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The Breakdown

How politics and government really work, and why they don’t.

Our series seeks to show how politics and government really work, and why they don’t.

Can the Democrats Be as Stubborn as Mitch McConnell?

If Chuck Schumer and his Senate Democrats choose a path of obstructing President Trump’s agenda, they will have learned from the best.

Conservatives Plot Their Course on the Rising ‘Sea of Red’ in State Capitals

Meeting in private, enthused activists promise that the growing Republican dominance in state government will unleash a wave of laws to cut business taxes, restrict unions and expand school privatization.

Rick Perry’s Texas Giveaways

The soon-to-be U.S. energy secretary doled out billions in grants and tax incentives for corporations while governor of Texas. One $30 million grant went to an energy group that turned out to be a phantom.

The Continuing Muddle at a Pro-Trump Political Committee

‘America Comes First’ can’t seem to decide if it’s a PAC or a super PAC, but in either case its federal filings remain problematic.

Would Washington’s FDA Fix Cure the Patients or the Drug Industry?

A bill that would speed up approval for medications and medical devices shows how a major initiative can get traction even in the midst of Washington gridlock — but critics say all the lobbying is drowning out some warnings about patient safety.

Meet the Candidate For Attorney General Who’s Hunted Quail with Corporate Donors

Donald Trump has bashed “puppets” who court the Koch brothers. A Kansas official on his shortlist for U.S. attorney general shot pheasant and clay pigeons with one of their lobbyists.

The Sheriff Gets His Man

A mustachioed Ohio lawman who rails against undocumented immigrants is suddenly less of a fringe figure. He embodies the changing of the GOP guard in the heartland.

Revenge of the Forgotten Class

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were playing with fire when they effectively wrote off white workers in the small towns and cities of the Rust Belt.

Would Wall Street Have a Place in a Clinton Administration?

If Clinton is elected she could face a fight with her party’s most liberal wing over potential top hires like Tom Nides, who has spent his career straddling government and high finance.

Clay Pigeons: How Lobbyists Secretly Woo Top Election Officials

Secretaries of state, who oversee ballot measures on topics from gun control to the minimum wage, are increasingly courted by interest groups and industries with billions of dollars at stake.

The Democrats’ Bad Map

Hillary Clinton looks increasingly likely to win the White House, but her party faces a big obstacle to success in congressional races — Democrats are sorting themselves into geographic clusters where many of their votes have been rendered all but superfluous.

Super PAC to Billionaire: We Need More Money to Save a Republican Senate

An errant email from a PAC supporting Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania highlights Republican anxiety: “Trump has taken a real hit this week.”

Fact-checking Trump and Clinton on the Billionaire’s Tax Break

When the presidential candidates vowed on Sunday to eliminate the “carried-interest” loophole, they left out some important context.

The Surreal Politics of a Billionaire’s Tax Loophole

Hillary Clinton has gone even further than Donald Trump in promising to kill a tax break that benefits some of the wealthiest people in finance. So why are private equity titans giving all their campaign money to Clinton?

As ISIS Brewed in Iraq, Clinton’s State Department Cut Eyes and Ears on the Ground

An investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post finds that Secretary of State Clinton initially pressed to keep civilian programs and listening posts after the U.S. troop pullout in 2011, but then her State Department scrapped or slashed them at the behest of the White House and Congress.

‘White Trash’ — The Original Underclass

Waste people. Rubbish. Clay-eaters. Hillbillies. Two new books that reckon with the long, bleak history of the country’s white poor suggest their plight shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country off guard.

The Best Reporting on Hillary Clinton Over the Years

Clinton has been in the public eye for four decades — and there have been investigative stories about her for nearly as long.

The Best Reporting on Tim Kaine Through the Years

Through accountability stories and other in-depth reports, we took a look back at the career of the Virginia senator who Hillary Clinton has picked as her running mate.

The Best Reporting on Mike Pence Through the Years

Through accountability stories and other in-depth reports, we took a look back at the career of the Indiana governor who Donald Trump has picked as his running mate.

What Newt Gingrich Really Thinks of Donald Trump

In a private speech recorded in February, the onetime Speaker of the U.S. House, now reportedly on the shortlist to be Trump’s running mate, said Trump would lose in a landslide if he didn’t evolve to be more like Ronald Reagan than Barry Goldwater. He added that no one knows what a Trump presidency would be like — not even Trump.

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