Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Biden has sought to place the spotlight on domestic issues, including Friday’s underwhelming jobs report and recovery from Hurricane Ida, visiting New Orleans Friday and making plans to travel to the New York metropolitan area on Tuesday to assess storm damage. He is expected to focus heavily on his infrastructure and antipoverty legislation in the coming weeks, as Congress returns to Washington, as well as travel to California to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat facing a recall election.”
“The packed calendar comes as Mr. Biden takes bipartisan heat for the chaotic exit from Afghanistan. A few Republicans have said the president should be impeached, and Mr. Biden’s poll numbers have taken a hit.”
“[J]ust because we aren’t looking at the best-case scenario, doesn’t mean that we’re now in a worst-case scenario. Instead, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, we’re looking at something in the manageable middle. ‘It is really important that we convey that success does not equal no cases,’ Murthy told POLITICO in an interview. ‘Success looks like very few people in the hospital and very few dying.’
“With all the worry about Delta, he noted, the gains we’ve made are sometimes forgotten or diminished. The vaccines do work, he stressed. Breakthrough cases remain infrequent; few are life threatening.”
Coronavirus is “here to stay.” “Epidemiologists now expect the coronavirus to be endemic, meaning it’s here to stay. But even if the virus persists, it doesn’t mean a perpetual pandemic. Over time, human immunity will keep growing through vaccination and natural infection; that’s already started. Scientists will develop new treatments. Eventually, Covid can become one of many diseases that circulate, that sometimes even kill, without bringing the world to a deadly standstill. Until then, the challenge is to find out how to co-exist with it, tenuously, as safely as we can.”
“A summer that began with plunging caseloads and real hope that the worst of Covid-19 had passed is ending with soaring death counts, full hospitals and a bitter realization that the coronavirus is going to remain a fact of American life for the foreseeable future,” the New York Times reports.
“Vaccination rates are ticking upward, and reports of new infections are starting to fall in some hard-hit Southern states. But Labor Day weekend bears little resemblance to Memorial Day, when the country was averaging fewer than 25,000 cases daily, or to the Fourth of July, when President Biden spoke about nearing independence from the virus.”
“Instead, with more than 160,000 new cases a day and about 100,000 Covid patients hospitalized nationwide, this holiday feels more like a flashback to 2020.”
Washington Post: “As Florida appears to be turning the corner from a coronavirus rampage that fueled record new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, its residents and leaders are surveying the damage left from more than 7,000 deaths reported since July Fourth and the scars inflicted by feuds over masks and vaccines. New infections were averaging more than 22,000 a day in the last days of August but have fallen to about 19,000.”
“Yet recovery could prove fleeting: Holiday weekends such as Labor Day have acted as a tinderbox for earlier outbreaks, and late summer marks the return of students to college campuses.”
“Oregon and Idaho have joined the list of U.S. states that are running out of I.C.U. beds as both confront a dramatic rise in new coronavirus infections,” the New York Times reports.
Rolling Stone is backtracking from an apparently overblown assertion that hospitals are turning away gunshot and other emergency victims because they’re swamped by Ivermectin overdoses.
“When congressional committees meet this week to begin formally drafting Democrats’ ambitious social policy plan, they will be undertaking the most significant expansion of the nation’s safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s, devising legislation that would touch virtually every American’s life, from conception to aged infirmity,” the New York Times reports.
“Passage of the bill, which could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade, is anything but certain. President Biden, who has staked much of his domestic legacy on the measure’s enactment, will need the vote of every single Democrat in the Senate, and virtually every one in the House, to secure it. And with two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, saying they would not accept such a costly plan, it will challenge Democratic unity like nothing has since the Affordable Care Act.”
“That is largely because the proposed legislation would be so transformative — a cradle-to-grave reweaving of a social safety net frayed by decades of expanding income inequality, stagnating wealth and depleted governmental resources, capped by the worst public health crisis in a century.”
“Progressive Democrats, who had hoped unified party control of the government could spur transformative tax increases on multinational companies and wealthy individuals, look like they will have to settle for a more modest outcome,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Tax-code changes moving through Congress this month would still likely raise more than $1 trillion over a decade and reverse many Trump-era changes to help fund an expanded social safety net. Key pieces remain unresolved, and progressive activists hope Democrats can be swayed by last-minute pressure campaigns and the party’s desire to unite behind President Biden.”
New York Times: “Just a few days shy of his 80th birthday, Mr. Sanders was back on the campaign trail last week, trekking across Republican-leaning districts in the Midwest to cap off a blitz of local television interviews and opinion essays placed in traditionally conservative news outlets.”
“But this time, instead of pursuing a higher political office, he was campaigning for a legislative legacy: a $3.5 trillion package that, if passed, would amount to the most significant expansion of the social safety net since the Great Society of the 1960s.”
“The Taliban on Monday seized Panjshir province, a restive mountain region that was the final holdout of resistance forces in the country, cementing its total control over Afghanistan a week after U.S. forces departed the country,” the Washington Post reports.
“The United States facilitated the safe departure of four American citizens by overland route from Afghanistan,” NBC News reports. “Monday’s revelation is the first known evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan with U.S. government assistance since the withdrawal.”
Wall Street Journal: “While many factors, recent and long past, contributed to America’s drive to leave Afghanistan, among the problems, interviews with a wide range of officials suggest, was the difficulty the Biden administration had in quickly adjusting to changing circumstances as the Taliban advanced, as more-pessimistic intelligence assessments arrived and as military officials raised alarms that Washington was moving too slowly to help Afghan allies.”
Washington Post: “The eight generals who commanded American forces in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2018 have gone on to serve on more than 20 corporate boards… Stanley McChrystal is the runaway corporate leader.”
“More than 7 million out-of-work people across the United States are set to lose all of their jobless benefits this week as three federal programs expire on Monday, in what several experts described as one of the largest and most abrupt ends to government aid in U.S. history,” the Washington Post reports.
“In addition to the more than 7 million people who will lose all their benefits, nearly 3 million more people will lose a $300 weekly boost to their state unemployment benefits.”
“Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the Justice Department would protect women seeking an abortion in Texas as the agency explores ways to challenge one of the most restrictive laws in the nation,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “How Texas arrived at this moment was the culmination of years of Republican control, conservative judicial appointments and rising passion around abortion issues by many Christians in the state. Polls show Texans almost evenly divided on abortion access and the state’s cities have grown more Democratic, but it was the conservative abortion opponents who established a powerful political, cultural and even physical presence across the state’s vast terrain.”
“Indeed, because Roe v. Wade began in Texas, after an unmarried woman challenged the state’s criminal abortion laws, the modern anti-abortion movement in the state has felt compelled to push for its disintegration.”
“I think the Supreme Court will swat it away once it comes to them in an appropriate manner. If it’s as terrible as people say it is, it‘ll be destroyed by the Supreme Court.” — Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), quoted by Politico, on the new Texas abortion ban.
Ruby Cramer: “He is a president who built his life in politics around the idea of faith, not in some vague way, but in a specifically Catholic way. When he explains himself to the world, it is through Catholic social doctrine and the Catholic institutions he loved: the nuns, the schools, the culture. And yet he has arrived in the White House to discover that he is viewed suspiciously not by non-Catholics for being too Catholic, but rather by members of his own faith for not being Catholic enough.”
“It was his position on abortion — and his decision in the Democratic primary to finally oppose the Hyde Amendment, the measure banning public funding for most abortions, the one thing he resisted for decades — that helped him win the White House after three decades and three presidential campaigns, but immediately made him a target of his own church.”
Axios: “Labor unions represent a larger percentage of U.S. workers than at any time in the past five years, as the pandemic took its biggest bite out of non-unionized jobs.”
“America’s labor movement isn’t quite resurgent, but it is showing signs of life after decades of decline.”
“In 2020, 10.8% of all wage and salaried workers were members of unions, up 0.5% from 2019. That’s the highest mark since 2015.”
New York Times: “Biden is still haunted by the memory of a son he had always described to confidants as ‘me, but without all the downsides,’ and … his anguish over that loss can clash with the political realities of being president.”
“The president still sometimes mentions his son in the present tense in private discussions… He carries his son’s rosary beads with him, once holding them aloft during a virtual meeting at the White House this spring with the president of Mexico. Several people close to Mr. Biden conceded that he sometimes does not always seem to be aware that broaching his own loss can make others uncomfortable.”
Punchbowl News: “There are 24 days until the federal government runs out of money. Will an all Democratic-run Washington allow the government to shut down? We don’t see that happening, but we don’t feel terribly confident about the direction things are heading in either.”
“Why? Because the White House and Democratic congressional leaders have been insistent that they’ll attach a debt ceiling increase to the must-pass government funding bill. Republicans, especially Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have vowed to oppose this approach. And there’s been no progress on the issue as of now.”
Washington Post: “Pakistan is beginning to reckon with the destabilizing effects washing across the Afghan border. The Taliban’s dramatic victory not only has galvanized terrorist groups waging a bloody insurgency inside Pakistan, but it has also buoyed hard-line religious parties that seek to reshape Pakistan in a more fundamentalist Islamist image.”
“The result, say analysts and current and former Pakistani and U.S. officials, is a renewed dilemma for a Pakistani military establishment that has sought since the late 1970s to strategically harness — but also carefully contain — the combustible rise of religious fervor in the country.”
Washington Post: “This year alone, 12 states have passed income tax reductions, 17 states have increased voting restrictions that are expected to hit Democratic constituencies more critically, and 18 states have enacted new or expanded school choice programs, according to the tallies kept by interest groups.”
“Republican governors in several states have also had success in undermining President Biden’s efforts to require masks for schoolchildren and others in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.”
“Democrats may control the elected levers of power in Washington — after a remarkable three-year run in which they took back the House, reclaimed the Senate and evicted Donald Trump from the White House — but the battle over the future direction of the country remains wide open. By focusing on state and judicial power, Republicans are enjoying something of a provincial policy renaissance. Democrats, meantime, face new pressures to wield their power more aggressively by breaking long-standing precedent.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) “is calling for a special session of the General Assembly to address the commonwealth’s alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports.
“Beshear’s call comes two weeks after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled a lower court was wrong to block new laws limiting the scope of the governor’s emergency powers, giving the Republicans’ legislative supermajority a substantial say over any new policy measures to address the pandemic.”
Houston Public Media: “Texas schools have amassed more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in students in just a couple of weeks. More than a dozen school districts have closed temporarily as a result of the disease, and Texas is a leader in child deaths from COVID-19 with 59 as of Sept. 3.”
Time: “For Schumer, the Senate’s Great Kibitzer, leadership consists of talking–and talking, and talking, and talking. The other 49 members of the Democratic caucus marvel at how frequently he calls. He calls just to check in; he calls in the middle of the night; he calls when other people might send a text or email, formats he abhors.”
Said Schumer: “You never learn things by email. I hate it.”
“Schumer estimates that he talks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi two or three times a day, President Biden two or three times a week, White House chief of staff Ron Klain three or four times a day.”
He adds: “I talk to people–talk. Everyone should talk. If you disagree with someone, fine, be respectful–but talk!”