Cup of Joe – 7/15/22

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) informed Democratic leaders on Thursday he would not support an economic package that contains new spending on climate change or includes new tax increases to pay for the legislation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The major shift in negotiations threatens to upend the delicate process to adopt sweeping legislation. Manchin already scuttled the original $2 trillion Build Back Better Act that House Democrats and President Biden supported.”

“But Manchin did say he was open to revising federal laws that might lower prescription drugs costs for seniors… And the West Virginia moderate expressed support with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), the party’s chief negotiator, for extended subsidies that help keep health insurance costs down for millions of Americans for the next two years.”

“Amid 40-year high levels of inflation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is saying prescription drug pricing reform could end up being the only component of a party-line bill push — though he isn’t closing the door to other ideas just yet, as long as they don’t contribute to inflation,” Politico reports.

Said Manchin: “We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing… Is there any more we can do? I don’t know. But I am very, very cautious and I am going to make sure I have every input on scrubbing everything humanly possible that could be considered inflammatory.”

“It’s important that every young person, every activist, the majorities of this country who are demanding climate action understand very clearly this is not the Democrats… This is one man named Joe Manchin. When it comes to the most important existential issue of our time, this man is a wrecking ball.” — Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), quoted by Politico.

“Chuck Schumer’s negotiations with Joe Manchin on their party’s domestic agenda were delicate even before the famously chatty majority leader caught Covid. Now he’s digging in for Congress’ most high-stakes work from quarantine in Brooklyn,” Politico reports. “Sidelined and leading an in-session chamber from afar, Schumer is going all-out behind the scenes to steer the floor while keeping negotiations with Manchin alive.”

“Roughly 13 million Americans could see their health insurance costs rise next year — and millions more may not have care at all — unless congressional Democrats can reach agreement over a critical portion of their long-stalled economic spending legislation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The uncertainty loomed over lawmakers as they huddled again on Tuesday in pursuit of a wide-ranging deal that can balance the promises they made during the election with winning support from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV), the crucial swing vote in the narrowly divided chamber.”

“Senate Democrats are planning to advance domestic computer chip production legislation as soon as next week, signaling an end to formal talks on a broader China competition bill as the White House presses for action before November,” Politico reports.

“Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told senators to expect votes as soon as Tuesday to move forward on $52 billion in initial funding for chip factories, as well as a tax credit for ongoing semiconductor production… Any movement would elate vulnerable Democrats who have pressed party leaders to break through a logjam on the bill, which lawmakers have spent nearly two years crafting.”

“I’m not walking away if anybody’s gonna threaten me or hold me hostage, if I can help the country. And if they want to play politics and play party politics, shame on ’em.” — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), quoted by CNN, dismissing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) threat to derail the China competitiveness bill if Democrats push through a party-line reconciliation package.

“In recent months, the members of Congress who have publicly reported coronavirus cases overwhelmingly have been Democrats — including the party’s two top leaders on Capitol Hill — posing a big and ironic problem for the majority party,” the Washington Post reports.

“By testing more frequently than their Republican colleagues, Democrats are facing the possibility that their strict adherence to public health protocols could backfire as they pursue the passage of major domestic policy legislation through the 50-50 Senate in the coming weeks.”

Politico: “As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) labor toward a possible summertime agreement on a filibuster-proof tax, energy and prescription drugs bill, the Democratic Party is reckoning with its long-term political position on taxes. For more than a decade, Democrats campaigned on raising rates on high earners and large corporations, arguing the GOP is the party of tax cuts for the top 1 percent.”

“Yet as Democrats near the climax of their monthslong push to unilaterally raise those taxes, there’s real division in the party over both how to talk about tax increases and whether to pursue them at all. Already some House moderates are balking at any tax increases in the bill, and Republicans are revving up a campaign that will hit Democrats for raising any taxes.”

“Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is gauging support among House centrists for a counteroffer to the emerging Senate reconciliation package, with one big clause: No new taxes,” Axios reports.

“Any attempt to modify a deal that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may reach with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) could scuttle the entire package. That could deprive President Biden — and vulnerable lawmakers — of a pre-election win at a time of real weakness.”

Jonathan Chait: “Joe Manchin has absorbed most of the heat from liberals angry that the Senate has often blocked President Biden’s proposals. But Manchin represents an overwhelmingly Republican state, and he has been willing to negotiate a meaningful (albeit smaller) Senate reconciliation package that would move forward key progressive goals.”

“The true archvillain of the Biden presidency is Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat who keeps sticking the knife in Biden’s back.”

“Gottheimer is organizing a small faction of House Democrats to present a ‘counteroffer’ that would blow up the incipient deal with Manchin. The Gottheimer crew wants to take out the tax hikes on the wealthy that Manchin is proposing. That would mean what’s left of the bill could still contain the spending proposals, but it would lack the revenue measures that would make it a deficit-reducer, which is Manchin’s main rationale for supporting the bill in the first place. If that revenue is gone, Manchin’s support probably collapses, and the bill dies. Which is probably fine with Gottheimer, who may be evil, but isn’t stupid.”

“Senators from both parties have reached an agreement to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results, the first legislative response to former President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election results,” CNN  reports.

“The agreement will be part of a larger deal to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, which a bipartisan group of senators plans to unveil as soon as next week.”

Politico: “Senators involved in the months-long effort say they’re getting close to a deal. Their goal is passing legislation on the Electoral Count Act by the end of the year, well in advance of the 2024 campaign — and before House Republicans are poised to take power with little interest in addressing the topic. But any standalone bill they can get through the Senate could compete for attention and floor time with the Jan. 6 committee’s still-unreleased legislative recommendations.”

The U.S. Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach to run Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 48 to 46.  He’s he first confirmed director since 2015.

“In a rare move, more than 200 congressional staffers have sent a letter to Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, demanding they close the deal on a climate and clean energy package and warning that failure could doom younger generations,” CNN reports.

“A Columbus man has been charged with impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio girl, whose travel to Indiana to seek an abortion led to international attention following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade and activation of Ohio’s abortion law,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“The criminal charges and testimony from the Columbus detective confirms the disturbing story that has become a key flash point in the national furor over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

The arrest comes just days after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) suggested the rape never happened. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is trying to pretend that he never attempted to discredit the Indianapolis Star’s report of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who was forced to travel to neighboring Indiana to obtain an abortion because abortions are illegal in Jordan’s state.

Jordan deleted his tweet, which called the report a “lie,” after the Columbus Dispatch reported on Wednesday that the man who allegedly raped the child had been arrested. The Ohio Republican didn’t follow up with a correction or any acknowledgement of his false claim.

The House Judiciary GOP had retweeted Jordan’s post, by the way.

Indiana lawyer Jim Bopp, who has authored model legislation for anti-abortion state lawmakers to adopt, said “the 10-year-old Ohio girl who crossed state lines to receive an abortion in his state should have carried her pregnancy to term and would have been required to do so under his law,” Politico reports.

Said Bopp: “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) told Fox News his office would investigate a doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old girl who was raped and became pregnant.  Said Rokita: “We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure if she failed to report. And in Indiana it’s a crime… to intentionally not report.”

Judd Legum: The right-wing smear campaign against a doctor who helped a 10-year old rape victim.

Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R) said in an email to fellow legislators that a woman’s womb serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being, the Missoula Current reports.  Said Tschida: “The womb is the only organ in a woman’s body that serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being. It is truly a sanctuary.”

During a Senate hearing on abortion access yesterday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tried to manufacture a Fox-friendly “gotcha” moment with one of the witnesses with snarky questions about her recognizing that trans men and non-binary people can get pregnant.

“I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them,” the witness, UC-Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges, fired back.

Hawley proceeded to whine about “being treated like this.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) blocked legislation that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state to seek abortion care, the HuffPost reports.  Lankford, who supports instituting a national ban on abortion, dismissed it as unnecessary.  This is the same senator who once argued that a 13-year old girl could consent to sex.

“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats are pushing to codify other rights that have been left vulnerable by the decision into federal law — including access to contraception, same-sex marriage, and potentially interracial marriage,” Vanity Fair reports.

“But they may have an uphill battle: Such measures seem to have little appeal to the GOP, whose members insist that those protections are unnecessary because those rights are not under threat.”

Said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Axios: “I have no reason to believe these precedents are going to fall.”

Added Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “Nothing like that should even be thought about by anybody because it’s not endangered in any way. I don’t know why people would come to that conclusion.”

Punchbowl News: “The House will vote tomorrow on legislation to codify abortion access nationally, as well as allowing women to travel freely to obtain abortions. Also under consideration are bills to protect women’s health data from being used in criminal or civil abortion cases and a federal prohibition on any restrictions on contraception. Democrats are also eyeing a bill guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage.”

“Privately, some Democrats have expressed concerns over how to craft bills in such a way that paint the entire Republican Party as extreme on abortion and not give the GOP political cover. The last thing they want to do is put legislation on the floor that swing district Republicans can support and campaign on, multiple Democrats told us.”

“White House officials are actively debating whether to formally declare abortion access a public health emergency, pitting the belief of many Biden advisers that such a move would be counterproductive against the overwhelming political pressure to show they are fighting hard for abortion rights,” the Washington Post reports.

“Several top Biden aides have expressed internal reservations about declaring an emergency, saying it would give the administration little money and few new powers… And outside legal experts advising the administration have warned that an emergency declaration would face inevitable legal challenges, potentially giving conservative judges an opportunity to cut back on the administration’s emergency authority.”

The Economist: Why are Democrats dithering on abortion rights?

“The Democratic National Committee is launching a digital ad campaign to energize its voters after last month’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, warning that Republicans’ ultimate goal is to outlaw abortion nationwide,” the AP reports.

“Texas on Thursday asked a federal court to block the Biden administration’s requirement that physicians and hospitals provide abortions in medical emergencies,” CNBC reports.

“Louisiana’s law banning abortions has once again been blocked by a court, the latest in a back-and-forth legal battle over abortion access in the state,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

A U.S. District Court judge in Arizona “issued an order halting enforcement of a 2021 statute that grants human rights to fetuses,” the Arizona Republic reports. The order “says that the law is too vague and risks arbitrary enforcement.”

The Justice Department announced on Tuesday a special team called the Reproductive Rights Task Force, which aims to find ways for the federal government to protect reproductive health and abortion rights in wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of Roe v. Wade and GOP-controlled states’ subsequent abortion bans.

The task force will monitor and respond to “all state and local legislation and enforcement actions” that threaten to, among other things, prevent out-of-state travel for abortions and block access to FDA-approved abortion pills, according to the DOJ’s announcement.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the group.

“The Biden administration is warning pharmacists that refusing to dispense medications used in abortions might violate federal protections against discrimination, in its latest move aimed at limiting the impact of state antiabortion laws,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“For the first time in 20 years, the exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar has reached parity — meaning the two currencies are worth the same,” CNN reports.

U.S. inflation reached 9.1% in June, its highest rate in nearly 41 years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York Times: “The report contained unwelcome news beyond the headline number. A core inflation index that strips out food and fuel prices — giving a sense of underlying inflation trends — remains high and came in faster than economists expected.”

Bank of America economists forecast a “mild recession this year” in the United States, saying services spending is slowing and hot inflation is spurring consumers to pull back, Bloomberg reports.

New York Times: “Prices are rising at the fastest rate in four decades, a painful development that has given Republicans a powerful talking point just months ahead of the midterm elections. With control of Congress very much in play, Republicans are investing heavily in a blitz of campaign advertisements that portray a dark sense of economic disarray as they seek to make inflation a political albatross for President Biden and Democrats.”

“In the past week and a half, the White House has taken steps that would have been considered unimaginable when President Biden first took office, suggesting that it might greenlight drilling plans in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that would produce hundreds of millions more barrels of oil,” the Washington Post reports.

“Despite violating the president’s climate pledges, officials have opened the door to these proposals as they wait to see if their approval could help finally secure Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) vote for a historic climate package stuck in Congress. Complicating their calculus is that White House aides do not even know if approving them — or Manchin’s other preferred energy projects, such as a pipeline in West Virginia — would bring the elusive senator on board.”

“The worst oil-supply crisis in decades is showing tentative signs of easing as flagging economic growth weighs on demand for crude while sanctions on Russia are having less impact on oil production than expected,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“President Biden’s coronavirus response team is planning to warn Americans on Tuesday that they must do more to protect themselves against Covid-19, as the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant of the coronavirus fuels a new wave of infections, re-infections and hospitalizations across the country,” the New York Times reports.

“Biden administration officials are developing a plan to allow all adults to receive a second coronavirus booster shot, pending federal agency sign-offs, as the White House and health experts seek to blunt a virus surge that has sent hospitalizations to their highest levels since March 3,” the Washington Post reports.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that he thinks former President Donald Trump should “hang up his hat and sail into the sunset,” CNBC reports.

He added: “Dems should also call off the attack – don’t make it so that Trump’s only way to survive is to regain the Presidency.”

“Former President Donald Trump continued his war of words with billionaire Elon Musk on Wednesday, saying he could have made Musk drop to his knees,” Fox News reports.

Said Trump: “When Elon Musk came to the White House asking me for help on all of his many subsidized projects, whether it’s electric cars that don’t drive long enough, driverless cars that crash, or rocketships to nowhere, without which subsidies he’d be worthless, and telling me how he was a big Trump fan and Republican, I could have said, ‘drop to your knees and beg,’ and he would have done it.”

He added: “Now Elon should focus on getting himself out of the Twitter mess because he could owe $44 billion for something that’s perhaps worthless.”

“Money. Revenge. Disruption. International intrigue. These hallmarks of Donald Trump’s business brand are all colliding in his latest political controversy involving the world of professional golf,” NBC News reports.

“Later this month, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey hosts its first tournament for the new LIV Golf series, funded by Saudi Arabia, which is upending the sport’s establishment with a $2 billion investment and contracts with top players that reportedly reach $150 million or more.”

The Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021 after oversight officials requested the agency’s electronic communications, The Intercept reports.

The chair of the January 6 Committee said the panel will try to ”reconstruct” deleted U.S. Secret Service text messages flagged by an agency watchdog, Axios reports.

“A Washington, DC, police officer has corroborated to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, details regarding a heated exchange former President Donald Trump had with his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the US Capitol after his rally,” CNN reports.

“The officer with the Metropolitan Police Department was in the motorcade with the Secret Service for Trump on January 6 and recounted what was seen to committee investigators.”

It seems unlikely that Secret Service text messages from that day were “accidentally” deleted.

“The Jan. 6 select committee’s Tuesday hearing, ostensibly focused on extremism, drove clearly toward a subtle goal: Stripping away doubt that Donald Trump was anything but a full participant in a plot to subvert the 2020 election,” Politico reports.

“The former president wasn’t duped into disbelieving his own loss by fringe lawyers and advisers, select committee members argued. Rather, he assembled that squad of enablers, overrode his more sober-minded staff and forged the path that led to the chaos engulfing the Capitol, they contended during their nearly three-hour seventh hearing.”

Susan Glasser: A president asking for civil war.

A federal judge once again refused to delay Steve Bannon’s trial for contempt of Congress, which is set to get underway on Monday, NBC News reports.

After a disastrous day in court yesterday, Steve Bannon vowed on his podcast to go scorched earth on his adversaries — including the January 6 Committee.  Said Bannon: “Pray for our enemies, because we’re going medieval on these people. We’re gonna savage our enemies. Who needs prayers? Certainly not Steven K. Bannon.”

“A judge in Colorado issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who is under indictment in relation to a breach of election equipment after the 2020 presidential contest, for violating conditions of her bond that prevented her from traveling without court approval,” the New York Times reports.

Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, writing in the New York Times:  “As one of the Capitol Police officers who defended the United States against the mob on Jan. 6, 2021, I felt it was important for me to be in the committee room on June 28 to hear the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony. Along with three colleagues, I went, even though I knew it would be difficult to relive the horrors I witnessed. Although I experienced the brutal onslaught of the insurrectionists, I was shocked to hear Ms. Hutchinson explain the extent to which President Donald Trump incited the people who almost killed me…”

“The enabling of Mr. Trump needs to stop now. He should not only be barred from running for any other government office; he should never be allowed near the White House again. I believe he betrayed his oath to defend the Constitution, and it was to the detriment of me, my colleagues and all Americans, whom he was supposed to protect.”

Politico: “Biden sought to downgrade the importance of the Middle East so as not to wade into intractable problems like brokering a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. In a sign that he was planning to conduct himself differently than his predecessors, he also pledged to end the customary coziness with Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.”

“But over the past few months, the posture has changed, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Now Biden and his team have concluded they must ramp up Washington’s presence in the Middle East so China and Russia don’t fill an America-sized hole, so that Tehran can be kept at bay, so that a ceasefire in Yemen can hold, faster modernizations can happen in Saudi society, and maybe even better relations between officials in Jerusalem and Riyadh.”

“And then there’s that pesky matter of needing Saudi Arabia’s help to keep the oil flowing after the tap from Russia dwindled following the invasion of Ukraine.”

Peter Navarro told Newsmax that Mike Pence committed treason for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Said Navarro: “The reason why I think Pence is guilty of treason, to at least President Trump and perhaps to this country, is that he acted on the basis of a flawed legal opinion concocted by his own general counsel that he did not share with either the president or with the president’s White House legal counsel.”

He added: “Due process plus duty to the commander in chief required you to do that.”

Donald Ayer, Stuart Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut writing in The Atlantic:

“After seven hearings held by the January 6 committee thus far this summer, doubts as to who is responsible have been resolved. The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome.”

“The evidence is clearer and more robust than we as former federal prosecutors—two of us as Department of Justice officials in Republican administrations—thought possible before the hearings began. Trump was not just a willing beneficiary of a complex plot in which others played most of the primary roles. While in office, he himself was the principal actor in nearly all of its phases, personally executing key parts of most of its elements and aware of or involved in its worst features, including the use of violence on Capitol Hill. Most remarkably, he did so over vehement objections raised at every turn, even by his sycophantic and loyal handpicked team. This was Trump’s project all along.”

“Donald Trump is returning to Washington later this month for the first time since the end of his presidency,” Axios reports.  “Trump’s planned July 26 visit — to headline an event for the America First Policy Institute — comes as the Jan. 6 committee’s blockbuster hearings contribute to speculation his grip on the Republican Party may be weakening.”

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

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