POLITICO Playbook: STATE OF PLAY on the end-of-year negotiations

WHERE YA GOING, MR. CONYERS? — SPOTTED on a Delta flight from DCA to Detroit Tuesday evening: Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). “Conyers didn’t get the upgrade on Delta out of DCA. Sitting in 10D comfort seat,” per our tipster. Pic http://bit.ly/2jwBaHU The House is in session this week. There were votes last night — Conyers didn’t vote.

— THE BUZZ around town last night was when, not if Conyers will step down. As one veteran Democratic lobbyist with CBC ties said: it’s not about reelection, it’s about whether the Michigan Democrat will put the party ahead of himself. Read John Bresnahan, Louis Nelson and Heather Caygle: “Black Caucus members press Conyers to resign” http://politi.co/2Ahvk7z

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THE CHANGING END-OF-YEAR DYNAMICS — PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S TWEET — and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi’s ensuing decision to skip the White House meeting — is a major setback in Congress’s quest to wrap up a large chunk of big-ticket legislating this year.

— HERE’S THE STATE OF PLAY, according to aides involved in discussions on both sides of the Capitol. Republicans and Democrats were supposed to hash out a deal this week to set top-line spending levels for next year. Then they were going to finish tax reform, and hammer out a long-term spending deal. Trump and the Democrats have now blown that up. Hopes have dimmed that this so-called “caps deal” will now happen on this timeline. That means an omnibus spending deal — one that funds government through the fall of 2018 — will likely have to be punted to early 2018.

REPUBLICANS HAVE A FEW OPTIONS: They can concede that this delay means they likely can’t finish everything this month, and they can pass a stop-gap funding bill next week that goes until January — this would save us all a ton of time, and drama in December (and would allow tax reform to get done with no other distractions this month). One warning: Republicans would have to pass that stop-gap on their own, most likely. They won’t get much — if any — help from Democrats. But then they could use January to do a caps deal, some DACA deal, perhaps a debt limit. The other option: they could mess around, and pass a short-term spending deal until the end of December, and try to get a caps deal the week of Dec. 18. Logistical problems abound — appropriators need time to write spending bills.

REMEMBER: Republicans had a game plan. Then the president tweeted about Schumer and Pelosi, they pulled out of the meeting and their strategy was blown up. This is the second fiscal negotiation in which Republicans’ well-laid plans were blown up.

WHAT THE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TELLS US — Chances for a government shutdown are skyrocketing at the moment.

— ANNIE KARNI and ELIANA JOHNSON: “Inside the tweet that broke Trump’s day, again” http://politi.co/2ihVS1I

SPOTTED IN THE CAPITOL LAST NIGHT — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

WHAT IS ON TRUMP’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 8:45 p.m.: “After North Korea missile launch, it’s more important than ever to fund our gov’t & military! Dems shouldn’t hold troop funding hostage for amnesty & illegal immigration. I ran on stopping illegal immigration and won big. They can’t now threaten a shutdown to get their demands.” … at 9:45 p.m.: “Charles McCullough, the respected fmr Intel Comm Inspector General, said public was misled on Crooked Hillary Emails. “Emails endangered National Security.” Why aren’t our deep State authorities looking at this? Rigged & corrupt? @TuckerCarlson @seanhannity” … at 10:29 p.m.: “Just won the lawsuit on leadership of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB. A big win for the Consumer!” … at 10:35 p.m.: “Great day for Tax Cuts and the Republican Party. But the biggest Winner will be our great Country!”

— REPUBLICANS’ NEW TALKING POINT: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TROOPS — We heard it several times yesterday from Trump and GOP leadership and look for Republicans to keep hammering the point that Democrats are willing to play politics with funding the troops for the next several weeks.

TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — He is headed to St. Louis this afternoon to headline a tax reform rally. He will then fly back to Washington.

TUNE IN AT 8:30 A.M. — We’re sitting down with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this morning to talk end-of-year Senate priorities, policy, politics and the news of the day. Livestream http://politi.co/2hZVOzA

SCARY — “North Korea’s latest missile launch appears to put U.S. capital in range,” by WaPo’s Anna Fifield in Tokyo: “North Korea claimed the entire United States mainland was within reach after ‘successfully’ testing a new kind of intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called the Hwasong-15, and said could carry a ‘super large heavy warhead.’ While Pyongyang is prone to exaggeration, its boast of having all of the United States in range is in line with experts’ calculations that the missile launched Wednesday, which flew 10 times higher than the International Space Station, could theoretically reach Washington, D.C. ‘With this system, we can load the heaviest warhead and strike anywhere in the mainland United States,’ North Korea’s most famous newsreader, Ri Chun Hee, said in a special live broadcast on state television. ‘This missile is far more technologically advanced than July’s Hwasong-14. This signifies that our rocket development process has been completed.’” http://wapo.st/2hZOGU5

“From North Korea, With Dread,” by NYT’s Adam B. Ellick and Jonah M. Kessel, who recently visited the country: “The risk of war is greater than the public appreciates. There’s a complacency surrounding this crisis, which has been kicked down the road by several American presidents. Now, with war more likely than ever, talks are even more urgent, and we hope this video can serve as a call for politicians on both sides to seek exit ramps for peace.” http://nyti.ms/2j0oM3q

GROUNDHOG DAY — @RobbieGramer: “Obama, 2011: We have ‘turned the corner’ in fight against Taliban … Panetta, 2012: we have ‘turned the corner’ in fight against Taliban … Gen. Nicholson, 2017: we have ‘turned the corner’ in fight against Taliban”.

ALEX ISENSTADT: “Trump weighs 11th-hour boost for Roy Moore”: “President Donald Trump isn’t planning to go to Alabama, but he still might use the weight of his office to help elect scandal-tarred Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The White House is considering flooding the state with robo-calls, emails, and text messages in an offensive designed to activate the president’s supporters on Moore’s behalf, three people familiar with the discussions said. An administration-sanctioned super PAC, America First Action, is conducting polling in the state as it weighs a possible 11th-hour barrage. Any White House-approved move would inject the president directly into a Senate race that is generating national headlines and become a focal point in a national conversation about sexual impropriety. Moore is confronting allegations that he sexually pursued teenage girls while in his 30s.

“With the Dec. 12 special election fast approaching and polls showing a narrowing race, the Alabama contest is commanding the attention of Trump and top administration officials. The special election was a major topic of discussion during a Monday meeting between Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House political director Bill Stepien, two people familiar with the gathering said.” http://politi.co/2AfhLoI

— “Bannon to campaign with Roy Moore next week,” by CNN’s Rebecca Berg: “Bannon will join Moore at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama, on December 5 — one week before Moore, a Republican, faces Democrat Doug Jones in a special election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat. ‘I look forward to standing with Judge Moore and all of the Alabama deplorables in the fight to elect him to the United States Senate,’ Bannon told CNN, ‘and send shockwaves to the political and media elites.’” http://cnn.it/2zxFv4j

****** A message from PhRMA: How much are hospitals marking up medicine prices? According to new Moran Company analysis, hospitals mark up medicine prices nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. Read more: http://onphr.ma/2hSaqox ******

INSIDE TRUMP’S MIND — “Trump Once Said the ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Was Real. Now He’s Not Sure,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin: “Shortly after his victory last year, Donald J. Trump began revisiting one of his deepest public humiliations: the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape of him making vulgar comments about women. Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording’s authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all. Most of Mr. Trump’s aides ignored his changing story. But in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.

“‘We don’t think that was my voice,’ Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president. … Advisers say he continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact. In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.” http://nyti.ms/2BwUlJV

–“From ‘Access Hollywood’ to Russia, Trump seeks to paint the rosiest picture,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days. Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as ‘fake’ and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point. …

“In all these instances, as well as other setbacks, Trump has sought to paint the rosiest possible picture of his presidency and his character — and has tried to will others to see it his way, like the big-promises salesman he once was. … At Mar-a-Lago, where he spent the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump again and again received congratulations from wealthy club members for the work of his administration, according to several people who spoke with him. They assured him he was doing great things and simply wasn’t being appreciated by the media — a view he was glad others shared.” http://wapo.st/2jwyI3Z

YIKES – “The Air Force failed to report dozens of violent service members to FBI gun databases,” by WaPo’s Alex Horton: http://wapo.st/2zxNw9j

AROUND THE TAX HORN …

–“Senate GOP gets breathing room as tax plan advances,” by Seung Min Kim, Bernie Becker and Colin Wilhelm: Sen. Ron “Johnson voted for the tax bill after a back-and-forth with Trump during the lunch, according to multiple sources, over the Wisconsin Republican’s main concern: that the current proposal gives more benefits to corporations than to businesses that pay taxes through the individual system. At one point, Johnson — who has persistently pressed his case for so-called pass-throughs to other senators — said jokingly that no one grandstands better than him, according to one senator who attended the lunch.” http://politi.co/2AjFIcB

–“Republican Victory May Rest Once Again With McCain, This Time on Taxes,” by NYT’s Alan Rappeport: “Once again, it could all come down to Senator John McCain. After sinking his party’s hopes of repealing the Affordable Care Act this year with a dramatic thumbs-down, the fate of a tax overhaul may now sit in the hands of the Republican from Arizona. In recent days, Mr. McCain has been fairly tight-lipped about his views on the tax proposal speeding through the Senate, saying he sees some problems with the existing bill but is waiting for a final plan before making a decision. Asked about what concerned him about the Senate tax bill this week, Mr. McCain replied tersely: ‘A lot of things.’

“Even those who know Mr. McCain best are unsure how he will vote, but if history is any guide, Republicans have reason to worry. Mr. McCain has voted against big tax cuts before, including two that passed under another Republican president: George W. Bush. In that case, he bucked the majority of his party on the grounds that the 2001 and 2003 cuts overwhelmingly benefited the rich — a widespread criticism of the current Senate legislation and the bill that has already passed the House. Mr. McCain is also a deficit hawk and could find it hard to swallow a tax cut that will add around $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years.” http://nyti.ms/2zO2kFh

–“GOP tax plan rattles higher education: The proposal reflects a growing sense of colleges, universities as bastions of privilege,” by Benjamin Wermund: “Congressional Republicans’ plans to slap unprecedented new taxes on higher education have left college leaders shocked and scrambling — the latest salvo in what some observers say is a growing culture war on a higher education system seen as elitist and out of touch. While most college leaders said they don’t believe they were targeted directly in tax reform legislation — and are rather collateral damage — they say the hit was startling, as higher education has long enjoyed bipartisan support.” http://politi.co/2i2LTt3

ATTN. BOB MUELLER — “Inside the White House, Michael Flynn pushed proposal from company he said he had advised,” by WaPo’s Greg Jaffe, Carol D. Leonnig, Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger: “The week after President Trump’s inauguration, national security adviser Michael Flynn forwarded a memo written by a former business associate and told his staff to fashion it into a policy for President Trump’s approval, according to two people familiar with the exchange. The proposal — to develop a ‘Marshall Plan’ of investment in the Middle East — was being pushed by a company that Flynn said he had advised during the 2016 campaign and transition. The firm was seeking to build nuclear power plants in the region. His advocacy for the project in the White House surprised some administration officials and raised concerns that Flynn had a conflict of interest.

“From August to December 2016, he said he served as an adviser to the company, IP3, reporting later on his disclosure forms that he ended his association with the firm just weeks before joining the administration. To push the idea ‘in the first week of the administration without any policy process made no sense,’ said a person familiar with episode … ‘It was a business proposal in the form of a policy paper.’” http://wapo.st/2Ai7jxd

— “Mike Flynn’s Promotion of Nuclear-Plant Project Went Deep Into the White House,” by WSJ’s Christopher S. Stewart and Rob Barry: “Private-sector backers of a controversial Middle East nuclear-power plan worked with former national security adviser Mike Flynn to promote it inside the White House, to the point of sending him a draft memo for the president to sign authorizing the project.” http://on.wsj.com/2junnS2

WILD!! — “Undercover conservative activist rented basement apartment in home of top Democratic operative,” by WaPo’s Beth Reinhard: “Shortly after announcing online that she was joining the ‘conservative media movement,’ Jaime Phillips checked into an Airbnb apartment for a two-week stay in the basement of the Capitol Hill home of Brad Woodhouse, the former communications director for the [DNC], Woodhouse said Tuesday. Woodhouse said he recognized Phillips’s name and image in a Washington Post story Monday that described how she falsely told reporters that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager. … ‘I was stunned,’ Woodhouse said Tuesday night. ‘It took a little while to sink in and then it was like, “Really? Are you kidding me?”’ http://wapo.st/2kcwY4d

NEXT STEPS FOR THE CFPB — “Victorious Trump moves to reshape consumer bureau,” by Lorraine Woellert: “[T]he ruling puts a halt to a chaotic series of events set in motion Friday, when former CFPB Director Richard Cordray abruptly resigned. It also moves the White House a step closer to curbing the power of the independent agency, which since its inception has bedeviled banks, credit card issuers, and other financial companies. In the process it has cheered wronged consumers, collecting $12 billion in penalties and recoveries on their behalf.

“With the legal skirmish quieted, Trump is close to placing a permanent leader at the agency, a senior administration official told POLITICO. The president’s short list of candidates includes House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki, and former acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika. All are fierce critics of the bureau, which they have accused of overstepping its authority and running roughshod over industry.

“Other rumored candidates, including Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), former [GOP] Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), lawyer Jerry Buckley of Buckley Sandler, former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Mark Calabria, chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, are not in the running, the official said. A nominee could be chosen in the next couple of weeks and begin the vetting process, the official said. An announcement could come by early January.” http://politi.co/2AjWieU

— “At CFPB, bitter feelings about final Cordray maneuver,” by the American Banker’s Kate Berry and Ian McKendry: “Employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are privately questioning why outgoing director Richard Cordray abruptly tapped a 34-year-old chief of staff with no enforcement, supervisory or legal experience to head the embattled agency after he resigned. … In interviews, several current and former CFPB officials, most of whom did not want to speak on the record, were upset by Cordray’s eleventh-hour move during a holiday weekend, typically a time when the only news that is released is the kind people want to bury. They were also angry at his choice, arguing that English was not experienced enough for the job.” http://bit.ly/2BlFvoA

ON THE HORIZON — “Lawmakers target ‘revenge porn’ in bipartisan bill,” by Elana Schor: “A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation that would criminalize ‘revenge porn’ after one of their own, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), had a nude image of himself shared without consent last week. The legislation offered by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) would make the non-consensual circulation of private, graphic imagery a federal criminal offense. The sharing of ‘revenge porn,’ already barred by law in more than 30 states and Washington D.C., made headlines last week when Barton apologized following the online circulation of a nude selfie.” http://politi.co/2hZ5Ot1

— BUZZFEED’S LISSANDRA VILLA and PAUL MCLEOD: “Former Congresswoman Who Oversaw Complaints Against Members Says She Didn’t Sign Off On Any Sexual Harassment Settlements: Former Michigan Rep. Candice Miller said she rejected settlement payments for harassment allegations, including one that sounds strikingly similar to the 2016 complaint against Rep. John Conyers.” http://bzfd.it/2zxYrzP

— POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL: “Poll: Democrats more likely to believe allegations of sexual misconduct,” by Steven Shepard: “More voters find allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent public figures credible than not credible, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Few voters, in fact, say the allegations against the 10 men tested in the poll are not credible. The only public figures for whom more than 20 percent of voters say accusations of misconduct are not credible are three conservatives: President Donald Trump, former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly and Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore.” http://politi.co/2kb3Rhl

SNEAK PEEK — MCCAIN INTERVIEW — From the Dec. 11 issue of PEOPLE: “In July, John McCain launched into an immediate round of radiation and chemotherapy to treat a brain tumor, followed by a second round six weeks later, when doctors found another tumor had appeared in its place. Four months later, ‘it’s still a fight, but I’m doing fine,’ the senator tells PEOPLE in an exclusive phone interview from the family’s ranch outside Sedona. ‘I’m getting treatment, and my progress is steady and good. People are saying, “I hope you can get over this.” I believe I will.’ As Meghan McCain and her husband Ben Domenech delay their honeymoon until next year, the senator will return to work and forge ahead with plans for a 2018 memoir.

“‘I’ve been a small bit of American history, so I think if there’s something on my tombstone, it’ll be “He served his country,” and hopefully you add one word, “honorably,”’ John McCain tells PEOPLE. ‘I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve lost races. I’ve caved in to what seems to be the easy way out and wasn’t. There’s nothing to be sorry for. I have nothing but gratitude for a life fully lived, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. And you can’t deny that I am the luckiest person that you will ever talk to.” Pic of John and Meghan — credit: Sierra Blanco Photography http://bit.ly/2AG8VBz

–“Senator John McCain on Seeing Daughter Meghan Get Married as He Battles Brain Cancer: ‘I Have Nothing But Gratitude’” http://bit.ly/2AjWY45

–“Why Meghan McCain Moved Up Her Wedding Amid Dad John’s Cancer Battle: ‘You’re Living Scan to Scan’” http://bit.ly/2AHppsX

THE JUICE …

— RUPERT MURDOCH praised VP Mike Pence at the annual Hudson Institute last night where Pence was awarded the Herman Kahn Award. He said Pence is a “positive, calming influence,” at the White House, according to pooler Anne Gearan of the Washington Post. He also praised the GOP tax reform effort: “I know great progress has been made on this already.” SPOTTED: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Ken Weinstein, John Walters, Scooter Libby, Ambassador and Mrs. Kenichiro Sasae of Japan, Stephen Baldwin, Sarah May Stern, Ambassador Kare Aas of Norway, Ambassador Lars Lose of Denmark, EU Ambassador to the U.N. João Vale de Almeida.

— TRUMP GANG BACK TOGETHER AGAIN — D.C. Trump campaign staff gathered Tuesday night to celebrate the president’s victory at the Trump Hotel. Eric and Lara Trump gave “appreciation” speeches, according to an attendee. SPOTTED: Dave Urban, Rick Dearborn, Scott Mason, Jeff Freeland, Brian Jack, Wells Griffith, Justin Clark, Jason Miller, Bryan Lanza, Kirk Bell, Joe Uddo and Victoria Barton.

YOU’RE INVITED — Our first live podcast taping next Thursday night (Dec. 7) at 7 p.m. at Sixth and I. Our inaugural guests: MICHAEL BARBARO, host of the New York Times’ hit podcast “The Daily,” DCCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DAN SENA and NRCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN ROGERS. And a panel of POLITICO stars: RACHAEL BADE, SEUNG MIN KIM and ANNIE KARNI. Get your tickets now! http://bit.ly/2hWK7tF

COMING ATTRACTIONS — @IsaacDovere: “in between defending Bob Menendez and Jared Kushner, Abbe Lowell will moderate a mock trial based on Twelfth Night at @ShakespeareinDC Dec. 11. On the judges panel: Merrick Garland”.

JASON SCHWARTZ — “CNN to boycott White House Christmas party”: “Adding fuel to its growing feud with President Donald Trump, CNN told POLITICO it will be boycotting the White House Christmas party for the media this year. … [A] CNN spokesperson said[:] ‘In light of the President’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests. We will send a White House reporting team to the event and report on it if news warrants.’

“The annual event, scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m., is typically seen as a time when reporters and their bosses can mingle freely with administration members … Past holiday parties have been off the record, but it’s not clear whether that’s the case this year. It was not specified in the invitation, and the White House has not responded to request for comment.” http://politi.co/2hZNcJg

–@PressSec: “Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from @CNN.” … @chefjoseandres: “.@CNN you are all welcome to celebrate the Christmas party with us! Tell me when and I will tell you where…”

SEB GORKA UPDATE — “Sebastian Gorka is working at the Heritage Foundation as a lecturer and consultant,” by Washington Examiner’s Philip Wegmann: “As an independent contractor though, the former deputy assistant to President Trump won’t enjoy all the perks of a full-time employee. For instance, Gorka won’t even get a spot in the Heritage parking garage for his now infamous Mustang. ‘Dr. Gorka has contracted to give a series of five foreign policy speeches to Heritage audiences. His fourth speech will be delivered at Heritage in mid-December,’ Heritage spokesman John Cooper said in a statement.” http://washex.am/2zPerBE

TROUBLE IN JUDICIAL PARADISE? — “Louisiana GOP Sen. Kennedy opposes controversial Trump judicial nominee,” by Seung Min Kim: “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Tuesday that he would vote ‘in a heartbeat’ against Brett Talley — one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees — as he leveled a harsh criticism of the administration about the caliber of their candidates for the federal bench. The freshman senator has become a surprising obstacle on judicial nominees for the Trump White House, which has seen remarkable success in filling a historic level of vacancies in the federal judiciary. Kennedy also voted against George Katsas for a seat on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, making him the first Senate Republican to oppose a Trump judicial pick.” http://politi.co/2k8pSO4

BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Gutierrez retirement rattles Chicago politics,” by Illinois Playbooker Natasha Korecki: “There’s nothing normal about the way Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s retirement announcement went down. The abruptness of his decision, the suspicious timing, the immediate coronation of a successor — all of it set off a flurry of speculation Tuesday that Gutierrez had made some kind of grand inside play, perhaps brokered with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Even in the great game of Chicago politics, where backroom deals are a way of life, Gutierrez’s move managed to stun and surprise the Democratic establishment. In one fell swoop, the veteran congressman managed to upend the city’s congressional delegation, remake the 2019 mayoral race and set off a domino effect on local offices. ‘This is clearly a game of musical chairs by the insiders, orchestrated from the top,’ said Bob Fioretti, a former alderman who ran for mayor against Emanuel and is now running for county board president.” http://politi.co/2zOIolE

****** A message from PhRMA: According to new analysis from the Moran Company, hospitals mark up medicine prices, on average, nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. While hospital markups lead to higher costs for patients, employers and payers, these markups are often overlooked in conversations about medicine costs. As the provider market continues to become more concentrated and the number of medicines being administered in hospital-owned facilities is growing, the amount hospitals mark up medicine prices needs greater scrutiny. http://onphr.ma/2Ba0TOa ******

LATE-NIGHT NEWS — “A Sharp Decline for Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show,’” by NYT’s John Koblin: “Ten months after Inauguration Day, the trend is holding: For late-night hosts, being sharply critical of President Trump is a winning strategy. And that is bad news for ‘The Tonight Show.’ Stephen Colbert, who has made Mr. Trump a nightly target, assumed the top position in the ratings race in February and has only increased his lead since then. His program, ‘The Late Show’ on CBS, has taken viewers away from Jimmy Fallon, the cheerful host of NBC’s storied franchise, who has lost 21 percent of his audience year over year since the fall season began on Sept. 25. … The size of Mr. Colbert’s entire audience has spiked along with his gains among younger viewers. During the sweeps period, he averaged 3.7 million total viewers a night — a 23 percent increase from a year ago.” http://nyti.ms/2BlhEpd

MEDIAWATCH –“‘Look, I Get That This is Terrifying’: Inside Time Inc., a Strange Brew of Fear and Confusion – and Even Cautious Optimism,” by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “[I]in the hours after that initial Times scoop about the Koch-Meredith mashup had landed, nervous Time journalists sought out the expertise of one of their own, Philip Elliott, a Washington-based correspondent who has covered the Kochs for years. Elliott … reported back via e-mail with insights gleaned from four sources within the Koch orbit, including two ‘who know Charles’s thinking on this,’ he wrote in the wee hours of November 16, in a 1,600-word ‘Koch Read-Out’ … ‘Per someone who has spoken with Charles about this,’ Elliott wrote, ‘he does not want to become a magazine publisher. If he wanted to, he could purchase us outright and start publishing his ideas, masked as journalism, at any point. Instead, his interest is in defending an established brand—namely us at the flagship—in an era when fake news and shoddy work are the norm.’ …

“Further down in Elliott’s e-mail … he continued: ‘I know I’m going to lose some of you. Hear me out. Please. Charles and/or David Koch entering our professional lives is going to be tough from a P.R. position. It’s pointless to deny this . . . Funding matters. But outside the twitter-verse, no one cares—especially if the results don’t reflect that … Look, I get that this is terrifying … But we live in a time when our work—especially in Washington—can’t be held at the mercy of merger managers. If someone wants to buy us a lane, why not run?’” http://bit.ly/2AHiAru

— “Conservative Website’s Correspondent Arrested During Speech at UConn,” by NYT’s Matt Stevens and Matthew Sedacca: “A Washington correspondent for a provocative conservative website who spoke at the University of Connecticut was arrested on Tuesday night after he appeared to grab a woman who had taken papers off the lectern at which he had been speaking … The correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, followed the woman who took the paperwork as she went back into the audience, and the altercation occurred as he tried to retrieve the papers … Mr. Wintrich, 29, was charged with breach of the peace, a misdemeanor, and was released late Tuesday after posting $1,000 bond … In a tweet early Wednesday, Mr. Wintrich, who works for The Gateway Pundit, said it was ‘really unfortunate’ that some UConn students ‘felt the need to be violent and disruptive.’” http://nyti.ms/2zOOceZ

— LIZ GOODWIN has been hired by the Boston Globe to be a general assignment political reporter in their D.C. bureau. She was most recently at Yahoo News.

— JACK SHAFER, “Why Baby Donald’s Media Threats Don’t Scare Me”: http://politi.co/2jvkdxm

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Janet Napolitano, president of the UC system, former DHS secretary and Arizona governor, is 6-0. A trend she thinks deserves more attention: “A particularly disturbing trend is the increasingly partisan view of higher education, with Democrats generally in favor and Republicans increasingly negative. This has important policy ramifications. Witness the negative treatment of higher education in the Republican House and Senate tax plans, for example. The proposals would hurt students and make higher education more expensive and less accessible.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2k8T4Ew

BIRTHDAYS: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is 58 … Margaret Carlson … L.A. Times’ Mark Z. Barabak … Hall-of-Fame sportscaster Vin Scully is 9-0 … Emily Lenzner, SVP of global comms. for Atlantic Media … Joan Sass … Hayley Dierker of NDRC and “a proud Lumberjack” (hat tip: Ty Matsdorf) … Matt Hall, co-founder and partner at Harbinger, is 35 (h/ts Matt Mowers, Susan Hepworth, Chad VonLuehrte, and Leah Malone) … Tom Doheny, director of media relations for CSRA and former comms director for Sen. Deb Fischer (h/t wife Danielle) … Joe Sternlieb … CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown … Fox News alum William Turner is 28 … Reuters’ Alissa de Carbonnel … Facebook’s Tomá Beczak … Reuters’ Alexandra Ulmer … former French President Jacques Chirac is 85 … Madeline Ryan … Cliff Hurst …

… Chris Frates, founder of Storyline and a SiriusXM host and Politico and CNN alum … Trent Spiner, executive editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader, is 32 … former Indiana State Senator Amanda Banks, wife of Rep. Jim Banks – “The Hoosier couple, parents of three daughters, will celebrate tonight at a restaurant recommended by their friend Patrick Wilson of Cummins” (h/t Matt Lahr) … Jemma York, press adviser and senior writer for the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (h/ts Team Frankel past and present and Mitchell Rivard) … former Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) is 66 … Robert Hedden … Ian Magruder … Louise Rothschild … Anastasia Szold … Jason Sidener … Geoffrey Ogunlesi … Liza Acevedo … Jen Samawat … Sydelle Moore … Jonathan Hirshon … Dominique Manuel … Cliff Wilkes … Gregory Ferenstein … Bob Cardillo … Abby Duggan … Juri Jacoby … Sarah Venuto … Trevor Smith … Ryan Leavitt … Doug Wilson … Abigail Langer … Ann Fishman … Mike Fitzgerald … Mark Heinitz … Josh Stinn … Emily Hawkins (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from PhRMA: According to new analysis from the Moran Company, hospitals mark up medicine prices, on average, nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. While hospital markups lead to higher costs for patients, employers and payers, these markups are often overlooked in conversations about medicine costs. As the provider market continues to become more concentrated and the number of medicines being administered in hospital-owned facilities is growing, the amount hospitals mark up medicine prices needs greater scrutiny. http://onphr.ma/2Ba0TOa ******

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