Cup of Joe – August 6, 2022

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) announced on Thursday night that she had reached a deal with her Democratic colleagues and is ready to “move forward” on the reconciliation bill for climate investments, drug pricing and taxes, aka the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Democrats agreed to “remove the carried interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing, and boost our clean energy economy” in the legislation, according to Sinema.

The final version of the bill will be introduced on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced (D-NY).

New York Times: “It brought Democrats one step closer to enacting the package and salvaging key pieces of their domestic agenda, beginning with a series of votes this weekend.”

“The measure needs the unanimous support of Democrats to move forward in the 50-50 Senate, so the party cannot afford even one defection.” S

Schumer: “I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act that I believe will receive the support of the entire Senate Democratic conference. […] The agreement preserves the major components of the Inflation Reduction Act, including reducing prescription drug costs, fighting climate change, closing tax loopholes exploited by big corporations and the wealthy, and reducing the deficit by $300 billion.”

The provision to narrow the carried interest loophole might be swapped with a tax on stock buybacks, the Washington Post reports. Bloomberg had previously reported that Democrats were considering a 1% tax on stock buybacks.

Punchbowl News: “Needless to say, this is an enormous moment for Democrats, especially Schumer, who’s overseen this process from the beginning. Despite sometimes heavy criticism of the New York Democrat’s style, Schumer has led his senators to this point. In another few days – and a bunch of votes – Schumer could get his biggest win as Democratic leader.”

“For Biden, this is more good news. The president’s poll numbers are still bad. But despite his party’s thin margin of control, Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have gotten a ton of bipartisan wins. They have passed an infrastructure bill, gun control, CHIPS Plus, the PACT Act for veterans and confirmed a Supreme Court justice. Passing this reconciliation package provides another boost to Democratic incumbents and counters some of the GOP attacks on inflation and the economy.”

“For Sinema, this may undercut some of the attacks from the left following the bitter controversies earlier this year over the filibuster and voting rights. Progressives will never love her, and Sinema’s insistence on removing the carried interest provision has reignited criticism. Sinema, though, is voting with Schumer and Biden on the most important Democratic legislative proposal of this Congress.”

Upon word of a Democratic deal on a budget reconciliation package, Sen. Graham (R-SC) issues a threat: “A word of advice to those who support this reconciliation deal: If you expect the CR to deliver a political payoff with 60 votes you might want to rethink.”

“If there is something you want in this deal that can’t be achieved in reconciliation, if I were you I would get it up front. Stay tuned.” Shove your threats Lady G and obey your subpoena.

“Senate Democratic leaders are telling their rank-and-file that they’ll likely be in session over the weekend as Democrats try to push through their $740 billion reconciliation package,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The best guess right now is debate starts on the bill over the weekend — perhaps a motion to proceed vote Saturday or Sunday — with a vote-a-rama extending into early next week.”

“But that’s just an estimate. There are no deadlines on the Byrd bath. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will only proceed when he’s sure that Democrats can pull this off successfully.”

“Under fire from progressive advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation reining in Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he plans to hold a vote on Sens. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” Politico reports.

“Hiring in July was far better than expected, defying signs that the economic recovery is losing steam,” CNBC reports.

“Nonfarm payrolls rose 528,000 for the month and the unemployment rate was 3.5%, easily topping the Dow Jones estimates of 258,000 and 3.6% respectively.”

“Wage growth also surged higher, as average earning earnings jumped 0.5% for the month and 5.2% from the same time a year ago. Those numbers add fuel to an inflation picture that already has consumer prices rising at their fastest rate since the early 1980s.”

Politico: “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week the central bank isn’t trying to cause a recession by raising interest rates and doesn’t think it needs to as the Fed aggressively moves to get decades-high inflation under control.”

“Some economists — including former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — say Powell is being much too optimistic about the Fed’s ability to tame prices without pushing unemployment much higher. The implication: The Fed chief, who has sought to elevate the central bank’s focus on boosting the labor market, may be forced to accept millions of job losses and a significant recession to curb inflation.”

Said Summers: “Unless we have a set of very surprising and positive developments, we’re not likely to see the inflation rate come all the way down to the Fed’s target without there being some level of meaningful economic distress.”

“Britain faces a protracted recession and the worst squeeze in living standards in more than 60 years after the Bank of England raised interest rates sharply and forecast inflation would hit 13 percent by the end of the year,” the Financial Times reports.

The ex-president’s lawyers are in communication with prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. who are heading the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, CNN reports.

Their discussions have reportedly focused on Trump’s claims of executive privilege and whether they could cover his communications with witnesses in the White House. Trump’s lawyers have warned their client that he may face indictments, according to CNN.

“Donald Trump’s allies in Georgia are mounting a campaign to recall Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over her investigation into the then president’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and are seeking to recruit high-dollar donors to fund it,“ Yahoo News reports.

“The organizers of the campaign concede that the obstacles to a successful recall in Georgia are high, making the chances of getting a recall vote on the ballot before Willis makes her decision on whether to indict Trump and his associates remote at best.”

“But a source involved in the effort told Yahoo News that the aim is to use the recall campaign as a way to politically damage the Democratic district attorney, portraying her as a partisan actor who is ignoring soaring crime rates in Atlanta in order to target high-profile Republicans. A side benefit of that game plan, another source familiar with the campaign said, is to potentially influence a jury pool down the road should a case against Trump go to trial.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) urged the Justice Department to prosecute former President Trump if it finds evidence that Trump committed crimes in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, CNBC reports,

Said Cheney: “If the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute — how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws?”

After the stunning revelation that Alex Jones’ attorneys had accidentally sent years of his text messages to the lawyers for Sandy Hook plaintiffs, the plaintiffs’ counsel said he plans to turn over the text messages to the January 6 Committee, CNN reports.  Meanwhile, Vice News reports the texts include “intimate messages to Roger Stone.”

Former Attorney General Eric Holder told CNBC he expects Donald Trump “probably” will be indicted on criminal charges along with officials in his White House as part of a Justice Department investigation of efforts to reverse the 2020 election results nationally.

But Holder suggested that before that happens, Trump is more likely to first face possible criminal charges from the Georgia state prosecutor who is investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to undo the win there by President Joe Biden in 2020.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’d do it 50 times in a row.”— Arizona Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), quoted by the Associated Press, after getting trounced in a state Senate race because he testified against Donald Trump.

“China’s live-fire exercises around Taiwan this week are simulating the steps it might take to seal off the island with a blockade, previewing the kind of coercive tactics Chinese leaders may employ in a future conflict,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wall Street Journal: “At least 68 Chinese warplanes and 13 warships carried out maneuvers off Taiwan’s coast on Friday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said. During the operation, some of the aircraft and ships sent by China’s military crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, a notional boundary that Taipei says demarcates areas of de facto control, the ministry said.”

“The flurry of military sorties Beijing flew Friday—setting a record of such activity since Taiwan’s military began disclosing the data in September 2020—came after China encircled Taiwan with rocket and ballistic-missile fire a day earlier.”

“China announced sanctions on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her landmark trip to Taiwan this week, making her the highest-ranking US official designated for penalties by Beijing,” Bloomberg reports.

“China on Friday said it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on a range of issues from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the AP reports.

“The measures, which come amid cratering relations between Beijing and Washington, are the latest in a promised series of steps intended to punish the U.S. for allowing the visit to the island it claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary. China on Thursday launched threatening military exercises in six zones just off Taiwan’s coasts that it says will run through Sunday.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has urged Beijing to back down, the AP reports.

“The White House summoned China’s ambassador on Thursday to condemn Beijing’s escalating actions against Taiwan and reiterate that the United States does not want a crisis in the region, after a visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sharply escalated tensions in the Taiwan Strait this week,” the Washington Post reports.

“A senior Kremlin official said Moscow was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Washington that people familiar with the matter say could see U.S. women’s basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan traded for a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the U.S.,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a news conference in Cambodia, came a day after a Russian court sentenced Ms. Griner to nine years in prison following her guilty plea and conviction on charges she brought a marijuana product into the country. The U.S. maintains Ms. Griner has been wrongfully detained.”

“The Kremlin said Friday that it’s open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Brittney Griner but strongly warned Washington against publicizing the issue,” the AP reports.

Daniel Yergin and Michael Stoppard write in the Wall Street Journal: “The second front has opened in the battle for Ukraine—an energy war in Europe. There’s no mystery about Vladimir Putin’s strategy. He laid it out at an economic conference in St. Petersburg in June: high energy prices, which bring hardship as they radiate through the European economy, which will create social turmoil, which will mean that people vote their pained pocketbooks. This in turn will bring to power populist parties that will, to use his own language, change ‘the elites’ in Europe.”

“The ultimate aim is to bring governments to power in Europe that aren’t committed to supporting Ukraine and thus fracture the Western coalition.”

“A jury in Texas awarded the parents of a child killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than $4 million in compensatory damages from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defaming them by spreading lies that they were complicit in a government plot to stage the shooting as a pretext for gun control,” the New York Times reports.

“The trial will now enter a second phase, in which the jury will consider evidence of Mr. Jones’s net worth to determine how much, if anything, to award… in punitive damages.”

“This is the first of three trials in which juries are being asked to decide how much Mr. Jones must pay relatives of 10 Sandy Hook victims for spreading lies that they were actors in a so-called false flag operation planned by the government.”

Sens. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) are struggling to wrap their heads around the fact that a majority of voters in their red state flatly rejected Republicans’ effort to strip away abortion rights in the state constitution on Tuesday.

Marshall described the vote as “quite a gut punch” that left him “absolutely shocked.”

Moran admitted he “never can predict elections.” “I never know how they’re going to turn out,” he told Politico on Thursday.

Other Republican senators, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) were similarly shell-shocked.

Jennifer Rubin: “The abortion issue is entirely polarized on partisan lines. If you want to preserve women’s health and freedom, you’ll vote Democratic (if this is an important issue to you). If you want to force women to give birth against their will and to criminalize medicine, you’ll vote for the GOP.”

“There is no place for Republicans, who have made abortion extremism their signature issue, to hide.”

New York Times: “The state’s Department of Revenue announced this week that ‘any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat’ can be claimed as dependent, providing a $3,000 tax exemption for each pregnancy within a household, months before the child is born. Georgia’s law bans most abortions after six weeks, which is usually around when doctors can begin to detect fetal cardiac activity.”

“The announcement marks a new frontier of anti-abortion policymaking in a post-Roe America, where conservative lawmakers have moved beyond banning abortion, and are now trying to expand the legal rights and protections afforded to a fetus under ‘fetal personhood’ laws. Georgia, Alabama and Arizona have passed abortion bans that include language broadly defining a fetus as a person.”

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley write in the Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. is running out of time to prevent a cataclysmic war in the Western Pacific. While the world has been focused on Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, Xi Jinping appears to be preparing for an even more consequential onslaught against Taiwan. Mr. Xi’s China is fueled by a dangerous mix of strength and weakness: Faced with profound economic, demographic and strategic problems, it will be tempted to use its burgeoning military power to transform the existing order while it still has the opportunity.”

“This peaking-power syndrome—the tendency for rising states to become more aggressive as they become more fearful of impending decline—has caused some of the bloodiest wars in history. Unless the U.S. and its allies act quickly, it could trigger a conflict that would make the war in Ukraine look minor by comparison.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “It’s time to give President Joe Biden credit for achieving something no one predicted: bipartisanship in foreign policy.”

“The Senate on Wednesday delivered a victory for Biden’s foreign policy agenda, voting almost unanimously to admit Finland and Sweden into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Previously, Biden was able to get the Ukraine aid he has asked for. That Senate vote in May also was truly bipartisan, with all the Democrats joined by 39 of the 50 Republicans; that was after House Republicans voted nearly 3-to-1 in favor of the bill.”

“Former President Donald Trump is expected to be questioned under oath in the coming days in the New York attorney general’s long-running investigation into his dealings as a real estate mogul,” the AP reports.

Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. have recently given depositions in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) civil investigation into the Trump Organization, according to CNN and ABC News, after the family spent months fighting the subpoenas.

Their depositions were delayed after their mother, Ivana Trump, died.

Don Jr. answered the questions during his deposition and didn’t invoke the Fifth Amendment, according to CNN.

“Their brother Eric Trump, who runs the Trump Organization with Donald Jr., invoked his Fifth Amendment right more than 500 times when he was questioned under oath in the probe in October 2020.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren for not prosecuting certain crimes, removing him from office and naming his replacement, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

He said he did so because Warfren refused to enforce some of the state’s laws—including the recent 15-week abortion ban.

“With Iran announcing this week that it now has the technical ability to produce a nuclear warhead, though denying that it plans to, negotiators from the United States and Iran arrived on Thursday in Vienna for one more — and perhaps the last — effort to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that limited Tehran’s nuclear program,” the New York Times reports.

“Former President Donald Trump, who is weighing when to announce his expected third run for the Republican presidential nomination, will address a gathering of conservative activists here this weekend,” CNN reports.

“Among the others slated to appear in Dallas are Republican elected officials, GOP candidates in the upcoming midterm elections and even Viktor Orban, the hard-line nationalist Hungarian prime minister who is scheduled to speak Thursday.”

“A young congressional staffer for Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) was quietly fired last year after he faked being an FBI agent and led cops on a chase through the capital, resulting in a weeks-long nationwide manhunt,” the Daily Beast reports.

“It took four different law enforcement agencies three months to eventually catch up with the staffer 500 miles away. And it was only after a Secret Service agent managed to track down the online shops that sold the staffer mock ‘federal agent’ gear and a bogus license plate for his fake police car—decked out with a siren and flashing lights—that authorities were able to arrest him.”

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

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