson Hatalsky argues that voting trends suggest that some voters swing back and forth between the two parties rather than remain consistently loyal to one party or the other. For example, hundreds of counties across the United States flipped from voting for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election to voting for Trump in 2016. Some congressional districts also delivered victory for Trump while at the same time reelecting Democratic members of Congress, like Cheri Bustos in Illinois and Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania.

“There are clearly people out there who have not decided that they vote for only one party,” Erickson Hatalsky said. “I think that’s hopeful because it indicates that if the Democratic Party takes the time to listen to what it is that these people are looking for, we may be able to expand our coalition.”

The report notes that there has been a rise in the number of voters who identify as independent in recent years, and suggests that they could be a potential target for the Democratic Party. Some political scientists, however, maintain that independent voters are really partisans in disguise—people who may not want to publicly identify as a Republican or a Democrat, but nevertheless consistently vote for candidates of a particular party. Third Way has challenged this conclusion, and does so in the report by tracking how independents have swung as a voting bloc back-and-forth between voting for Democrats to Republicans in presidential elections dating back to 1976.

“Independents lean toward one party or another, and vote for that party, over shorter time horizons, but this trend shows that over longer time horizons partisan loyalties are not fixed in place for independent voters,” Erickson Hatalsky said.

But what if there isn’t a significant number of voters available for Democrats to win over or win back? What if, instead, the partisan battle lines are now firmly entrenched, and spending time, energy, and effort trying to change hearts and minds proves to be a losing proposition for the party?

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, is skeptical that Democrats can significantly grow their base by converting large numbers of either Republicans or Trump voters. He believes Democrats would be more effective if they focused on increasing turnout of core Democratic constituencies, such as African American, Hispanic, and younger voters.

“There’s a reason why campaigns are devoting more and more resources trying to energize the base rather than trying to persuade people. It’s because trying to persuade people is extremely difficult in this day and age,” Abramowitz said in an interview. “That’s not to say there won’t ever be any movement back and forth between parties,” he added, “but I just don’t see there being any large number of movable voters.”  

Abramowitz notes that looking back at the voting behavior of independents spanning the past several decades may fail to adequately recognize that party loyalties are much stronger today than in the 1970s and 80s. Instead, he points to increasing ideological division among voters in recent years and what he calls “negative partisanship”—a phenomenon whereby animosity toward the opposing party becomes a driving factor behind how a person decides to vote—to argue that there likely isn’t a significant number of voters up for grabs.

Erickson Hatalsky acknowledges “there’s little evidence to suggest there’s a whole swath of Democratic voters sitting at home who are just waiting to come out if we excite them.” But, she added, “if we are going to build a progressive coalition that can dig Democrats out of their hole at the state and local level and get them back into the White House, we can’t write people off either. Voters who went for Obama and then Trump cannot be deemed unreachable for Democrats, and neither can voters in states that voted for Trump, but have continued to elect Democrats to Congress. To do so, is to accept permanent status as a coastal, urban, powerless party.”

As the centrist wing of the Democratic party attempts to make its case, it will have to contend with an increasingly restive progressive base. A wave of protests across the country—including the Women’s March and rallies in opposition to the first iteration of President Trump’s travel ban—seem to have convinced at least some Democrats in Congress to become increasingly uncompromising in their opposition to the president’s priorities. Progressives are also organizing in the aftermath of the election with the explicit aim of launching primary challenges against Democrats they deem not rigid enough in their opposition to Trump.

If centrist Democrats want to ensure that the Democratic Party embraces a big-tent strategy, they will need to convince skeptical voters of the merits of the party. They  may also need to convince progressive members of their own party of the merits of that strategy. And that could be a difficult task. Some progressive groups view Third Way’s centrist political ambitions as emblematic of the type of establishment politics they believe failed the Democratic Party during the presidential election, and are likely to push back on, or outright reject, whatever the think tank suggests as a result.

But perhaps the most salient challenge for Democrats all across the partisan spectrum will be whether they can accept political reality—whatever that may be—and what it dictates about the future of the political left, even if it contradicts their own vision of what the party should look like.

Kansas Republicans Sour on Their Tax-Cut Experiment

It was only two months ago that Governor Sam Brownback was offering up the steep tax cuts he enacted in Kansas as a model for President Trump to follow. Yet by the time Republicans in Congress get around to tax reform, Brownback’s fiscal plan could be history—and it’ll be his own party that kills it.

The GOP-controlled legislature in Kansas nearly reversed the conservative governor’s tax cuts on Tuesday, as a coalition of Democrats and newly-elected centrist Republicans came within a few votes of overriding Brownback’s veto of legislation to raise income-tax rates and eliminate an exemption for small businesses that blew an enormous hole in the state’s budget. Brownback’s tax cuts survive for now, but lawmakers and political observers view the surprising votes in the state House and Senate as a strong sign that the five-year-old policy will be substantially erased in a final budget deal this spring. Kansas legislators must close a $346 million deficit by June, and years of borrowing and quick fixes have left them with few remaining options aside from tax hikes or deep spending cuts to education that could be challenged in court. The tax bill would have raised revenues by more than $1 billion over two years.

The Brownback blowback has been a long time coming. Though he won reelection in 2014, the governor has presided over one budget mess after another since then, and all but his staunchest conservative allies have blamed the crisis on reductions in personal tax rates and a provision that exempted 330,000 owners of small businesses from paying income taxes. Brownback has resisted efforts to undo the policies, preferring instead to raise taxes on tobacco, fuel, and other consumer goods. His relationship with Republicans in the legislature deteriorated, and in primary and general elections last year, a wave of Democrats and centrist Republicans defeated many of the conservatives who had stood by him.

The GOP may retain a majority in both chambers, but Brownback most definitely does not. “What we’re having is a standoff with the governor holding on to the old days where he had all these people elected,” said Senator Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican who voters promoted from the state House last year. “They aren’t there anymore, and he can’t let go and follow the will of the people.”

As for Brownback’s legacy, Bollier said: “It’s going down in flames.”

The governor has fiercely defended the tax cuts, arguing that they stimulated job creation while it was the decline in oil and agriculture prices—the “rural recession,” as he calls it—that caused the budget shortfall. “They worked!” Brownback told my colleague Emma Green at the D.C. March for Life last month when she asked if he regretted signing the tax policies in 2011 and 2012. “The target of the tax cuts was job creation and new business formation. That was the target. And that it has done,” the governor said. “We’ve had record new business filings in Kansas and we hit record employment last year in spite of a commodity crisis.”

“The left media lies about the tax cuts all the time,” Brownback added. (His critics note that Kansas still lagged behind all but five other states in job growth last year.)

But it’s no longer merely journalists or even elected Democrats who criticize the governor in Kansas. Many Republicans have turned on him, too. When I spoke to Bollier and another GOP state lawmaker, Representative Stephanie Clayton, by phone on Thursday, both of them brought up the governor’s unpopularity without prompting. “The people can’t stand him here,” Clayton told me.

The backlash against Brownback is extending far beyond tax policy. The Kansas House this week passed bills to restore teacher tenure and expand Medicaid, and it blocked an amendment to deprive state funds to Planned Parenthood—a longtime target of the governor and other conservatives. The measures still face hurdles making it into law, but their approval by wide margins in a chamber controlled by Republicans illustrates just how much the political terrain has shifted away from the staunch conservatives who won decisive victories in 2010 and 2012. “All of those had been way off the agenda for the last four years,” said Burdett Loomis, a political scientist at the University of Kansas. “Basically the far right had controlled the legislature for the last four years, and now it’s back to a moderate Republican-Democratic coalition, which is the way it operated in the ’80s, the ’90s and into the 2000s.”

The stakes for Brownback’s fiscal policy were always high, because the governor himself had set them there. The original tax plan, he said, was a “real live experiment” in conservative fiscal policy—the kind small-government Republicans in Washington had dreamed about but had never fully implemented. The goal in Kansas was to phase out the income tax entirely over time in favor of levies on consumption. As revenues shrunk, so, too, would the size of government.

But the revenues dropped immediately, and dramatically—much faster than legislators could, or would want to, cut spending. The income tax had accounted for 50 percent of the state’s revenue, said Haley Pollock of the group Kansas Action for Children, which is part of a coalition pushing to reverse Brownback’s tax cuts. “When his tax plan went into effect, there was an immediate structural revenue imbalance,” she said. What followed were nine rounds of budget cuts over four years, three credit downgrades, missed state payments, and an ongoing atmosphere of fiscal crisis. “It’s really hard to argue that the income tax cuts weren't the source of our problems when most of our problems started at the same time that they took effect,” Pollock said.

Voters began to take notice, particularly when the budget ax fell on core state functions like education and the upkeep of roads and bridges. They reelected Brownback after a stiff challenge in 2014, but rank-and-file Republicans rebuked him by ousting his legislative allies two years later. “All of a sudden they realize, ‘Well you know what? We want government,’” Clayton told me. “People in Kansas tend to want the trains to run on time, proverbially. And they're not, because we cut too much.”

With encouragement from Trump, Republicans in Congress are drafting the most far-reaching tax reform in 30 years, built around cutting rates for individuals and businesses. Party leaders insist, as Brownback did, that the tax cuts will pay for themselves through larger economic growth. But Democrats and many economists say the plan would explode a deficit that’s already trending back up toward $1 trillion.

There’s a lesson in the Kansas experience, Clayton said, for Republicans in Washington, where the party has built a majority in the U.S. House that has, because of gerrymandering and poor Democratic turnout, seemed impenetrable. “The real example here is that the voters will get angry with you, and it doesn’t matter how solid-red your state is,” Clayton said. “If your voters get angry, then they will throw you out. And if you don’t run government functionally, they will go to the polls and get rid of you.”

Emma Green contributed reporting.

Paul Ryan's Tax Plan May Not Do What Trump Says It Will

For as loudly as Donald Trump complains about foreign trade, it’s hard to pin him to specifics. Does he prefer a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports? Or a 45 percent tax on companies that move jobs overseas? Or… something else?

On Thursday, the president made his position a bit more clear. In an interview with Reuters, he praised a proposal by House Speaker Paul Ryan to broadly tax imports but remove taxes on exports, a core component of the Republican “Better Way” blueprint.

Ryan wants the “border adjustment” as part of a larger refactoring of the American tax code, something fiscal conservatives have sought for a long time. But Trump doesn’t appear to care about tax reform. He just wants domestic job growth.

From Reuters:

"It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States," Trump told Reuters in an interview, using his most approving language to date on the proposal.

Trump sent conflicting signals about his position on the border adjustability tax in separate media interviews in January, saying in one interview that it was "too complicated" and in another that it was still on the table.   

Economists differ on the particulars of the border adjustment tax (known more precisely, but even less sexily, as the destination-based cash flow tax). Some people like it, and some don’t. Every expert I spoke with agreed on one point, however: If Trump is looking to make new jobs, this isn’t the way to do it. Indeed, he may be expecting the economically impossible.

What is the BAT?

My colleague Bourree Lam has written two good stories explaining the BAT, also known as Not A Tariff, and Michelle Cottle has covered the political fight. I’m also partial to this graphic from The Wall Street Journal, which lays out a series of hypotheticals and walks readers through the math.

Here’s my stab at describing the thing:

  • Right now, the U.S. government levies taxes on all corporate profits, no matter where the goods are made, or who buys them. If you’re making artisanal wooden tables in Pennsylvania and selling them in Ohio, you’ll owe 35 percent of your profits in taxes.  If you’re importing German cars from abroad and selling them in Kentucky—same thing, 35 percent. Heck, even if you’re making master-crafted broadswords in Ireland and selling them at Canadians renaissance fairs, you still pay 35 percent, as long as your corporate headquarters are based in the United States.
  • The first thing the border adjustment tax does is require a business to pay taxes on the value of anything it brings into the country from abroad and later sells to Americans. Our artisanal table guy is OK—he’s using sturdy Pennsylvania wood, no importing required. But now, our Kentucky car importer isn’t just handing over 35 percent of her profits in taxes—she also has to pay 35 percent of the wholesale cost of the German cars, too. Eek!
  • But there’s a consolation prize. If you’re selling something to foreign buyers, you no longer have to pay any taxes at all. Our Delaware-incorporated, Irish broadsword manufacturer can hawk to its heart’s content in Canada, because it isn’t selling to Americans. And if our Pennsylvania woodworker decided to sell some tables in Mexico, he wouldn’t pay any taxes on them, either.

At first, this may seem unfair to importers.They have to pay a bunch of new taxes, and unless they’re selling things abroad, they’re stuck with all the old taxes, too. But for the millions of workers who saw their jobs go overseas, this could be exciting: Finally, those greedy corporations are getting their comeuppance. They thought they were saving money by moving production to Mexico? Now they have to pay up!

If the story ended here, that’d be correct, and the import tax would likely encourage American companies to manufacturing things domestically (and also raise prices dramatically). This is what Trump wants.

But it’s not over yet.

The ever-flexible U.S. dollar

Kyle Pomerleau is the director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that sometime leans right. William Gale is co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that sometimes leans left. Leanings aside, both men agree on pretty much everything about the border adjustment tax, especially on one point—the tricky American dollar will ruin Trump’s plan.  

The dollar doesn’t have a fixed value—it goes up and down, relative to other currencies. And if Congress passes Ryan’s plan, most economists expect the value of the dollar to go up (for reasons just complicated enough to warrant skipping over here). This will make imports cheaper—cheap enough that the new tax doesn’t really matter.

“The way I think about it, the currency adjustment is paying the tax,” Pomerleau said.

“My view is that the exchange-rate adjustment will be relatively substantial and relatively quick,” Gale agreed.

At the same time, the stronger dollar makes the prospect of tax-free exports a bit less exciting. Sure, our Pennsylvania woodworker isn’t paying any taxes on his sales to Mexico—but since the dollar has appreciated in value against the peso, Mexican decorators can’t afford to buy as many tables. So the woodworker brings in less revenue.

In short, it’s a wash. To spur domestic manufacturing growth, Trump wants to put pressure on imports. But because of the floating U.S. dollar, Paul Ryan’s plan probably won’t give it to him. He’s barking up the wrong tree.

Not that economists particularly care. “It’s possible to support a good policy for a bad reason,” Pomerleau said.

But it might be a bad policy

Not everyone is convinced the Ryan proposal will work as planned. Right now, the retail industry is in a state of hyperventilation; a number of larger importers, including Walmart and Toyota, have joined a coalition opposing the plan. Many fear the promised currency re-evaluation might arrive too slowly, or never come at all, leaving importers with a crushing tax bill.

One man who holds this belief is Rick Helfenbein, the president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. Helfenbein help create Le Tigre; before joining AAFA, he headed the U.S. operations of a major Asian clothing manufacturer. In all his years, he’s never seen the strength of the U.S. dollar as having much of an impact on his bottom line, largely because his supply chain always accepted American currency, and rarely dealt with local fiat.

“We buy in dollars, we live in dollars, we sleep in dollars,” he said. “I think in theory, [the economists] probably get it right. But in practicality, they’re probably getting it wrong. If you phase this in over a 10- or 20-year period, maybe the currencies would have time to adjust. But the way a Trump tweet works,” and here he laughs, “they’re going to want to do this tomorrow.”

So if the American dollar doesn’t bulk up as expected, what happens? Exporters might be happy—they’ll be able to move a lot of product with no taxes. But importers will take a bath, and America imports a lot of things. The first to be hit will be clothing brands—97 percent of all clothes and 98 percent of shoes are shipped in from abroad. Faced with a big tax bill, they’ll increase prices to compensate, which will bubble up to the retailers. Customers will buy fewer clothes, and maybe some stores will close, taking their jobs with them.

But that’s not all. A hefty proportion of imports go directly to American factories, who use them to make new things. A prime example is the auto industry, which relies extensively on Mexico for car parts. For every car built in the United States, a quarter of its parts were imported from outside the country; the Chevy Silverado alone gets more than half of its components from overseas. With those parts marked up because of the tax, cars themselves become more expensive—and workers risk losing their jobs when demand drops.

Economic theory says this won’t happen, because of the dollar’s flexibility. The GOP’s plan does contain other sweeteners, most prominently a cut in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and changes to how businesses deduct equipment expenses. But either way, it’s hard to see how Trump wins. If Ryan’s proposal works as planned, the world economy’s relentless swerve toward equilibrium would make imports cheaper and erase any economic pressure to move jobs to America. And if the plan goes off the rails, the economy will likely be hit so hard that no one will be celebrating the fact that America is making stuff again.

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: The Boys are CPAC in Town

Today in 5 Lines

During joint remarks with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at the Conservative Political Action Conference, chief strategist Steve Bannon listed the “deconstruction of the administrative state” as one of the Trump administration’s priorities. Richard Spencer, the founder of the self-proclaimed “alt-right” movement, was kicked out of CPAC after the event’s organizer called the alt-right a “hateful, left-wing fascist group.” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said there will be “no use of military force in immigration operations” after Trump called his administration’s effort to remove undocumented immigrants “a military operation.” Speaking at a health conference in Orlando, former House Speaker John Boehner said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is “not going to happen.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested there will be “greater enforcement” of the federal marijuana law under the Trump administration.


Today on The Atlantic

  • In Trump’s White House: Rumana Ahmed, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, was hired right out of college to work at the White House and later the National Security Council under former President Obama. When Donald Trump took over the Oval Office, Ahmed stayed on to serve her country. She lasted eight days.

  • ‘The Bow-Tied Bard of Populism’: Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson catapulted to fame during the 2016 presidential election by using his residential neighbors as anonymous examples of “the educated elite’s insular thinking.” But, McKay Coppins writes: “The question now is what he wants to do with that perch.”

  • Re-strategizing: As the Democratic Party contemplates the road ahead, it must decide whether to focus on energizing its progressive base, or “building a big tent party where far-left voters and moderate centrists can co-exist even if they occasionally disagree on policy and strategy.” (Clare Foran)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


Snapshot

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus hugs White House strategist Stephen Bannon as they are introduced to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Susan Walsh / AP

What We’re Reading

Ivanka’s New Mission: The first daughter is lobbying Congress to include a tax deduction for child-care expenses, but critics don’t expect it to get far: The proposal “would favor wealthier families with two working parents” and cost up to $500 billion. (Sahil Kapur, Shannon Pettypiece, and Stephanie Baker, Bloomberg)

Meanwhile, in Foggy Bottom: The State Department has gone a full month without conducting its daily press briefings, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has “been notably absent from White House meetings with foreign leaders.” Is disarray in the White House reflecting on the department? (Carol Morello and Anne Gearan, The Washington Post)

Inside the Tower: New York spoke with a few of the “thousands of New Yorkers living in Trump-branded towers that span the city from Soho to the Upper West Side” to learn what it’s like to be a resident. (Nick Tabor)

Question and Answer: On Wednesday, the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines on how schools should accommodate transgender students based on their gender identity. NPR answers five questions about what this action means for transgender students around the country. (Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner)

The New Age: A new intellectual journal called American Affairs has launched and “it’s ready to explore the meaning and shape of American nationalism in the age of Trump.” The political climate has shifted since the founding of earlier policy journals, which means the new publication will play a different role from its predecessors. (Damon Linker, The Week)


Visualized

Oh, Dam: Earlier this month, residents living near the massive Oroville Dam were evacuated after damage to a spillway. These maps show that aging infrastructure isn’t just a problem in California. (Troy Griggs, Gregor Aisch, and Sarah Almukhtar, The New York Times)


Question of the Week

After a visit to the National Museum of African American History, President Trump pledged to “bring this country together.” What's an effort you've seen in your community—or one you've participated in yourself—that you think could help heal a polarized nation?

Send your answers to [email protected], and our favorites will be featured in Friday’s Politics & Policy Daily.

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey) and Candice Norwood (@cjnorwoodwrites)

Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan May Not Do What Trump Says It Will

For as loudly as Donald Trump complains about foreign trade, it’s hard to pin him to specifics. Does he prefer a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports? Or a 45 percent tax on companies that move jobs overseas? Or… something else?

On Thursday, the president made his position a bit more clear. In an interview with Reuters, he praised a proposal by House Speaker Paul Ryan to broadly tax imports but remove taxes on exports, a core component of the Republican “Better Way” blueprint.

Ryan wants the “border adjustment” as part of a larger refactoring of the American tax code, something fiscal conservatives have sought for a long time. But Trump doesn’t appear to care about tax reform. He just wants domestic job growth.

From Reuters:

"It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States," Trump told Reuters in an interview, using his most approving language to date on the proposal.

Trump sent conflicting signals about his position on the border adjustability tax in separate media interviews in January, saying in one interview that it was "too complicated" and in another that it was still on the table.   

Economists differ on the particulars of the border adjustment tax (known more precisely, but even less sexily, as the destination-based cash flow tax). Some people like it, and some don’t. Every expert I spoke with agreed on one point, however: If Trump is looking to make new jobs, this isn’t the way to do it. Indeed, he may be expecting the economically impossible.

What is the BAT?

My colleague Bourree Lam has written two good stories explaining the BAT, also known as Not A Tariff, and Michelle Cottle has covered the political fight. I’m also partial to this graphic from The Wall Street Journal, which lays out a series of hypotheticals and walks readers through the math.

Here’s my stab at describing the thing:

  • Right now, the U.S. government levies taxes on all corporate profits, no matter where the goods are made, or who buys them. If you’re making artisanal wooden tables in Pennsylvania and selling them in Ohio, you’ll owe 35 percent of your profits in taxes.  If you’re importing German cars from abroad and selling them in Kentucky—same thing, 35 percent. Heck, even if you’re making master-crafted broadswords in Ireland and selling them at Canadians renaissance fairs, you still pay 35 percent, as long as your corporate headquarters are based in the United States.
  • The first thing the border adjustment tax does is require a business to pay taxes on the value of anything it brings into the country from abroad and later sells to Americans. Our artisanal table guy is OK—he’s using sturdy Pennsylvania wood, no importing required. But now, our Kentucky car importer isn’t just handing over 35 percent of her profits in taxes—she also has to pay 35 percent of the wholesale cost of the German cars, too. Eek!
  • But there’s a consolation prize. If you’re selling something to foreign buyers, you no longer have to pay any taxes at all. Our Delaware-incorporated, Irish broadsword manufacturer can hawk to its heart’s content in Canada, because it isn’t selling to Americans. And if our Pennsylvania woodworker decided to sell some tables in Mexico, he wouldn’t pay any taxes on them, either.

At first, this may seem unfair to importers.They have to pay a bunch of new taxes, and unless they’re selling things abroad, they’re stuck with all the old taxes, too. But for the millions of workers who saw their jobs go overseas, this could be exciting: Finally, those greedy corporations are getting their comeuppance. They thought they were saving money by moving production to Mexico? Now they have to pay up!

If the story ended here, that’d be correct, and the import tax would likely encourage American companies to manufacturing things domestically (and also raise prices dramatically). This is what Trump wants.

But it’s not over yet.

The ever-flexible U.S. dollar

Kyle Pomerleau is the director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that sometime leans right. William Gale is co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that sometimes leans left. Leanings aside, both men agree on pretty much everything about the border adjustment tax, especially on one point—the tricky American dollar will ruin Trump’s plan.  

The dollar doesn’t have a fixed value—it goes up and down, relative to other currencies. And if Congress passes Ryan’s plan, most economists expect the value of the dollar to go up (for reasons just complicated enough to warrant skipping over here). This will make imports cheaper—cheap enough that the new tax doesn’t really matter.

“The way I think about it, the currency adjustment is paying the tax,” Pomerleau said.

“My view is that the exchange-rate adjustment will be relatively substantial and relatively quick,” Gale agreed.

At the same time, the stronger dollar makes the prospect of tax-free exports a bit less exciting. Sure, our Pennsylvania woodworker isn’t paying any taxes on his sales to Mexico—but since the dollar has appreciated in value against the peso, Mexican decorators can’t afford to buy as many tables. So the woodworker brings in less revenue.

In short, it’s a wash. To spur domestic manufacturing growth, Trump wants to put pressure on imports. But because of the floating U.S. dollar, Paul Ryan’s plan probably won’t give it to him. He’s barking up the wrong tree.

Not that economists particularly care. “It’s possible to support a good policy for a bad reason,” Pomerleau said.

But it might be a bad policy

Not everyone is convinced the Ryan proposal will work as planned. Right now, the retail industry is in a state of hyperventilation; a number of larger importers, including Walmart and Toyota, have joined a coalition opposing the plan. Many fear the promised currency re-evaluation might arrive too slowly, or never come at all, leaving importers with a crushing tax bill.

One man who holds this belief is Rick Helfenbein, the president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. Helfenbein help create Le Tigre; before joining AAFA, he headed the U.S. operations of a major Asian clothing manufacturer. In all his years, he’s never seen the strength of the U.S. dollar as having much of an impact on his bottom line, largely because his supply chain always accepted American currency, and rarely dealt with local fiat.

“We buy in dollars, we live in dollars, we sleep in dollars,” he said. “I think in theory, [the economists] probably get it right. But in practicality, they’re probably getting it wrong. If you phase this in over a 10- or 20-year period, maybe the currencies would have time to adjust. But the way a Trump tweet works,” and here he laughs, “they’re going to want to do this tomorrow.”

So if the American dollar doesn’t bulk up as expected, what happens? Exporters might be happy—they’ll be able to move a lot of product with no taxes. But importers will take a bath, and America imports a lot of things. The first to be hit will be clothing brands—97 percent of all clothes and 98 percent of shoes are shipped in from abroad. Faced with a big tax bill, they’ll increase prices to compensate, which will bubble up to the retailers. Customers will buy fewer clothes, and maybe some stores will close, taking their jobs with them.

But that’s not all. A hefty proportion of imports go directly to American factories, who use them to make new things. A prime example is the auto industry, which relies extensively on Mexico for car parts. For every car built in the United States, a quarter of its parts were imported from outside the country; the Chevy Silverado alone gets more than half of its components from overseas. With those parts marked up because of the tax, cars themselves become more expensive—and workers risk losing their jobs when demand drops.

Economic theory says this won’t happen, because of the dollar’s flexibility. The GOP’s plan does contain other sweeteners, most prominently a cut in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and changes to how businesses deduct equipment expenses. But either way, it’s hard to see how Trump wins. If Ryan’s proposal works as planned, the world economy’s relentless swerve toward equilibrium would make imports cheaper and erase any economic pressure to move jobs to America. And if the plan goes off the rails, the economy will likely be hit so hard that no one will be celebrating the fact that America is making stuff again.

Is the Anti-Trump Resistance Another Tea Party?

Since President Trump’s inauguration, protesters around the country have risen in defiance of his presidency. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. After Obama’s inauguration in 2009, a protest movement formed to oppose him—which became known as the Tea Party. In this video, Atlantic writer Molly Ball explains how the Tea Party’s energy led Republicans to victory in the 2010 midterms, and what this tells us about the current resistance’s potential effects. “Today, it’s the Democratic Party that seems dead. They have lost the House and Senate. They control only 16 governorships and 13 state legislatures,” Ball explains. “But now they are hoping their own passionate movement can scramble the political map the way the tea party did.”

This is the fifth episode of “Unpresidented,” an original series from The Atlantic exploring a new era in American politics.