Yesterday evening, the Senate voted along party lines (52-to-48) to begin debate on the tax cut and reform plan. That kicked off a tradition known in Washington as "vote-a-rama," in which dozens of amendments to tweak the bill will be voted on.
Some amendments will be substantive, many will be symbolic. A final vote is expected late tonight or tomorrow. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have reportedly said they will support the bill, making Senate approval much more likely.
Here's the bottom line: We are one step closer to passing the first major tax reform in 30 years. That would be a major victory for the Trump/Pence Administration.
And the stock market certainly seems bullish on the prospects of a major tax cut. The Dow shot up more than 300 points today, surging past 24,000 for the first time. As a reminder, the Dow Jones closed at 18,332 on Election Day 2016. That's a pretty good run so far this year.
Dealing With Krazy Kim
As I mentioned in yesterday's report, there are no good options for dealing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. While there is some debate about the extent of its influence, many observers think China certainly could do more to pressure Pyongyang -- if it wanted to. Some military experts, like my friend Frank Gaffney, think the communist government in Beijing is part of the problem.
But the North Korean regime is increasingly crossing red lines. This week's test of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting Washington, D.C., was one. Here's another: Reuters reported over the summer that there is significant evidence North Korea is supplying Syria with chemical weapons.
And while North Korea's cooperation with Iran has been well-known for years, that cooperation has accelerated dramatically. A number of "covert contacts" have set off alarm bells in the intelligence community.
Predictably, the media and their left-wing allies are blaming President Trump. Just consider this Newsweek headline: "Trump Creating A New Cold War? North Korea, Russia, Syria And Cuba Now Working Together Against The U.S."
Those on the left who think we can contain or negotiate with North Korea and Iran do not understand a fundamental reality -- evil is real. Evil men do evil things. You cannot negotiate with evil. You can only defeat it.
Some argue that the regimes are acting out of self-preservation. Really? Threatening a second Holocaust by "wiping Israel off the map" or threatening to reduce America to ashes is not an act of self-preservation. It is lunacy.
What the left apparently does not appreciate is that Kim is allied with the worst actors in the world, and they all have one thing in common -- they are determined to bring down the West.
Trump Ends Appeasement
President Trump has taken yet another step toward ending Barack Obama's appeasement of the radical Iranian regime. The United States will no longer subsidize Iran's nuclear program by buying its heavy water. That statement seems absurd on its face, but that is exactly what the Obama Administration was doing.
The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran imposed limits on the amount of heavy water that Iran could produce. Heavy water can be used in certain nuclear reactors to produce energy, and it can also be used to create nuclear weapons. That is why the deal sought to limit Iran's production of heavy water. Fair enough.
Incredibly, however, the Obama Administration agreed to buy Iran's excess heavy water. Not only did that give Iran an incentive to over-produce, but it also provided the regime with access to U.S. currency, which undoubtedly ended up supporting terrorism.
Thankfully, President Trump has put an end to that Obama-era giveaway.
Shakeup At State?
Washington is buzzing with news that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be leaving. According to the reports, the White House has a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Taking Pompeo's place at the CIA would be Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.
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