Cup of Joe – 10/21/21

“President Joe Biden informed House progressives Tuesday afternoon that the final bill to expand the social safety net is expected to drop tuition-free community college, a major White House priority,“ CNN reports.

“Moreover, he indicated that the child tax credit — a key Democratic priority — would likely be extended for one additional year, much shorter than what many in their party wanted… The child tax credit will also likely be means tested, keeping with what West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin had wanted.”

Punchbowl News: “Biden reiterated that he is seeking a bill between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion. Biden repeatedly used $2 trillion ‘as shorthand’ for the topline number. Sources involved in the meeting said the ‘realistic target’ is somewhere in the $1.75 trillion to $1.95 trillion range.”

“Biden presided over the meeting, and said he wanted a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a ‘public agreement’ from Democrats on the contours of the reconciliation package before he travels abroad to Italy and Scotland on Oct. 30. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill by Oct. 31.”

Playbook: “Biden began pitching lawmakers on an outline for his Build Back Better plan Tuesday night. The proposal, pegged in the range of $1.75 to $1.9 trillion, is far from a done deal: Moderates and progressives will have plenty to say before giving anything their blessing. But Hill Democrats are relieved that Biden is getting his hands dirty after sitting on the sidelines for weeks.”

Punchbowl News: “It does seem reasonable to believe Democrats can agree on a reconciliation framework before President Joe Biden heads to Italy and Scotland in 11 days. That’s a change from where things stood heading into this week, a crucial one for both the White House and party leaders on the Hill. Biden had some good meetings with House Democrats Tuesday, and for the first time in a while — weeks or months really — there’s some renewed optimism in Democratic ranks. It’s amazing what some TLC from the president can do.”

“And if Democrats get a reconciliation framework agreed upon, and the feelings stay positive, maybe the House can pass the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill soon too. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set an Oct. 31 date for that vote, and it’s critical for moderates that it happen.”

Josh Marshall: “Yesterday’s Senate Democratic caucus lunch seems to have been a turning point. Sen. Joe Manchin told his colleagues he’s ready to get this done this week and willing to hash out the compromises and specifics necessary to do so. He seems to have convinced them that he was serious. It’s a given that those compromises are going to be largely on Manchin’s terms. But for many of us that reality has been clear for some time. What hasn’t been clear is whether Manchin actually felt any urgency about getting this done or whether he actually wanted to at all.

The actual negotiation is finally underway and it seems pretty far along.

Kate noted that Sen. Sinema wasn’t even at the caucus lunch – both typical and revealing. But most of the senators seemed to think Manchin was enough. Implicit in this attitude is that no one thinks Sinema can stand the pressure or the heat if Manchin is on board. That’s been my assumption all along, though in recent weeks I’ve begun to have my doubts – just too much wish for chaos and personality defects in the mix. But the senators don’t seem to think she’s up to it. We’ll see.

If this is still around $2 trillion that’s still a massive win with a tied Senate. And with the critical election upcoming it will be extremely important for Democrats to embrace that. It will be a big win and it is crazy for Democrats to kneecap themselves in electoral terms by not realizing or embracing that.

Politico: “As Democrats on Capitol Hill brace in anticipation of a brutal midterm, Biden is spending an extraordinary amount of time and political capital behind the scenes to convince them to rally around a common framework for social and climate spending. His congressional huddles have accelerated, from phone calls on the White House veranda to one-on-one and group meetings — including two high-stakes Tuesday sit downs with moderates and progressives. He’s dialing up old friends to take their temperature about how his presidency is really fairing far beyond the Beltway.”

“White House aides, in their own recent conversations with nervous allies, have repeatedly cited the flurry of presidential calls as a sign itself of Biden’s commitment to getting the bills over the finish line, at times bristling at claims that he hasn’t been involved enough.”

“But Biden’s hours and hours of meetings don’t just reflect the precarious moment in which his presidency finds itself. They underscore the heavy reliance his White House has placed on an inside game, rather than the bully pulpit, to dislodge recalcitrant holdouts and move their agenda.”

“The House’s top tax writer is pushing back against changes to Democrats’ reconciliation package being floated by the White House,” Politico reports.

“Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) jabbed Wednesday at his colleagues’ scramble to develop a new plan, noting his panel approved a fully formed package — which Neal said he intends to defend in negotiations.”

“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to tax increases is causing Senate Democrats to look at financing their sprawling social policy and climate package without raising tax rates on businesses, high-income individuals or capital gains,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Arizona Democrat has told lobbyists that she is opposed to any increase in those rates, but her stance is now pushing Democrats to more seriously plan for a bill that doesn’t include those major revenue increases.”

“Senior Biden officials briefed top Democratic lawmakers on a potential shift in the party’s tax plans on a private call on Wednesday, as the White House searches for unity on how to pay for its multi-trillion-dollar economic package,” the Washington Post reports.

“While the Biden administration initially proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, a move that would unwind the tax cuts under former president Donald Trump, the president’s aides on Wednesday instead discussed an alternative range of tax hikes, likely excluding a corporate tax rate hike as part of a new source of revenue for the package.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) denied to Politico that he’s threatening to leave the Democratic Party if his demands are not met on the budget reconciliation bill.

Said Manchin: “I can’t control rumors and it’s bullshit, bullshit spelled with a B, U, L, L, capital ‘B’”

Earlier, Mother Jones reported that “In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion.”

“Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an ‘American Independent.’ And he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.”

“He told associates that he has a two-step plan for exiting the party. First, he would send a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate… Manchin hopes that would send a signal. He would then wait and see if that move had any impact on the negotiations. After about a week, he said, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent.”

“The White House on Wednesday announced its plan to roll out coronavirus vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, pending the vaccine’s approval by the Food and Drug Administration, which the Biden administration anticipates will happen within weeks,” the Washington Post reports.

“White House officials said they have secured enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the country’s 28 million children in that age group.”

“The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted Tuesday to recommend holding Stephen Bannon, a onetime adviser to former President Donald Trump, in criminal contempt for defying a congressional subpoena,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Next, the full House is expected to vote later this week on certifying the contempt resolution, referring the matter to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House.”

Rep.  Liz Cheney (R-WY) said that Steve Bannon’s refusal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot suggests President Trump was “personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” The Hill reports.

Said Cheney: “Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.  Mr. Bannon was in the war room at the Willard on January 6th. He also appears to have detailed knowledge regarding the president’s efforts to sell millions of Americans the fraud that the election was stolen.”

She added: “They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that.” 

“The House’s push to prosecute Steve Bannon for defying its Jan. 6 investigators relies on a law that hasn’t produced a conviction in decades and could take years to litigate,” Politico reports.

“Welcome to criminal contempt of Congress. It’s going to be messy.”

“Contempt is one of the House’s only tools to punish witnesses who refuse to cooperate, but it’s riddled with legal loopholes and ambiguities that could allow Donald Trump’s allies to bury the Jan. 6 select committee in Byzantine court challenges — without ever producing new evidence about the former president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.”

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows “has brought on a top Republican lawyer to handle the House’s Jan. 6 investigation,” Politico reports.

In February, Robert Gonzalez wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Republic urging Republicans to not to leave the party.  He had hoped that after the January 6 insurrection the GOP “could still be saved by decent people working from the inside… While many Republicans failed to show leadership during Trump’s presidency, it seemed that in the wake of Jan. 6, those leaders would finally stand up for truth and democracy.”

But eight months later he writes that he was wrong.

“One of the few remaining tools to influence the Republican Party is to sever ties. So I urge remaining Republicans who stand for truth and democracy to vote with their feet, and leave.”

Politico: “Biden’s team is quick to note that he often takes questions from reporters after he does events. Allies of the president are even quicker to note that no one outside of the Washington press corps really cares about press access.”

“But the lack of interviews reflects the bunker mentality this White House has taken with the media — particularly the extensive back-and-forths where reporters can follow-up, push, and prod. Biden has been especially wary of talking to print publications; he has yet to do an interview with reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, or Reuters.”

“Among the limited press he does, Biden appears to have one preferred format: the televised town hall… The White House believes this sort of forum allows the president to engage in more substantive discussions, with less potential pitfalls.”

“Former President Donald Trump’s family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns,” the New York Times reports.

“In recent months, the district attorney’s office in suburban Westchester County, NY, has subpoenaed records from the course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course, a sprawling private club that is perched on a hill north of New York City and boasts a 101-foot waterfall.”

“The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes.”

Meanwhile, “a $6 billion federal program created to provide fresh produce to families affected by the pandemic was mismanaged and used by the Trump administration for political gain,” ProPublica reports.

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats from advancing a revised bill to overhaul federal elections, the Washington Post reports. Despite months of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) lobbying Republican senators, not a single one voted to advance the bill.

“Senate Republicans [blocked] action on voting rights legislation, intensifying calls by activists and lawmakers for Democrats to finally do away with the filibuster or find themselves at a steep disadvantage in next year’s midterm elections and into the future,” the New York Times reports.

Said Sen. Angus King (I-ME): “When we are talking about the fundamental operation of democracy, I have to think a Senate rule will have to be modified or give way.”

“Despite unusually heavy lobbying from former President Donald Trump, two elections bills that he pushed Gov. Greg Abbott to enact this fall are all but dead,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

“The Biden administration warned on Monday that digital currencies posed a threat to America’s sanctions program and said in a new report that the United States needed to modernize how sanctions were deployed so that they remained an effective national security tool,” the New York Times reports.

“Rahm Emanuel could face opposition from an unusual source at his Wednesday nomination hearing to be the next US ambassador to Japan: his own party,” CNN reports.

“An Army reservist charged in the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the U.S. Capitol riot was quietly demoted and discharged earlier this year, becoming the first known service member to be forced out of the military after officials learned of an alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the Washington Post reports.

“In unusually pointed comments about a member of President Biden’s Cabinet, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) says he ‘vehemently’ disagrees with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failure so far to aggressively investigate former President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and other matters,” Yahoo News reports.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to announce a coronavirus vaccine requirement for all municipal employees, the New York Post reports.

“Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a practicing anesthesiologist, said he has prescribed ivermectin, a medication typically used to treat parasites in livestock and humans, as a Covid-19 treatment, and he lashed out at pharmacies for not making the drug readily available,” the New York Times reports.

“The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to block a vaccine requirement imposed on Maine health care workers, the latest defeat for opponents of vaccine mandates,” the AP reports.  “It was the first time the Supreme Court weighed in on a statewide vaccine mandate.”

Bloomberg: “More than a year and a half after the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life, the supply of basic goods at U.S. grocery stores and restaurants is once again falling victim to intermittent shortages and delays.”

NBC News: “Quality farm equipment is getting hard to find amid the supply chain shortage, many farmers and experts said, and its scarcity is driving up prices and raising questions about whether farmers’ harvests and next year’s planting season could be affected.”

“White House officials have explored in recent weeks whether the National Guard could be deployed to help address the nation’s mounting supply chain backlog,” the Washington Post reports.

“The idea appears unlikely to proceed as of now but reflects the extent to which internal administration deliberations about America’s overwhelmed supply chain have sparked outside-the-box proposals to leverage government resources to address the issue.”

Max Boot: “Biden gambled with vaccine mandates — and that gamble is now paying off. Our coronavirus vaccination rate is still too low, and our covid death rate is still too high compared with those of other Western countries, but that’s hardly his fault. Blame Republicans: Only 58 percent of them are vaccinated, compared with 90 percent of Democrats.”

“There’s not much Biden can do about masochistic right-wingers such as radio host Dennis Prager, who says he deliberately became infected with covid-19 to develop ‘natural immunity.’ But the p

resident is doing almost everything within his power to combat the pandemic — and his efforts are paying off.”

New York Times: “In the spring of 2020, Mark Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War.”

“With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda, had urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a plan for the number of troops that would be needed to seal the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico…”

“Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan.”

“A Brazilian congressional panel is set to recommend mass homicide charges against President Jair Bolsonaro, asserting that he intentionally let the coronavirus rip through the country and kill hundreds of thousands in a failed bid to achieve herd immunity and revive Latin America’s largest economy,” the New York Times reports.

“The extraordinary accusations appear in a nearly 1,200-page report that effectively blames Mr. Bolsonaro’s policies for the deaths of more than 300,000 Brazilians, half of the nation’s coronavirus death toll, and urges the Brazilian authorities to imprison the president.”

In addition to the earlier raid of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s home in Washington, D.C., FBI agents in New York City were also searching a townhouse in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood in connection with the same investigation, ABC News reports.

The New York Times confirms the New York City townhouse is also owned by Deripaska.

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

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