Cup of Joe – 8/14/21

“Nine moderate House Democrats intend to tell Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that they will not vote for a budget resolution meant to pave the way for the passage of a $3.5 trillion social policy package later this year until a Senate-approved infrastructure bill passes the House and is signed into law,” the New York Times reports.

“To assuage liberal Democrats more interested in the social policy bill, Ms. Pelosi promised that she would not bring the infrastructure bill to a vote in the House until the Senate passed the social policy bill.”

Punchbowl News: “This is as firm a threat as this group of moderate Democrats has made. And if they hold together, they can prevent Pelosi from passing the House Democratic budget resolution the week of Aug. 23.”

“Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democratic votes and still pass the budget resolution through her chamber.”

Politico: “A senior Democratic aide said that whether or not the handful of moderates planned to follow through on their threat, one thing was certain: If Pelosi puts the Senate’s infrastructure bill to a vote this month, it will fail due to overwhelming progressive opposition.”

“While some moderates believe their hand is strengthened by the dozens of Republicans who are expected to back the Senate’s bipartisan plan, other Democrats insist their party cannot count on GOP votes. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) has not said whether he will discourage his members from supporting the Senate-passed infrastructure bill.”

Pro tip: Never bet against Nancy Pelosi.

Jonathan Chait: “The moderate House Democrats have been loading up the reconciliation bill with a series of conflicting demands. On the one hand, they have been complaining about its overall size and pushing to shrink down the headline number. On the other hand, they have been making their own costly demands. Josh Gottheimer, one letter signer, has been crusading for a restoration of the state and local tax deduction, a benefit for some of his affluent constituents.”

“These demands, notably, are not designed to protect the Democratic Party from the left’s unpopular baggage.”

“The moderate Democrats are the biggest obstacle to making the math work, simultaneously complaining about the size of the bill while ordering more expensive goodies for themselves.”

Here are Pelosi’s best options to get out of this mess:

  • Give in to the moderates. This seems unlikely since anyone who has watched Pelosi over the years knows she doesn’t respond to threats.
  • Show don’t tell. Pelosi could call a vote on the bipartisan plan show the moderates they need the progressives for anything to pass. They’ll also quickly see there are many more progressives than moderates.
  • Get the moderates to cave. One truth about politics is that moderates always cave more easily than more ideological members.
  • Use Biden’s charm. Since the moderates are already on the record demanding a vote, it may take phone call or meeting with the president — or other presidential promises — to get the moderates to fall in line.

Of course, Pelosi may have other options. She knows the moderates want stuff from the budget reconciliation bill that they won’t get if they tank the whole thing.

BBC: “The UN has urged Afghanistan’s neighbors to keep their borders open as the number of civilians fleeing the Taliban onslaught swells.”

The Taliban have captured Kandahar, the birthplace of their movement and the second-largest city in Afghanistan, the AP reports.

The U.S. is expected to announce the removal of a “significant number” of employees at the embassy in Kabul, Reuters reports.

“American negotiators are trying to extract assurances from the Taliban that they will not attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul if the extremist group overruns the capital in a direct challenge to the country’s government,” the New York Times reports.

Jonathan Swan: “It wasn’t crazy for President Biden and his national security team, including the Pentagon, to have imagined that the Afghan forces — with superior technology and manpower — could have done a much better job holding the Taliban at bay.”

“But senior U.S. officials are privately acknowledging that the Afghans appear psychologically defeated — and there was insufficient accounting for the psychological consequences of the long war.”

Washington Post: “Republicans are already pouncing as the country’s collapse has accelerated in recent days… But the politics of Afghanistan — and America’s foreign engagements in general — are not straightforward. Some centrist Democrats have joined hawkish Republicans in questioning the Afghan pullout. And some conservative libertarians agree with liberal peace activists that the United States should not spend blood and treasure overseas that could be used at home.”

“Biden’s confidence that he can quit a war that snared his predecessors is also based on a view that leaving will have few costs for the United States… Most Americans support the military withdrawal… The political risk to Biden will grow if he is wrong and significant terrorist attacks are launched from Afghan soil.”

David Ignatius: “Biden was said by close associates to be ‘resolute’ in his decision to withdraw U.S. forces, despite the rapidly deteriorating situation and the temporary return of troops to shepherd the sharp reduction in U.S. Embassy personnel.”

“Biden has felt strongly since 2009 that the United States should pursue only a limited mission in Afghanistan, and as president he moved quickly to withdraw troops despite contrary advice from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

It helps that polls show the American public is overwhelmingly behind the decision to pull out.

EXACTLY. If the Afghans don’t want to fight off the Taliban, then why should we? Why should another single American die to defend a nation that its own citizens don’t want to defend. Fuck Afghanistan.

The New York state Assembly will suspend impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) once he steps down, the AP reports.

“The clock is ticking down on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s time in office, but it’s moving too slowly for some critics who fear how he may use his remaining time in power,” NBC News reports.

“Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday in the wake of a blistering report by the state attorney general’s finding he’d sexually harassed 11 women, but said he wouldn’t step down until Aug. 24th.”

The Hill: “The United States on Friday reported almost a million new COVID-19 vaccinations from the previous day’s total, the biggest one-day tally for vaccinations since early July.”

“The number includes 576,000 people getting their first dose of the vaccine.”

“When the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. first began to slow, President Joe Biden backed incentives like million-dollar cash lotteries if that’s what it took to get shots in arms. But as new coronavirus infections soar, he’s testing a tougher approach,” the Associated Press reports.

“The administration has taken steps toward mandating shots for people traveling into the U.S. from overseas. And the White House is weighing options to be more assertive at the state and local level, including potential support for school districts imposing rules to prevent spread of the virus over the objection of Republican leaders.”

“The result is a precarious balancing act as Biden works to make life more uncomfortable for the unvaccinated without spurring a backlash in a deeply polarized country that would only undermine his public health goals.”

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), writing in The Atlantic: “Generations of Americans made incredible sacrifices, and we’re going to throw fits about putting a mask over our mouth and nose?”

Associated Press: “A community in rural east central Mississippi is overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, two weeks after it hosted the Neshoba County Fair that brought thousands of people who lived in cabins, attended shoulder-to-shoulder outdoor concerts and horseraces and listened to political speeches — including one by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who decried federal guidance on mask-wearing as ‘foolish.’”

“Hard-hit Mississippi has requested the federal government send a military hospital ship such as the USNS Comfort,” ABC News reports.

“Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined a request to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, signaling that similar policies going into effect amid a Covid-19 surge could pass legal muster,” CNN reports.

Washington Post: “In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has banned local governments from implementing mask requirements even as he pleads for emergency medical help in combating a surge in coronavirus cases from the delta variant. In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi L. Noem welcomed hundreds of thousands of revelers to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that last year bore characteristics of a superspreader event for the virus.”

“And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is waging war on school districts seeking to defy his executive order prohibiting mask mandates for students — while the state sees its rates of hospitalization from covid surge past the worst levels of 2020.”

“The three Republican governors — all frequently mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2024 — are at the vanguard of GOP resistance to public-health mandates aimed at stemming the tide of the delta variant, which has caused a new spike in coronavirus cases as the country attempts to reopen schools, restaurants and other businesses.”

Mask-wearing in public schools is now mandatory in all four of Texas’ most populous counties — in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order forbidding cities, counties and school districts from enacting their own mask mandates, the Texas Tribune reports.

Los Angeles Times: “California’s coronavirus case rate remains below the national average and significantly less than that of Florida and Texas: two common points of comparison given their population size and distinctly different pandemic responses.”

“Experts say California’s better-than-average vaccination rates and newly implemented mandatory mask policies in parts of the state have helped prevent a more grim situation.”

According to the newly-released U.S. Census data, Washington, D.C. was the only location in America where the white share of the population increased over the last decade.

Politico: “Before the first tranche of tax credit payments hit bank accounts in mid-July, about 11 percent of households with children reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week.”

“After the money went out, the rate dropped to just over 8 percent — a decrease of nearly 24 percent — and the lowest rate recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Wall Street Journal: “The second monthly payment of child tax credits reached the households of nearly 61 million children, the Treasury Department said. That is a 2.7% increase from July, indicating that new sign-ups are outpacing taxpayers’ decisions to opt out of the regular payments.”

“A federal judge allowed the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium to remain in place, saying she didn’t have authority to block it despite her misgivings about the ban’s legality,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Bloomberg: “Climate activists are starting to map out a coordinated campaign to oppose the potential re-nomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.”

“The Federal Reserve could start dialing back its ultra-accommodative monetary stimulus by the end of the year, given the strength of the economic rebound,” the Financial Times reports.

Politico: “During Donald Trump’s final weeks in office, top Justice Department officials wrangled over how the FBI should handle a particularly wacky voter fraud allegation promoted by the then-president and his allies. Unreleased emails… show just how tense the episode got.”

“The dispute pitted a senior career section chief against one of the DOJ’s top officials, with the FBI caught in the crossfire. Trump’s appointees at DOJ ultimately prevailed, and their investigation — a probe into a viral video from Georgia that didn’t actually find any evidence of fraud — ended up playing a role in torpedoing the president’s narrative.”

Texas Tribune: “Three state district judges in Houston have signed orders to temporarily protect more than 40 Texas Democrats from civil arrest for being absent from the state House.” But…

Texas Tribune: “Texas law enforcement was deputized Thursday to track down Texas House Democrats still missing from the chamber and bring them to the state Capitol in Austin, a process that Speaker Dade Phelen’s office said ‘will begin in earnest immediately.’”

“The news came as the Texas Supreme Court cleared the way for their civil arrests after it temporarily blocked Harris County judges’ orders protecting 45 Democrats from such a move.”

Associated Press: “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight time last week, the latest sign that employers are laying off fewer people as they struggle to fill a record number of open jobs and meet a surge in consumer demand. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week.”

“A total of about 12 million people are receiving unemployment benefits, down sharply from the previous week’s figure of nearly 13 million… So far at least, there has been little sign that the delta variant has depressed hiring or prompted layoffs.”

New York Times: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that the House would raise the maximum annual pay rate for Capitol Hill aides, in a long-awaited move intended to help recruit and retain congressional staffers.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this morning that remote voting in the House has been extended through Oct. 1.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) waved off concerns over hospitals exceeding capacity due to COVID-19, saying “we can’t live forever,” The Hill reports.

Said Greene: “Everybody needs to get back down to common sense and remember that, you know, we’re human, we can’t live forever, we’re going to catch all kinds of diseases and illnesses and other viruses, and we get hurt sometimes.”

Republican strategist Tony Lazzaro was indicted for recruiting six minors to engage in sex for money over several months last year in the Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Lazzaro was campaign manager for Lacy Johnson (R), who last fall ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN), and was a delegate to the 2020 Republican convention.

As the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) continues, sources tell ABC News that Gaetz’s one-time wingman “has been steadily providing information and handing over potential evidence that could implicate the Florida congressman and others in the sprawling probe.”

“Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, as part of his ongoing cooperation with prosecutors, has provided investigators with years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts.”

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are circulating a bill that would allow workers to collect unemployment if they quit a job over a vaccine mandate, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Current law stipulates that if an individual is fired or quits a job they are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Charles Gaba: “One thing I’ve been noting is that the R-squared (coefficient of determination) for the graphs at both the state & county levels seems to have been inching up higher over the past month or two… that is, the outlier counties seem to be gradually moving closer to the graph’s trend line.”

“Furthermore, the slope of the trend line seemed to be moving upwards as well over time. Both of these mean that not only is there a clear correlation between a county’s 2020 partisan lean and how quickly their residents are getting vaccinated, that correlation is only increasing over time.”

John Gruber: “The whole series of charts is telling, but the last one — the animated one that shows how the partisan divide is increasing over time — is startling. The vaccinated aren’t going to forget this.”

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

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