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Morning Reads: Here Comes the Budget Deadline

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Here Comes the Budget Deadline

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and members of the House GOP leadership arrive for a news briefing following the weekly Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Good morning! A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on TV 50 years ago tonight. Back in 1965, its producers thought it would be a flop, but the program became an instant classic, and now department stores play its jazz soundtrack over and over for a month or more. Here are some reads…

Shutdown, here we come! –> “With government funding set to run out in just three days, divisions within the House Republican Conference are surfacing yet again,” Jake Sherman and Lauren French report for Politico. If it can get its act together, Congress may pass a short-term fix, “keeping the government open for a ‘handful of days.'”

The Freedom Caucus, that 40-some member coalition of extreme right Republicans, is holding its party’s feet to the fire with a number of demands the Obama administration won’t approve. The Washington Post’s Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian write that those demands include “increasing screening for refugees from Syria and Iraq, giving states the power to deny some federal funds to abortion providers, scaling back environmental and banking regulations, and giving health-care providers the right to object to providing certain services that go against their religious beliefs.”

Campaign finance is an issue, too –> Freedom Caucus members also “dislike a campaign finance provision backed by [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell that would increase strict limits on how much national party committees can spend to coordinate with individual candidates,” The Post’s Snell and Demirjian report. Right-wing reps worry that the rule would give the Republican Party establishment too much power. But that establishment could “ease those concerns by including language that would allow the rule to apply to potential third-party committees that might be created in the future.”

Good-government advocacy groups don’t like that plan one bit: “This so-called ‘compromise’ would have the effect of destroying the candidate contribution limits enacted to prevent the corruption of federal officeholders,” says reformer Fred Wertheimer.

Another big player leaves ALEC –> “American Electric Power (AEP), one of the largest electricity utilities in the US, is to ditch its membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a rightwing organisation that has consistently opposed the deployment of renewable energy and action on climate change,” writes Oliver Milman at The Guardian. The company says the decision was made as it prepares to comply with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Dissembling for hire –> Greenpeace activists posing as representatives of the oil and gas industry approached two of the scientists often cited by climate-denying politicians, and both agreed to write research for hire that would come to the conclusions these “industry insiders” wanted. One of the scientists testified yesterday at a Senate hearing put together by Ted Cruz to promote climate change denial.

Who’s pushing to end the ban? –> Nine of America’s most prominent think tanks — including the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute — want America to lift the oil export ban, a move that, given certain market conditions, could make climate change far worse. “The think tanks’ new push for lifting the ban only makes sense in light of their deep and extensive ties to oil companies,” write Robert Galbraith, Aaron Cantú and Kevin Connor in a new report for the Public Accountability Initiative that details those connections.

It has nothing to do with taxes! –> Lanny Davis, DC insider extraordinaire and “professional friend-of-the-Clintons,” is now hawking citizenship in the tiny Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis, with prices starting at $250,000. “Why would an American buy a Caribbean passport, if not to evade taxes?” asks Molly Ball at The Atlantic. “It is somewhat difficult to get an explanation for this.”

Basic income –> Finland is “weighing a proposal for a basic income: an approach to welfare in which residents would get a flat amount of money every month, regardless of how rich they are.” Dylan Matthews explores this idea for Vox.

White nationalists love Trump  –> “In what is becoming a fairly routine ritual in a campaign that has seen no shortage of racially charged rhetoric from the Republican front-runner, America’s prominent white nationalists again found comfort in a proposal from The Donald,” report Andrew Kaczynski and Christopher Massie at BuzzFeed. At Vox, Max Fisher writes that “Trump isn’t actually the problem here. Rather, he’s merely indulging a sentiment that was already widespread.” And at The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, political scientist David T. Smith tells Henry Farrell that Trump’s rhetoric is similar to bigotry faced by Jews, Catholics and Mormons in the past.

Stranger than fiction –> Headline in The Onion: “‘This Will Be The End Of Trump’s Campaign,’ Says Increasingly Nervous Man For Seventh Time This Year.”

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.


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