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Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

President Trump today will unveil a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that his own aides don't think will pass, and a $4 trillion budget that reads like "science fiction."

It's the strangest of year-ahead plans for a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress: Top Republicans see Job 1 for this year as promoting the tax cut they passed last year.

The state of play: With the House in danger in November's midterms, a Republican close to the White House tells me this is a year for pumping Trump's base on taxes, economic growth and the wall (or the fight for the wall), "while the Dems help with focus on immigrants. For Rs, this is a year to avoid losing."

So ignore the documents and blather today. Here's Trump's real plan for '18:

  • A source close to the White House tells me that with an eye to getting Republicans excited about voting for Republicans in midterms, the president this year will be looking for "unexpected cultural flashpoints" — like the NFL and kneeling — that he can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
  • The source said Trump "is going to be looking for opportunities to stir up the base, more than focusing on any particular legislation or issue."
  • One of D.C.'s savviest Democrats had come to the same conclusion, without my even mentioning it.
  • Matt Bennett, c0-founder of the centrist Democratic group Third Way, said: "His administration is cranking away on these Potemkin legislative efforts."
  • "But what he's really interested in is storylines revolving around him — driving the conversation with whatever crosses his mind at that moment, and then comes out of his mouth or his fingers."

Be smart ... All that is more evidence for our continuing reminder to you that Trump will be more Trump this year:

  • With the departure of centrist aides and the gravitational pull of midterms in November and his reelection race in 2020, Trump's nationalist campaign instincts are likely to get even more sway than they did last year.

P.S. The White House begins this week with unfinished business — continuing fallout from the messy resignation of Staff Secretary Rob Porter:

  • N.Y. Times: "Even when reporters called the White House press office roughly three weeks ago asking about Mr. Porter’s divorces and whether they had affected his security clearance, that did not stir concern."
  • NYT: Without longtime deputy Kirstjen Nielsen, now Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief of Staff John Kelly "sometimes does not remember what he has said to different people, two officials said."
  • L.A. Times: "Over and over again the past few days, various White House aides have buttonholed reporters to tell them ... that they think Kelly either lied to them or tried to get them to lie about what he knew when."
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Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.