The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Oh NATO They Didn't

Congressional leaders invited NATO’s secretary general to address Congress in April, amid the president's criticism of allies' defense-spending contributions.

Francisco Seco / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, March 11.

The White House released its 2020 budget proposal, which calls for budget cuts and work requirements across social-safety-net programs as well as $8.6 billion in funding for a wall across the southern border. Through invoking a national emergency last month, President Donald Trump has already moved to divert another several billion toward building the wall.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders sent a bipartisan invitation to NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, to address a joint session of Congress in April. The president has vocally criticized NATO in the past.

Beto Late Than Never: It’s looking like Beto O’Rourke might be one of the last Democratic candidates to hop into the 2020 presidential campaign, and some Democratic strategists worry that he missed his moment. “Even some friends have struggled to explain what his delay has been about and how, if he’s had to agonize so long over whether to run, he could actually be ready for the campaign ahead, let alone the presidency,” reports Edward-Isaac Dovere. But with powerful new hires such as Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, and viral name recognition, O’Rourke shouldn’t be written off too quickly. “None of the candidates who have announced has been able to match the virtuosity as a social-media storyteller that made him a star.”

Still confused about who’s in, who’s out, and who’s still flirting with a presidential run? Bookmark our constantly updated 2020 candidates guide.

The Cost of Impeachment: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she’s not in favor of impeaching Trump, in a recent interview with The Washington Post Magazine, arguing that the president is “not worth” the national divisions an impeachment trial would cause. A counterpoint: In The Atlantic’s March cover story, Yoni Appelbaum made the case for launching impeachment proceedings, arguing that Congress has a duty to bring the debate over Trump’s fitness for office “out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs.”

It’s Tax Season: Most Americans won’t cheat on their income taxes; they’ll pay exactly what they owe. Why are Americans such sticklers for tax law? Rene Chun explains in the forthcoming April issue of The Atlantic.

Inherited Circumstances: The effects of teenage motherhood span generations, according to a new study: Children whose grandmothers had teen pregnancies are more likely to underperform in school, even if their own mothers gave birth as adults. That probably has to do with the persistent effects of intergenerational poverty, reports Alia Wong.

Immigration: David Frum argues in The Atlantic’s April issue that “if liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do.” He writes: “The question before the United States and other advanced countries is not: Immigration, yes or no? … The questions to ask are: How much? What kind?”

As always, we want to hear from you. Write to us at or reply directly to this newsletter with your thoughts on Frum’s argument. We might feature your response on our website and in future editions of the Politics and Policy Daily.


Senator Bernie Sanders meets with Sarah Bass of Boone, Iowa, after a campaign rally in Des Moines. (Matthew Putney / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

The Western Erasure of African Tragedy (Hannah Giorgis)
“Western publications engaged in selective reporting about the deceased. The Washington Post, for example, led its homepage coverage Sunday with a headline that informed readers only that ‘Eight Americans among 157 people killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash.’ (The Washington metropolitan area has the largest population of Ethiopian descent outside the country itself.)” → Read on.

Is It Time to Worry About the Boeing 737 Max 8? (James Fallows)
“Modern accidents almost always involve some strange, improbable, edge-case conditions, precisely because so many of the “normal” risks have been studied and prevented with redundant safety features. So no one knows, yet, what happened in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, and anyone who feigns certainty now should be viewed with wariness.” → Read on.

How Not to Lose to Donald Trump (Rahm Emanuel)
“Earth to Democrats: Republicans are telling you something when they gleefully schedule votes on proposals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and a 70 percent marginal tax rate. When they’re more eager to vote on the Democratic agenda than we are, we should take a step back and ask ourselves whether we’re inadvertently letting the political battle play out on their turf rather than our own.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Meet the Group Trying to Change Evangelical Minds About Israel (Adam Wren, Politico Magazine)
Hell and High Water: How Flooding and Buyouts Threaten Black History (Laura Thompson, Scalawag)
Did You Really Think Trump Was Going to Help End the Carceral State? (Marie Gottschalk, Jacobin)
How Violent American Vigilantes at the Border Led to Trump’s Wall (Greg Grandin, The Guardian)
The Case for Immigration (The Economist) (🔒 Paywall)

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