Cup of Joe – 10/19/21

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden spoke by phone last Tuesday and zeroed in on a strategy for their party’s sweeping economic package, deciding that the time has come to wrap up negotiations — a sign of Democrats’ growing restiveness at a critical moment for their domestic agenda,” CNN reports.

Meanwhile, CBS News reports Rep, Primila Jayapal (D-WA) met with Biden at the White House yesterday morning, per CBS’ Kristin Brown.

“Talks are underway for Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin to meet one-on-one after a week of escalating sparring between the two influential members of the Democratic caucus,” Politico reports. “Democrats need both Manchin and Sanders to support anything that passes the evenly split Senate, so any olive branch would be helpful to the party at this point.”

“Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) has started urging his colleagues to support a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the coming days — even if the Build Back Better bill isn’t ready yet,” Politico reports. “The Virginia Democrat, a Terry McAuliffe ally who recently started making the case in the media for such a move, spoke with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) about this idea over the weekend.”

When asked about legislative negotiations over President Biden’s agenda, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Fox Business that he’s “praying for gridlock.”  That’s an odd — but accurate — campaign slogan for the GOP.

“As lawmakers debate how much to spend on President Biden’s sprawling domestic agenda, they are really arguing about a seemingly simple issue: affordability,” the New York Times reports.

“Can a country already running huge deficits afford the scope of spending that the president envisions? Or, conversely, can it afford to wait to address large social, environmental and economic problems that will accrue costs for years to come?”

“It is a stealth battle over the fiscal future at a time when few lawmakers in either party have prioritized addressing debt and deficits. Each side believes its approach would put the nation’s finances on a more sustainable path by generating the strongest, most durable economic growth possible.”

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range,” Axios reports.

“While Manchin’s demands would dramatically weaken one of President Biden’s signature programs to help working families, they also would reduce the package’s overall costs.”

The White House tweets: “The cost of the Build Back Better Agenda is $0. The President’s plan won’t add to our national deficit and no one making under $400,000 per year will see their taxes go up a single penny. It’s fully paid for by ensuring big corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share.”

Punchbowl News: “Party leaders must make progress on their stalled reconciliation package — the problem is bigger than just Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — with the clock ticking on the Oct. 31 deadline for voting on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. It is just 13 days away.”

“That’s when the 30-day extension for federal surface transportation programs expires. Remember, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a delay in the House infrastructure vote to provide House and Senate leaders with more time to come up with a deal on the multi-trillion dollar reconciliation package. At the very least a topline number. Something. Pelosi, in fact, wanted to pass the infrastructure bill ‘well before then — the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there,’ she said in her Oct. 2 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter.”

“Yet less than two weeks before that deadline, there’s zero chance the reconciliation package will be completed by then. It’s not even clear that an agreement is possible on a topline number by that date. There’s daily staff-level discussions between House and Senate leadership aides and committee staffers, along with White House officials, but no one seems willing to make the tough political decisions required in order to reduce a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to the $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion level that Manchin, Sinema and other moderates will accept. Pelosi seems like she’s ready to do it, although so far, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House aren’t willing to go along with House Democrats’ positions on the legislation.”

President Biden is heading to his childhood hometown of Scranton to promote his expansive legislative agenda, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports.

Manchin appeared skeptical on Monday that Democrats would be able to meet their self-imposed deadline to get a Senate-passed infrastructure bill and a sweeping social spending bill to President Biden’s desk by the end of the month, The Hill reports. Said Manchin: “There is an awful lot going on. I don’t know how that would happen.”

Colin Powell, the former secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has died from Covid complications at the age of 84, CNBC reports.

At least five people who’ve been charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 have insisted on representing themselves in their court cases, a strategy that doesn’t seem to working out super well for them so far.

Alan Hostetter, the retired police chief-turned-yoga instructor who has been charged with conspiracy in the attack, told the judge that he wanted to represent himself due to what he called the “corruption of this investigation.”

Pauline Bauer, a restaurant owner in Pennsylvania, has gotten sassy with the judge, at one point telling him that she doesn’t want “any lawyering from the bench,” according to the Associated Press.

Brandon Fellows, a Pennsylvania man who happens to have the same judge as Bauer, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, accidentally blabbed about new alleged felonies while he was speaking during his hearing last week.

“Donald Trump is suing the Jan. 6 select committee and the National Archives to block the release of his White House’s records related to the Capitol attack,” Politico reports.

The suit accuses the select committee and its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, of harassing Trump and senior members of his administration with “an illegal, unfounded, and overbroad records request to the Archivist of the United States.”

Former President Donald Trump issued a statement over the weekend: “Either a new Election should immediately take place or the past Election should be decertified and the Republican candidate declared the winner.”

“Former President Donald Trump answered questions under oath for about 4 1/2 hours Monday as part of a lawsuit brought by men alleging they were assaulted by his security during a demonstration outside Trump Tower in 2015,” CNN reports.

Daily Beast: “A video of the lengthy testimony will be played for a jury when the case heads to trial, which is likely to be scheduled during an Oct. 25 case conference.”

NBC News: “At least 10 civil cases are pending against Trump, whose ability to delay them has been curtailed since he left office in January. Trump had argued in some of the cases that as a sitting president he was immune from civil lawsuits. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the cases.”

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager announced that he has Covid-19 while he ranted against vaccines.

Said Prager: “It is infinitely preferable to have natural immunity than vaccine immunity and that is what I have hoped for the entire time. Hence, so, I have engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting Covid. Which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded, what I wanted.”

Prager also said he “has been taking hydroxychloroquine from the beginning.”

Conservative radio host Dan Bongino slammed Cumulus Media, which carries The Dan Bongino Show, over the broadcasting company’s coronavirus vaccine mandate and dared the company to drop him.

Said Bognino: “I don’t want to be working for anybody, so I work for myself and I choose who to partner with. So I partner with Cumulus. You’re probably listening to me on a Cumulus station now. So Cumulus, for some stupid reason, thought it would be a really good idea to do a vaccine mandate. Why they would do that, I have no idea.”

He added: “I believe these vaccine mandates are unethical. I believe they’re immoral… And candidly I’d rather not be here today on this station or on any of these stations. I’d rather just talk to you on my podcast, which is mine.”

“As the rest of the U.S. begins to refer to the second ‘summer surge’ of the coronavirus pandemic in the past tense, Montana has for weeks stood out as one of the nation’s hotspots, with no sign of a slowdown as statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations set a new record this week,” the Billings Gazette reports.

“Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) defended his administration’s policies toward the pandemic, which have included signing into law the nation’s only prohibition on private businesses requiring vaccines in the workplace, and several measures that limited the power of local health departments to implement measures to curb the virus’ spread.”

“A Miami school that made headlines for saying it would penalize teachers who got the Covid-19 vaccine is now requiring students who get vaccinated to remain home for 30 days after each dose,” WSVN reports.

Almost the entire Afghan population of 40 million people could fall below the poverty line in coming months, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“China’s economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter from a year earlier, slowing sharply from the previous quarter’s 7.9% growth rate, as power shortages and supply-chain problems added to the impact from Beijing’s efforts to rein in the real estate and technology sectors,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“China has denied reports that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile earlier this year, insisting instead that it was a routine spacecraft check,” the BBC reports.  “Hypersonic missiles are much faster and more agile than normal ones, meaning they are more difficult to intercept.”

New York Times: “It is true… that China is emerging as a far broader strategic adversary than the Soviet Union ever was — a technological threat, a military threat, an economic rival. And while President Biden insisted at the United Nations last month that ‘we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,’ his repeated references this year to a generational struggle between ‘autocracy and democracy’ conjured for some the ideological edge of the 1950s and ’60s.”

“Yet the question of whether the United States is entering a new Cold War is about more than just finding the right metaphor for this odd turn in superpower politics. Governments that plunge into a Cold War mind-set can exaggerate every conflict, convinced that they are part of a larger struggle. They can miss opportunities for cooperation, as the United States and China did in battling Covid-19, and may yet on the climate.”

“And the issue of whether this is a Cold War, or something quite different, lurks just beneath the escalating tensions over economic strategy, technological competition and military maneuvers — undersea, in space and in cyberspace.”

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was a frequent visitor to Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion, Rolling Stone reports.

“Although Epstein’s reputation was badly damaged after he spent 13 months in a Florida jail for soliciting sex from a teen, the conviction didn’t stop the flow of wealthy and famous people who flocked to his $77 million Upper East Side mansion. Behind the 15-foot oak front doors, Epstein played host to old friends like Wall Street billionaire Leon Black, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and new ones like Steve Bannon.”

“Planning is underway at the Department of Homeland Security to build an intelligence-gathering cell that would more closely monitor and better predict the movements of groups of migrants to the U.S., such as the nearly 30,000 Haitians who arrived in Texas last month,” NBC News reports.

“The new cell, to be operational by the end of the month, would supply the agency with ‘indications and warnings’ of possible migrant surges by collecting intelligence from DHS personnel in Central and South America, seek to establish aerial surveillance of trucks and migrant camps massing on borders and increase communication with the U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement agencies in other countries, according to the planning document.”

“The Biden administration said it is moving forward on regulations to limit the spread of several toxic chemicals that public health advocates say are harmful to humans and should become the target of a widespread cleanup effort,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The toxic family of chemicals have made their way into drinking water and the food supply through a range of sources, including industrial operations, food packaging and firefighting foam. Public health groups and environmentalists said they are alarmed by the chemicals for the serious health problems they can cause and their resistance to biodegrading in the environment. The chemicals have been linked to several types of cancer and health problems such as high cholesterol.”

“Russian State media pundits and personalities are claiming that the experienced CNBC journalist, who interviewed President Putin last week, was part of an American ‘special operation’ designed to sway and tantalize the Russian leader,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Putin started the pile-on himself by implying that Hadley Gamble was too beautiful to understand his remarks during an on-stage interview at a Russian Energy Week panel in Moscow.”

“Russia claims one of its warships has chased away a U.S. Navy destroyer that, according to Moscow, attempted to enter Russian territorial waters during Russian-Chinese naval drills in the Sea of Japan,” Radio Free Europe reports.

“The wealthiest 10% of Americans now own 89% of all U.S. stocks, a record high that highlights the stock market’s role in increasing wealth inequality,” CNBC reports.

“The top 1% gained more than $6.5 trillion in corporate equities and mutual fund wealth during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the bottom 90% added $1.2 trillion… The share of corporate equities and mutual funds owned by the top 10% reached the record high in the second quarter, while the bottom 90% of Americans held about 11% of stocks, down from 12% before the pandemic.”

The U.S. middle class — defined as the middle 60% of households — now holds a smaller share of wealth than top 1%, according to Schwab.

Jonathan Last: “This is bad. But it’s important to state why it’s bad. I would argue that it’s bad morally, in that increasing the leverage of capital relative to labor is unfair. But let’s leave morality aside.  It’s bad practically. Because the stress this disequilibrium puts on a society is significant. It contributes to social conflict, which then translates into political conflict.”

“Five members of the U.S. House Judiciary committee wrote to Inc’s chief executive Sunday, and accused the company’s top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos, of either misleading Congress or possibly lying to it about Amazon’s business practices,” Reuters reports.

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

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