What Now?! – 3/13/21

Playbook: “Every president is eventually called upon to help us collectively grieve. Joe Biden may be the first president elected to do so.”

“His speech Thursday night had some important policy promises — by May 1 every adult will be eligible for a vaccine and by July Fourth relative normalcy will return.”

“But it is worth taking a moment to dwell on this unique pastoral role of the presidency, if only because it has been absent for the last four years and because Biden is being widely praised for restoring it.”

Jeff Greenfield: “The political potential here is impressive. Consider a 2022 midterm where the future of the now-temporary child tax credits is on the line, and where every Republican House and Senate incumbent will have to explain to the electorate why they voted against them. Consider the votes of tens of thousands of small-business owners—the entrepreneurial heart of what Republicans rhetorically celebrate—whose enterprises survived because of the law enacted with a clear partisan split. Imagine a Republican arguing that only a small fraction of the law addressed the costs of the pandemic, when there are countless parents of school-age children, restaurant workers, retail shop owners, hotel clerks, freelance consultants, who know exactly what happened to their lives when Covid struck.”

“This is a possibility that Republicans simply may not have imagined, given their midterm successes in running against the initiatives of the past two Democratic presidents, and inflicting on Clinton and Obama successive political catastrophes.”

Walter Shapiro: “Biden’s speech, delivered on the day he signed into law his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, differed from what almost any other Democrat would have said at a similar moment. Instead of trumpeting his achievement—instead of basking in passing what may be the most ambitious anti-poverty program since the 1960s—Biden devoted almost the entire speech to the pandemic.”

“This choice captured something close to the essence of the Biden presidency. Despite a lifetime in government, he will not take the easy road, mimicking standard political oratory. Listening to his internal drummer is a risk for any president, even one who, at age 78, may be beyond the raging pressures of ambition. But even though his words are often soft, and there is little obvious straining for eloquence, the self-confidence that undergirds Biden’s rhetoric is impressive.”

Andrew Sullivan: “This seems to me to be a sea-change in American history and politics, greater than any since the 1970s. The most centrist candidate the Democrats put forward in early 2020 has, in his first fifty days, become the most radically progressive president since LBJ.”

“The Covid-19 plague, in other words, has done what many others have in history. By shaking the society up in so many ways, by suspending it in mid-air while forcing the population into mass and fearful isolation, by shattering so many familiar patterns, it has blown the future wide open.”

“Fresh off a major legislative victory on the coronavirus relief package, President Biden is facing a new round of battles on the next pieces of his agenda — exposing divisions within the Democratic Party not only on policy merits but also on how they get it accomplished,” the Washington Post reports.

“On infrastructure — so high in its potential for bipartisanship that it has become a Washington cliche — Senate Democrats are already confronting an internal dispute over whether to use a party-line procedural tool that would allow them to pass a bill with no GOP support. Biden’s comprehensive immigration overhaul — a ‘Day One’ priority for the president — is also struggling to gain traction even in the House, as Democratic leaders begin an uphill battle to count votes in favor of a sweeping bill.”

Jamelle Bouie: “I would even say that the American Rescue Plan compares favorably with the signature legislation of F.D.R.’s first 100 days, in that its $1.9 trillion price tag dwarfs the mere tens of billions (in inflation-adjusted dollars) spent by Congress during the earliest period of the New Deal. The challenge is very different — a Great Depression and its attendant unemployment and immiseration versus a health crisis and its economic impact — but the ambition is of similar scope.”

“Indeed, the story of this bill may be the story of how Biden has repudiated the austerity politics of much of the last decade, as well as the anti-assistance paradigm he himself helped forge when, as a senator, he warned in 1988 of ‘welfare mothers driving luxury cars’ and voted, in 1996, to make so-called welfare reform a reality.

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have issued a joint statement calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in the midst of sexual harassment allegations and a federal investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” WPIX reports.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign because he “has lost the confidence of the people of New York,” the Washington Post reports.

Politico says more than a dozen Democratic House members have “now mobilized against Cuomo, the latest sign of his crumbling support from one-time allies in Washington.” “The list includes senior Democratic committee chairs — Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez — who have worked with the Cuomo family for decades, as well as high-profile progressives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) again said he would not resign from office in the face of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, hours after most Democratic members of Congress from his home state urged him to quit, The Hill reports.

Meanwhile, dozens of current and former employees of Cuomo’s executive chamber described the office told the New York Times as “chaotic, unprofessional and toxic, especially for young women.”

“In the days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was first accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, the governor’s office called at least six former employees either to find out if they had heard from the accuser or to glean information about her in conversations that some said they saw as attempts to intimidate them,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Some of the people who received the calls said they hadn’t heard from the administration in months before getting the call about the accuser. One said a caller encouraged them to give reporters any information discrediting the accuser, Lindsey Boylan, who worked as an economic adviser for the Cuomo administration between 2015 and 2018.”

“The New York State Assembly on Thursday authorized an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a potential first step toward impeachment,” the Washington Post reports.

“The decision to authorize a probe by the Judiciary Committee came after more than three dozen Democrats in the lower house called on Cuomo (D) to resign.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) writes in USA Today: “For decades, companies like Amazon have been allies of the left in the culture war, but when their bottom line is threatened they turn to conservatives to save them. Republicans have rightly understood the dangers posed by the unchecked influence of labor unions. Adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong. They are wrong for both workers and our nation’s economic competitiveness.”

“But the days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over.”

“Here’s my standard: When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage culture war against working-class values, the choice is easy — I support the workers. And that’s why I stand with those at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse today.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., told the New Yorker that he will not seek re-election this year. But will he indict Donald Trump before his term expires? Sources say the investigation “has dramatically intensified” and “they mean business.”

CNN: Trump’s time in White House could end up benefiting New York prosecutors.

Senior officials in the Manhattan district attorney’s office this week asked former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to return for what would be his 8th interview with the office, CNBC reports.  He met with them for the 7th time this week.

Four of former President Donald Trump’s New York properties, which have come under scrutiny in a Manhattan criminal investigation, have been placed on debt “watch lists” by banks over their struggling finances, CBS News reports.

Roll Call: “Senate Democrats on Thursday announced plans for a floor vote on legislation to expand background checks for private gun sales, which would force Republicans to choose between their party’s traditional gun rights positions and a policy that is broadly popular with the public.”

“Majority Leader Charles Schumer told reporters there will be hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee and at least a procedural vote on a bill the House passed Thursday on a 227-203 bipartisan vote.”

MSNBC: “It’s not often Congress passes a law on a Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon, tens of thousands of American jobs have been saved.”

“It was just last month when American Airlines announced it was sending furlough notices to roughly 13,000 employees. Within a few hours of Congress passing the Democratic COVID relief package, the company reversed course, saying those workers can now stay on the job.”

Airline workers received a letter from management: “To those who had received notices warning of furloughs: those are happily canceled — you can tear them up!”

“The Justice Department and FBI are gathering evidence to try to build a large conspiracy indictment against members of the Oath Keepers for their roles in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, but the group’s sometimes fractious and fantasy-laden internal workings may complicate efforts to bring such a case,” the Washington Post reports.

Federal prosecutors submitted a filing Friday morning requesting a 60-day delay in a series of cases related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, describing the massive undertaking as “likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” Axios reports.

Associated Press: “The Biden administration hopes to relieve the strain of thousands of unaccompanied children coming to the southern border by ending a Trump-era order that discouraged potential family sponsors from coming forward to care for them.”

Politico: “He’s only been in office for six weeks. … But he’s also being hampered by conflicting policies, staffing vacancies at the top, and in some instances, inaction. Foreign students who have been admitted to U.S. colleges this fall are struggling to secure visas, threatening to deprive U.S. colleges of billions of dollars for the second year in a row.”

“Refugees who expected to be admitted to the country after Biden proposed increasing the admissions cap have been turned away after the administration failed to make it official. And Biden’s administration has not withdrawn from court cases former president Donald Trump was pursuing to keep immigrants out of the country.”

Mother Jones: “The public charge rule never generated anywhere near as much outrage as the Muslim ban or family separation. That was understandable. It was a 217-page piece of federal rulemaking whose true purpose was obscured by bureaucratic jargon. But it was Stephen Miller’s best chance for preventing people from the kinds of countries that his boss liked to refer to as shitholes from eventually voting in US elections.”

“By some estimates, the rule would have blocked hundreds of thousands of people from getting green cards each year. No other Trump regulation had the potential to so fundamentally alter how many people became Americans or what the country’s new immigrants looked like.”

Buzzfeed News: “As early as next week, the White House is expected to announce US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as Biden’s nominee for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, sources say, either for newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland’s seat or for a second vacancy that opened up shortly after Biden took office.”

“Jackson is a former federal public defender in Washington, DC, and served on the US Sentencing Commission before becoming a judge; she would be the third Black woman to serve on that court.”

“The Biden administration has pledged a laser-like focus on the judiciary in the coming months, vowing to not only prioritize nominations but also cast a wide net in its search for potential appointees,” CNN reports.

“As things stand, there are currently 69 eligible vacancies in various levels of the federal court system and 27 that will occur down the road as judges have announced their intent to retire. And the White House is almost assuredly keeping an eye on the seat of Justice Stephen Breyer, should he decide to step down this term and give the President his first chance to fill a Supreme Court seat.”

“President Joe Biden’s will host Japan’s prime minister at the White House – his first in-person meeting with a foreign leader – as his administration seeks to shore up U.S. alliances in Asia and counter China’s global ambitions,” USA Today reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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