Cup of Joe – 9/17/21

“The next few months will push President Joe Biden to wield every drop of his influence over Congress,” Politico reports.

“Democrats are plunging into messy internal debates over social programs from child care to drug pricing as they try to beat back GOP resistance on voting rights while steering the United States away from economic catastrophe. And in order to avert a government shutdown, avoid a debt default and fight ballot access restrictions passed in some GOP states, Democratic lawmakers are urging Biden to get more directly involved.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “has drawn a hard line on not accepting a $3.5 trillion bill and urged his colleagues to hit ‘pause’ on the legislation altogether—a request he reiterated during a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting this week,” The Hill reports.

Said Manchin: “Everybody knows my position. I’ve been very clear, very open. I didn’t want anybody to say it was a surprise.”

He added: “Guys, my opposition is pretty well stated, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Washington Post: Joe Manchin gets all the attention. But Kyrsten Sinema could be an even bigger obstacle for Democrats’ spending plans.

After Democrats won slim House and Senate majorities in 2020, conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C. — perhaps informed by lazy political reporting — suggested that Democratic leaders would have a hard time governing with their progressive wing.   After all, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would now have worry about The Squad — four progressive minority women — essentially having veto power over the more moderate President Biden’s legislative plans.   The narrative that Democrats had become a mirror image of Republicans — with The Squad playing the role of the House Freedom Caucus — was logically appealing.

It’s just not at all true.   The small group of lawmakers causing the most headaches for Biden and Democratic leaders is not The Squad, but a small group of white moderates in both the House and Senate.   And right now they’re threatening to upend Biden’s agenda.

Punchbowl News: “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday to discuss the debt-limit situation… But it doesn’t sound like much progress was made, the latest sign of how dug in both sides are on this issue with potentially just weeks before the federal government exhausts its borrowing capacity.”

“The House returns to town Monday for the first time in a month, and the showdown over government funding and the debt ceiling is quickly emerging as the top issue for the White House and Congress. Democratic leaders are currently planning to attach a debt-limit increase to a continuing resolution needed to keep federal agencies open beyond Sept. 30. The House is expected to take up that measure early next week. McConnell and Senate Republicans have said they will block this proposal.”

“With the government’s full faith and credit on the line, the Democratic leadership’s strategy for raising the federal borrowing limit seems to be this: Try to shame the impervious Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, into capitulating,” the New York Times reports.

“They unsuccessfully tried this strategy in 2016, when Mr. McConnell blockaded the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court, maintaining that voters should decide who would name the next justice when they picked a president that November. They tried and failed again late last year, weeks before a presidential election, when the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened a Supreme Court seat for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill, no matter what voters had to say a month and a half later.”

“The left trying to move Senator McConnell with shame or pressure is like trying to move Mount Everest with a light breeze.”  Antonia Ferrier, a former spokeswoman for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the New York Times.

“Almost a month ago, President Biden announced that coronavirus booster shots would be made available to most adults in the United States this month. But a week before that plan is to begin, its details remain up in the air, with dissenting opinions coming from inside and outside the government,” the New York Times reports.

“A series of conflicting reviews this week illustrates the fierce argument among scientists about whether booster shots are needed, and if so, for whom.”

New York Times: “Resistance to vaccine mandates was once a fringe position in both parties, more the realm of misinformed celebrities than mainstream political thought. But the fury over Mr. Biden’s mandates shows how a once-extreme stance has moved to the center of the Republican Party. The governors’ opposition reflects the anger and fear about the vaccine among constituents now central to their base, while ignoring longstanding policy and legal precedent in favor of similar vaccination requirements.”

“Ron DeSantis isn’t anti-vaccine. But he has started standing shoulder-to-shoulder those who are,” Politico reports.

“The Florida governor’s clear and unadulterated public messaging about the need for vaccines has become more diluted in recent months, culminating with a press conference he held this week to bash President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate plan — and threaten to fine cities and counties that impose their own mandates.”

“Democrats have been sharpening their attacks on Republicans over the pandemic, former president Donald Trump and other polarizing topics, and now, emboldened by victory in California’s recall election, party leaders are seeking to further escalate hostilities ahead of the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“Beyond prompting a collective sigh of relief in a party reeling from a difficult summer, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Tuesday win served as the first test of a revamped campaign strategy that Democrats quietly began assembling weeks ago, amid a realization that positive talk about President Biden getting the country back on track had run into the harsh realities of a delta variant coronavirus surge.”

“Chastened by the resurgence, the difficult Afghanistan withdrawal and declining public confidence in Biden’s handling of the pandemic and other issues, Democrats have gone on offense against the GOP, following private summer polling that showed broad and growing anger at the Republican resistance to vaccination.”

“President Biden is set to announce Wednesday the United States will share highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia, a major departure from past policy and a direct challenge to China in its Pacific neighborhood,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “If the plan, announced on Wednesday by President Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, comes to fruition, Australia may be conducting routine patrols that could sail through areas of the South China Sea that Beijing now claims as its own exclusive zone, and range as far north as Taiwan. The announcement is a major step for Australia, which until recent years has been hesitant to push back directly at core Chinese interests.”

President Biden plans to host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House next week, Axios reports.

“When Scott Morrison became Australia’s prime minister three years ago, he insisted that the country could maintain close ties with China, its largest trading partner, while working with the United States, its main security ally,” the New York Times reports.

Said Morrison: “Australia doesn’t have to choose.”

“On Thursday, Australia effectively chose. Following years of sharply deteriorating relations with Beijing, Australia announced a new defense agreement in which the United States and Britain would help it deploy nuclear-powered submarines, a major advance in Australian military strength.”

“Furious over President Biden’s announcement of a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines, French officials in Washington on Thursday angrily canceled a gala at their Washington embassy to protest what they called a rash and sudden policy decision that resembled those of former President Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

Former president Donald Trump is concerned that this weekend’s rally at the Capitol in support of the January 6 insurrectionists is a “setup” designed to damage his reputation, the New York Times reports.  Trump is reportedly fearful that the media will use the rally against him “regardless of the outcome.”

CNN: Republican lawmakers keep Saturday’s right-wing rally at arm’s length.

Ahead of the Jan. 6 attacks at the Capitol, domestic extremists used TikTok to “recruit people to their causes, as well as share ‘tactical guidance’ for terrorist and criminal activities,” Politico reports.

“The DHS alert shows concern that TikTok — already under scrutiny for possibly sending people’s data to China, accusations the company denies — has become a hotbed of extremist activity and that law enforcement enforcement will have to pay closer attention to a platform more associated with viral dance videos than far-right radicalism.”

Kevin Williamson: “The Trump administration was grotesque in its cruelty and incompetence. But without the coup attempt, it might have been possible to work out a modus vivendi between anti-Trump conservatives and Mr. Trump’s right-wing nationalist-populists. Conservatives were not happy with Mr. Trump’s histrionics, but many were reasonably satisfied with all those Federalist Society judges and his signature on Paul Ryan’s tax bill…”

“In the normal course of democratic politics, people who disagree about one issue can work together when they agree about another. We can fight over taxes or trade policy.”

“But there isn’t really any middle ground on overthrowing the government. And that is what Mr. Trump and his allies were up to in 2020, through both violent and nonviolent means — and continue to be up to today.”

“When it comes to a coup, you’re either in or you’re out. The Republican Party is leaning pretty strongly toward in. That is going to leave at least some conservatives out — and, in all likelihood, permanently out.”

A handful of former Trump officials are making a concerted effort to amass opposition to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, the AP reports.  “The former officials are writing position papers, appearing on conservative television outlets and meeting privately with GOP lawmakers — all in an effort to turn the collapse of Afghanistan into another opportunity to push a hard-line immigration agenda.”

“A new conservative coalition led by former Trump administration advisers plans to launch an up to $10 million campaign attacking President Biden’s economic package as it advances through Congress,” the Washington Post reports.

“Conservative alarm about Biden’s proposed tax hikes — which some nonpartisan estimates have found overwhelmingly target the rich and large corporations — has intensified as they move toward passage. Democrats face a difficult legislative path in holding together virtually all of their members in both the House and Senate to approve a plan to spend approximately $3.5 trillion over 10 years on safety net expansions, education programs, and funding to mitigate climate change.”

“Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some anti-vaxers and one of them, poor man, is in hospital with the virus. But life is ironic.”  — Pope Francis, quoted by the New York Times.

“Dozens of people in Vladimir Putin’s entourage have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Russian leader said Thursday, as his country struggles with high infection rates and a vaccine-skeptic population,” the Moscow Times reports.

Ben Parker: “In an important sense, Putin has and can have no successor. Like almost every Russian leader before him dating back to the Bolshevik Revolution, he has redefined the job of Russian leader according to his own personality, preferences, and situation.”

Axios: “California is projected to receive the largest number of Afghans at 5,255. Next is Texas, at 4,481.”

“Friction between pragmatists and ideologues in the Taliban leadership has intensified since the group formed a hard-line Cabinet last week that is more in line with their harsh rule in the 1990s than their recent promises of inclusiveness,” the Associated Press reports.

“U.S. retail sales rebounded in August, a sign Americans are able and eager to spend despite the Delta variant,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Colorado’s Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected governor in the U.S., married his longtime partner Marlon Reis on Wednesday,” the Denver Post reports.

Roger Stone was served with papers relating to a Capitol riot lawsuit while live on radio and answering a question about why Donald Trump should run in 2024.

The Senate has confirmed just two of President Biden’s ambassadorial nominations, far behind the 56 confirmed envoys President Obama had at this stage, Axios reports.

“Just five of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies, among them JBS, Tyson and Cargill, are responsible for more emissions than oil giants like Exxon and BP,” Green Queen reports.

“California lawmakers voted to decriminalize loitering for the purpose of prostitution, following passionate debate on a controversial bill that will be sent in January to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his consideration,” the Sacramento Bee reports.

Newsom has not said if he will sign the bill.

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

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