Monday, April 23, 2018

Why Democrats Must Take Control of the House

While many progressive remain hopefully optimistic that a blue wave in the 2018 midterm elections will see control of the House of Representatives shift to Democrat control, a piece in Slate underscores why  this is so important in terms of halting Donald Trump's horrific agenda.  Better yet, it could lead to the Trump/Russia ties and/or money laundering efforts finally see the light of day.  While many often hear the refrain that this is the most important election cycle, this time, it is really true.  Hence why Democrats need to use care and an over the top ground game to get voters to the polls in November.  Here are article highlights:

If President Trump hates Bob Mueller so much, why doesn’t he have him fired?
For most Republicans, the concern over firing Mueller is that it would incite a backlash in the 2018 midterm elections, costing them unified control of Congress and imperiling their policy objectives.
But for [Trump] the president, the concerns are much more personal. A Democratic takeover would be catastrophic. Instantly, the House would be converted into a hive of investigatory bodies. In a Democratic House, the grand Washington battle will no longer be Trump versus Mueller. It will be Trump versus 21 subpoena-wielding House committee chairmen, played out in public on a 24-hour televised loop.
Unlike a legislative agenda, executive oversight can be prosecuted by just one chamber. Taking control of the House would empower Democratic committee chairmen to aggressively pursue every aspect of the president’s personal and political interests.
There are 21 House committees that endow their chairmen with subpoena power. Some require a committee vote and/or consultation with the ranking minority member, but none endow the minority with veto power. The expansive subpoena power of Congress is limited only by countervailing constitutional rights. For example, Congress cannot force a witness to waive her right not to incriminate herself. Otherwise, Congress can compel testimony, and the production of documents, from any government employee or private citizen in America.
A House committee can initiate inquiries into any area within its jurisdiction. This investigative authority, and the subpoena power through which it is advanced, has mostly lain dormant in the 115th Congress. When Republicans have exercised their subpoena power, it has mostly been in the service of defending the president against Mueller’s investigation. But that could change in the blink of an eye, as Trump has surely been advised by some old Washington hand.
When it comes to opportunities for congressional oversight, the Trump administration provides what military strategists call a target-rich environment.
The Ways and Means Committee could sharpen the national discussion around tax fairness by subpoenaing President Trump’s tax returns. As the 2018 elections draw near, that committee could convene hearings to educate the public on how Trump’s sabotage of Obamacare will send consumers’ health insurance premiums soaring.
The Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters, a favorite target of Trump’s invective, could exercise its authority to investigate the phenomenon of foreign oligarchs laundering ill-gotten gains through purchases of luxury condominiums in hot markets, including through Trump-owned buildings in New York and Miami.
Now imagine a pajama-clad President Trump gazing in horror at the trio of TV monitors in the presidential bedroom, one showing Jared Kushner being grilled on his never-ending security-clearance-application corrections and amendments, while the second displays Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempting to defend his addiction to first-class flights, and the third presents a tableau of heartland factory workers displaced by the Bush steel tariffs of 2002. Consider the president’s unbridled anger as he watches a cable-news version of This Is Your Life, a procession of Cabinet secretaries, disgraced former White House officials, unpaid construction contractors, disqualified eligible voters, terrified Dreamers, abandoned factory workers, and colorful NDA signatories, all led by Democratic House committee chairs, many of whom Trump has traduced in nasty personal terms.
With that image in mind, you can see why Trump stops short of firing Mueller. If a rash decision to dispatch the special counsel costs Republicans their House majority, the president will subject himself to a ceaseless barrage of charges, confessions, and revelations. For Trump, that’s the nightmare scenario.
Of course, Trump's nightmare scenario would be my dream come true.

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