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Ryan likely to get rolled on tax reform

Donald Trump is set to steamroll Paul Ryan on tax reform, the issue the speaker has devoted his political career to achieving.

But don’t expect Ryan to relinquish his pet cause easily.

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The White House on Wednesday will drop the outlines of a tax plan that insiders expect will contradict the blueprint Ryan has been working on for more than a year. It won’t include the House speaker’s controversial new tax on imports, which was expected to bring in $1 trillion to finance lower tax rates. And top Trump officials are insisting their tax plan need not be paid for, rejecting Ryan’s stance that any package should not add to the deficit.

The administration’s sudden change of course came as a surprise to the speaker’s office, which didn’t get a heads-up before Trump announced on the fly last week that he would drop a tax plan Wednesday. Ryan had been working with the administration on a tax proposal “hand in glove,” as he put it, and the administration seemed content to let him take the lead.

But after Ryan failed to get his Obamacare replacement bill over the finish line last month, the White House changed its mind. Trump decided the administration needed to take a more hands-on role in tax reform rather than leaving the details to the speaker, three administration sources told Politico. Indeed, Ryan’s team has been kept largely in the dark on some key details of the plan, congressional and White House sources say.

“We made a mistake last time” in having Ryan take the lead on health care, one senior administration official told Politico. “We learned our lesson.”

Still, the White House strategy could backfire, namely because it’s far from certain that it can pass.

If the administration were to pursue a tax cut that’s not paid for — sticking instead with the supply-side theory that tax cuts pay for themselves — it would take at least eight Democrats to get it through the Senate. That’s a tall order, because Democrats generally are loath to pass tax cuts for corporations, especially without corresponding cuts for individuals.

Trump’s plan would drastically lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent — at an eye-popping price tag of $2 trillion.

“The best chance to have tax reform is through reconciliation,” said a senior House Republican, referring to GOP leadership’s plan to use a fast-track tool to pass the bill on simple-majority votes.

Ryan’s office stressed that talks are ongoing and nothing is decided.

“We all agree on the benefits of tax reform and the place we want to land, and the question is how you reach that place,” Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said in a statement. “We continue to have productive discussions with the administration about all ideas on the table.”

To be sure, only the House — not the White House — has the power to write a tax bill. In that regard, Trump can’t force the hands of Ryan or Ways


Pelosi and Hoyer at odds over budget negotiations


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, right, is demanding the final funding bill include language to provide permanent Obamacare subsidies to help cover costs for low-income enrollees, but House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, left, publicly dismissed the idea Tuesday. | Getty

House Democratic leaders are split over how to handle a push on Obamacare subsidies.

By Heather Caygle

04/25/17 06:15 PM EDT

A disagreement between House Democratic leaders over Obamacare subsidies spilled into the open Tuesday, threatening to undermine their negotiating position as they hash out a deal with Republicans to fund the government.

Democratic negotiators, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are demanding the final funding bill include language to provide permanent Obamacare subsidies to help cover costs for low-income enrollees and keep insurance markets afloat.

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But House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), No. 2 behind Pelosi, publicly dismissed that idea Tuesday, saying the fix would be nice to have in the funding bill but should not be a requirement for supporting the legislation and should not be used as a political bargaining chip.

“From my perspective, this is not a part of our negotiations… I’m not urging my side to have this as part of the negotiations,” Hoyer told reporters. “The president has the authority to go ahead and do it and he ought to do it.”

In a statement later Tuesday, he emphasized that “millions of Americans will be adversely impacted” if the subsidies are cut off, and that they should not be "a quid pro quo that Republicans are giving to us to get funding for a border wall or other partisan priorities.”

Lawmakers are trying to hash out a funding deal before government spending lapses Friday at midnight.

President Donald Trump’s administration can continue funding the Obamacare subsidies without congressional action. But Trump had threatened to yank the subsidies in recent weeks — potentially sending the insurance market into chaos — as a way to bring Democrats to the negotiating table on health care.

In response, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanded the funding bill include a permanent fix for the subsidies, a move that if successful would defuse Trump’s threat and offer insurers long-term assurance that they’ll continue to be paid.

Schumer did not say that the subsidies need to be included in the funding bill when asked directly about it on Tuesday afternoon. But a senior Democratic aide insisted Pelosi, Schumer and other Democratic negotiators are still in lock-step on this push.

While Hoyer is a member of Democratic leadership, he is not directly part of the funding bill negotiations.

But he’s not alone in his stance on the issue. A handful of other Democratic lawmakers and staffers privately said they are irked by Pelosi and Schumer’s public insistence on including a fix they say lawmakers shouldn’t be negotiating at all.

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Warner defends Russia investigation amid rising criticism


Sen. Mark Warner, left, said real progress is taking place in the Senate panel's Russia probe, including on scrutiny of ties between Moscow and President Donald Trump’s aides. | Getty

Sen. Mark Warner has a simple message for critics who say his Russia probe is in shambles: It just isn’t so.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said in an interview Tuesday that he always wants to move faster in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. But real progress is taking place, he said, including scrutiny of ties between Moscow and President Donald Trump’s aides.

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“People who think we’re not looking at that now have not received an update,” Warner told Politico.

The Virginia Democrat rejected criticism over the fact that the panel has yet to issue subpoenas or interview high-profile witnesses like former Trump advisers Roger Stone, Carter Page and Michael Flynn. It would be “very irresponsible,” he said, to bring in those witnesses “before you have all your information.”

Warner added that the panel has conducted 27 interviews with intelligence analysts involved in the U.S. determination that Russia sought to tilt the presidential election toward Trump. The committee is also hiring two more staffers for the investigation, bringing the total to nine.

Warner’s remarks come as Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee grow increasingly dissatisfied with the pace of the investigation, which is being led by Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Warner.

“The last few weeks, things have moved very, very slowly under Chairman Burr’s leadership. And I’m a little troubled about it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday. “I give Sen. Warner some time and credence to try and work those things out. But things have moved too slowly for my taste and a lot of the members of the committee’s taste.”

The dissatisfaction among committee Democrats was first reported last month by POLITICO and returned to the forefront this week with new revelations in The Daily Beast and Yahoo , which said that the probe had made "little progress” and is “increasingly stymied by partisan divisions.”

Burr rejected the notion that the investigation is in trouble, telling reporters Tuesday that narrative was being pushed by “one person” who is “unhappy.” He noted that his panel’s investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks had just three staffers and completed its work in a year.

“We’re accomplishing exactly what we intended to do. You need to go talk to other members other than the one that’s hawking that story,” Burr said, without naming his critic.

But more than one Democratic senator is unhappy with the pace of the probe, though several said they felt reports about it being in turmoil are overblown.

“I’d like to see it go faster, but I always would like to see things go faster,” said Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats. “I do think it would be helpful to have someone with prosecutorial experience and investigative experience.”

The seven intelligence staffers


Senate confirms Rosenstein as deputy attorney general


Rod Rosenstein was confirmed as the nation’s deputy attorney general with a 94-6 vote in the Senate. | Getty


Ivanka Trump faces tough audience in European women

BERLIN — Ivanka Trump’s personal brand, upcoming book and burgeoning position on the world stage have all been based on her image as a do-it-all feminist and working mother.

That powerful package has resonated in some parts of the world, like China, where the first daughter is worshiped by young women infatuated with her looks — nary an errant hair out of place, a perfect outfit rarely repeated — and awed by her apparent ability to juggle family and career.

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Judging from her mixed reception here, European women are more incredulous about Ivanka Trump's brand of feminism and her attempts to reconcile her own moderate politics with her father's fierce conservatism.

And they viewed her arrival in Berlin, her first international trip as a representative of the U.S. government, on Tuesday with the deep uncertainty they reserve for all things branded “Trump," shorthand for a hard-right, nationalistic, "America First" worldview.

Ivanka Trump appeared unruffled during a somewhat tense outing at the W20 Summit, where she shared a stage with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to discuss women entrepreneurs.

As her global recognition grows, her public image fares better further afield. In China, where wealthy and connected children of business and political leaders often run state-owned enterprises or hold other prominent positions, young women are enchanted by her perfectly curated public façade, as the New York Times recently reported .

They view her, Jared Kushner and their three children, often photographed against a brilliant Palm Beach sunset as they descend the steps of Air Force One, as something akin to a 21st century version of the Kennedys’ “Camelot.”

That image doesn’t translate to Europe, POLITICO found in interviews with more than a half-dozen women who make up Berlin’s fashionable and intellectual set, including lawyers, journalists, jewelry designers and translators. These cosmopolitan women keep themselves up to date on all things Ivanka-related — from the trademarks her brand has applied for abroad, to her career that started on the catwalk, to the official role she now plays in the White House as a self-professed champion of women and girls.

But if she has come to be viewed as a role model in China and by some of her father’s critics at home as the better angel on his shoulder — a softening influence who keeps private counsel with the president and guides him toward a more moderate approach — that trust in her judgment has yet to puddle-jump across the Atlantic.

Women in Berlin expressed bewilderment at Ivanka Trump’s elevation to a senior role in the White House with no previous political experience. And they said they struggled to reconcile her image as a feminist with her fierce and unquestioning defense of her father.

“People wonder about her seeming like a very strong woman, and at the same time seeing him as the worst kind of sexist, and wonder how that works out,” said Heather Kimber, a

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