Cup of Joe – 7/29/22

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that they had reached a deal on a reconciliation bill to address climate change, drug pricing and corporate taxes, titled “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.” And Republican senators are throwing a fit.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) accused Manchin of pulling a “double cross” on Republicans Wednesday night during a Fox appearance.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had tried to bully Democrats away from this exact outcome by threatening to hold the bipartisan CHIPs Act hostage, griped on Twitter that Democrats “want to pile on giant tax hikes that will hammer workers and kill many thousands of American jobs” with the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) complained about the “terrible deal,” saying, “I can’t believe that @Sen_JoeManchin is agreeing to a massive tax increase in the name of climate change when our economy is in a recession.”

Josh Marshall: In case you didn’t notice I wanted to draw your attention to one thing. While Senator Schumer and the White House were trying to revive some skinny version of the BBB and climate legislation with Joe Manchin Senator McConnell tried to scuttle those talks with a threat. He would pull GOP support from the China competition/CHIPs bill if the Democrats did not drop those negotiations. As it happened, Manchin scuttled the deal so the threat became moot. Then the CHIPs bill passed the Senate yesterday and then within like an hour – voila – the Manchin deal was back and somehow finalized. Senate Republicans were clearly pissed but the bill had already passed the Senate.

It certainly seems like Senate Democrats pulled a fast one on their Republican colleagues. As surprising as it may seem, it’s hard to see how Manchin wasn’t in on it at some level. House Republicans certainly seem to think so. They’ve now switched to whipping members to vote against the bill. Notwithstanding the fact that it actually has broad bipartisan support, as well as strong support from the semiconductor industry and the foreign policy and national security community. But the House isn’t the Senate. Democrats don’t need Republicans to break a filibuster. They probably don’t need Republicans at all. The question is whether enough House progressives will take the lead of Senator Bernie Sanders and vote against the bill as a giveaway to corporate America. But the administration seems to have members of the House Progressive Caucus broadly on board. Adding to the complexity and the fun, voting against the bill probably represents an electoral liability for Republicans in a number of key districts.

“President Joe Biden’s campaign trail promise to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy as part of a battle against glaring income inequality in the United States got an unexpected boost on Wednesday,” Reuters reports.

“Early proposals to increase tax rates from Biden and his fellow Democrats hit a brick wall in Congress after Republicans, and some Democrats, opposed them. But a sudden reversal by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a swing vote in the divided Senate, has given Biden’s tax agenda a new lease on life.”

Playbook offers two bits of caution around the surprise tax and climate deal announced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) yesterday:

“Though Democrats on the Hill and at the White House are celebrating, there’s still the Sen. Kyrsten Sinema-sized hurdle they need to clear. She hasn’t publicly signed off just yet, and the bill includes some provisions she has previously told leadership were no-gos for her, like taxing carried interest.”

“How will moderate House Dems of the Josh Gottheimer variety react to the exclusion of the SALT deductions they sought to restore, which were make-or-break for them in last year’s talks?”

“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has spent the summer out of the spotlight. That’s now going to change,” Axios reports.

“Solving the Democrats’ tax and spending puzzle in the Senate — where President Biden’s agenda has stalled for over a year — has always involved two key pieces: Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).”

“But much of Washington is flying blind on whether she’ll back spending $369 billion on climate and another $64 billion on health care by raising the corporate minimum tax rate to 15%.”

NBC News: Manchin makes his deal but what will Kyrsten Sinema do?

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last month that he wouldn’t allow the Senate to pass a bipartisan bill on computer chips if Democrats tried to revive their ‘Build Back Better’ agenda,” the HuffPost reports.

“On Wednesday, the Senate approved the bipartisan tech manufacturing bill, and hours later Democrats announced a breakthrough on their big domestic policy legislation.”

“In other words, McConnell’s gambit failed.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Normally, I’d warn against expecting improvement in Biden’s approval ratings as a consequence of legislative success. Voters don’t judge presidents based on how many of their initiatives succeed in Congress — nor, for the most part, should they. Voters care most about big-picture and highly visible policy outcomes, not bills signed or policies implemented.”

“That said, Biden’s ratings are so low that there are probably some easy pickings available, especially among younger, liberal voters who have soured on him. It’s also possible that if there’s other good news, perhaps positive reports about Biden and Congress could contribute a bit to lifting the generally grumpy mood of the nation.”

Politico: “Mere weeks after urging President Joe Biden to go all-out to push the limits of his executive powers on climate change, progressives — many of whom have spent their careers imploring Congress to act — hailed an agreement that would see $369 billion in climate and energy investments as the biggest ever.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told Politico that the January 6 Committee “has formalized a path to share witness transcripts and evidence with the Justice Department .”

“Federal investigators have sought to access the congressional committee’s 1,000-plus witness interview transcripts since April, but the select panel has resisted as its probe continued to generate extraordinary new evidence and witness testimony.”

“Now, though, as DOJ delves even more deeply into the former president’s inner circle and the select committee’s most significant round of public hearings has concluded, there appears to be greater urgency for prosecutors to obtain evidence the select committee has gathered.”

The Justice Department reported in a court filing on Wednesday that prosecutors obtained a second search warrant to search Trump coup architect John Eastman’s phone, which was seized by the FBI last month.

“I haven’t heard what his explanation is, but obviously that was not his greatest moment in that hearing.” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), quoted by Insider, on video showing Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) fleeing the Capitol after riling up the crowd on January 6.

“The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is working to secure testimony from a growing number of officials in former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet,” ABC News reports.

“Trump’s former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who reportedly discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recently sat with committee investigators for a transcribed interview.”

“Among the officials actively negotiating with the committee are the former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and the former acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.”

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, CBS News reports.

“The House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, has been engaging with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he could sit for a closed-door deposition with the panel as soon as this week,” CNN reports.

Former Trump aide Alyssa Farah Griffin told CNN that the Department of Justice has contacted other Trump administration officials beyond just Marc Short and Greg Jacob and those other officials “are planning to cooperate” with the investigation.

Andrew Weissmann, the lead prosecutor on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia interference in the 2016 election, was interviewed by Charlie Sykes on the Bulwark Podcast:

SYKES: If they don’t go forward with charges, if they decide that it’s just too heavy a lift, and Trump is returned to the presidency, what would Trump 2.0 look like, do you think?

WEISSMANN: I don’t know that I have enough alcohol at home to even fathom that.

The abuse of the pardon power, I think would, which we already saw, I think would create a completely lawless society. He could essentially engage in crime and have other people engage in crime, and then pardon them.

I think he has learned to make sure he’s surrounded by lackeys. The article recently in Axios about essentially getting rid of civil service, which is to put in only political appointees, and various agencies, I think would be incredibly harmful, so that you don’t have a sense of people being loyal to the law and the Constitution as opposed to a person. It would be truly frightening.

“Former President Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence gave competing speeches on Tuesday and received very different live coverage across cable news – particularly on Fox News,” Mediaite reports.

“Pence spoke first at the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth group, and received just over 15 minutes of live coverage on Fox News. Neither CNN nor MSNBC covered Pence’s speech live but discussed its content in multiple segments throughout the day.”

“Trump spoke later in the day at the America First Policy Institute summit in Washington, D.C., and gave a 90-minute barn burner of a speech that was ignored by all three major networks live but was carried in its entirety by Newsmax.”

Peter Navarro gave Axios a look at a passage containing potential choices for a second-term cabinet from his forthcoming book, Taking Back Trump’s America.  Among them: Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News as attorney general.

Former President Donald Trump has asked the D.C. Circuit Court to rule he has “absolute immunity” from lawsuits pertaining to his January 6 speech and the subsequent moves he made surrounding the 2020 election.

Former President Trump said he planned to file a lawsuit against CNN, alleging the network has repeatedly defamed him dating back to his 2016 campaign for the presidency, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “I have notified CNN of my intent to file a lawsuit over their repeated defamatory statements against me.”

An RNC official told ABC News that as soon as Donald Trump announces he is running for president, the payments for his legal bills will stop because the party has a “neutrality policy” that prohibits it from taking sides in the presidential primary.

“The Biden administration is quietly circulating an estimate of Russian casualties in Ukraine that far exceeds earlier U.S. estimates, telling lawmakers that more than 75,000 members of Russia’s forces had been killed or injured,” the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, a new Yale study finds that economic sanctions “are catastrophically crippling the Russian economy.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the Biden administration had extended a “substantial proposal” to Russia to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detainee, back to the U.S. Blinken didn’t provide details on the deal.

The administration has offered a prisoner swap with convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, according to CNN and the New York Times.

However, the Kremlin said on Thursday that there hasn’t been a concrete result in Russia’s negotiations with the U.S. on the detainees.

Blinken also said he would discuss the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which will be the first time the two officials speak since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

The Federal Reserve enacted its second consecutive 0.75 percentage point interest rate increase as it seeks to tamp down runaway inflation without creating a recession, CNBC reports.

“The U.S. economy shrank at a 0.9% annual rate last quarter,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “That marks a second straight quarterly decline in gross domestic product — a common definition of recession.”

“Inflation hit a fresh four-decade high during the second quarter, hammering consumer sentiment and eroding Americans’ purchasing power. The Federal Reserve responded by aggressively raising interest rates, which in turn cooled the housing market, reducing brokers’ commissions and denting residential investment.”

CNBC: “Officially, the National Bureau of Economic Research declares recessions and expansions, and likely won’t make a judgment on the period in question for months if not longer.”

“The US economy may have eked out modest growth in the second quarter, skirting back-to-back quarterly contractions, but rising at a tepid enough pace to feed concerns of an eventual downturn,” Bloomberg reports.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell told CNBC that he does not think the U.S. is currently in a recession: “There are too many areas of the economy that are performing too well. This is a very strong labor market… It doesn’t make sense that the economy would be in a recession with this kind of thing happening.”

Politico: “Gasoline prices may have peaked too soon to remain the lethal campaign weapon for Republicans that they seemed to be a month ago.”

“It’s an open question, though, whether voters will give more weight to the declining fuel prices, or to the fact that they spiked so high to begin with.”

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched her political career being tough on China — a new congresswoman who dared to unfurl a pro-democracy banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a 1991 visit with other U.S. lawmakers shortly after the student massacre,” the AP reports.

“More than 30 years later, her interest in traveling to Taiwan presents a powerful diplomatic capstone. It has also contributed to tensions at the highest levels in Washington and Beijing among officials who worry a trip could prove provocative.”

NBC News: Empty threats? Fears grow as China fumes over possible Pelosi visit to Taiwan.

CNN: Pentagon working to develop security plan for Pelosi ahead of possible trip to Taiwan.

“Sorry, Jared, there is nothing I can do.” — Rupert Murdoch on the phone to Jared Kushner, quoted by the New York Times on Election Night 2020.

Washington Post: “In a forthcoming memoir, Jared Kushner alleges that former president Donald Trump’s second chief of staff, John Kelly, was viewed within the White House as a bully with a ‘Jekyll-and-Hyde’ demeanor who once shoved his wife, Ivanka Trump, out of his way after a volatile Oval Office meeting. Kelly denies the allegation.”

“Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while he was serving in the West Wing, he wrote in an upcoming memoir set to be published next month,” the New York Times reports.  “His illness was one of the few pieces of information that did not leak out of one of the leakiest White Houses in modern memory.”  Which gives you a clue as to who did most of the leaking.

“Former Vice President Al Gore compared “climate deniers” to those law enforcement officials who waited more than an hour to attack the gunman in Uvalde, Texas, who killed 21 students and teachers,” Politico reports.  Said Gore: “You know, the climate deniers are really in some ways similar to all of those almost 400 law enforcement officers in Uvalde, Texas, who were waiting outside an unlocked door while the children were being massacred. They heard the screams, they heard the gunshots, and nobody stepped forward.”

“Widespread drug abuse, substandard medical and mental health care, out-of-control violence and horrific sanitary conditions are rampant at a federal prison in Atlanta, a new congressional investigation into the federal Bureau of Prisons has found,” the New York Times reports.  “The problems plaguing the medium-security prison, which holds around 1,400 people, are so notorious within the federal government that its culture of indifference and mismanagement is derisively known among bureau employees as ‘the Atlanta way.’”

“The far-right conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones spread lies for years about the Sandy Hook school shooting, saying it was staged by the government and that the families of the victims were complicit in the hoax,” the New York Times reports. “Juries will now decide in three separate trials how much Mr. Jones must pay for the suffering he caused.”

A new Amnesty International report says the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan are being devastated by the Taliban’s crackdown on their human rights.

“Veteran TV journalist Chris Cuomo is coming back to cable news with a new prime-time program on NewsNation starting in the fall, less than a year after his messy breakup with CNN,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Major gun manufacturers have made over $1 billion in the last decade selling military-style assault weapons, according to an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,” CNBC reports.

“A district on the outskirts of Wuhan has been locked down, the first time the Chinese city that saw the world’s first Covid-19 lockdown has imposed such a measure since 2020, underscoring how far the country is from post-pandemic normalcy,” Bloomberg reports.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) complained on her podcast that “toxic masculinity” is not accepted in the military. Said Greene: “I would think toxic masculinity would be a number one requirement… They should be like, ‘Are you a toxic male? Please sign up.’”

“When my predecessor got Covid, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered. When I got Covid, I worked from upstairs of the White House. The difference is vaccinations, of course.”— President Biden, quoted by Politico.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced on Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the latest senator to contract the virus, The Hill reports.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused the US and South Korea of bringing the Korean peninsula to the ‘brink of war,’ as Seoul and Washington prepare for their first large-scale joint military exercises in four years,” the Financial Times reports.

Kim threatened to “wipe out” South Korean forces with nuclear weapons in the event of a confrontation.

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

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