National News Roundup: Week 45 (November 26-December 2)

Ernest Blaikley, via Wikimedia Commons

You know how sometime in the last few months, there has probably been a point when I have said “comfort food at the ready” and then you read the news and thought “Wait, that wasn’t so horrible, maybe I’ve become inured to the true terribleness of our situation by my cocoon of low expectations”? This week, I am sad to report, will not be that week — it’s less “comfort food at the ready” and more “Sorry your friend Lando Collins sold you out but at least the carbonite makes the hurting stop.” If you get a moment, I really recommend reviewing materials on trauma resilience, emotional first-aid, and self-care this week.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, but not the merger kind! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

This week saw multiple really big stories on Russia Collusion Investigation front, though what will result from them remains to be seen. Here are the two main highlights:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

  • An Australian Proposal. During a floor debate on codifying same-sex marriage in Australian Parliament (which was passed by referendum recently), an Australian lawmaker proposed to his long-term partner, who was watching from the gallery. The Australian House says this is the first time a marriage proposal of any type has happened on the floor, and it’s pretty cool that the first time it happened was in this context! Also, I want to live in a country where the Deputy Speaker’s response to something like this happening on the floor is “I should note for the Hansard that that was a yes, a resounding yes.”
  • AMT Owed. I’m not yet sure if this counts as good, or just hilarious, but New York Magazine reported today that the Senate accidentally screwed up a really major provision of the Tax Reform bill they just passed — which means the House can’t vote on the bill as-is without seriously angering donors. More specifically, here’s what apparently happened: An older version of the bill abolished the corporate Alternate Minimum Tax entirely, but in order to court hold-outs McConnell had to add a lot of expensive provisions. Since the bill can’t add more than 1.5 trillion to the debt in order to use the reconciliation process (and avoid a filibuster), one of the drafters put the AMT back into the draft. Only problem is, they forgot to lower it at all even though the whole point of this exercise was to create tax breaks, so they lowered the regular tax rate to 20% and then set the minimum tax rate at 20%! Obviously, going back to the drawing board means more opportunities to get moderate Senators and House members off-board. But even if we don’t see major gains from this, it’s still some good, good schadenfreude.

And that’s what I have this week — I’m super sorry about it all. But maybe Lando Collins will join the Rebel Alliance by Episode 6, if we can hold on that long…

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