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How Democrats Paved the Way for the Confirmation of Trump's Cabinet

A little over three years ago, Senator Mitch McConnell stood on the Senate floor and issued a warning to the Democrats who then controlled the majority.

“I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this,” McConnell, then the minority leader, told them. “And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

At the urging of Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrats had just voted along strict party lines to change the rules of the Senate, deploying what had become known in Washington as “the nuclear option.” McConnell and his Republican colleagues were furious. Under the new rules, presidential nominees for all executive-branch position—including the Cabinet—and judicial vacancies below the Supreme Court could advance with a simple majority of 51 votes. The rules for legislation were untouched, but the 60-vote threshold for overcoming a filibuster on nearly all nominations was dead. 

As Donald Trump prepares to assume the presidency this afternoon flanked by Republican majorities in Congress, McConnell’s warning is looking more and more prescient. Trump may win Senate confirmation of his entire Cabinet, and while Democrats will oppose many of his nominees, it was their vote in November 2013...

How To Measure Trump’s Performance

For Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, these are heady times. Against ex­pect­a­tions, they main­tained con­trol of their ma­jor­ity and are vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed of keep­ing con­trol of the up­per cham­ber after the 2018 midterms, thanks to a fa­vor­able map. With at least 11 Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors in their sights—and only one or two Re­pub­lic­ans to de­fend—they have dreams of a su­per­ma­jor­ity.

But the op­tim­ism of the trans­ition peri­od is soon go­ing to col­lide with the real­ity of Trump’s po­lar­iz­ing pres­id­ency. The in­com­ing pres­id­ent is alarm­ingly un­pop­u­lar even be­fore be­ing sworn in, with just 40 per­cent of voters view­ing him fa­vor­ably in two new polls. Midterms tra­di­tion­ally run against the party in power, which would make it easi­er for vul­ner­able Demo­crats to ar­gue that they provide a ne­ces­sary check on his ad­min­is...

Liberals Narrow Their List of Trump Picks to Target

Faced with a long list of ad­versari­al Cab­in­et nom­in­ees, the Sen­ate’s lead­ing voices on the Left have de­cided to nar­row their tar­get list.

Rather than com­plain about every­one that Pres­id­ent-elect Trump has picked, lib­er­als on the Hill say they’re fo­cus­ing their at­ten­tion on can­did­ates who seek to un­der­mine the agen­cies they could soon rep­res­ent.

Top­ping their con­cerns in the con­firm­a­tion hear­ings, they say, are En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency nom­in­ee Scott Pruitt, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al nom­in­ee Jeff Ses­sions, and sec­ret­ary of State nom­in­ee Rex Tiller­son. In the com­ing weeks, that list will ex­pand to in­clude Health and Hu­man Ser­vices nom­in­ee Rep. Tom Price and Labor nom­in­ee Andy Puzder.

While all of Trump’s nom­in­ees are ex­pec­ted to be con­firmed, lib­er­als’ strategy on their con­firm­a­tion hear­ings could of...

Donald Trump Learns to Love the Swamp

Donald Trump was always wary about draining the swamp.

“I told this story, I hated that expression,” he said in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the eve of the election. “I said, ‘No way I’m going to say that. That’s so hokey.’ I said it and the place went crazy. I said it to another place and it went crazy. Then I said it with more confidence and the place went wild. Now I love the expression, I think it’s genius.”

Now that he’s president-elect, it seems like Trump is leaning more toward his original feeling. You don’t hear much talk about draining the swamp coming from Trump Tower, and many of the actions pursued by Trump and his confidants suggest they’re perfectly happy with the state of the swamp. 

The phrase was Trump’s shorthand for fighting cronyism in Washington—the malign machinations of the establishment; the corruption of crony capitalism; the revolving door between lobbyists and Washington; the undue influence of big business on government policy. Yet there are many indications that was just campaign puffery.

“I'm told he now just disclaims that,” Newt Gingrich said Wednesday on NPR. “He now says...

Trump’s 17 Cabinet-level Picks Have More Money Than a Third of American Households Combined

The 17 people who US president-elect Donald Trump has selected for his cabinet or for posts with cabinet rank have well over $9.5 billion in combined wealth, with several positions still unfilled. This collection of wealth is greater than that of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined—over one third of the 126 million households total in the US.

Affluence of this magnitude in a US presidential cabinet is unprecedented.

The household data on which we based our comparison is from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances. Collected by the Federal Reserve, this survey is the most recent comprehensive data source on American wealth. The estimates were adjusted for inflation and an increase in the number of American households. It is possible that the wealth of low-income Americans has changed since 2013, but trends over the last several decades suggest a large change is unlikely.

It is worth noting that almost 13% of American households have zero or negative wealth because of debt, so we are adding together these households with those that have at least some wealth.

Even if we just compare the wealth of Trump’s cabinet to the median household, it is still an...

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