Wesley Lowery in The Washington Post has an informative roundup of where the GOP's big-money donors — broadly referred to here as the network that funded Mitt Romney's 2012 run — stand on the Republican Party's 2016 presidential prospects. The big takeaway is that they really, really like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. "If Jeb Bush is in the race, he clears the field," one donor told Lowery.
Notably, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is also getting a lot of love from the Republican Party's moneyed class, with many praising his ability to weather the political storm that surrounded his successful bid to weaken union bargaining rights in his home state. ("Walker's political resilience is the trait they most admire," says Lowery.) Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is virtually persona non grata; in addition to Bridgegate, half of Romney's donors are reportedly still bitter about that time he supposedly threw away the 2012 election by palling around with President Obama.
It goes to show that while Christie enjoyed some seriously fawning press coverage in the glow of his re-election victory, his standing within the party had grown quite shaky even before his subordinates decided it was time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. He doesn't have bedrock support in the grassroots or the 1 percent, leaving him in a no-man's-land between the two main camps in today's GOP. All of which will make it that much harder for him to claw his way back to relevancy. Ryu Spaeth
The Tax Policy Center (TPC) released its take on Marco Rubio's tax plan on Thursday. They concluded it would overwhelmingly benefits top earners the most, largely because it greatly reduces taxes on wealth income. And maybe eliminates them entirely — it's unclear.
Which brings up another point the analysis highlights: details matter.
For instance, Rubio's plan makes heavy use of tax credits, which allow filers to eliminate a set amount of their final tax liability. But what if the tax credit eliminates all of their tax liability, and there's still some of the credit left over? If the credit is refundable, the filer gets the remainder back from the government. If it's not, they don't.
How refundability would work has massive implications for who Rubio's tax plan would help the most. The TPC said Rubio's people didn't provide them the necessary details, so they went with assumptions based on the Rubio campaign's assertion that "our reforms would not create payments for new, non-working filers." Here are their results, in terms of the percent change in people's after tax income. ("Lowest quintile" means the bottom fifth of workers, "second quintile" means the second-lowest fight, and so on.)
(Graph courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.)
TPC found the plan would also massively reduce government revenue. Since Rubio has promised both a balanced budget and an increase in military spending, this implies enormous reductions in spending elsewhere. Jeff Spross
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough has an increasingly glowing opinion of his friend, Donald Trump — a fact that is making some people at his network squirm, CNN reports. According to sources who spoke anonymously, Scarborough's admiration for Trump has been described as "over-the-top" and "unseemly," with The Washington Post deeming Trump's appearances on the show like "a cozy social club."
"People don't like that Joe is promoting Trump," one person said.
Scarborough and his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, are described as being close friends with Trump and his family. A report about the hosts visiting Trump's room during the New Hampshire primary led to a small controversy that Scarborough dismissed by saying the two of them talked to Trump for "less than five minutes." Scarborough has also sought to clarify his stance by explaining a slip-up in which Trump called him a "supporter" was incorrect. "It's not support... and I would dare say that I am the only person who has hung up on Donald Trump on live television," he said.
But that hasn't done much to calm nerves at MSNBC. And while Scarborough shot down the possibility of being Trump's vice president, he also admitted on a radio show that he'd do "just about anything to try to get the White House back."
"The higher-ups are definitely aware about what's going on. It's an issue," another MSNBC staffer said. Jeva Lange
Two students, both 15-year-old girls, were shot and killed at Independence High School in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona Friday morning, The Associated Press reports. The shooting reportedly occurred just before 8 a.m. local time in an isolated part of campus, prompting a campus-wide lockdown.
The details surrounding the incident remain unclear, including whether a suspect is in custody or was one of the two shot. Though the school reportedly remains on lockdown, Reuters reports that there is no ongoing threat to the campus or surrounding area. Becca Stanek
The Democratic National Committee quietly reversed its ban on donations by federal lobbyists and political action committees "at some point during the past couple of months," The Washington Post reported Friday. The reversal of the ban, which was introduced by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 as part of his promise to "change how Washington works," sparked concerns that the DNC is backtracking on efforts to limit special interest influence in Washington — and, in the process, providing an unfair advantage to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Critics contend that Clinton, who relies more heavily on large contributions than competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders, will reap a greater benefit from this rule change and, consequently, see a boost to her campaign. As reform advocate Fred Wertheimer told the Post, this reversal could be "opening up opportunities for influence-buying 'by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory fund.'"
The DNC, however, says it removed the restrictions simply to ensure a Democrat is elected to the White House to continue "building on the progress we've made over the last seven years." "The DNC's recent change in guidelines will ensure that we continue to have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee," Mark Paustenbach, deputy communications director for the DNC, said in an email to the Post explaining the decision.
Donald Trump is cruising into the final week ahead of South Carolina's Republican presidential primary with a comfortable 17-point lead. A new poll by Opinion Savvy out Friday indicates Trump's chances of repeating his New Hampshire victory in the Palmetto State are strong in the upcoming Feb. 20 primary, with 36 percent support to second-place Sen. Ted Cruz's 19 percent.
Sen. Marco Rubio is in third with 15 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (9 percent), and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (5 percent). Five percent of voters remain undecided. The poll's margin of error is 3.5 percent. Becca Stanek
If you want more affordable housing available to low-income renters, the best solution can be to build more expensive apartments. This isn't as counterintuitive as it first sounds. In fact, it's based in simple rules of supply and demand: If you increase the overall supply of housing — even by adding on the high end — competition for low-end units declines and so do their prices (or, at least, the rate of price growth).
A new report from the California Legislative Analyst's Office provides the data to back this up. In the San Francisco area, the study found, neighborhoods with heavy construction of market-rate buildings saw half the displacement of low-income residents that low-construction neighborhoods suffered since 2000:
The report concludes that boosting private construction would do more to broadly help poor households than expanding small and costly affordable housing programs that can serve only a fraction of them. Those programs also don't resolve the underlying cause of high rents — the housing shortage itself.
And that shortage actually undermines affordable programs like housing vouchers, because it's a lot harder for the poor to use vouchers in a market where they're fiercely competing with everyone else. [Washington Post]
Building new housing also allows older units to look worse by comparison, so old housing becomes affordable to the poor and middle class while the rich move into new luxury options. Bonnie Kristian
RNC Chair denies party anxiety about Trump winning the nomination: 'I'm not afraid of any of these folks'
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is fine with any of the current GOP candidates becoming president — even Donald Trump. In an interview Friday with CBS This Morning, Priebus denied rumors that the Republican establishment has been fretting about Trump possibly winning the nomination.
"I'm not afraid of any of these folks running for president," he said. "I think all of them can beat [Democratic presidential front-runner] Hillary Clinton, who is under investigation by the FBI, or a socialist from Vermont," he added about the Democratic competition, Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As far as any rumors that may be going around about establishment anxiety, Priebus dismissed those as just part of the competition. "In a competition, sure, candidates say, 'I'm going to be the best choice, this person isn't going to be that great,'" Priebus said. "That happens all the time. After a while, when you have six serious competitors out there on the campaign stump every day, you hear all kinds of things." Becca Stanek