Cup of Joe – 10/1/21

After a marathon day of talks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not plan to have an infrastructure vote tonight, CNN reports.

The House will reconvene tomorrow. Upon leaving the Capitol just after midnight, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared “there will be a vote today.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top members of Mr. Biden’s team worked into the evening at the Capitol in a frenzied effort to strike a deal between feuding factions and move forward on the expansive public works measure, which passed the Senate in August on a wave of bipartisan bonhomie,” the New York Times reports.

“Centrist Democrats and a handful of House Republican allies remained hopeful that the measure could squeak past a blockade of liberal Democrats, who have pledged to thwart its passage until the Senate approves a $3.5 trillion climate change and social safety net bill.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced yesterday that he “can’t support” the $3.5 trillion price tag on the reconciliation bill, but he indicated shortly afterward that he isn’t shutting the door on it altogether: He wants his fellow Democrats to work on the tax aspect of the legislation. “I want to do a tax overhaul. One thing you understand that all Democrats agreed on, there’s not a lot of things we all agree on, is that the 2017 tax cuts are unfair and weighted toward the high end. Let’s fix that. That’s the reconciliation,” Manchin said, per Politico.

“I think we can get a good bill done. I really do, if we work in good faith,” he added.

Manchin then revealed that he will not support more than $1.5 trillion in a budget reconciliation package. He added that Democrats need to elect more liberals if they want to go above his $1.5 trillion top line. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) proposed a deal to Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this summer to limit the total cost of Democrats’ sweeping spending bill to $1.5 trillion,” according to a copy of the agreement obtained by Politico.

“Manchin also suggested beginning debate no earlier than Oct. 1.” Well, that’s today.

“The West Virginia senator has been distributing the document to Democratic colleagues and leaders in recent days to underscore that he has outlined his red lines on President Joe Biden’s jobs and families plan. The one-page understanding is dated July 28, right before the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin helped write and ahead of Senate passage of a budget setting up a spending bill as large as $3.5 trillion.”

Wall Street Journal: “Lawmakers and aides said Mr. Manchin’s desire for a $1.5 trillion price tag on the social policy and climate bill didn’t reflect the current negotiations. Some aides said they expected a new agreement could come in around $2 trillion.”

Punchbowl News: “Here’s the reality: If Pelosi decides to pause the process here, it’s not fatal in any way shape or form. It’s not great, of course, but it’s not a mortal blow to Biden’s agenda. It just means Democrats will have to return to infrastructure when reconciliation is more fully formed.”

Key takeaway: “It’s tough to pass FDR-sized programs without FDR-sized majorities.”

This is interesting: Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the budget reconciliation bill the “culmination of my service in Congress.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), after meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that House progressives have not changed their position on the bipartisan infrastructure bill: “We have called for the reconciliation bill to be passed first and then we’ll happily vote for the infrastructure bill.”

Bloomberg: “Lawmakers from swing districts said in interviews they’re growing concerned about the current deadlock among Democrats on how to proceed with these massive spending measures. Progressives are insisting that both bills be considered at the same time, while some moderates want to vote on infrastructure as leaders continue negotiating the social spending package.”

Said Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA): “Quite honestly if we can’t deliver we can lose the majority. And we’ll be the minority party, and we’re not going to be talking about working on any of these things. The Republicans will be working on tax cuts for the super wealthy.”

“The $3.5 trillion Biden plan isn’t socialism, it’s Marxism.”  — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), on Twitter.  This suggests to me that charges of “socialism” against Democrats are no longer scary enough for Republicans.

Walter Shapiro: “Blame Cal Cunningham for everything. He lost a probably winnable 2020 Senate seat in North Carolina because of a sex scandal. In an alternative universe, the Democrats would have 51 Senate seats and Sinema could follow her own weird path without affecting the outcome.”

“President Biden is navigating the most perilous week for his legislative agenda yet with an approach he’s honed over his decades in Washington: Hear out the warring factions, determine the realm of the possible and find the point of compromise that satisfies all sides,” the Washington Post reports.

“That strategy has been clear in meetings with pivotal Democrats in the past week, with Biden speaking and hosting a stream of lawmakers — in particular a pair of moderate Senate Democrats who have wielded outsize influence in shaping the president’s agenda.”

“But the lack of tangible progress evident from those talks, combined with growing concerns from congressional Democrats, are testing the legislative acumen of a president who prides himself as a consummate creature of Capitol Hill.”

Bloomberg: “Biden, despite plenty of closed-door meetings and phone calls, has been largely absent from the public battle over his own economic plan.”

“The select panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has issued eleven new subpoenas to people involved in planning the rally ahead of the riots,” Axios reports.

“The new subpoenas provide more insight into the scope of the select committee’s investigation as it ramps up. The previous subpoenas were issued to four members of former President Trump’s inner circle.”

“Klete Keller, the five-time Olympic swimming medalist from USC, agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday after facing seven federal charges for participating in the U.S. Capitol riot,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Keller stood out amid the chaos in the Capitol rotunda thanks to his 6-foot-6 height, beard and distinctive U.S. Olympic team jacket with ‘USA’ written in large letters on the back.”

“Senate Democrats and Republicans on Thursday approved a measure to fund the government into early December, putting lawmakers one step close toward staving off a shutdown that is set to occur after midnight,” the Washington Post reports.

“The morning vote followed weeks of hand wringing between the two parties, after Democrats initially sought to move the measure along with another proposal to raise the country’s debt ceiling. Republicans blocked that effort, leaving the country’s ability to borrow unresolved just 18 days before the next major fiscal deadline.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Congress can’t use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit, calling it “uncharted waters,” NBC News reports. Said Schumer: “This body cannot and will not go through a drawn-out and unpredictable process sought by the minority leader.”

He added: “To do this through reconciliation requires ping-ponging separate bills back from the Senate and the House… Individual senators could move to delay and delay and delay. It is very risky and could well lead us to default.”

It’s an odd statement since he may be forced to use reconciliation — unless he’s got some secret plan to eliminate the filibuster.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told Reuters that the investment bank has started to prepare for a “potentially catastrophic” situation should the United States default on the national debt.

“The Senate parliamentarian has nixed Democrats’ back-up plan for getting immigration reform into a sweeping spending bill, handing them a second setback,” The Hill reports.

Derek Thompson: “Five months later, the U.S. is no longer in the top five in national vaccine rates. We’re not in the top 10, or the top 20, or top 30. By one count, we’re 36th—countries as varied as Malta, Canada, Mongolia, and Ecuador have all surpassed us. If the European Union or the G7 were countries, they would be ahead of us too. With about 66 percent of Americans over 18 fully vaccinated, some might be impressed that it’s possible to get two-thirds of the country to agree on anything. But America still seems to suffer from an internationally unique reluctance.”

“How did this happen? The U.S. was arguably more responsible than any other country for the invention, manufacturing, and distribution of the mRNA vaccines. How did the pace-setting effort to vaccinate Americans peter out and leave us behind most of the developed world?”

“The data point to three key reasons the United States is 36th and falling: It is unusually uninsured, unusually contrarian, and unusually polarized. These are three familiar—even defining—attributes of American life.”

Richard Haass: “Donald Trump was supposed to be an aberration—a U.S. president whose foreign policy marked a sharp but temporary break from an internationalism that had defined seven decades of U.S. interactions with the world. He saw little value in alliances and spurned multilateral institutions. He eagerly withdrew from existing international agreements, such as the Paris climate accord and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and backed away from new ones, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He coddled autocrats and trained his ire on the United States’ democratic partners.”

“At first glance, the foreign policy of U.S. President Joe Biden could hardly be more different… But the differences, meaningful as they are, obscure a deeper truth: there is far more continuity between the foreign policy of the current president and that of the former president than is typically recognized.”

“President Biden on Thursday announced plans to nominate 10 people to the federal bench and four to serve on local Washington, D.C., courts,” The Hill reports.

“It’s the eighth round of nominees announced by Biden, who has now named 53 federal judicial nominees.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by Sen. Ted Cruz challenging federal campaign finance rules that restrict a campaign’s ability to raise money after an election to repay a candidate’s personal loan,” USA Today reports.

“There is going to be a lot of disappointment in the law, a huge amount. Look at me, look at my dissents.”  — Justice Sonia Sotomayor, quoted by CNN, previewing the upcoming Supreme Court term.

“Exxon Mobil has been lobbying against pieces of a sprawling Democratic budget bill aimed at boosting working class families and fighting climate change,” CNBC reports.

“The fossil fuel giant has spent $275,000 over the past week on Facebook ads that include spots targeting tax hikes Democrats have included in the bill, which has a $3.5 trillion price tag at the moment.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is out with a new ad, airing on OANN, calling on House Republicans to vote no on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Greene blasts the “19 cowardly Senate Republicans” who voted for the bill, which she labels “the first step in Biden’s communization of America.”

“In a classified briefing with senators on Tuesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley directly blamed the State Department for a botched evacuation from Afghanistan, saying officials ‘waited too long’ to order the operation out of Kabul’s airport,” Axios reports.

“Those private remarks were far more blunt than Milley’s public testimony, in which the nation’s top general said the issue of whether the order should have been given earlier is an “open question that needs further exploration.”

“Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that a recent spell of higher inflation might last longer than central bank officials had anticipated, but he repeated his expectation that the price surge should eventually fade,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The U.S. recovery from the latest Covid-19 wave is taking hold across the country, with cases dropping or poised to start falling in the vast majority of states,” Bloomberg reports.

“In 47 states plus the nation’s capital, a measure of average new infections from one newly infected person is below the key level of 1, signaling that cases are expected to decline.”

David Leonhardt: “In 1777, smallpox was a big enough problem for the bedraggled American army that George Washington thought it could jeopardize the Revolution. An outbreak had already led to one American defeat, at the Battle of Quebec. To prevent more, Washington ordered immunizations — done quietly, so the British would not hear how many Americans were sick — for all troops who had not yet had the virus.”

“It worked. The number of smallpox cases plummeted, and Washington’s army survived a war of attrition against the world’s most powerful country. The immunization mandate, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Washington, ‘was as important as any military measure Washington adopted during the war.’”

The Economist: “Although covid-19 vaccines are still scarce in poor countries, rich ones enjoy a plentiful supply. In the European Union, nearly three-quarters of adults have been fully vaccinated. In Britain the figure exceeds 80%. And as vaccination rates have climbed, deaths have fallen. In the EU, daily deaths in excess of those in normal years have tumbled by more than 90% since their peak in November. In Britain, they are down by 95% since January, to just less than one per 1 million people.”

“There is, however, one big exception to this story. America is recording nearly 2,000 covid-19 deaths a day… That is only 40% below the country’s January peak. But the true death toll is even worse. The Economist’s excess-deaths model… suggests that America is suffering 2,800 pandemic deaths per day, with a plausible range of 900 to 3,300, compared with 1,000 (150 to 3,000) in all other high-income countries, as defined by the World Bank. Adjusting for population, the death rate is now about eight times higher in America than in the rest of the rich world.”

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

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