Fox News Halftime Report -- What conservatives forgot

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FOX NEWS HALFTIME REPORT
Dec. 6, 2016
By Chris Stirewalt

On the roster: What conservatives forgot - Big spending bill debuts today on Hill - Trump sold his stocks in June - Is Conway going to run Trump's permanent campaign? - Cocks and robbers

WHAT CONSERVATIVES FORGOT

Being the CEO of an organization that spends about $4 trillion a year comes with a lot of leverage.

Donald Trump is still six weeks away from taking the reins, but he has already twice put the bit to major federal contractors. First it was United Technologies, parent company of Carrier heating and air conditioning. Now it's one of the lead horses in the U.S. economy, Boeing.

The company's $96 billion in revenue puts it in the top 25 largest American corporations and its more than 165,000 U.S. workers make it one of the largest employers in the country.

As a candidate, Trump had targeted Boeing for expanding its Chinese operations. Now, as president-elect, he is hitting the company for the projected size of its contract to furnish two new jets to be used as Air Force Ones in the future.

Having a tiff with the incoming president could always be trouble for a large multinational corporation that has much to gain or lose based on trade rules and domestic regulations. For the second largest federal contractor, though, there are special risks with an unhappy president.

More than 20 percent of Boeing's revenues come from federal contracts. President Obama has demonstrated how much juice the chief executive has over contractors. He has issued executive orders compelling those who sell to the federal government to enact policies he was unable to force through Congress: new sick leave rules, higher minimum wage and even how they handle employee promotions.

Trump's critics will blanch at such heavy-handed tactics, but smacking around some faceless corporation for allegedly wasting tax dollars or building plants in China is bound to be pretty popular.

The lately lionized blue-collar workers who gave Trump his victory are liable to feel very good as they see Boeing stock prices skid and the corporation takes evasive action to escape Trump's wrath.

Remember, Americans hate big business more than big government.

And this is exactly the challenge for Republicans in the era of Trump. Conservatives are used to driving the bus on the Republican side of the aisle. For more than 35 years, conservatism was either ascendant or dominant in the GOP and Washington. Even when they lost, the debate was often framed on their terms.

So conservatives can be excused for believing the reason for their success has been that their views are popular. Not so.

The reason movement conservatives had to work for so long and so hard to gain their foothold in Washington is that almost all politicians and plenty of voters hate conservative principles when put into action.

People dislike government spending… unless it's spent on them. People like term limits… unless it means they lose their high-ranking member of Congress. People dislike high taxes… unless they're being paid by someone else. People hate government regulations… unless they're protecting something important to them.

And as Trump is proving, people dislike when the federal government harasses companies… unless they think they really have it coming.

The much-derided Washington think tank conservatism smashed by Trump's Republican primary victory was dedicated to the precept that it was hard to get politicians to follow conservative precepts. You wouldn't need, for instance, candidates to sign a pledge promising to not raise taxes, unless it was so appealing for them to do so.

Like their Democratic counterparts, Republicans of the various branches of conservatism are promising to work with Trump on areas of agreement, but fight him tooth and nail in the areas they disagree. That's sounds easier than it is. With every president, priorities get tangled. With one who cultivates grudges, it could be ruinous.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republican bigwigs dismissed the idea of Trump's call for a 35 percent tariff on goods made by U.S. companies overseas. Trump promises "retribution" for those who open plants abroad. But conservatism generally holds that the federal government should not direct the affairs of corporations, but rather let the market decide. Picking "winners and losers" was a chief criticism of Obama's economic agenda.

How about ObamaCare?

The incoming leader of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus in the House is promising "major resistance" to the plan backed by Team Trump to gradually repeal and replace the 2010 health law. One can easily foresee a scenario in which these members, whose districts went overwhelmingly for Trump, are told to back off and focus on other issues.

Of all of the terms abused in American politics, "conservative" may be the most beleaguered. One of the reasons that polls find conservatives consistently outnumbering liberals and moderates is that the word can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Are you a staunch opponent of elective abortion and gay marriage, but think that federal spending on domestic projects should go way up? Congratulations, you're a conservative. Do you think that the government should stay out of people's personal lives, but want to see the federal budget squeezed within an inch of its life? You, too, are a conservative.

You might even just be a conservative if you wish things were the way they used to be…

Republicans glossed over many of these distinctions in order to build and maintain their coalition. After all, most of the differences are about priorities not actual disagreements. The credentials of many of Trump's picks for his administration as well as the guiding hand of Vice President-elect Mike Pence have given many on the right hope that Trump would govern as a more orthodox conservative than he campaigned.

That is changing.

If conservatives are serious about fighting Trump on picking winners and losers, trade barriers and health insurance, one imagines that Trump will make it his business to smash the opposition.

Given Trump's soaring popularity among Republicans, it's not hard to guess who would win if the showdown comes anytime soon.

THE RULEBOOK: SO TRUE
"… That in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused." – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 41

TIME OUT: 'IT SHOOK THE VERY EARTH'
Americans who have no more connection to coal mining than the flip of a light switch – yes, coal is still the largest single source of electricity in America – are seldom reminded that it is deadly work. That video you see from a gray hollow of the plume of smoke or the clutch of families waiting for news abruptly informs us that our heat and light and even the charge in our iPhones comes at a cost greater than money. In 2016 so far, nine miners have been killed on the job. But before new safety practices and increased mechanization, mining coal was one of the deadliest professions in the world. On this day 109 years ago, the worst mine disaster in American history suddenly claimed the lives of 361 men in Marion County, W.Va. Airborne coal particles and methane were ignited by a controlled explosion and the size of the mine combined with the language barrier between immigrant crews and foremen worsened the toll. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has the story and the pictures.

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

BIG SPENDING BILL DEBUTS TODAY ON HILL
The Hill: "Lawmakers are expected to release a short-term spending bill [today] that would run through April 28. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) indicated to reporters Monday night that multiple policy riders are still being worked out before the legislation's expected release. Among the potential provisions: reimbursing New York for President-elect Donald Trump's security costs and providing a waiver for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as the next Secretary of Defense."

Vulnerable Senate Democrats up in 2018 willing to work with Trump - Salon: "…nearly all the five Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018 in states that strongly supported Trump — by 19 percentage points or more — apparently disagree with their more progressive colleagues and have rushed to signal their willingness to cooperate with the new regime."

TRUMP SOLD HIS STOCKS IN JUNE
WSJ: "President-elect Donald Trump sold all of his stockholdings in June, a transition spokesman said, removing himself from positions in numerous U.S. companies. The revelation came on Tuesday from Jason Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, during a phone call with reporters. He was asked about Mr. Trump's past holdings in Boeing Co., a company the president-elect had criticized earlier in the day for what he alleged were high costs for the next Air Force One. 'The President-elect sold all of his stock back in June,' Mr. Miller said. He subsequently clarified he was referring broadly to all of Mr. Trump's stock, not Boeing specifically. Mr. Trump had at least two brokerage accounts that held roughly 150 separate corporate stock and bond investments, according to a filing he submitted to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics in May."

POLL: TRUMP HITS NEW HIGH ON APPROVAL
George Washington University: "Donald Trump's public image has notably improved since winning the presidency in November, according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll. Of the voters surveyed, 45 percent had a favorable opinion of the president-elect, while 49 percent viewed him negatively. This represents a large swing from the last edition of the GW Battleground Poll in mid-October, when only 36 percent rated favorably and 61 percent were unfavorable. Trump's rising approval rate may have been helped by media coverage. Almost half (47 percent) of those polled said what they have seen, read or heard about Trump since the election has improved their impression of him…Asked about the new shift to Republican Party control of the executive and legislative branches of government, half of those polled (49 percent) said they felt either concerned or scared, and half (47 percent) responded they were excited or hopeful."

IS CONWAY GOING TO RUN TRUMP'S PERMANENT CAMPAIGN?
The Hill: "Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Monday that she is considering leading a group being formed that will provide 'a surround-sound super structure' to bolster the new administration's political and policy goals. The entity, whose legal structure has not yet been determined, will serve as the outside hub to support President-elect Donald Trump's agenda. Discussions about the formation of the group have been underway for several weeks. People familiar with the planning said that some helping organize the as-yet unnamed group have a working motto: 'Unleash the Potential,' a moniker to describe the quick start they are expecting of Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress in the first part of 2017."

SUBSTITUTIONS
Trump meets with the following people in New York today before heading to North Carolina:

--Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, who has been discussed for secretary of state.

--Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who Trump stated would be his "prime candidate" for ambassador to China, is set to discuss the position with Trump today.

--Muriel Bowser, mayor of the District of Columbia, who refused to attend his hotel's grand opening in her city back in October, says she wants to discuss how past presidents have helped the city and how the local government functions.

--Laura Ingraham, radio talk show host and Fox News contributor, who has been rumored as a possible press secretary pick.

AUDIBLE: FIRE UP THE TRANS AM
"So what the hell, man?" – Vice President Joe Biden to reporters on Capitol Hill after saying apparently in jest that he'd run for president in 2020.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Obama to talk of success, ongoing problems of counterterror in Fla. today - Tampa Bay Times

Trump 'thank you' tour continues in N.C., joined by Mattis - Roll Call

Bob Dole arranged Trump's Taiwan call, says transition official - WSJ

Pence distances transition team from pizza parlor conspiracy theory pushed by son of top advisor - Politico

Trump committed to 'climate change policy that makes sense' in meeting says Al Gore - Reuters

Is there a disconnect between Pence's DC transition team and Trump Tower? - Politico

Texas elector says he will not vote for Trump - NYT

Talking to the Trump Democrats in Pennsylvania - Philadelphia Inquirer

Bathroom bill tanked McCrory - WaPo

Missouri governor-elect's wife robbed at gunpoint - Fox News

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"In all the discussion of the recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, I never see anything about the costs of these recounts. And I assume, with Jill Stein raising money for this purpose, that her campaign is paying all the costs, and taxpayers are not. But I never see this stated explicitly. Can you clarify?" – Anna Marie Davis, Douglasville, Ga.

[Ed. note: So far, only the Wisconsin recount has come to fruition. And yes, Stein and her donors are paying the costs. A judge has ordered a recount in Michigan, but the matter is being appealed. And in Pennsylvania, the legal prospects for the Green Party's effort look dim. Aside from administrative costs, I would imagine that the residents of the three states will be spared the financial pain of a recount.]

"Without a great deal of thought on my part, would it be prudent to split the job of Secretary of State? One would be, maybe a chief operating officer and the other would be the chief diplomatic officer. I'm sure the Secretary may appoint a top deputy to fill the operations function, but it seems that it could be a stronger position, say if the president appointed Mitt Romney as COO and one of the other outstanding candidates for the diplomatic function. They would both be equal parts of the State Department, but with similar but different titles, say Foreign Secretary of State and Operational Secretary of State, both reporting to the President. Just thinking…" – Bob Wyrick, Houston

[Ed. note: Some of the best parts of our Constitution are not in what it says, but in what it omits. The existence of a secretary of state and the basic functions of that office are clearly defined. But, especially in the modern era, the role of that cabinet official has varied greatly. Could Trump designate a secretary of state and direct that he or she choose a person in particular for their deputy and that the deputy be devoted to certain functions? Certainly. The real question, though, is how important of a role will the secretary play in crafting of American foreign policy. How much you hear from whomever Trump selects and their deputies will depend a great deal on whether the person is, as the Constitution envisioned, the top adviser to the president on foreign policy, or, as some recent presidents, including the current one, have seen the role: a functionary to handle administrative duties and be a placeholder for international gatherings.]

"Trump calling Taiwan's President was brilliant. American diplomacy has become a synonym for stultification and citizen frustration. The American State Department has traditionally been decadent and neurasthenic, totally without backbone or imagination, and dedicated alternatively to either holding its tongue or lying to the public. It has tragically become even more so under Obama. If Trump is able at last to perform a brain and heart transplant in that department that alone would justify his election." – Herb Caplan, Chicago

[Ed. note: I don't know what the Chinese version of "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" is, but this is surely one of those times. Trump is undertaking a major re-ordering of Sino-American relations. If we end up with peace, more favorable trade terms and greater cooperation, we will recall Trump's actions as the start of a new golden era for the world's two largest economies. If we end up with war, trade hostility and enmity, we will say it was a mistake. The challenge for those covering an administration is to withhold judgment, for Pete's sake. Whether this is good or bad won't be known for many months at least. For now, the thing is to watch with keen eyes, keep readers up to date and wait.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

COCKS AND ROBBERS
AP: "Two suspects in a weekend break-in at a Massachusetts convenience store had a fowl accomplice. Northampton officers investigating a robbery in progress at a store at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday quickly found two men and a live rooster in a nearby car. The men were arrested on breaking and entering and other charges, and the stolen property was recovered. The rooster was not charged, but was taken to the station for safe keeping. Police said on their official Facebook page that while they have provided temporary shelter for a variety of animals before, this was the first rooster. There was no word on why the suspects had the bird. Their names were not released."

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in you inbox every day? Sign up here.

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