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The politics of payback

“Womp womp.”

That pretty much sums up the reaction from the Trump administration and its supporters over the uproar of separating children from their parents trying to cross at the Mexican border.

“Womp womp,” said former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski while mocking Democratic strategist Zak Petkanas during a discussion on Fox News. Petkanas was relating a story about a 10-year-old Mexican girl with Down syndrome separated from her mother.

It was so stark and so dismissive of the serious discussion that it has lit up not only social media but every news outlet across the country.

“NEVER let me in a room with this man,” WROR morning personality Lauren Beckham Falcone, the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, posted on social media with a link to Lewandowski’s puerile retort. “NEVER.”

But a step-back view could give a clue as to why President Trump and his followers are digging their heels in on an issue that a majority of people on both sides of the aisle are seeing as a humanitarian crisis that can easily be rectified with a stroke of the presidential pen.

The churlish response by Lewandowski, a Lowell native and failed state rep candidate, is emblematic of why a hardcore minority of administration officials and Trump supporters cheer on the policy: Because they won the prize and it pisses off liberals. That is likely why Trump retains his standing with the Republican conservative base, no matter what he does. It drives the left nuts. It is the ultimate in the victor rolling around in the spoils.

Trump continually – and falsely – blames Democrats for the problem. But no Democratic Congress ever passed a law mandating ripping children from their parents. No Republican Congress has either, for that matter. Rather, it stems from the heightened “zero-tolerance” policy being enforced by the Department of Homeland Security and defended by the likes of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Ironically, both have been targets of Trump’s anger but have become his fiercest defenders on this policy.

The debate is dominating local and national news and politics. Gov. Charlie Baker has rescinded his decision to send a National Guard helicopter and some Guard members to the border for enforcement help, citing the furor over the child separation. Other governors have followed suit.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has exercised her right to put a hold on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and called for a review of Kraninger’s involvement in budgeting for the separation policy while at the Office of Management and Budget. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and members of the state congressional delegation have joined the national chorus denouncing the “inhumane” policy.

But, at its core, the sights and sounds of frightened and helpless children is what’s driving the debate. At least a dozen Senate Republicans have signed onto a letter urging Trump to stop the practice, though to no avail. Trump wants Congress to send him an immigration reform bill that includes funding for his wall and then, he says, there won’t be a need for separation.

In the end, whatever Trump decides to do will be okay with his base because they know he’ll do whatever makes them happy. Because it annoys the hell out of their opponents.

“Womp womp.”

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Agreement on a “grand bargain” that would avert three high-profile ballot questions may be at hand. The Globe says it would involve the phase-in of a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers alongside a phase-out of the requirement that retail businesses pay time-and-half wages to those working on Sundays. The potential deal would also establish a permanent annual sales-tax-free weekend, while leaving the 6.25 percent sales tax otherwise in place. The House Ways and Means Committee began voting on the measure Wednesday morning, but union groups backing two of the three ballot questions said their members would have to vote on whether to accept the compromise.

Shirley Leung asks where we’ll get badly needed new revenue for transportation and schools now that the millionaires tax won’t appear on the November ballot. (Boston Globe) Frederick Hewettsuggests the best way to pay for transportation improvements is to allow neighboring municipalities to assess their residents for the needed funds. (WBUR)

Former Senate president Stan Rosenberg and his husband Bryon Hefner are targets of a civil lawsuit seeking damages filed by a former State House aide who alleges he was sexually assaulted by Hefner and that Rosenberg “knew or was aware” he posed a risk to others. (Boston Globe)

The state is currently flush with tax revenues, but a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundationreport suggests the money is mostly from capital gains generated in the wake of the federal tax law’s passage.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Rockland selectmen’s meeting devolved into a heated debate full of cursing and name-calling as one board member moved to oust the chairman because of his comments in an investigation regarding sexual misconduct allegations by Selectman Deirdre Hall against Town Administrator Allan Chiocca, who has been suspended. (Patriot Ledger)

Boston city councilors unveiled legislation to regulate municipal lobbying, but their measure is considerably weaker than a proposal from Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Globe)

The Fall River Housing Authority, without explanation, has rescinded its decision to hire a Somerset lawyer to be executive director after offering him the job last month. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The conservative Heritage Foundation is using the Trump administration to place its people throughout the government to implement its right-leaning agenda. (New York Times)

A new poll shows Melania Trump’s approval rating has dropped, especially among women, and, compared to past First Ladies, is historically low, most likely stemming from her husband’s limited unpopularity. (Keller@Large)

RELIGION

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of the Washington, D.C., diocese and one of the most influential American clergy member in the Catholic church, has been removed from ministry over “credible and substantiated” allegations that he sexually abused a teenager when he was a priest in New York 50 years ago. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas tags along as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh campaigns for Dan Koh in the Third Congressional District race. Lucas says no mayor has campaigned outside Boston like Walsh, and suggests he is building political capital for a future run for governor or US Senate.

US Rep. Katherine Clark said she would not accept campaign help from Bill Clinton and encouraged other Democrats to follow her lead. “We’d need to hear more of an apology,” she said. (WGBH)

Few differences on what to do about the opioid crisis emerged at a forum of the 10 candidates running to replace US Rep. Niki Tsongas. (Eagle-Tribune)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

General Electric was removed from the Dow Jones industrial average, a “symbolic indignity” that reflects its “struggle to remake itself in the Internet era.” (Boston Globe)

High housing costs and student debt have recent college grads in the Boston area increasingly returning to live at their family home after finishing school. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Tuition and fees at UMass Amherstare slated to increase $188, or 2.5 percent, in the coming year. (MassLive)

A new poll indicates a majority of Massachusetts voters believes the state should spend more on education and  favors higher local taxes to support their institutions. (WBUR)

A Salem News editorial backs later school start times for students.

Two students caught on surveillance video in the early morning hours Tuesday and identified by the resource officer are being charged with vandalizing Milford High School with apparent messages in memory of rapper XXXTentacion, who was gunned down in Florida on Monday. (MetroWest Daily News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Rich Pezzillo and Carl Sciortino say middlemen, otherwise known as pharmacy benefit managers, are driving up drug costs. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

The folks at TransitMatters suggest commuter rail lines could help pick up the slack when subway lines are shut down temporarily for repairs. Bustitutions aren’t the only option, they say. (CommonWealth)

The Steamship Authority has hired a Seattle consulting firm to conduct a review of the agency’s ferry troubles, which resulted in hundreds of trip cancellations this past winter and spring. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The Cannabis Control Commissionis slated to take its first vote on licensing a facility under the state’s recreational marijuana law. First up: a proposed pot cultivation business in Milford. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A federal lawsuit brought by civil rights advocates charges Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson with illegally detaining an immigrant arrested in New Bedford on minor non-criminal charges despite a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that prohibits local law enforcement from holding defendants on federal warrants. (Associated Press)

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