THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
It all seemed so easy, so … normal. GOP leaders released their consensus framework, the president delivered a coordinated address, and the Freedom Caucus and conservative outside groups spoke with one voice. Tax reform means so much to the Republican Party at this moment – the only legislative item with any real shot at passing in 2017 – that it’s easy to lose focus on how long a shot that really is. The lack of numbers in the outline wasn’t strategy – it was the reality of proposing something that wouldn’t balloon the deficit, fork over billions to the wealthy, and get away with erasing spreadsheets full of popular tax breaks. Selling it as a populist victory – a “middle-class miracle,” as President Trump described it? Careful going here: Only 45 percent of Americans want a tax cut for businesses, with 48 percent opposed, according to the new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Sixty-two percent oppose a tax cut for higher-income people. The president is expected to be more involved than he was in health care. Clearly he wants a tax cut, but his conflicting priorities – and, of course, the erratic and unpredictable ways he expresses them – leave him as the biggest wild card in the equation, yet again. This bill has to survive the swamp, and it also has to survive the president.
CALIFORNIA LOOMING LARGE
Frustrated that the largest state in the union, and arguably the most diverse, was an afterthought in the race to select presidential nominees last go-around, California chose to move up its primary to early March in 2020. On the Democratic side, California voters will likely favor a proven progressive, a recognized resister. There is buzz already about whether locals considering a run, like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Sen. Kamala Harris, could benefit. Could the change reduce the inflated role of early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire? Maybe, but that’s unlikely. A candidate could arguably try skipping those very white, very particular states to focus on competing out west. But from the Redwood Forest to the border with Mexico, from the Golden Gate to Hollywood, face-to-face, hand-shaking, retail politics can be next to impossible in California. It could mean Iowa and New Hampshire wind up counting more than ever. A candidate who enters the race strong, gains some momentum and airtime, could wrap it up fast with a delegate haul from California. The move could end up leaving little time…