Reporter's Notebook

Question of the Week
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The best reader responses to the latest question we asked in our Politics & Policy Daily newsletter (sign up here).

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Evan Vucci / AP

Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare flopped last week, but President Trump is ready to move to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would like to see the Trump administration focus on now, and why. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses.

Andrew Vernon suggested Trump save his political capital:

The president should focus on things that will make America more competitive and the federal bureaucracies more efficient, e.g. tax reform, infrastructure, regulatory overhaul, etc., instead of wasting what little political capital he had (and taxpayer money) on walls, misguided immigration policies, Twitter rants, attacking the media and judiciary …

Will Taylor is hoping Trump can keep things in perspective, and instigate incremental change:

President Trump should continue to work on tax reform with the understanding that the legislation will take time to develop. The president may not be able to accomplish this legislation this year. In the interim, the president should identify smaller pieces of legislation around which he can build some bipartisan support and his credibility.

But Daniel Scherrer sees appointing and cooperating with an independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia as a much higher priority:

Either he should clear his name, or spare the nation a drawn-out ordeal by getting out. There are real and growing concerns that the president of the United States is an agent of the Russian secret police … This issue is beyond politics. Nothing is more important than this.

Susan Walsh / AP

Monday marked the beginning of what will probably be Judge Neil Gorsuch’s toughest job interview: his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would ask Gorsuch if they were on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some of our favorite questions from readers.

Keli Osborn is curious about how the judge would rule on previous Supreme Court cases:

How would your judicial philosophy of originalism have influenced rulings on Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, Bigelow v. Virginia, and Obergefell v. Hodges?

Bill Rogers simply wants to know which Supreme Court justice Gorsuch admires most—and why.

Susan Perkins would ask specifically about the case Shelby County v. Holder: “Do you have any views on the Supreme Court decision that limited the Federal Government’s power to monitor state election laws for their discriminatory impact?”

Catherine Tanaka thinks it’s absolutely crucial to know where Gorsuch stands on climate change:

So many of the problems on Earth stem from the heating up of the world, from lack of water, to the die-offs in the ocean, from which so many people get their food, to coastal flooding, and to famine leading to wars and mass migrations. No other problem needs such a coordinated approach. If we don’t fix the climate, really, what else matters?

President Obama tosses up a basketball presented to him as a gift by UConn Huskies head basketball coach Geno Auriemma during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

This week, in honor of March Madness, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers: If you had to pick a lawmaker to coach your team and take it to the Final Four, who would you pick—and why?

Eileen is one of several readers who thought of Arizona Senator John McCain:

His military service and his ability to survive as a POW held by the Vietcong are a tribute to his character. Equally impressive is his courage as a Republican to speak out when he sees something is wrong. He did this recently in asking President Trump to show evidence of wiretapping by former President Obama or to stop talking about it.

But after some consideration, Eileen decided she’d rather have Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as her team’s coach:

His energy, enthusiasm, clear thinking, and ability to decipher complex issues and explain them in simple terms is more than impressive. He is a role model for all people, no matter their race, nationality, or religion. He gets my vote for the above reasons. He is my go-to guy. If there is a job to be done, he can be counted on to do it.

For reader Adela, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the obvious choice:

Can’t you just see her on the court cheering on her players? She’d be a dynamo! And she’d defend her team like a mother tigress. No ref would dare to argue with her if she knew she was right. She would, no doubt, get ejected from many games because she’d be warned, but, nevertheless, she’d persist!

Lynne Sladky / AP

On Wednesday, a Northern Virginia school district shut down for the day after a number of staff members asked for the day off to participate in “A Day Without a Woman,” a protest to highlight the contributions of women to society. A few weeks ago, a number of restaurants and fast-food chains closed down for “A Day Without Immigrants” to spotlight immigrant contributions in the United States.

So this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to fill in the blank with a group of people that deserves to be commemorated: A Day Without ______. Our first entry comes from Leslie, who recommends holding “A Day Without Daycare” in order to show:

(1) how important daycare services are to productivity
(2) how parents’ need for daycare is critical (so that they can work)
(3) how much families rely on unpaid daycare help from relatives and friends

Similarly, Brooke proposes a “Day Without Caregivers”—of any kind:

Schools would have no after-care and closed daycares would mean many workers would stay home. By doing our own care work, we would all appreciate how much work it is, how lovely it is to be present for each other, and how hard it is to be present for each other.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

On Tuesday, President Trump outlined his plans to increase defense spending and invest in America’s infrastructure. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers where they would allocate extra funds if they were in charge of the country’s budget. Here are some of our favorite responses.

The vast majority of respondents, including Stella Porto here, would invest more in education:

If I controlled the federal budget, I would strengthen basic public education. Provide more access to pre-school education. Make college more affordable. Expand community colleges. Develop re-training programs for those who jobs have been eliminated by automation or other economic trends.

Everything in the country depends on the level of education of its people—absolutely everything, from preventing illness, choosing a better lifestyle, to raising kids responsibly, to choosing elected officials, to fighting for important causes, etc. Citizenship depends on education. Access to good education is at the root of equality.

Chuck Barnes, a retired university faculty member and geologist, suggested funding a year or two of universal service for high school graduates:

Charles Dharapak / AP

On Monday, February 20, we’ll celebrate Presidents’ Day. So this week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers: What U.S. president do you admire most—and why? We received dozens of thoughtful responses, but here are a few of our favorites.

For Dolores Oliver, the answer is George H. W. Bush. She admires his ability to “work beyond ideological barriers”:

First, Bush was willing to resist pressure to aggressively brag about the fall of the Soviet Union. This approach reminded me of Lincoln’s commitment to welcoming back the South after the Civil War. He worked hard to respond with humility and support to bring the former Soviet satellite countries into the international community and eventually Russia too. Had the West come out with a prideful, bellicose attitude, perhaps we would be far worse off in our relationship with Russia than we are currently.

Saul Loeb / Pool Photo via AP

On Monday, President Trump issued a proclamation declaring January 20—the day of his inauguration—“National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” In 2009, Barack Obama declared his own inauguration to be a “Day of Renewal and Reconciliation.”

So we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would call their Inauguration Day if they were elected president. We got dozens of thoughtful—and hilarious—responses. Here are some of our favorites:

“A Day of Grateful Living,” suggested by Seth Langston

“Day of Reflection, Compassion, and Service,” suggested by Sue R.

“A Day of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and, Finally, Acceptance,” suggested by Tucker Perry

“National Day of Pinot Noir, French Bread, and Salami,” suggested by Dan

“Just Another Wonderful Day of Opportunity,” suggested by Michael O’Meara. He adds:

Responsibly using the powers granted to each person by the U.S. Constitution, we can take pride in our efforts to make incremental improvements each and every day; thus, making every day just another day of wonderful day.

P.S. The declaration would be followed by a recording of the song, “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong.

“Day to Start Walking Our Talk,” suggested by Rozella Stewart

“National Dance in the Streets With Men in Kilts Day,” suggested by Victoria Medaglia. She adds:

And I would do so well before the fact so the boys could all kilt themselves out. I speak from experience when I say there’s nothing sexier than the swing of a kilt in full waltz or reel.

“National Honor-the-Facts Day,” suggested by Steve Ross

Andrew Burton / Reuters

President Obama told The New York Times that reading books like The Three-Body Problem and The Underground Railroad helped him “slow down and get perspective” during his eight years in the White House.

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share which books inform their daily lives and help keep things in perspective. Here are some of our favorite responses.

Tom Lucas suggested The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah:

The story of how French citizens faced so much difficulty during the Nazi occupation is relevant today when we talk about ISIS and how they took over cities in the Middle East.  I’m sure many of those citizens didn’t want to take in the soldiers but were forced to do it in order to protect their families.  We are so far removed from this kind of suffering that it can be difficult to imagine, and understanding it more makes me appreciate how small our problems in America are by comparison.

Thomas Gierach suggested both fiction and nonfiction: Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, and Stamped From the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Gail Driscoll enjoys Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, Jon Meacham’s American Lion, and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegywhich she says “exposes the complexity of the problems facing much of the Rust Belt.”

Dennis Van Tine / STAR MAX / AP

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share their plans for 2017. Dozens of readers sent in their goals for the new year, and many resolved to become more politically engaged. Here are a handful of our favorite responses:

From Tom Lucas, 42, manager of a reinsurance brokerage firm:

My resolution in 2017 is to take less information at face value and to delve deeper into topics before I form an opinion. I think this will give me a broader perspective on issues and allow me to understand both sides of a debate.

Joanne Allard, 58, from Tucson:

I’ve recently decided to try and make eye contact with and pass along a cheerful well-wish to people I ordinarily ignore. I’m talking “hellos,” “good afternoons,” “lovely weathers,” etc., with an emphasis on projecting genuine interest. I just got to thinking one day that I tend to avoid contact with people who look as though they’d staunchly disagree with my politics, and it occurred to me that maybe I could help make next year a better one by trying to connect in a positive way.

From Maura Lynch Rubley, 37, high school teacher of government and law:

I have two resolutions for 2017. The first is to find more ways participate in preserving the great American experiment of democracy. The second is to spend more time with my students talking about the importance of reading a variety of reliable news sources, and avoiding both fake news and echo chambers.

Patty Ware, 55, retired from a career in social services:

Normally, I don't make resolutions for the New Year. This year, I will work hard to stick with two:

We asked readers to share the tunes that get them in the holiday spirit, and we compiled our favorite answers to create the first-ever Politics & Policy Daily Holiday Playlist. Have a listen:

  1. Soul Cake” by Sting
    (Recommended by reader Joan Conroy)
  1. Winter Wonderland” by Ella Fitzgerald
    (Recommended by readers Mack & Cheryl McManus)
  1. Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
    (Recommended by reader Denise Parker)
  1. Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid
    (Recommended by reader Danita Armant)

  1. Aussie Jingle Bells” by Bucko & Champs
    (Recommended by reader Kaye Schofield)
  1. The Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
    (Recommended by reader John Micek)

  1. Silent Night” by Stevie Nicks
    (Recommended by reader Diana Vered)
  1. Hanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler
    (Recommended by reader Jeff Dobrozsi)
  1. I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake
    (Recommended by reader Deb Bell)
  1. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Gayla Peevey
    (Recommended by reader Dave Williford)

  1. Green Grows the Holly” by Calexico
    (Recommended by reader Matthew Kozak)
  1. Elf’s Lament” by Barenaked Ladies
    (Recommended by reader John Kerry)
  1. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC
    (Recommended by reader Christine)

  1. Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte
    (Recommended by Elaine Godfrey)
  1. This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway
    (Recommended by Candice Norwood)

This week, we asked readers of the Politics & Politics Daily to share their favorite characters from political movies and TV. Here are some of our favorite responses:

Neel Lahiri’s pick was Selina Meyer from the TV show Veep, a character “who epitomizes the kind of farcical, utterly vain, and insatiably power-hungry [politician] that the electorate despises.”

From reader Christina Kopp:

My favorite political figure on TV is Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. When faced with the annihilation of the human race, she doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in. Ah, only on TV!

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

We can all agree that 2016 has been a long year, but this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to explain what they’re most thankful for in the world of politics.  Here were some of our favorite responses:

Miriam Helbok said she’s grateful for Bernie Sanders’s campaign because it “energized and perhaps even awakened thousands of young people to the importance of taking an active part in maintaining our democracy.”

For several readers, including David Lippman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s loss in Arizona was “the only piece of positive news in a horrifying political year.”

Carl Dennis writes:

One of my favorite political responses this year happened as a result of one of the greatest tragedies in American history. After the shooting in Orlando at a gay bar, the outpouring of support and love expressed by political figures of both parties from President Obama to GOP figures gave me a glimmer of hope that in spite of our differences, we will be able to come together to support one another.

Grace Lutfy had a whole list of 2016 positives: