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Daily News Digest – August 1, 2018

Good morning! Welcome to August. We are officially one month away from college football season. Here’s your Daily News.

1. How serious is shutdown talk?

What’s happening

  • We’re talking about a government shutdown again.
  • Why? Because one of President Trump’s key campaign promises – a border wall with Mexico – hasn’t been fully funded and he wants it to be.
  • Clarification: he wants it funded by the American government now, not Mexico.
  • So, as the appropriations process shows more promise than it has in years, it might all be for naught if they can’t pass $25 billion for the wall.
  • Last week, the president told congressional leaders not to worry about a shutdown. But this week he tweeted “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”

Why it matters

  • A government shutdown less than two months away from the November midterm elections would be ballot box poison for Republicans.
  • It is already going to be a challenge for the GOP to hold its majority in the House.
  • Taking attention away from a thriving economy and turning it toward congressional disfunction could seal their fate.

What’s next

  • The government runs out of money at the end of September when the fiscal year is up.
  • There is some optimism that several appropriations bills can be passed and sent to the president before then, thanks in part to Sen. Richard Shelby’s efforts.
  • That means whatever stop-gap spending bill Congress has to pass to keep the government open could be a smaller, more manageable one.
  • Shelby told the Washington Post that he understands President Trump’s desire for the wall and he has met with him about it. But then offered this:

“It’s mind-boggling to me that anybody would say well, we’re going to shut down the government if I don’t get my way.”

2. Ivey poll shows healthy lead, strong GOP ballot. 

new poll shows Gov. Kay Ivey with a 56-42 lead over challenger Walt Maddox going into the November election.

The survey was conducted by Cygnal, Brent Buchanan’s firm that is on contract with Ivey.

Down ballot, the poll shows…

  • Republican Will Ainsworth leading Democrat Will Boyd 53-41 in the race for Lt. Gov.;
  • Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall leading Democratic challenger Joseph Siegelman 55-42; and
  •  Republican Tom Parker leading Democrat Robert Vance 53-41.

On the generic ballot, Republicans hold a 55-41 advantage over Democrats.

That’s why I wrote last week that the GOP will try to lock arms and run as a “team,” while Democrats’s bet is to divide them into individual contests.

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3. Is Trump onto something with Chinese tariffs?

  • Don’t look now, but President Trump’s Chinese import tariffs might be working.
  • Many – including me – have been critical of Trump’s trade moves because they seemed to lack rhyme or reason.
  • Also, when it comes to China, many believed it is impossible to win a trade war with a regime that owns so much of the economy and is willing to dump endless resources into it.
  • New evidence shows the Chinese economy slipping as ours surges: their Yuan currency is weakening toward our Dollar, the Shanghai stock market is at a two year low, and their debt-to-growth ratio is “alarming.”
  • In other words, Trump’s tariffs may have hit China at just the right time and exposed some of their vulnerabilities. And it looks like President Trump is doubling down on the strategy and increasing tariffs to 25 percent.
  • Sure, China still holds a lot of cards – like being able to shut down the technology sector if they want to.
  • But a debt and currency crisis in China might put us in a really strong negotiating position when its time to talk trade. We just have to figure out what it is that we want.
  • Also, we don’t actually want the Chinese economy to crash because that would hurt us, too.
  • Read more from Bloomberg Economics HERE.
  • Also read Donald Luskin’s analysis in the Wall Street Journal HERE (he likens the trade war to a drinking contest).
  • Perry O. Hooper has been making similar arguments in favor of the Trump tariffs, and you can read his full thoughts HERE.

4. Skip Tucker: The Hood and I.

Alabama Daily News featured columnist Skip Tucker is back this week with part two of a series about experiencing racial anxieties as a young man in the 60s and 70s.

Skip writes about when the Ku Klux Klan came to Walker County, what he saw, and how he reacted.

Here’s an excerpt:

The editorial said the Klan was largely comprised of ignorant people who hated, and that it searched for other ignorant people who hate. The Klansmen found this mirror hateful. So, there were more death threats than just some.

And if I seem to make light of some of this, it’s because it was forty years ago and, obviously, I survived. At the time, I was pretty sure I might not.

I was scared most to death.

It’s one of his best, and you can read it HERE.

5. News briefs. 

Congress finds its roots

  • PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” program is doing a show featuring members of Congress.
  • They dig through ancestry records to show family histories, and the results can be surprising and emotional.
  • Speaker Paul Ryan discovered he has Jewish heritage, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio found out his ancestors came from Italy and the Spanish Canary Islands. The show also features Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
  • Read the story HERE and check out how to watch it this winter on PBS HERE.

Revenue issued guidance

  • The Alabama Department of Revenue this week issued preliminary guidance on the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It covers how the changes to the tax code affect Alabama filers and state revenues.
  • The new tax law’s major provisions were lowering corporate income tax from 35 percent to 21 percent and nearly doubling the standard deduction.
  • Some provisions affect state taxes, and some don’t. The state could see a bump in revenue to put into next year’s budgets.
  • Read about the guidance and the reaction from Bradley tax law expert Bruce Ely HERE.

Career Tech overhaul

Bonus: Hope and Change in an Alabama coal mine

  • Do yourself a favor and read Eliana Plott’s latest story in The Atlantic about how President Trump’s energy policies inspired an Alabama coal producer in more ways than one.
  • Eliana is from Alabama and I’ve enjoyed her writing ever since she worked for National Review.
  • You gotta be one of us to understand us, and I think she does a good job of telling the story of Randy Johnson and his new excavator.
  • Here’s an excerpt:

That Friday morning, the mine’s 491 acres hummed. Trump (the excavator), two track hoes, and eight dump trucks were at work on the land’s first seam—or layer—of largely steam coal. “We’re starting small,” Johnson told me.

He anticipates beginning with 20,000 or so tons a month, which would provide a cash flow that would allow him to break even by fall. It’s a modest forecast, and Johnson admitted that he has no long-term contracts yet to anchor the operation, save for existing contracts through the state’s coal co-op. But he’s confident the market will continue to reflect Trump’s favor of the industry.

  • Read the whole thing HERE.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey poll shows governor with healthy lead, strong generic ballot for GOP. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: The Hood and I. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State publishes guidance on Trump tax cuts’ impact on Alabama. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dog killed by boat at Lake Martin’s Goat Island sparks emotional debate.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senators question ICE, Border Patrol at Judiciary hearing.  

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Murder suicide: North Alabama man kills his son, his mother and then himself.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House Speaker Paul Ryan uncovers Jewish roots on PBS show. 

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Will he or won’t he? Trump sows confusion on government shutdown.  

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Perry O. Hooper: Trump right on the trade issue. 

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Rep. Sewell calls for moratorium on sewage citations.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Dothan underway with plan to pave 11 miles of city streets.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama public schools ranked nation’s 44th best, according to new study.

DECATUR DAILY -Anti-faith ‘hostility’ depends on point of view.

DECATUR DAILY – Indictment charges Decatur doctor, Ed Henry with kickbacks and bribery.

DECATUR DAILY – Developer outlines timeframe to finish Alabama nuclear plant.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Young seeks D-3 House seat.

GADSDEN TIMES – Some progress, much left to do for Alabama’s kids.

ANNISTON STAR – JSU buying mobile homes to ease student housing shortage.

ANNISTON STAR – In defense of Roy Moore (kind of).

ANNISTON STAR – Editor Phillip Tutor: Jeff Sessions’ fear of a changing America.

AL.COM – Parkland students push political action at Birmingham town hall

AL.COM – Alabama’s ‘Beach House Sheriff’ is selling his beach house.

AL.COM – John Merrill calls former Brighton mayor a ‘criminal’ despite no criminal record.

AL.COM – Is Bellefonte finally coming online? 5 questions about nuclear plant.

AL.COM – Sen. Richard Shelby: ‘We all fear a government shutdown’.

AL.COM – UA to lease office space at Mobile’s GulfQuest museum.

AL.COM – 450 people in Florida ordered to give up guns under ‘red flag’ law.

AL.COM – Madison County sheriff’s office becomes Alabama’s 2nd to earn national accreditation.

AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson:  Trump’s religious liberty task force: yet another ‘great’ idea we don’t need.

AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald:  Fire the ADEM toad, but watch out for snakes.

AL.COM – What do Alabama’s state senators do for a living?

WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Megan McArdle:  Medicare for All comes with a price tag — and hard choices.

WASHINGTON POST – President Trump signs bipartisan technical-education bill into law.

WASHINGTON POST – The Trump administration’s latest proposed tax cut would be a huge windfall for the richest 1 percent.

WASHINGTON POST – Lawmakers struggling to develop a response to Trump-Putin.

NEW YORK TIMES – The Latest: Trump Claims Americans Need IDs to Buy Groceries

NEW YORK TIMES – Facebook Identifies an Active Political Influence Campaign Using Fake Accounts

NEW YORK TIMES – White House Weighs Another Reduction in Refugees Admitted to U.S.

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