Apr 7, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⚡White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tells Fox News Sunday that Democrats are "never" going to get President Trump's tax returns. (Video)

🌸 Good Sunday morning, and congrats to runners in D.C.'s Cherry Blossom 10-miler.

  • President Trump will travel to San Antonio and Houston on Wednesday.
1 big thing: A new form of American capitalism

Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The modern version of America capitalism seems destined to change — perhaps profoundly — for the first time in our lifetimes, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.

  • What's new ... Capitalism is being squeezed from both sides, by a debate over socialism vs. strongman nationalism: President Trump bullying the Fed, publicly pressuring CEOs and juicing short-term markets at all cost.
  • Why it matters ... It’s no longer debatable: The system makes the big, bigger and the rich, richer. The rest of America stagnates or suffers.

Ray Dalio, the billionaire capitalist, argues that the rich vs. everyone else divide is an existential threat.

  • "I believe that all good things taken to an extreme can be self-destructive and that everything must evolve or die," he writes on LinkedIn. "This is now true for capitalism."
  • A lot of CEOs and rich people are coming to the same conclusion — many reluctantly and privately. But the change in tone is noteworthy.

The flashing signals are everywhere:

  • The data — the unambiguous reality — is sobering and startling: Since 1980, the incomes of the top 1% tripled, the top 10% doubled, and the bottom 60% of prime-age workers were flat.
  • History — and the past half-decade here and abroad — shows this is a key ingredient of populism.
  • All of this also makes socialism attractive — to the young, especially, but also to Democrats broadly.

The Democratic debate is less about Trump and more about redistribution, government intervention and huge safety nets.

  • While it gets insufficient coverage, the 2020 policy debate among Democrats is fascinating and foretelling.

There’s also a healthy debate about how we judge whether something is a monopoly. Right now, antitrust law focus on whether concentrated power results in higher prices for consumers. 

  • As Axios Future Editor Steve LeVine has written, the debate is shifting to whether too big and too powerful is simply too big, too powerful and too dangerous.

What's next: This may manifest on the campaign trail as referendum not only on reversing the tax cuts and implementing a Green New Deal, but then moving in the exact opposite direction — Trump as the last gasp of trickle-down economics, Axios' Dan Primack notes.

  • Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried points out that this comes as artificial intelligence and automation are about to disrupt and displace even more of the labor sector — and vastly increase the pace of change. 

Be smart: It's hard to imagine a more worthy debate at a more important time for America. It's tempting to fixate on Trump. But the real action is the policy and philosophical debate unfolding before us.

Go deeper: Read our Axios deep dive on the new political and economic order

2. Up to 2 years to find separated families
June 17, 2018: People taken into custody, in cases related to illegal entry, wait in McAllen, Texas. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

What's new: Federal officials estimate in court papers that it will take at least one year — and possibly two — to identify what could be thousands of immigrant children separated from their families, the N.Y. Times' Julia Jacobs reports.

  • "[T]he government said it would apply a statistical analysis to about 47,000 children."
  • Then officials will "manually review the case records of the children who appeared to have the highest probability of being part of the separated families."

Why it matters: "The family separations were a central part of the Trump administration’s effort to deter migrant families..."

  • "Data released last month suggested that the administration’s immigration measures ... failed to deter tens of thousands of migrants."
3. 📚 Trump v. Ryan: The final round
The Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2017 (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The book out Tuesday by Politico's Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, "A Hill to Die On," is full of juicy nuggets about Congress from Election Day '16 through the shutdown (some gleaned from phone calls they were allowed to eavesdrop on).

Here's a sneak peek at one of my favorite recurring themes — the fraught relationship between President Trump and former House Speaker Paul Ryan:

  • On October 10, 2016, three days after the "Access Hollywood" tape emerged, Ryan held "a rare conference call with all House Republicans. Ryan's message on the call was blunt: Republicans should feel free to abandon Trump."
  • "I am not going to defend Donald Trump," Ryan said. "Not now, not in the future."
  • "He couldn't shake the fact that Trump was so vulgar. People just don't talk like that where I'm from, he thought."

As Election Night wore on, Ryan thought: "Oh my God ... This guy might've done it."

  • "This is unbelievable," Ryan told Trump. "It looks like you're going to win."
  • When Trump was asked by the authors why he was willing to let Ryan's disloyalty go, the president replied: "Because it's life and we sort of need each other a little bit."

A screaming match between Trump and Ryan followed the president's revelation to "Axios on HBO" that he wanted to change birthright citizenship.

  • After Ryan criticized the idea on air and Trump tweeted a retort, the two "had a heated phone conversation. Why are you popping me? Ryan asked the president. Because you just did it to me! Trump responded."

When Ryan announced a year and a half later that he wouldn't run for re-election, Jake and Anna write: "You couldn't help but get the sense ... that Ryan was just tired of Donald Trump. Couldn't-take-it-anymore tired."

  • At one point, "The president blew up at Ryan, angry he had not gotten enough money for his border wall. He asked the Speaker if he could move money from military spending on things like fighter jets to be spent on a wall. 'You can't do that,' Ryan told him."


4. Shot du jour
Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Think of all the kids who spent 10,000 hours in practice, hoping for this moment.

  • U.Va. will play for the national men's basketball title for the first time after pulling off a last-second stunner last night in the Final Four in Minneapolis.
  • Kyle Guy of Indianapolis, 21, made three free throws with 0.6 seconds after a disputed foul call, steadily swishing each one to dance past Auburn, 63-62.

🏀 Lookahead: The Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech Red Raiders, with two of the three best defenses in the nation, will meet for the title Monday night — the first appearance in the final for each program. (AP)

5. Fungus immune to drugs quietly sweeps the globe

What's new: One of the world’s most intractable health threats is the rise of drug-resistant infections, the N.Y. Times' Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs write.

  • "[E]ven as world health leaders have pleaded for more restraint in prescribing antimicrobial drugs to combat bacteria and fungi ... gluttonous overuse of them in hospitals, clinics and farming has continued."

Why it matters: "Resistant germs are often called 'superbugs,' but ... they are most lethal to people with immature or compromised immune systems, including newborns and the elderly, smokers, diabetics."

  • "Scientists say that unless more effective new medicines are developed and unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs is sharply curbed, risk will spread to healthier populations."
6. 1 fun thing

As his sensitivity consultant (Kate McKinnon) looks on in dismay, "Joe Biden" (Jason Sudeikis) greets a voter from Wisconsin (Aidy Bryant):

  • "You guys know that I’m a tactile politician, right?" the Biden character says.
  • "I’m a hugger, I’m a kisser and I’m a little bit of a sniffer. But the last thing I ever want to do is offend anyone. ... I’m listening. I hear you and I feel you."

His proposed slogan: "Let’s hug it out, America — Biden and some woman in 2020."

Mike Allen