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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump visits McLanahan Corporation headquarters, Aug. 12, 2016, in Hollidaysburg, Pa. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Citigroup analysis: Trump victory would cause economic downturn

08/26/16 12:40PM

A couple of months ago, four economists at Moody's Analytics prepared a report intended to provide clients with useful information: the "cumulative economic benefits and costs" of Donald Trump's agenda.
The results were rather alarming: as the Wall Street Journal reported, Trump's proposals, if taken at face value, would likely produce "a prolonged recession and heavy job losses that would fall hardest on low- and middle-income workers."
As Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday, it's not the only financial-sector analysis reaching this conclusion.
The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States could lead to chaos in markets and increased policy uncertainty that tip the world into recession, according to Citigroup Inc.
"A Trump victory in particular could prolong and perhaps exacerbate policy uncertainty and deliver a shock (though perhaps short-lived) to financial markets," writes a team led by Chief Economist Willem Buiter. "Tightening financial conditions and further rises in uncertainty could trigger a significant slowdown in U.S., but also global growth."
Making matters slightly worse, the WSJ reported yesterday that the 2016 Republican nominee "garners no support from any of the White House economists who have advised U.S. presidents for the past half-century."

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.26.16

08/26/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The process turned out to be a bit more dramatic than it should've been, but Donald Trump's name will appear on the presidential ballot in Minnesota, a state he's expected to lose anyway.
* The polling in Florida has been all over the place, but a new Mason-Dixon poll shows Hillary Clinton with a narrow lead over Donald Trump in the state, 44% to 42%.
* Clinton has a larger lead in Michigan according to the latest Suffolk poll, which shows her with a seven-point advantage, 44% to 37%.
* In an unusually ugly shot, Sen. John McCain's Republican primary challenger, Kelli Ward, said on MSNBC yesterday, "John McCain is falling down on the job. He has gotten weak. He has gotten old. I do want to wish him a happy birthday. He's going to be 80 on Monday, and I want to give him the best birthday present ever -- the gift of retirement." Ward added that she's a physician by trade, so she knows "what happens to the body and the mind at the end of life."
* Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told BuzzFeed that some Senate Republicans prefer Clinton over Trump, even if they won't admit it publicly. "From a Senate perspective, in a secret ballot, Hillary gets a lot of votes out of the Republican caucus. Potentially she even commands a majority of the Republican caucus in a secret ballot because people really do respect her," Whitehouse said.
* Trump seemed to offer some encouragement this week to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), whom Trump wants to see run against Sen. Ted Cruz in a Republican primary in 2018. "I've been hearing a lot about that and I don't know if he wants to do it, but boy, will he do well," Trump said of Perry.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks out at Lake Michigan during a visit to the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center in Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 16, 2016. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Republican leaders hang Donald Trump out to dry

08/26/16 11:00AM

There's been plenty of speculation in recent weeks about the possibility of Republican Party officials cutting their losses and giving up on Donald Trump's presidential candidacy. Whether or not the chatter leads to action remains to be seen, but the possibility remains quite real.
But this discussion is focused primarily on financial resources: will the RNC, for example, continue to invest in Trump's campaign, even if the party expects him to lose, or will money be redirected to down-ballot races? There is, however, another angle to this, related to rhetorical and institutional support -- which Republicans have arguably already pulled.
Yesterday, for example, Hillary Clinton delivered a pretty brutal indictment of Trump and his role as the standard bearer for racists, xenophobes, and the extremist, paranoid fringe. It was the kind of speech that, ordinarily, Republicans would respond to by defending their party's presidential nominee. Except in this case, as NBC News' Chuck Todd noted this morning, GOP leaders said nothing.
"Hillary Clinton called the Republican nominee [Donald Trump] a racist, and all these Republicans ... not a word. No Republicans outside the campaign said, 'How dare you, Hillary Clinton, call the Republican nominee a racist.' The sound of silence among mainstream Republican elected officials yesterday is stunning."
It is, indeed. Part of the value in being in a political party is benefiting from institutional support when under fire. But instead of having Trump's back, Republicans reminded the political world again yesterday that they're content to hang the presidential hopeful out to dry.
Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a news conference at the State House, Jan. 8, 2016, in Augusta, Maine. (Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Maine's LePage comes unglued after racial controversy

08/26/16 10:00AM

Maine Gov. Paul LePage's (R) record when it comes to racially charged rhetoric has long been problematic, but this week, the trajectory of this story took a rather alarming turn.
At a town-hall event on Wednesday, LePage said he's been "collecting" mugshots of "every single drug dealer" who has been arrested in Maine -- why he's proactively done this is unclear -- and "90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it's a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people" from out of state.
Note, earlier in the year, the far-right governor said he just "reads the names" of the drug dealers and didn't care at all about race or ethnicity. This week, apparently, LePage dropped the pretense.
When reporters asked the governor the next day about his comments, LePage replied, "Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!" According to the Portland Press Herald, the governor then stormed off, saying over his shoulder, "You make me so sick!"
The same newspaper published this follow-up report this morning:
Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, "I'm after you."
LePage sent the message Thursday morning after a television reporter appeared to suggest that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine was among several people who had called the governor a racist, which Gattine later denied.
"Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage," the governor's phone message said. "I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You ... I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you."
I especially liked the "thank you" at the end -- because when leaving a threatening, expletive-laden message for someone, it's important not to forget one's manners.
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (Photo by David Goldman/AP)

Latest polls set the stage for a historic presidential election

08/26/16 09:00AM

Addressing an adoring crowd in Texas this week, Donald Trump boasted about his perceptions of the latest polling data. "I don't know if you've seen what's happening," the Republican said, "but over the last three weeks, the polls with African American folks and Spanish-speaking folks, the Hispanics, Latinos, have gone way up. Way up. They've gone way up."
And while that may sound like great news for the GOP candidate's supporters, there's a small problem with Trump's claim: there's literally no evidence of it being true. In fact, actual data points in the opposite direction, and it seems Trump just made up these poll results out of whole cloth.
At a certain level, it's understandable that Trump would feel the need to make up polls that don't exist, largely because the polls that do exist look pretty discouraging for him.
In the battle of the unloved presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton tops the magical 50 percent mark among American likely voters, leading Republican Donald Trump 51 - 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. [...]
"We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
The same poll asked respondents, "Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the election?" A whopping 90% of people said they're not going to change their mind.
It's worth emphasizing that this is only one poll, and other recent results show Clinton ahead, but not by this much. As of this morning, overall averages show her leading by between 6 and 8 percentage points.
For those still hoping for a Trump comeback, some obvious truths come to mind: there are still 10 weeks remaining before Election Day; there are still three scheduled debates ahead; and a lot can happen between now and Nov. 8. There's certainly some truth to this.
But it's not too early to start thinking about historical context.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College, Aug. 25, 2016, in Reno, Nev. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Clinton draws a sharp contrast between Trump, Republican Party

08/26/16 08:00AM

The Democratic Party's message for much of the year has been burdened by an important contradiction, which Dems have made little effort to resolve. Some in the party, most notably those focused on congressional races, have spent 2016 arguing that Donald Trump is the quintessential Republican -- and if you don't like the GOP's presidential nominee, you should also reject his partisan brethren who share his beliefs and priorities.
At the same time, other Democrats, including those principally focused on the race for the White House, push the exact opposite message: Trump is something altogether new and dangerous, fundamentally at odds with the Republican Party's own norms.
As MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin put it a month ago, Democrats effectively have two messaging options: "Trump is not a Republican" vs. "Trump is the ultimate Republican."
With this in mind, Hillary Clinton delivered a rather striking speech yesterday on the so-called "alt-right" movement and the racist, fringe radicals who've made Trump their standard bearer. In the process, her efforts to resolve the Democratic contradiction stood out. Referring to Breitbart News, for example, which produced Trump's new campaign CEO, Clinton said, "This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism as we have known it."
Also note this excerpt:
"My friends, this is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump. It's a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.
"Twenty years ago when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits in the convention hall and told any racist in the party to get out. The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims 'love America just as much as I do.'
"In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters that they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Senator McCain made sure they knew Barrack Obama, he said, was an American citizen and a decent person.
"We need that kind of leadership again."
There's nothing subtle about this. Indeed, Clinton was quite explicit: Trump is "taking hate groups mainstream, and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.... The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for [the alt-right], a fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party."
It echoed a sentiment from President Obama's speech at last month's Democratic convention: "What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn't particularly Republican -- and it sure wasn't conservative."

Thursday's Mini-Report, 8.25.16

08/25/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Tragedy in Italy: "Rescue teams aided by sniffer dogs searched for survivors Thursday amid sharp aftershocks from a powerful earthquake that reduced several central Italian towns to rubble and killed 250 people."
* Death toll in Afghanistan: "Militants armed with a car bomb, grenades and automatic weapons killed at least 14 people during the 10-hour attack on the American University of Afghanistan, police said Thursday."
* Germany: "The leader of a small faction of German extremists was seriously injured Thursday while trading gunfire with police as he and supporters tried to prevent an eviction order being served on the house he was living in. Two police commandos received minor injuries."
* We've seen false starts in Colombia before, but there's reason for optimism this time: "Colombia's president said Wednesday that government negotiators and leftist rebels are putting the final touches on an important peace deal that they hope to announce in the coming hours."
* Turkey: "Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday resisted demands by Turkey's president to immediately detain and turn over a Pennsylvania imam suspected of plotting last month's failed military coup attempt, giving a blunt lesson on American rule of law."
* Mylan: "After being blasted for price hikes on its lifesaving EpiPen allergy injections, the drugmaker Mylan announced Thursday that it will expand access to the product -- not by lowering the price, but by creating a savings card that will cover up to $300 of its EpiPen 2-Pak."
* TPP: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to close the door Thursday on the Senate taking up the Obama administration's signature Asia-Pacific trade deal during what's left of the president's term."