Early Returns

The Big Idea That Won't Fix Congress

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

I'm seeing renewed claims that the ban on earmarks is what's keeping Republicans in Congress from successfully cutting deals. I have nothing against earmarks, but don't buy this one. Earmarks are only one form of delivering particular benefits to districts, and many others are available; surely it wouldn't be any more difficult for Paul Ryan to stick some goodies into the health-care bill than it was for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to do the same back in 2009. Either rank-and-file members don't know enough to know how to ask for things, or they don't want specific benefits, or there are just too many members to accommodate. At any rate, the earmark ban is likely an effect of dysfunction, not a cause.

On to the links:

1. Josh Huder on the budget process and why Democrats have added leverage on appropriations bills for the coming fiscal year.

2. Luke Perry and Paul Joyce at the Monkey Cage on Donald Trump's tweets.

3. Matthew D. Atkinson, Darin DeWitt and Joseph E. Uscinski at Vox argue that Trump's embrace of conspiracy theories was the key to his success. Plausible! For the nomination, that is; relatively small factions can be quite powerful at that stage. I'm not convinced at all about the general election, and I'd like more evidence from the primaries and caucuses. 

4. Anne Joseph O’Connell at Brookings with a comprehensive look at Trump's executive branch nominations at the 100-day point. He's off the pace, but she argues he's not all that far behind. 

5. Conservative pundit (and health-care expert) Philip Klein goes after Fred Upton on Obamacare. Fair. 

6. Matt Yglesias on how Trump will sell his tax-cut plan

7. And a catch-of-the-day-type of article from Dave Weigel on how Hillary Clinton is (still) covered by (some of) the news media

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    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

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