Quick Takes: Assessing the President-Elect’s Business Dealings

* Drew Harwell and Anu Narayanswamy take a look at “the dangers of President-elect Donald Trump’s global business empire.”

At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, a Washington Post analysis of Trump financial filings shows…

Trump has refused calls to sell or give his business interests to an independent manager or “blind trust,” a long-held presidential tradition designed to combat conflicts of interest. Now, policy and ethics experts are scrambling to assess the potential dangers of public rule by a leader with a vast web of private business deals.

* This is troubling:

Executives and anchors from the country’s five biggest television networks met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Monday afternoon.

The meeting was organized by Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who is now a senior adviser to Trump.

The meeting was off the record, meaning the participants agreed not to talk about the substance of the conversations.

But a source in the room said there was “real progress” made with regards to media access to Trump and his administration.

Watching the major news networks marching into Trump Tower to have an “off-the-record” meeting with the president-elect who played them over and over again during the campaign is problematic.

* This one goes beyond troubling:

By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless…

Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

* I agree with Josh Marshall that it is important for Democrats to prioritize blocking Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare. That’s why it was encouraging to read what Nancy Peolsi told Greg Sargent.

Pelosi argued that if Republicans did try to privatize Medicare, it would afford a chance to underscore “the difference between Democrats and Republicans” at a time when Democrats are trying to regain their footing after this year’s loss. “This is such a stark difference that people know we have to be unified,” Pelosi said.

* You’ll want to read what Ronald Klain had to say about Trump’s infrastructure plan.

…Trump’s plan is not really an infrastructure plan. It’s a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, and a massive corporate welfare plan for contractors. The Trump plan doesn’t directly fund new roads, bridges, water systems or airports, as did Hillary Clinton’s 2016 infrastructure proposal. Instead, Trump’s plan provides tax breaks to private-sector investors who back profitable construction projects. These projects (such as electrical grid modernization or energy pipeline expansion) might already be planned or even underway. There’s no requirement that the tax breaks be used for incremental or otherwise expanded construction efforts; they could all go just to fatten the pockets of investors in previously planned projects.

* Here is an important tidbit on the House Republican’s plan for doing away with Obama’s executive orders.

House Republicans are currently in the process of making lists of regulations that fall within their time frame and could potentially be repealed early next year. One of the major ones they’re eyeing is Obama’s overtime rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half to employees who make under roughly $47,000.

The rule is set to go into effect Dec. 1 and will be a top priority for Republicans to reverse, multiple sources said.

As Jared Bernstein wrote when the rule was finalized, “I’d go as far as to say that this may be the administration’s most significant action on behalf of middle-class paychecks.” And yet getting rid of it is a priority for House Republicans. It would be nice if that distinction could be made clear to the American public.

* Finally, in case anyone missed what the cast of Hamilton said to VP-elect Mike Pence, here you go:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.