Is There Any Chance the Senate Could Convict? Plus, More Tax Cuts on the Table
Author: Greg Valliere
November 1, 2019WITH HOUSE IMPEACHMENT NOW A VIRTUAL CERTAINTY sometime before Christmas, the only question that matters is whether there’s any chance the Senate could convict Donald Trump in a trial. We’ve consistently argued that it’s very unlikely — there aren’t 67 votes to oust him — but there are two scenarios that could change that assessment.
1. More allegations: For now, most Republicans we talk with say a clearly improper phone call with Ukraine doesn’t rise to the impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But they add one caveat — this assumes that there are no further damaging revelations.
But there’s the potential for some game changers — will John Bolton testify, in public, later this month? What’s in the new book by “Anonymous,” due out later in November? Were the Ukraine tapes doctored? And of course there’s always the likelihood that Trump will over-react; he always rises to the bait.
2. Could Mitch McConnell waiver? We think the Senate Majority Leader will stay in Trump’s corner, but the polls are important. If it suddenly looks like Trump could lose in a landslide — unlikely but not impossible — that clearly would jeopardize the GOP’s control of the Senate. And that would make McConnell nervous because it would weaken the Senate’s firewall against leftist legislation from the House.
McConnell has distanced himself from Trump — most notably over the president’s abandonment of the Kurds — and McConnell apparently is willing to let a full trial begin in the Senate later this winter. A McConnell endorsement of Trump’s conviction in a trial seems unthinkable now, but it’s worth noting that in private, he’s increasingly exasperated with this erratic president.
BOTTOM LINE: . The math is simple — even if all 47 Democrats in the Senate voted to convict, there would have to be 20 GOP defectors to get the 67 votes to oust Trump. Maybe four or five Republicans will defect, but 20 seems like an impossibly high bar to clear, barring fresh developments like the two we cited above. Odds of impeachment: 80%. Odds of conviction: 25%.
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MORE TAX CUTS? We wrote on Wednesday that every one of the Democrats running for president is proposing all sorts of tax hikes, many of them huge. So it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped, and sure enough — there was a piece in the Washington Post yesterday describing a Trump Administration pursuit of still another tax cut.
LARRY KUDLOW IS LEADING a project to get a tax cut bill on the table before this Christmas, in plenty of time to become a central issue in the 2020 campaign. The bill apparently will include making the 2017 cuts permanent, indexing capital gains for inflation, lowering payroll taxes and, probably, cutting rates across-the-board. The price tag is irrelevant.
THIS HAS VIRTUALLY NO CHANCE OF PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE unless the Democrats can get steep hikes on corporate and individual tax rates. So why even bother to propose this? Trump and Kudlow think they have a winning issue — the Democrats are the party of higher taxes, the Republicans are the party of lower taxes, they will argue.
POLLS INDICATE THE PUBLIC wasn’t impressed with the 2017 tax cuts, which are generally viewed as a give-away to the wealthy and big corporations. But the contrast of sweeping tax hikes from the Democrats, compared to proposed tax cuts from Trump, apparently is a calculation Republicans are willing to accept. Besides, if Trump wins re-election, the new tax cut package Kudlow is assembling will be out of the gate fast in 2021.
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