The Note: Superlatives and doom and gloom, Republicans, Democrats fall back on old tropes in describing tax plan

2017 is ending in a rather familiar fashion.

ByABC News
December 21, 2017, 6:19 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

Leave no superlative behind. The tax overhaul is an “extraordinary accomplishment” (Mitch McConnell), an example of “exquisite presidential leadership” (Paul Ryan), and is the “largest tax cut in the history of our country” (President Donald Trump himself, inaccurately).

The GOP is displaying a level of confidence in its choices that might be described as Trumpian.

Republicans feel like the narrative of a lost year was rewritten, with Republicans able to say they remade the tax code, delivered a blow to Obamacare, and secured a long-sought energy development initiative – all in one year-ending bill. As for the president, he is so sure of himself that he’s bragging about special deals cut to secure the vote.

It’s a clarifying moment for Democrats, too. But there’s a little less confidence in running against a tax cut (one they won’t vow to repeal if elected), and a little less overall swagger than they had a week ago, when Alabama elected a Democrat to the Senate.

For all the odd turns of this year, 2017 is ending in a rather familiar fashion. Republicans are touting tax cuts, and Democrats are saying it’s a giveaway to the rich.

For Republicans, at least for now, the familiarity brings a rare measure of comfort.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

If there was ever any doubt that every single vote matters, the state of Virginia proved it once again.

After tallying and re-tallying votes in last month’s special election, control of the state’s entire legislature is up in the air.

Zero votes separate the two candidates in the 94th district in the northern part of the state, as in they are deadlocked, as in an outright tie. 11,608 to 11,608.

Every. Vote. Matters.

If the Democrat prevails (after perhaps some litigation and then maybe even a random drawing to determine the winner), Democrats will have successfully kept Republicans from retaining their majority in the state’s House of Delegates.

Seriously, if a Democrat wins, Democrats and Republicans will be tied 50-50 in terms of seats in the chamber. A power-sharing agreement would have to be worked out. Both parties would likely get chairmanships.

Zooming out further, Virginia, like all states, will decide new congressional boundaries in the next few years. The state already has some very purple U.S. congressional seats.

Some more suburban Republicans in the state are seen as particularly vulnerable in next year’s midterms. The balance of power in Virginia, currently up in the air because of a tie, could have an impact on the balance of power in Washington.

The TIP with John Verhovek

It has now been eight days since the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama, and Roy Moore has still not officially conceded, but it looks like there aren't nearly enough military and provisional ballots for him to overcome the more than 20,000 vote margin that separates him and Democrat Doug Jones.

Moore said he was going to wait for the Secretary of State in Alabama to officially certify the results in the state. John Merrill, the Alabama Secretary of State, released an update Wednesday on the number of military and provisional ballots that have been received by his office.

Merrill says there are 366 military ballots and 4,967 provisional received that still need to be counted and included in the final vote total. That total of 5,342 votes is far from the 20,715 votes that separated Moore and Jones in the unofficial results on election night.

Merrill also maintains that the results in the election will be certified sometime between December 26 and January 3.

Full press release from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill:


  • House Speaker Paul Ryan and other members of Congress hold an enrollment ceremony for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at 11:30 a.m. ET. Ryan will sign the final copy of the bill on parchment paper that will be presented to Trump for his signature.
  • Senate Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray and Debbie Stabenow hold a year-end news conference at 11 a.m. ET.
  • FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is expected back on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee. McCabe spent roughly eight hours yesterday with the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Axios holds a discussion with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in Washington, D.C. at 8:00 a.m. ET.

    “It will be an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans. I said I wanted to have it done before Christmas. We got it done.” - President Donald Trump on the passage of the tax reform bill Wednesday.


  • Republicans working to avoid a shutdown after passage of tax bill. As they celebrate the passage of their ambitious rewrite of the tax code, Republicans are moving closer to a government shutdown -- without a clear plan to fund the government past midnight Friday. (Benjamin Siegel and Ali Rogin)
  • Ivanka Trump clinches quiet political victory with tax provision in GOP bill. As her father now takes a victory lap after Republicans passed their tax cut bill, Ivanka Trump is getting a taste of her first legislative victory as well. She spent months lobbying publicly and behind the scenes to have the child tax credit increased as part of the tax reform legislation. (Jordyn Phelps)
  • President Trump: Tax bill ‘an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans.’ President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed congressional Republicans' ambitious $1.5 trillion rewrite of the tax code as a win for middle class Americans. (John Parkinson, Benjamin Siegel, Alexander Mallin and Mariam Khan)
  • Here’s what the GOP tax plan could mean for you. Once President Trump signs the GOP tax plan just passed by Congress -- millions of Americans will feel the impact. (ABC News)
  • Final version of the Republican tax bill includes major blow to environmentalists. The tax legislation passed by Congress Wednesday contained language requiring the federal government to open up and lease part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to private companies for oil and gas drilling. (MaryAlice Parks)
  • Trump approves sale of new arms to Ukraine amid escalated fighting. President Donald Trump has approved the sale of more lethal arms to Ukraine as the country fights off Russian-backed fighters in its east -- despite the president’s recent overtures for cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Conor Finnegan)
  • Top Senate Intel Dem warns of ‘red line’ calls to fire Mueller. Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, drew a "red line" in the sand on Wednesday over calls to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller from heading up a probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. (Trish Turner)
  • DACA negotiators look to January for possible fix. Top Senate negotiators, feverishly working behind closed doors in recent days, say Republican leadership, including the president, has committed to bring a bipartisan deal to the floor in January to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, though prospects for such a compromise are unclear. (Trish Turner and Serena Marshall)
  • With control of Virginia House of Delegates at stake, critical race now tied. (John Verhovek)
  • Speaker Paul Ryan: 'Minds are going to change' on Republican tax bill. He addressed the criticism Wednesday that the Republicans' tax bill would benefit the wealthy over the middle-class. (Veronica Stracqualursi)
  • Nikki Haley warns ‘US will be taking names’ of countries against Jerusalem embassy move. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had strong words for countries critical of America's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, vowing that she, President Trump and the U.S. will take Thursday's vote on the issue "personally." (Sarah Kolinovsky)
  • Trump invites media to prayer: 'You need the prayer more than I do.' Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson led the prayer during a Wednesday Cabinet meeting. (ABC News)
  • Idaho the fastest-growing state, US Census Bureau estimates. Over the past year, Idaho became the fastest-growing state in the U.S., according to national and state population estimates that were released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. (Veronica Stracqualursi and Erica King)
  • The New York Times gives an update on its political reporter Glenn Thrush, who the paper suspended in November after being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Thrush will return in late January, but will no longer cover the White House.
  • The Alabama Senate race write-in results have come in, notes, and Luther Strange, Lee Busby, Nick Saban made the list.
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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