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Again, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's name raised for president

by Frank E. Lockwood | March 3, 2019 at 4:30 a.m.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is shown on Capitol Hill in this file photo.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's prospects as a potential presidential candidate are coming up again, this time in National Review.

In a piece last week titled "Don't Root for a Trump Primary Challenge," the conservative magazine's editor, Rich Lowry, said any Republicans challenging President Donald Trump would almost surely lose the primary. Assuming they wrested the nomination away from the incumbent, they would inherit a party so divided, that victory in the fall would be almost impossible, he added.

"There are people out there who may well have significant say in the party's future -- a [former U.N. Ambassador] Nikki Haley or a Tom Cotton -- but for them, 2024 will come soon enough (if Trump loses, the presidential jockeying begins in less than two years; if he wins, in less than four)," Lowry wrote in the column, which also appeared (with a different title) on Politico.com.

Talk of a Cotton presidential bid is hardly new. His past travels to Iowa have been noted. His wife was born in that state. Pundits have mentioned him in the past as a potential White House contender, including on MSNBC's MTP [Meet the Press] Daily.

On the Dec. 24 program, moderator Chuck Todd asked about the feasibility of Cotton challenging Trump in 2020, adding, "I can't imagine that myself."

But panelist Michael Steel -- a veteran of Jeb Bush's unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid and not to be confused with Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman -- wasn't ready to rule it out completely.

"If 2019 goes badly is where you start seeing Tom Cottons or other Republicans who think they may have a future in the party taking this on," Steel added.

On Friday, Cotton spokesman James Arnold denied that his boss is job hunting.

"Sen. Cotton's only focus is serving the people of Arkansas and his own upcoming 2020 re-election to the U.S. Senate," Arnold said.

Hill rebuts call to limit firm buybacks

After U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for restricting a popular type of stock transaction, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., delivered a rebuttal. The debate took place on a high-profile stage -- the pages of The New York Times.

When companies make money, they have several options. They can pay dividends to their stockholders, they can spend the money, they can save some of it or they can use it to buy back their own stocks.

With fewer shares available, those that remain are more likely to go up in value.

Now that corporate tax rates have fallen from 35 percent to 21 percent, U.S. businesses are keeping a larger share of their profits. And many of them are using the money to repurchase their own shares; buybacks topped more than $1 trillion last year.

In an opinion piece Feb. 4, Schumer and Sanders said a corporation should be prohibited from buying back its shares "unless it invests in workers and communities first, including things like paying all workers at least $15 an hour, providing seven days of paid sick leave, and offering decent pensions and more reliable health benefits."

They also criticized Walmart Inc. for closing dozens of Sam's Club locations and laying off thousands of employees, just months after authorizing up to $20 billion in stock buybacks.

On Monday, Hill's response appeared in the Times as a Letter to the Editor.

The types of government actions the senators had advocated would "undermine the free market" and could have "unintended consequences for the investor," he wrote.

"Government policy has no business meddling with capital allocation. Boards should take full responsibility for the decisions that affect their shareholders," the lawmaker from Little Rock said.

Arkansan talks up anti-poverty efforts

A Little Rock educator encouraged lawmakers last week to provide funding for health and anti-poverty efforts around the globe.

Anne Stefanova attended the One Campaign's Power Summit, an annual gathering of international aid advocates from across the country.

The organization has gained considerable attention for its charitable efforts. It doesn't hurt that its co-founder is a well-known musical artist: Bono of U2 fame.

Its sister organization, (Red), has helped to raise more than $600 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since 2006.

While in Washington, D.C., Stefanova visited with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, a Republican from Rogers who serves as co-chairman of the Senate Hunger Caucus.

Worldwide, close to 800 million people live in extreme poverty, according to the One Campaign. The World Bank sets the "extreme poverty" line at $1.90 per day.

President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2019 budget would have cut federal contributions to the fund by $425 million. Ultimately, Congress kept the funding at $1.35 billion.

The One Campaign has at least one former employee who is now in the Trump administration. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, an Arkansan, once served as the group's national campaign manager.

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or flockwood@arkansasonline.com. Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available :on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

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Print Headline: Again, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's name raised for president

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