Cup of Joe – 7/15/21

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Budget Committee Democrats announced an agreement on $3.5 trillion topline spending for their budget reconciliation package, Roll Call reports. Said Schumer: “We are very proud of this plan. We know we have a long road to go.”

Washington Post: “The wide array of planned health, education and social programs if adopted would represent a historic burst of federal spending, as party lawmakers led by President Biden seek to seize on their slim but powerful majorities in Washington to expand the footprint of government and catalyze major changes in the economy. Democrats plan to fashion their bill in a way that it can clear the Senate without Republican support.”

Wall Street Journal: “The legislation is also expected to ultimately include a series of tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans.”

Washington Post: “To pay for these changes, Congressional Democrats are pursuing a slew of tax hikes on the rich and corporations, as well as major changes to the IRS to close the ‘tax gap’ — the difference between what taxpayers owe and what they pay.”

“Other major new sources of revenue include raising the top marginal tax rate, increasing the corporate tax rate, and changes to the international tax system, among other potential measures.”

The newly-announced $3.5 trillion budget resolution proposed by Democrats will include funding to cover 2 million people in red states that refuse to expand Medicaid, Politico reports.

Washington Post: “The proposal is expected to lay the groundwork for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending for elder care, home care, child care, prekindergarten, paid family and medical leave, housing programs, and other education and safety net programs. The plan would also clear the way for hundreds of billions of dollars — and possibly close to $1 trillion — in climate-related legislation, including clean energy tax credits and more funding for electric vehicles.”

“The emerging plan would also include an at least $300 billion expansion of Medicare… to cover dental, vision, and hearing care… Under the plan, these new benefits would be free for seniors in the program, which could start as soon as next year.”

“To pay for these changes, Congressional Democrats are pursuing a slew of tax hikes on the rich and corporations, as well as major changes to the IRS to close the ‘tax gap’ … Other major new sources of revenue include raising the top marginal tax rate, increasing the corporate tax rate, and changes to the international tax system.”

Punchbowl News: “Overall, this Democratic budget agreement allows for $4.1 trillion in new spending when combined with the bipartisan infrastructure deal. This is a stunning total, and it comes on top of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan already passed by Congress in March. Republicans will strongly oppose it, and there will be GOP lawmakers skeptical of supporting the bipartisan infrastructure deal because the budget total is so high, as we pointed out Tuesday morning.”

“The issue then becomes, of course, whether Biden, Schumer and party leaders can keep all 50 Senate Democrats in line for the budget deal. This is where Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and other moderates will have the final say.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he “looks forward to reviewing” the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation outline Democrats released last night. Said Manchin: “I’m also very interested in how this proposal is paid for and how it enables us to remain globally competitive. I will reserve any final judgment until I’ve had the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the proposal.”

“Democratic leaders are gaming out several scenarios for muscling through the behemoth one-party spending bill given their razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate,” Politico reports. “Among the scenarios under consideration earlier this week was for House Democrats to vote on the party’s budget blueprint first, reasserting the lower chamber’s role in a process that has publicly been seen as more Senate-driven, according to several Democratic aides. By Wednesday, however, that approach seemed less likely. There’s also the question of whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will put the bipartisan infrastructure bill — assuming a deal is reached — up for a vote before the budget blueprint.”

Washington Post: “Biden’s salesmanship opens a new political chapter in what will probably be a winding, tough debate in Congress, particularly because Democrats are divided over whether they should take the early deals they have reached, including with Republicans, or try to leverage their narrow majorities in Washington to seek more federal spending.”

Sen. John Thune(R-SD) said the $3.5 trillion package “creates a lot of heartburn for our members” and complicates the separate bipartisan negotiations — where “even members of the group are pretty concerned about the pay-fors,” Punchbowl News reports.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Wednesday that the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget deal is “wildly out of proportion to what the country needs now,” at a time he says inflation is “raging,” The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “What Democrats say they want to force through this summer through reconciliation would make our current inflationary mess look like small potatoes.”

“The Tennessee state government on Monday fired its top vaccination official, becoming the latest of about two dozen states to lose years of institutional knowledge about vaccines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Tennessean reports.

“Dr. Michelle Fiscus said she was a scapegoat who was terminated to appease state lawmakers angry about the department’s efforts to vaccinate teenagers against coronavirus.”

Washington Post: “Fiscus said her termination reflects Tennessee’s deep and widespread anti-vaccine attitude that is imperiling its residents.”

“The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers,” the Tennessean reports.

 “U.S. consumer prices rose 5.4% in June from a year ago, keeping inflation at the highest annual rate in 13 years as the economic recovery gained steam,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York Times: “Investors, lawmakers and central bank officials are closely watching inflation, which has been elevated in recent months by both a quirk in the data and by mismatches between demand and supply as the economy rebounds.”

In testimony released ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s appearance before a House committee, the Fed chief argued that it is far too soon to raise interest rates or cut back on monthly bond purchases with “a long way to go” to a full recovery, The Hill reports.

Politico: “There is a new fear circulating inside the West Wing of the White House: Maybe Larry Summers was right. The former Treasury secretary has been warning since February that President Joe Biden’s big-spending agenda was creating the risk of an inflation spike this year, potentially cutting into the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. For the moment at least, Summers is looking prescient.”

Bloomberg reports Summers was at the White House yesterday meeting with top Biden aides.

The expanded monthly tax credit payments announced by the White House in May will begin going out Thursday, Axios reports.

“The enhanced child tax credit will provide eligible families with $300 monthly cash payments per child up to age 5 and $250 for children ages 6–17. About 39 million households — and 88% of children in the U.S. — will be covered by the monthly payments.”

“The COVID-19 curve in the U.S. is rising again after months of decline, with the number of new cases per day doubling over the past three weeks, driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Stat News: When and how will we know if we need COVID-19 booster shots!

The Economist finds in-person voting in the 2020 presidential election accelerated COVID-19’s spread in the United States.

A record number of French citizens booked vaccine shots after French President Emmanuel Macron said that starting in August, anyone who wants to visit cafes, bars or shopping centers must show a “health pass” that certifies they’ve been vaccinated or recently tested negative for the coronavirus, NPR reports.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) says the politicization of the coronavirus vaccines is “moronic,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Said Romney: “After all, President Trump and his supporters take credit for developing the vaccine. Why the heck won’t they take advantage of taking the vaccine they received plaudits for having developed?”

Jonathan Bernstein: “What is available to those wishing to differentiate themselves from mainstream conservatives are nonsense and nihilism. Come up with something crazy enough, or destructive (including self-destructive) enough, and maybe the bulk of the party won’t follow them, allowing them to ‘win’ the True Conservative game. This has been going on for some time, with partisan polarization turning the party more and more conservative, and removing first the liberal Republicans and then the moderates and eventually anyone but the very conservative, forcing the fringers to find more and more dubious ways to prove that they and only they are True.”

“The key point here is that there is no counter move available to the rest of the party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can say that they oppose such-and-such a policy because they are liberals, not socialists. There’s no parallel move for the Republican congressional leaders, Kevin McCarthy in the House or Mitch McConnell in the Senate. That doesn’t mean that mainstream conservatives always go along, but within the norms of the party they’re not allowed to call anyone too conservative, let alone any more negative characterization.”

Eric Trump reportedly “flipped out” on the night of the 2020 election when the tide began to turn against his father, then-President Donald Trump, a new book claims, the HuffPost reports.

Said the younger Trump: “The election is being stolen… Where are these votes coming from? How is this legit?”

He also reportedly yelled at the campaign’s data analysts, as if it were their fault: “We pay you to do this. How can this be happening?”

Texas Monthly: “Abbott’s predicament is one he seems uniquely unfit to solve. Unlike his predecessor, Rick Perry, he has never had much in the way of personal relationships with lawmakers.”

“Abbott did not help the situation with his decision after Democrats walked out on the last day of the regular session to veto funding for the Legislature in retribution. He is holding Republican staffers and state employees hostage in order to coerce Democrats back to the chamber.”

“The mishandling of the election bill is reminiscent of the mishandling of the abortion bill in 2013 that gave Wendy Davis the opportunity to filibuster, leading to the end of David Dewhurst’s political career.”

Washington Post: “They activated the plan with a phone tree late Sunday: Pack your bags — and make sure they weigh no more than 45 pounds. Be ready to leave Austin at noon tomorrow. We’ll tell you then where we’re going…”

“What followed over a matter of hours was a riveting exodus from Texas as dozens of Democratic lawmakers said goodbye to young children and aging parents, made arrangements to leave their homes and their jobs, potentially for weeks — and drew sharp rebukes for walking away from their responsibilities in the Texas legislature.”

“A former Chicago bank executive was convicted on Tuesday of financial crimes related to his facilitation of millions of dollars in high-risk loans to Paul Manafort, all in an effort to obtain a coveted position in the Trump administration,” the New York Times reports.

NBC News: “In a scheme that stretched from July 2016 to January 2017, Stephen Calk worked to approve multiple high-risk loans for Manafort, who urgently needed them to avoid foreclosure on several properties.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s CFO is suffering consequences. Wall Street Journal: “The charge—a single count of second-degree grand larceny—stands out in the July 1 indictment… magnifying the pressure on him to cooperate with authorities in a broader fraud probe into Mr. Trump and his business affairs.”

“Lawyers who have watched the probe closely say New York prosecutors have built a compelling case against Allen Weisselberg and the company’s accounting practices. But they say the charges—in particular the larceny count—still offer possible, albeit technical and narrow, avenues of defense.”

CNN: Indicted Trump Organization CFO removed as an officer from several company subsidiaries.

“Ken Starr, the lawyer who hounded Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, waged a ‘scorched-earth’ legal campaign to persuade federal prosecutors to drop a sex-trafficking case against the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein relating to the abuse of multiple underaged girls,” The Guardian reports.

“In Perversion of Justice, the Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown writes about Starr’s role in securing the secret 2008 sweetheart deal that granted Epstein effective immunity from federal prosecution.”

President Joe Biden nominated former Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican lawmaker who endorsed his 2020 run for the White House, to serve as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, the Associated Press reports.

President Biden has selected a former West Virginia health official as the nation’s top drug policy official, the Washington Post reports. “Gupta, a primary-care doctor who previously served as West Virginia’s health commissioner and led Biden’s transition efforts for the drug policy office, would be the first physician to serve as drug czar if confirmed by the Senate.”

Associated Press: “They are two tiny Caribbean states whose intractable problems have vexed U.S. presidents for decades. Now, Haiti and Cuba are suddenly posing a growing challenge for President Joe Biden that could have political ramifications for him in the battleground state of Florida.”

“Cuban demonstrators have taken to the country’s streets in recent days to lash out at the communist government and protest food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus pandemic. In Haiti, officials are asking the U.S. to intercede in a roiling political crisis after last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in a nation where military and humanitarian interventions by U.S. presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama have proved to be politically harrowing.”

“The European Union is set to propose a sweeping program today to transform the region’s economy to fight climate change, slashing its reliance on fossil fuels and potentially jolting global trade with import levies that would hit high-emitting countries,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has discontinued his state’s membership in a coalition of two dozen states dedicated to fighting climate change, the Associated Press reports.“The U.S. Climate Alliance is a nonpartisan group committed to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Democratic former Gov. Steve Bullock joined the alliance in 2019.”

“Former Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis is leaving the Republican Party in protest amid reports that the party’s chief attorney bashed the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” The Hill reports.

Said Ellis: “I am changing my voter registration, and I am no longer a Republican until the party decides that it wants to be conservative again. Even if I stand alone for the truth, I will stand for the truth.”

Uh, honey. Not engaging in lies to overturn an election you lost is the conservative position. You are just upset that some in the RNC are not as fascist as you and your boss is.

“Two high-ranking Trump political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency engaged in fraudulent payroll activities — including payments to employees after they were fired and to one of the officials when he was absent from work — that cost the agency more than $130,000,” the Associated Press reports.

David Leonhardt: “Covid-19 is undermining the idea of universal schooling… Recent polls suggest that as many as one quarter of parents plan to keep their children home. The families who choose to do so will span every demographic group, but they are likely to be disproportionately lower-income, Black and Latino.”

“The problem with remote school is that children learn vastly less than they do in person.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses to rapidly digitize their operations, leading to a surge in productivity in the United States,” Reuters reports.

“Since the health crisis began, annualized growth in output per hour has risen 3.1%, a big jump from the 1.4% growth recorded in the previous business cycle.”

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

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