Sep 8, 2018

The 60 days of rage leading into the midterms

Left: Trump on Air Force One yesterday (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images). Right: Obama at the University of Illinois in Urbana (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Today is exactly 60 days until midterms. Yesterday's personal, venomous face-off between President Obama (who went after his successor by name in Illinois) and President Trump (who attacked Bob Woodward and threatened the New York Times aboard Air Force One) said it all about the coming fall.

The state of play: Republican lawmakers would love to talk about the growing economy. House Democrats have a high-minded closing argument, "For the People."

Good luck breaking through with either of those. Instead, this is your fall foretold: Obama, launching an aggressive schedule of fall campaign travel (continuing in Orange County, Calif., today and Cleveland on Thursday):

  • "[I]n the end, the threat to our democracy doesn't just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch Brothers and their lobbyists, or too much compromise from Democrats, or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference."
  • "The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism."

Trump, responding to Obama at a fundraiser in Fargo, N.D.:

  • "'I'm sorry — I watched it, but I fell asleep. [Laughter] I found he's very good — very good for sleeping."
  • "He was trying to take credit for this incredible thing that's happening to our country."

A little story: On Wednesday afternoon, Republican congressional leaders met with Trump in the Roosevelt Room. They were cranky and complaining — the House leaders know they're likely to be in the minority come January, helped along by his tariffs and unpopularity. POTUS shared their mood: This was Woodward-anonymous week.

  • But then White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow whipped out a chart and showed it to Trump.
  • It was the just-published August edition of a manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management, pointing to "the highest expansion in factory activity since May of 2004," per Trading Economics.
Trading Economics

The president loves charts, and so do members of Congress. He was happier. The mood brightened, and the meeting ended on a better note.

  • But what are the chances of that translating to the campaign trail? Zero-ish.

Be smart: Despite relative prosperity in the nation and peace in the world, both sides expect a slash-and-burn fall — focused on what they see as the evil intent of the other side, and aimed at inflaming their own voters.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 741,030 — Total deaths: 35,305 — Total recoveries: 156,838.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 143,532 — Total deaths: 2,572 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Hospital ship the USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan
  4. Public health updates: — White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said the 100,000 to 200,000 U.S. coronavirus death toll estimate is based on the presumption that citizens follow social-distancing guidelines "almost perfectly."
  5. Business latest: Macy's will furlough the majority of it's workers this week, as the chain's stores remain closed.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Living with the coronavirus
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Podcast: Living with the coronavirus

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Macy's to furlough 130,000 employees

Macy's flagship store in New York on March 24, 2020. Photo: John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Macy's will furlough the majority of it's workers this week, as the chain's stores remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: Macy's sales have seen a drastic decline, having shuttered its stores on March 18. The company employs about 130,000 people, per the Journal. It will retain workers for its e-commerce operations, distribution and call centers. The chain told staff it will continue to cover 100% of its employees health care premiums at least through May.

Go deeper: The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Main Street