Cup of Joe – 8/3/21

“Senate Democrats and Republicans on Sunday finalized a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, setting in motion a long-awaited debate in the chamber to enact one of President Biden’s economic policy priorities,” the Washington Post reports.

“The package arrives after weeks of haggling among a bipartisan bloc of lawmakers, who muscled through late-night fights and near-collapses to transform their initial blueprint into a roughly 2,700-page piece of legislation.”

Punchbowl News: “Thursday could be a target date, although that seems incredibly fast, we don’t think it’s possible. There is a funeral on Friday in Wyoming for the late GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, and we expect a number of senators will want to attend.”

“And remember that there will be two cloture votes on this legislation before final passage. That’s 60 hours of post-cloture debate time that has to be chewed up. Schumer and other party leaders will work to get that yielded back, but there’s no guarantee that will happen.”

“So if the Senate can finish this by next weekend, we’d be surprised.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to link the Senate’s $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure plan to a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package is starting to backfire, as moderate Democrats warn they may not vote for a budget resolution needed to begin the reconciliation process unless it’s paired with a vote on the Senate bill,” Roll Call reports.

​​”At least half a dozen Democrats have expressed reservations about voting for the budget resolution if Pelosi declines to bring up the bipartisan infrastructure bill after the Senate sends it to the House — although each with varying degrees of commitments.”

“The strongest was a ‘hell no’ from Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who had already planned to vote against the budget resolution because he’s opposed to the level of spending.”

States with high vaccinate rates are not experiencing surges in hospitalizations and deaths, but the same is not true in states with low vaccination rates.

Politico: “Top Biden officials note that breakthrough infections among the vaccinated are exceedingly rare, unlikely to be severe, and more likely to occur in crowded indoor settings. They’ve been openly frustrated by what they see as overly alarmed coverage of these cases.”

“Still, officials are increasingly worried about the ability of fully vaccinated individuals infected with Delta to spread it to others. There are also several lingering questions about Delta that the CDC is studying — including whether and how asymptomatic individuals can transmit the virus — raising questions about the risk posed by those choosing not to wear masks.”

“It all amounts to a grim political outlook for Biden. The White House had planned to be focused by now on the economy, jobs and infrastructure. Now, it is forced to confront questions about how schools would operate this fall on top of fear from housing advocates over the expiration of an eviction moratorium on Saturday, which came after the White House was slow to call for a legislative fix and which could, those advocates warn, further hamper the pandemic fight.”

James Surowiecki: “When the CDC changed its guidance on masking earlier this week — recommending, among other things, that even vaccinated people start wearing masks in indoor public spaces in areas of substantial to high Covid transmission — it cited ‘unpublished data’ as a reason for its decision.”

“The next day, the internal CDC document that seems to have prompted the shift was published — by the Washington Post. And when major news media got a look at, the message they sent vaccinated people was pretty simple: ‘Panic!’”

“This reaction was not justified by the actual data in the CDC document.”

New York Magazine: “The most hopeful and encouraging facts about the Delta surge were even harder to find in the coverage. The first is that, thanks to widespread vaccination of the elderly, however fast this disease spreads it will ultimately inflict a much, much smaller death toll than earlier waves, because vaccination has probably eliminated 90 percent or more of the country’s total COVID-19 mortality risk.”

“The second is that, in those countries with roughly comparable vaccination rates to the U.S., the surge has already peaked and begun a rapid decline, suggesting that such a turn here is possible — or even quite likely — within a few weeks.”

Frustrated with the media coverage, White House adviser Ben Wakana tweets: “Vaccinated people do not transmit the virus at the same rate as unvaccinated and if you fail to include that context you’re doing it wrong.”

“A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available,” the AP reports.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) ripped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as the “pied piper” of COVID-19 who is “leading everybody off a cliff,” the HuffPost reports.

Said Gelber: “The governor has made it as difficult as possible to make people safe. He’s like the pied piper leading everybody off a cliff right now by letting them know that they don’t have to like the CDC, they don’t have to wear masks, that they can do whatever they want when we’re in the midst of an enormous pandemic.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he didn’t believe the U.S. would return to lockdowns but warned that “things are going to get worse” as a more contagious variant of the coronavirus has led to a surge of new cases, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Fauci: “We are looking, not I believe, to lockdown but we are looking to some pain and suffering in the future because we are seeing the cases go up. The solution to this is, get vaccinated.”

“Seventy percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a key milestone in the fight against the pandemic that the country hit nearly a month later than President Joe Biden had hoped,” Bloomberg reports.

Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd (R), “who went from unmasked gatherings with fellow legislators to being placed on ventilator days later,” has “emerged with a message for constituents after a harrowing eight-month experience with long-haul covid-19: Take the coronavirus seriously,” the Washington Post reports.

Byrd “described an ordeal that included 55 days on a ventilator in which covid-19 ravaged his memory, his muscles and his organs — it led to him having a liver transplant in June; his condition was so grave that his family at least once began planning for his funeral.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19. Said Graham: “I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) entertained a small group of senators on his houseboat this weekend and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — who has now tested positive for Covid-19 — was in attendance, CNN reports. Manchin’s office declined to comment on the other senators on his boat.Many of the senators at this party will be needed to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it’s going to pass this week.

The Atlantic excerpts Alexander Vindman’s new book, Here, Right Matters: An American Story.

“It’s been a year of turmoil for the country, and for my family and me. I’m no longer at the National Security Council. I’m no longer an officer in the U.S. Army. I’m living in the great unknown, and so, to a great degree, is our country.”

“But because I’ve never had any doubt about the fitness of my decision, I remain at peace with the consequences that continue to unfold.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told ABC News that he was open to issuing subpoenas to lawmakers with knowledge of President Trump’s response to and involvement in the Jan. 6 attacks, including members of his own party, like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called for private businesses to incentivize getting vaccinated against the coronavirus by instituting “vaccine-only admission,” Axios reports.

Said Cuomo: “Private businesses, bars, restaurants: go to a vaccine-only admission… I believe it’s in your business interest to run a vaccine-only establishment.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), who is challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) next year, told CNN that she does not support a statewide mask mandate as the Florida emerges as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Washington Post: “In a June 8 phone call, Biden told Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA.) that he wanted a public works agreement with Republicans in the neighborhood of $600 billion. More notably, Biden showed deep interest in provisions on energy resiliency that Cassidy had been working on for weeks. That embrace of a favored provision hit home with Cassidy.”

Said Cassidy: “The president made it clear that that was essential for him. Since the president had said it must be there, obviously that was very helpful.”

“Biden’s phone call with Cassidy was only one example of Biden’s contact with Republicans during the talks. He regularly called GOP senators, White House aides say, while presidential counselor Steve Ricchetti was on virtual speed dial on the Republican negotiators’ phones. After he inadvertently angered Republicans by attaching public conditions to the deal, Biden personally phoned Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to ask how he could quell the uproar.”

After six months as President, we’re starting to have a good idea of what Biden’s governing philosophy is.  Bidenism can be said to be pragmatic, empathetic, very in touch with popular opinion, wary of giving bad faith opponents easy targets, and very focused on ultimately getting the job done.  In short: do popular things and stay on track.  And this approach is getting ratified bit by bit every day.

On the Democratic side, what little we’ve seen in the way of primary elections seems to confirm this. Moderates who fully embrace core Democratic values but make clear they’ll safeguard the party from more unpopular stances took the prize in Virginia and New York City’s primaries.

Even the party’s most left-leaning voices have largely ceded to this popularity-minded framework, with Sen. Bernie Sanders in particular reaping the rewards of guiding a massive reconciliation bill.  But I think Bidenism’s ratification goes beyond just Democrats.

Consider the elevation of “hard” infrastructure as a marquee issue for Biden — he really, really wants it and won’t let go.   It’s one of the least controversial items Congress regularly debates, but for better or worse, it really was at the edge of what a bipartisan Senate could move in terms of big/non-crisis legislation that might boost a Democratic President’s standing.   In this way, the Democratic Party hasn’t just bent in Biden’s direction, but so too has the rest of Congress, and crucially, away from McConnellism.

Ben Jacobs: “The anti-establishment fervor among Democrats that pushed the party leftward in 2018 and 2020 isn’t going away, but with Trump finally out of office and progressive policies being enacted in Washington, it doesn’t seem to succeed when it turns against Biden.”

New York Times: “Known as Covax, the program was supposed to be a global powerhouse, a multibillion-dollar alliance of international health bodies and nonprofits that would ensure through sheer buying power that poor countries received vaccines as quickly as the rich. Instead, Covax has struggled to acquire doses: It stands half a billion short of its goal. Poor countries are dangerously unprotected as the Delta variant runs rampant, just the scenario that Covax was created to prevent.”

“The urgent need to vaccinate the world goes far beyond protecting people in poor nations. The longer the virus circulates, the more dangerous it can become, even for vaccinated people in wealthy countries.”

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Newsmax that the former president has been holding meetings with his “cabinet” despite not being president.

Associated Press: “Many people were maskless as they expressed their displeasure with a mask mandate during a boisterous, four-hour St. Louis County Council meeting, and now contact tracers are trying to determine if anyone picked up the coronavirus after someone at the meeting tested positive for COVID-19.”

“Health officials issued an advisory asking everyone who attended the meeting — even those who are fully vaccinated — to quarantine through Aug. 10.”

“The White House and Democratic leaders have been dueling — publicly and privately — over who should take responsibility for extending an eviction moratorium that could protect millions of people on the verge of homelessness,” Axios reports.

“It’s a rare moment of dysfunction between the usually-in-lockstep Biden team and congressional leadership.”

“The White House, led by chief of staff Ron Klain, has mostly operated in quiet synchronicity with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — resolving their differences behind closed doors before presenting coordinated and carefully-sequenced statements to the public. But coordination collapsed here.”

“Former President Barack Obama is hosting a 60th birthday bash for himself and hundreds of guests on Martha’s Vineyard this coming weekend amid heightened public health concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant,” Axios reports.

“One person with connections to Obamaworld said there were 475 confirmed guests — including friends, family and former aides — and 200-plus staff planning to work the party.”

“The U.S. debt ceiling yesterday officially became operative again after a two-year suspension, with lawmakers in Washington yet to outline how they’ll avoid a potential default later this year,” Bloomberg reports.

“House prices are booming in almost every major economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, forging the broadest rally for more than two decades and reviving economists’ concerns over potential threats to financial stability,” the Financial Times reports.

“Historically low interest rates, savings accumulated during lockdowns and a desire for more space as people work from home are all fuelling the trend.”

Bloomberg: Wall Street emerges as GOP villain amid house price pinch.

“Just weeks after its launch, the pro-Trump social network GETTR is inundated with terrorist propaganda spread by supporters of Islamic State,” Politico reports.

“The rapid proliferation of such material is placing GETTR in the awkward position of providing a safe haven for jihadi extremists online as it attempts to establish itself as a free speech MAGA-alternative to sites like Facebook and Twitter.”

“Taliban fighters launched rockets Saturday at airports in Kandahar and Herat, two of the country’s largest cities and busiest economic centers,” the Washington Post reports.

“The attacks mark a potential turning point in the Afghan conflict. Previously, clashes were largely confined to the country’s rural areas or smaller cities contested by the militants. Large-scale conventional attacks on Kandahar and Herat, the second- and fourth-largest cities in the country, have the potential to endanger millions more civilians.”

The Guardian: “The Taliban escalated its nationwide offensive in Afghanistan on Sunday, renewing assaults on three major cities and rocketing a major airport in the south amid warnings that the conflict was rapidly worsening.”

General David Petraeus told the Times of London that America has abandoned its duty to protect democracy and human rights in Afghanistan, leaving its people to face a “bloody, brutal civil war.”

Reuters: “Thousands more Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their U.S. affiliations will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States under a new program announced by the State Department on Monday.”

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

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