The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Taxing Times

Universal background checks are off the table, Trump reportedly said in a call with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. Plus: The president confirms he’s “been thinking about” implementing a payroll-tax cut.

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What We’re Following Today

It’s Tuesday, August 20.

Trump Has Economic Anxiety: Yesterday, President Donald Trump accused members of the media, and later Democrats, for rooting for an economic recession. And today, Trump confirmed that he’s “been thinking about” implementing a payroll-tax cut to boost the economy. What’s happening is pretty obvious, David A. Graham writes: Trump is worried about what an economic downturn will do for his reelection chances.

A Win for the NRA: While the National Rifle Association has suffered from internal strife in recent months, and as gun-control advocates have argued that its political clout has been severely weakened, conversations between Trump and the NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre demonstrate that the organization hasn’t totally lost its influence: Universal background checks seem to be off the table, Elaina Plott reports.


(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President Donald Trump meets with Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office.

Ideas From The Atlantic

Why Conservatives Are Turning Against Higher Education (Reihan Salam)
“There is reason to believe that it is good politics, or rather good Republican politics [to demonize higher education]. As the Pew Research Center finds in a new survey, there’s been a sharp increase in dissatisfaction with America’s colleges and universities among Republicans in recent years, and it makes perfect sense for right-of-center policy makers to want to do something about it.” → Read on.

The Hopefulness and Hopelessness of 1619 (Ibram X. Kendi)
“African Americans, as a people, are like the enslaved Africans who never knew exactly when they were born. Some people were so young when kidnapped in West Africa, so young when sold down the river into Mississippi, that they never learned their birthday. So some folks chose a birthday, like African Americans choose a birthday—August 20, 1619—based on the first documented recognition of our arrival in Virginia.” → Read on.

Trump Could Win Again (Yascha Mounk)
“Trump’s persistent unpopularity is not nearly as big a bar to reelection as many assume. It’s striking, for example, that Trump’s approval ratings are, at this point, very similar to those of two recent presidents who went on to win reelection by resounding margins. While 42 percent approve of Trump’s job performance, just 43 percent approved of both Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan at the same stage in their first terms.” → Read on.

Every American Should Hope Trump Prevails Against China
“China’s victory, then, would bring about a world in which democracies are enfeebled and the largest autocracy is emboldened.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times (Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, NBC News)

Harry Reid: ‘Of course’ Medicare for all and decriminalizing border crossings are bad ideas (Cameron Joseph, Vice)

How slavery doomed limited government in America (Philip Klein, Washington Examiner)

Paul Ryan, already tired of the boring heartland and its dumb values, is moving back to the Beltway (Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writer Elaine Godfrey, with help from Christian Paz. It was edited by Shan Wang.

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