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Daily Reads: John McCain’s Blocking Bush Torture Enablers; CBO Says House Budget Would Blow Up the Deficit

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John McCain's Blocking Bush Torture Enablers

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What we missed –> Yesterday, we pointed out some of the more noteworthy victories from Tuesday night’s elections, but HuffPost’s Philip Lewis and Willa Frej rounded up all of the candidates who made history by breaking down old barriers to participation.

We also got ahead of ourselves celebrating the passage of a referendum calling for the expansion of Maine’s Medicaid program. Sarah Kliff reports for Vox that the “effort has already come under serious threat.” Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who has blocked the expansion five times, has the power to declare that there’s insufficient funding for the measure and send it back to the legislature.

At Mother Jones, Ari Berman says voting rights might have been Tuesday’s biggest winner, with Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey and Washington state poised to expand access to the ballot.

Harold Meyerson writes at The American Prospect that the GOP’s collapse among white, college-educated suburban voters “is a fire bell in the night for congressional Republicans.”

Meanwhile, Esquire’s Charles Pierce offers a word of warning, noting that Wisconsin became the 28th state to back a constitutional convention, a right-wing dream that might let them enact “a wish list of conservative policies that were shredded under the existing Constitution.” Backed by the Koch brothers, the Article V movement needs six more states. Pierce: “This is a clear and present danger.”

And Ben Mathis-Lilley reports for Slate that if you spent Tuesday evening watching Fox News, you might not have known that elections had even taken place.

News from the swamp –> Carl Icahn’s service to the nation as “a special adviser” to Donald Trump appears to have been a singular focus on shifting a regulatory burden from oil refineries, which he owns, to… well, anyone else in the supply chain would be OK. He resigned from the unpaid job when watchdog groups cried foul at the rather blatant conflict of interest, but now Miles Weiss, Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Mario Parker report for Bloomberg that a US Attorney has subpoenaed Icahn, demanding all documents related to his activities. Stay tuned.

Father’s Day –> “Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed the distraction created by Father’s Day resulted in him being unable to remember an email sent to him by former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page,” writes Aaron Rupar at Think Progress. “In the email, Page sought and ultimately received permission from Lewandowski to travel to Moscow.”

Speaking of which, Jim Sciutto and Marshall Cohen report for CNN that Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, “has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son, Michael Flynn Jr.,” who is also under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn senior’s wife is also worried, and their concerns “could factor into decisions about how to respond to Mueller’s ongoing investigation.” Will he flip?

And Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took to the House floor yesterday, where he “called for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign or be fired over his ‘indisputable conflicts of interest.’” Brandon Carter reports for The Hill that he then “called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel” to investigate a grab-bag of right-wing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Circle closing –> The Syrian regime says that its forces took the eastern border town of Albu Kamal, which was ISIS’ last urban stronghold. According to the BBC, the self-proclaimed Islamic State “now only controls a few villages and desert areas north of Albu Kamal, and scattered pockets elsewhere in Syria.”

Deficit Hawks No More? –> It’s been a GOP talking point for years — deficits only destroy the economy when Democrats are in charge. Nash Jenkins reports for TIME that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the tax bill passed by House Republicans last week “would add $1.7 trillion to federal deficits over the next 10 years.”

One reason why it punches such a big hole in the budget is that, “under pressure from businesses, House Republicans have gutted a plan to crack down on corporate tax avoidance.” Brian Faler, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report for Politico that the move is one of several that will make it harder for the House to come to agreement with Senate Republicans, who are expected to unveil their own bill today.

Arthur Delaney and Matt Fuller report for HuffPost that “Republicans are so tired of tax experts rudely saying their plan helps the rich.” One point that “Republicans take issue with is the question of whose taxes would go down and whose would go up. Republicans say their bill would reduce taxes for everybody, but Tax Policy Center says 7 percent of households would face higher rates next year and 25 percent would pay more in 10 years.”

Finally, the CBO estimates that Trump’s proposal to repeal the individual mandate “would increase the number of uninsured by 13 million by 2027 and reduce the federal budget deficit less than initially forecast,” according to Reuters’ Yasmeen Abutaleb. Nevertheless, Jordain Carney reports for The Hill that Republican leaders in the Senate are whipping their members to support the measure.

Former torture victim says no to torture –> Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “was the sole GOP senator to vote against confirming Steven Engel to lead the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel earlier this week, citing his role in the controversial torture memos under the George W. Bush administration,” reports Seung Min Kim for Politico. McCain is also “vowing to reject any [other] administration nominee who has backed so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Disappeared –> Former news anchor Heather Unruh held a press conference on Wednesday to accuse actor Kevin Spacey of groping her then-18-year-old son at a bar in 2016. Daniel Welsh has more on that story for HuffPost.

Hours later, Justin Kroll reported for Variety that “Sony [Pictures] and director Ridley Scott are planning on replacing the Oscar-winning actor, who plays John Paul Getty, in their upcoming release of All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer.” Spacey shot about two weeks of scenes for the upcoming flick, which is set to be released in late December.

Cuba libre –> Donald Trump is following up on an executive order he signed in June to rejuvenate our Cold War with Cuba. According to The Miami Herald, starting today, “Americans will be banned from doing business with 180 entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence and security services, including 83 hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, industries and even two rum makers owned by the government. US companies will be barred from investing in a sprawling economic development zone in Mariel that Cuba envisions as crucial to its commercial future.”

Real news –> Vox’s Matt Yglesias writes that there are two ways of reading reports that the government is trying to block AT&T’s proposed purchase of Time Warner: either it’s “an authoritarian crackdown” stemming from the White House’s ongoing feud with Time Warner property CNN, or it’s an example of “good populist antitrust enforcement.”

A rough streak –> Caught between a brutal negotiation with the EU over the UK’s upcoming “Brexit” and a series of scandals — including an unfolding sexual harassment controversy that “has so far implicated dozens of men on both sides of the House of Commons” — British Prime Minister Theresa May’s conservative government may be coming apart at the seams, according to The Atlantic’s Yasmeen Serhan.

First contact? –> “As America has turned away from searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, China has built the world’s largest radio dish for precisely that purpose,” writes Ross Anderson at The Atlantic. Anderson visited the site after speaking with China’s “preeminent science fiction writer,” Liu Cixin, who warns that the aliens we first contact are probably going to destroy us.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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