What Now?! – 4/3/2021

“The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March, the highest level in months, as vaccine distribution and declining caseloads helped accelerate a recovery in the labor market,” the Washington Post reports.

“The unemployment rate edged down to 6 percent from 6.2 percent in February.”

“President Joe Biden said the sweeping infrastructure proposal he unveiled this week would create 19 million jobs to further boost the U.S. economy’s trajectory coming out of the pandemic,” Bloomberg reports.

Associated Press: “U.S. manufacturers expanded in March at the fastest pace in 37 years, a sign of strengthening demand as the pandemic wanes and government emergency aid flows through the economy.”

Police say one officer was killed and another remains hospitalized after a man rammed a car into a security barrier near the U.S. Capitol building on Friday. “It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” acting U.S Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters in a news briefing.

Pittman said officers shot the driver after he exited the vehicle wielding a knife and “started to lunge aggressively toward US Capitol police officers.” The driver was taken to a hospital, where he died. D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said there does not appear to be an ongoing threat related to the incident and that “it does not appear to be terrorism-related.”

Contee said police are investigating to determine the driver’s motive. He said the suspect was not known to either D.C. Police or the USCP and was not previously considered a threat to lawmakers.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told The Hill on Friday he has no plans of stepping down after coming under fire following reports that the Department of Justice is investigating him for a possible violation of sex trafficking laws.

A Justice Department investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, the New York Times reports.

“Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances… Mr. Greenberg introduced the women to Mr. Gaetz, who also had sex with them.”

“One of the women who had sex with both men also agreed to have sex with an unidentified associate of theirs in Florida Republican politics.”

The Daily Beast has the text messages that led federal prosecutors to investigate Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for sex trafficking.

CNN reported overnight that an employee at the tax collector’s office once saw Greenberg and Gaetz on an internal surveillance video, looking through driver licenses on a weekend evening. 

NBC News reports that Luke Ball, the communications director for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), has resigned out of principle.

Politico has an excerpt of John Boehner’s scorching new book, On the House.

On the 2010 midterms: “You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.”

On Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz.”

On Barack Obama: “All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either. He could come off as lecturing and haughty. He still wasn’t making Republican outreach a priority. But on the other hand—how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?”

On Michelle Bachmann: Boehner writes in his new memoir that former Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) wanted to be placed on the powerful House Ways and Means, and that he turned her down, Axios reports. Writes Boehner: “Her response to me was calm and matter-of-fact. ‘Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox and Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made it possible for the Republicans to take back the House.’”

He added: “I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now. She was right, of course.”

Charles Pierce: “If there’s any evidence that John Boehner tried to arrest the prion disease before it took over his caucus, and then his entire political party, it was not evident in his performance as Speaker. The man was positively hysterical in his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.”

“That he bailed out before the maniacs took full control is a tribute to his survival instinct, not his political integrity. He got run over by forces from which he and his party had been profiting, and which got out of the lab because he wasn’t strong enough, or willing enough, to stop it.”

Chris Cillizza: “To Boehner’s critical point about how Fox skewed incentives within the GOP: No longer was the goal for most members of Congress (or those aspiring Republicans hoping to join their ranks) to accrue seniority and rise in the ranks of their preferred committee or even into House GOP leadership. Now the goal was to become a conservative pundit on Fox News — that was where the real power (and money if you decided to leave Congress) was.”

“And the best way to get on Fox News as much as possible? Say the most outlandish and outrageous things possible. Fox viewers were ready to believe whatever the worst thing you could say about Obama or any of the Clintons. There was no bridge too far.”

Major League Baseball is moving the 2021 All-Star Game and 2021 draft out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia voting law that critics say unfairly limits access to the ballot box, especially for people of color, ESPN reports.

Said commissioner Rob Manfred : “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

Nicole Narea: “U.S. messaging may play some role in determining whether people migrate, but it’s only one factor among many sources of information.”

“Migrants typically get information about the conditions on the border from people in their network who have successfully made the journey, rather than from top-down declarations from US officials. Smugglers have also sought to spread misinformation about the Biden administration’s plans to process asylum seekers. Immigrant advocates on the border have reported hearing rumors spreading that migrants staying in certain camps will be processed or that the border would open at midnight.”

Washington Post: “More than 171,000 migrants were taken into custody along the U.S. southern border in March, the highest monthly total since 2006.”

“The extraordinary increase — up from 78,442 in January — underscores the magnitude of the challenge facing the Biden administration, especially as it races to add emergency shelter capacity for an unprecedented number of teenagers and children crossing without their parents.”

“Negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will take place among all parties in Vienna next week, the first serious effort to rescue the agreement since President Biden took office in January,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Senior officials from all participants in the accord, Iran, France, Germany, the U.K., Russia and China, and top U.S. officials will gather in the Austrian capital.”

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Politico that President Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to compile a memo on the president’s legal authorities to forgive student loan debt, including a cancellation up to $50,000.

Biden previously said that he opposes canceling $50,000 in student debt, opting instead for canceling $10,000.

Bloomberg: “Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing the Senate toward lifting the federal prohibition on marijuana with legislation that would represent the biggest overhaul of federal drug policy in decades.”

“The bill that Schumer is drafting with Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is still being written. Though they avoided the term legalization when announcing their plan, it is expected to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and tax and regulate it on the federal level while leaving states able to enforce their own laws regarding the drug.”

“French President Emmanuel Macron announced a national lockdown Wednesday, shuttering schools and nonessential businesses as public frustration mounted over his government’s handling of the pandemic,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is almost level with incumbent Emmanuel Macron in the opinion polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, has said she would form a government of national unity if elected and would draw support from voters of left and right, just as the UK’s Boris Johnson has done,” the Financial Times reports.

USA Today: “The Supreme Court’s justices on Wednesday expressed significant questions about the NCAA’s athlete-compensation limits, but they also showed concerns that a case challenging those limits could destroy college sports as they currently exist.”

“The NCAA’s lawyer… faced pointed inquiry from nearly all of the justices.”

Jennifer Rubin: “Having declared themselves in favor of infrastructure for years, they either have to come up with a tax scheme that will fall far more heavily on ordinary taxpayers or give up their phony deficit mania (which does not apply to tax cuts, apparently). This puts Democrats in both the roles of being fiscal conservatives (pay as you go!) and defenders of working-class Americans. Republicans have the choice between embracing fiscal irresponsibility or giving up their laughable claim to be the party of working people.”

“As the coronavirus subsided in New York last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had begun pitching a book proposal that would center on his image as a hero of the pandemic. But by early last summer, both his book and image had hit a critical juncture,” the New York Times reports.

“An impending Health Department report threatened to disclose a far higher number of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus than the Cuomo administration had previously made public. Melissa DeRosa and other top aides expressed concern about the higher death toll, and, after their intervention, the number — which had appeared in the second sentence of the report — was removed from the final version.”

“At stake was not just the governor’s reputation, but also, potentially, a huge payoff: a book deal that ended with a high offer of more than $4 million.”

The CDC said that Americans who are fully vaccinated can travel “at low risk to themselves,” both within the United States and internationally, but they must continue to take precautions like wearing a mask in public, avoiding crowds, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently, the New York Times reports.

“Vaccinated Americans do not need to get a coronavirus test before arriving in another country, unless required to do so by authorities at the destination, and they do not need to quarantine after returning to the United States unless required to do so by local jurisdictions.”

“If the federal government imposes new restrictions on guns it will have to enforce them without Arizona’s help,” the Arizona Daily Star reports.

“The state Senate approved legislation Tuesday — already passed by the House — that would make it illegal for state and local governments and employees to enforce, administer or cooperate with any federal law, act, treaty, rule or regulation that is ‘inconsistent with any law of this state regarding the regulation of firearms.’”

The Hill: “Gohmert had appealed the fine issued by the House sergeant-at-arms on Feb. 5, days after House Democrats voted to enact the punitive measure to enforce compliance with the metal detector screenings established in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

“But a majority of the House Ethics Committee declined to agree to the appeal, meaning Gohmert is now obligated to pay the $5,000 fine. The panel is evenly split with five Democrats and five Republicans.”

“After years of stalled attempts, New York State has legalized the use of recreational marijuana, enacting a robust program to reinvest millions of dollars in minority communities ravaged by the decades-long war on drugs,” the New York Times reports.

“With his signature, New York became the 15th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, positioning itself to quickly become one of the largest markets of legal cannabis in the nation.”

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

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