Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
Donald Trump on Friday revealed his 13-member economic advisory team, a roster stacked with financiers. It includes hedge fund executive John Paulson, who made a mint betting against the housing market, Stephen Feinberg, cofounder of Cerberus Capital Management, and bankers Stephen Calk and Andy Beal. That a Republican nominee who’s inveighed against the industry and tried to paint his Democratic opponent as its handmaiden would draw heavily from its ranks for his own kitchen cabinet raised some eyebrows (as did the fact that it’s all-male and only includes one academic economist).
Lefty activists, meanwhile, are rallying around Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s declaration that “personnel is policy.” Operatives from organized labor and progressive think tanks want to ensure Hillary Clinton doesn’t populate her administration with Wall Street alums, as her husband and President Obama did. They are preparing a pressure campaign to install their preferred candidates, even though Clinton has committed herself to a muscular reform agenda.
Trump, by contrast, has offered a lot less detail about how he’d police the industry he vilifies. So the stakes would seem higher for the makeup of his economic braintrust. But considering Trump’s week, nitpicking his advisers’ experience seems a little like complaining about the coffee going cold on the post-iceberg Titanic. The GOP nominee could have spent the week attacking Clinton for falsely asserting that FBI director James Comey had corroborated her public statements about her email. Instead, he continued attacking a Gold Star family; suggested women who are sexually harassed at work should quit; pointedly declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona Sen. John McCain in their primaries; restated his belief the general election could be “rigged;” and falsely claimed he saw a video of a $400 million payment unloaded from an American plane in Iran. Trump’s poll numbers are cratering across the map, high-profile Republican defections are piling up, and party officials are increasingly panicked about the drag he could pose down ballot.
Trump made a stab at clean-up on Friday evening, belatedly endorsing Ryan and McCain. On Monday, he’ll try to get back on offense with a speech in Detroit about how he’d boost growth. Does anybody who’s been paying attention expect Trump can go a day without stepping on his own message? Would the smart money on his economic team bet their fortunes on it?
• Trump endorses Ryan and McCain
It shouldn’t qualify as news that the Republican presidential nominee just endorsed the House Speaker and the 2008 nominee of his own party in their respective primaries. But that’s where we are this year. After stirring up a tempest earlier in the week by going out of his way to tell the Washington Post he supported neither, Trump attempted to repair the breach. “We will have disagreements but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory,” Trump said while campaigning in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. Washington Post
• Trump to pitch slashing taxes
The Republican nominee is set to propose the biggest tax cut since the Reagan era and will restate his commitment to cutting the corporate rate to 15 percent in a major policy address this week. The address will also include Trump’s plans for overhauling U.S. energy policy. Bloomberg
• Clinton held her first press conference since December — or not
Depending on your perspective, the Democratic nominee just broke an eight-month drought since her last press conference. Or, if you’re a member of the press, she didn’t. Clinton appeared on stage Friday at a joint gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. There, she answered questions from two reporters on stage and took three questions from reporters in the audience. Those covering her campaign, who’ve agitated for more and better access, argue an event with pre-selected questioners doesn’t qualify. Huffington Post
Around the Water Cooler
• Reformicons looking to make lemonade
The most dogged optimists on the right see in Donald Trump’s candidacy the potential for some creative destruction of the Republican Party. Reform conservatives — so-called reformicons — hope the crisis facing the GOP allows them to advance some policy prescriptions that break with decades of orthodoxy. Their aim is to replace the Reagan-era playbook’s trickle-down approach with one that more directly addresses the needs of working class Americans. Some of the ideas borrow from Trump’s manifest appeal with that segment of the electorate. New York Times
• 5 things to know about Trump’s tax returns
Trump has made it official that he won’t be releasing his tax returns before the election, defying a tradition every major party candidate has upheld since 1972. That means voters will be denied a couple potentially important pieces of information about the candidate’s finances: how much he gives to charity and how much he pays in taxes. Trump has suggested publicly he pays a low rate. Fortune
• The election won’t be rigged, but the process has bigger problems
The truth may be worse than Trump would have you believe. The election isn’t rigged, but our political process faces a structural issue that’s arguably more intractable. The rise of geographic sorting and straight-ticket voting have intensified polarization in Congress, with elected representatives now incentivized to speak to the narrow fringes of their respective parties. That hobbles the institution, further inflaming voter anger, which only reinforces the division. FiveThirtyEight