Brexit and Fear of Populism Inform Rutte’s Opposition to Macron
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is leading the opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for closer European integration, warning a liberal conference in Amsterdam this weekend that “integration for integration’s sake” will undermine public support for the EU.
“The EU needs to solve problems that we, as individual member states, cannot solve alone,” he said. “A federal Europe is not the answer to those problems and neither is a politics based on symbolism.”
There are two reasons Rutte is skeptical of Macron’s ideas, which range from creating a common eurozone budget to harmonizing tax rates and social security fees: fear of anti-EU populism and Brexit. Read more
Trump Apologists Muddy Waters After Flynn Pleads Guilty
President Donald Trump’s defenders are muddying the waters in the Russia scandal after his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
Two of Trump’s confidants (Flynn and Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager) may have lied to investigators; four (also counting Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos) may have been charged with felonies, but at least, the president’s apologists argue, there is no evidence of collusion!
The tax reforms enacted in the United States Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning are a betrayal of everything Republicans campaigned on for the last eight years.
They said they cared about the debt, yet they are adding at least $1 trillion to the debt over the next ten years.
They promised to stabilize insurance markets and make health care more affordable, but repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate will do the opposite.
They complained Democrats rushed Obamacare and left insufficient time for amendments and debate, yet they enacted tax cuts without holding any hearings and by literally hand-writing changes into the bill at the last minute. Read more
Schulz In No Rush, Makes Demands on Europe, Health Insurance
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz has made clear he is in no rush to form another grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, telling reporters in Berlin, “We are under no time pressure.”
This is partly theater. Schulz ruled out another left-right pact after losing the election in September, but now it may be the only way to form a majority government. His base is skeptical, so he must take it slow.
Schulz is also signaling to Merkel that she better give the Social Democrats enough concessions for them to justify four more years of coalition government. Read more
Spain’s conservative People’s Party is overreaching in its attempts to silence pro-independence voices in the Catalan media.
The party has reported a Catalan radio journalist, Mònica Terribas, to the Electoral Commission for the province of Barcelona for using the terms “imprisoned ministers” and “president-in-exile” in a broadcast.
The same commission earlier banned Catalan public television from using those phrases to refer to separatist leaders who have been taken into custody or fled to Belgium.
It also accepted a request from the People’s Party to stop the Barcelona city council from coloring buildings and fountains in yellow to indicate support for the restoration of home rule.
Xavier García Albiol, the Catalan People’s Party leader, has proposed to shut down the region’s public television station, TV3, and relaunch it with “normal and plural” journalists, by which he means journalists who oppose secession.
Esteban González Pons, a conservative Spanish member of the European Parliament, tells El País there may be a role for NATO in countering Russian “fake news” about the Catalan crisis. Read more