Hayes points out that Paul Ryan is the only person in the conversation who is willing to talk about taking action right away, but that even he presents a problem. His pony-in-here-somewhere sunniness puts way too much stock in bringing Squirrel-Hair along:
The math isn’t complicated. If the federal government doesn't reform entitlements soon, the country will face a debt crisis. There is no disputing this. It's inevitable. The only unknown is timing. And the stubborn determination of some leaders in both political parties to ignore runaway entitlement growth—the most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States—means the crisis will come sooner rather than later. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2008 federal debt was 39 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In the summer of 2016, it was 75 percent of GDP. Without changes, it's projected to be 86 percent of GDP in 2026, and 20 years after that, in 2046, it will be 141 percent of GDP—an all-time high. That is a disastrous trajectory with potentially devastating consequences. In the anodyne jargon of the CBO: "The prospect of such a large debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges."
Paul Ryan doesn't see the gulf between congressional Republicans and Trump that seems clear to us. Ryan said last week that he believes Trump will support some entitlement reform, despite the president's many promises to protect the current system. "[In] all my conversations with the president, he says, 'I don't want to change Medicare benefits for people in or near retirement,' and we agree with that," Ryan said.
We suspect this is better seen as evidence of Ryan's undying optimism than a real possibility of entitlement reform under President Trump. But if the president truly wants to fix Washington and address the expanding debt, as he often claims, he can turn to Ryan for solutions.
As the president said in his address to Congress: "The time for small thinking is over."David E. Sanger and William J. Broad at the New York Times look extensively at the full scope of the North Korean nuclear missile threat. The argument can be made that they tell us more than we really should know, but there it is: the previous administration had a program of ramping up cyberattacks against North Korea's missile tests. Now that that cat is out of the bag, it is useful to know that the program had limited success, and now the scenario comes down to this:
[President Trump] could order the escalation of the Pentagon’s cyber and electronic warfare effort, but that carries no guarantees. He could open negotiations with the North to freeze its nuclear and missile programs, but that would leave a looming threat in place. He could prepare for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, which Mr. Obama also considered, but there is little chance of hitting every target. He could press the Chinese to cut off trade and support, but Beijing has always stopped short of steps that could lead to the regime’s collapse.
They point out, toward the end of the article, that DJT tweeting "It won't happen" with regard to North Korea acquiring intercontinental missiles does nothing to enhance his range of options. As we saw a few short years ago in the Syrian situation, red lines causally tossed out by US presidents can have unsavory consequences.In two meetings of Mr. Trump’s national security deputies in the Situation Room, the most recent on Tuesday, all those options were discussed, along with the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a dramatic warning. Administration officials say those issues will soon go to Mr. Trump and his top national security aides.
While we're on the theme of Squirrel-Hair running his mouth and thereby upping the chaos level in our country, we see the latest evidence that Ben Sasse is the kind of principled and level-headed political figure we need more of in post-America. He released a statement laying out the stakes of tweeting that Obama tapped phones in Trump Tower without immediately substantiating such a claim:
Identity politics doesn't play Peoria nearly as well as the jackboots assume:
Good on ya, Elaine! The new Transportation Secretary halts funding for California's bullet train.