Cup of Joe – January 31, 2023

“In 2011, after faltering debt limit negotiations with House Republicans brought the U.S. to the brink of economic calamity, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sat by the fireplace in the Oval Office, with their top aides on the couch. While relieved at having narrowly averted disaster, they were stunned by what had transpired,” NBC News reports.

“Obama and Biden made a vow: Never again.”

Dan Pfeiffer: “I worked in the West Wing during a financial crisis, a pandemic, multiple active terrorist plots, once-in-a-century storms, and the rise of ISIS. None of those threats were anywhere near as frightening as the two times the House Republicans tried to take the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. In both cases, a group of radical extremists with a faint grasp on reality led by a weak Speaker almost stumbled ass-backward into a global financial crisis that would make 2008 look like an economic head cold.”

“Well, here we are again.”

“A group of radical House Republicans led by a Speaker in name only is threatening a confrontation over raising the debt limit. Like President Obama in 2013, President Biden is refusing to negotiate with House Republicans. And like in 2013, all of the usual voices are raising concerns about that strategy.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday he thinks President Joe Biden will come to an agreement with him regarding the debt ceiling, despite the Biden administration’s previous assertions that they wouldn’t negotiate with House Republicans on the issue,” Politico reports.

Said McCarthy: “His staff tries to say something different, but I think the president will be willing to make an agreement together.”

Asked about White House concerns that some Republicans are seeking cuts to Social Security and Medicare, McCarthy said: “Let’s take those off the table.”

“Chuck Schumer, as he’s known to do, is talking a lot these days. And it’s all aimed at Kevin McCarthy,” Politico reports.

“The Senate majority leader is directing heat at the new House GOP majority on the daily, casting McCarthy’s conference in the role of villain as the 2024 election cycle kicks off. Schumer first attacked House Republicans for giving airtime to conservative hopes of replacing income taxes with a national sales tax, and now he’s directing his ire toward McCarthy’s insistence on spending cuts in exchange for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.”

Said Schumer: “The plan is to get our Republican colleagues in the House to understand they’re flirting with disaster and hurting the American people. And to let the American people understand that as well.”

“Debt ceiling negotiations are struck in limbo, as House Republicans demand severe spending cuts without saying where they’d start. Pretty soon, though, their hands will be forced,” Politico reports.

“GOP lawmakers say they’re committed to adopting a budget plan for the coming fiscal year, which would reflect where they’d slash government funding. It’s a demand they’ve said President Joe Biden and Democrats must meet before they’ll agree to raise the debt ceiling in the coming months, a potential calamity as economic indicators already point towards recession.”

“Passing a budget is guaranteed to be a painful test for the new majority. It’s one thing to call for fiscal responsibility — it’s another to be the political face of program cuts.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) plans to reintroduce a version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as early as this week and negotiations between him and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on police reform could resume thereafter, Politico reports.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) told ABC News the bipartisan group that tried and failed to negotiate a bill last year should try again, calling their effort “the right starting point.”

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is floating a possible compromise on what was one of the key holdups in the negotiations surrounding policing reform legislation after the death of George Floyd in 2020,” The Hill reports.

“The death of Tyre Nichols, 29, at the hands of police in Memphis earlier this month has sparked a renewed push for policing reform legislation. But one of the main obstacles to an agreement between Republicans and Democrats has long been the issue of qualified immunity.”

Daily Beast: “Instead of wide agreement on when, where, and how to cut spending, members are still haggling over how to start.”

“The defense budget is huge, but some Republicans are cautious to be seen cutting money for the military and national security—a line-item Republicans have fought to increase for decades. Social Security and Medicare are allegedly on the table, but it’s a red line for some Republicans that former President Donald Trump—still the most prominent Republican—has insisted they should not touch.”

“And then there are earmarks. Earmarks—the member-directed spending for special projects in specific congressional districts—is another area of scorn for Republicans that could perhaps garner some support. But it makes up a minute fraction of overall spending, and wouldn’t offset the debts House Republicans have sworn to tackle.”

“With Republicans in control of the House, Senate Democrats will spend much of the next two years working to confirm as many judges as possible — and they’re facing pressure to change Senate rules to prevent Republicans from holding up President Biden’s nominees,” the Washington Post reports.

“Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator who now leads the American Constitution Society, and other progressive judicial advocates are pressing Democrats to eliminate ‘blue slips’ — a tradition that allows senators to block judicial nominees from their home states.”

“Refusing to return a nominee’s blue slip is one of the only ways for the minority party to derail a president’s judicial picks after Democrats unilaterally scrapped the filibuster for most judicial nominees a decade ago.”

New York Times: “In the three weeks since Mr. McCarthy ultimately agreed to the price of the portrait, Mr. Gaetz’s role in the melodrama has only entrenched his stature as an attention-craving political arsonist adored by the Trump wing of the G.O.P. — but also, House Republican leaders begrudgingly say, as a lawmaker with new powers.”

“Mr. Gaetz and his fellow antagonists demanded and got a deal allowing a single lawmaker to force a snap vote to oust the speaker, a commitment for a third of the seats on the powerful Rules Committee and an agreement that any lawmaker could force votes on changes to government spending bills. Taken together, the concessions drastically hamstring Mr. McCarthy’s ability to shape a legislative agenda.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Justice Department told top Senate Intelligence Committee lawmakers that providing nonpublic information to the panel about the classified material that ended up in the personal possession of two presidents could complicate the ongoing investigations into the incidents.”

“Members of the committee from both parties have been pressing the Biden administration to turn over the classified documents found at President Biden’s private home and former office and former President Donald Trump’s residence. Intelligence officials have so far declined to do so, citing the appointment of special counsels who are looking into the discoveries of the documents.”

“House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) said he and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) have agreed to work on a legislative fix to how documents are packed up at the end of the administration,” Politico reports.

“The disclosure comes after last year’s search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents at Donald Trump’s residence, as well as recent disclosures from Biden and Pence that they had classified records.”

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that Russian president Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike in an “extraordinary” phone call in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The then-prime minister said Mr Putin told him it “would only take a minute.”

Wall Street Journal: “That concern suggests the window for Ukraine isn’t indefinite and it needs powerful Western weapons — main battle tanks, other armored vehicles and more air-defense systems — soon to reinforce the momentum it achieved in offensive successes around Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson last year.”

Politico: At the Pentagon, push to send F-16s to Ukraine picks up steam.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy has backed his fellow Republicans into a corner with one of the promises he made to his far-right flank to land his job: opening the door to considering fringe legislation that would replace the income tax with a federal sales tax and abolish the IRS,” Politico reports.

“Most GOP members appear determined to distance themselves as much as possible from the idea and McCarthy himself said this week he doesn’t support the legislation. But Democrats aren’t going to let the issue die quietly. They’ve been more than happy to use it as a cudgel to portray Republicans as dangerous radicals.”

The House could consider the clunkily-named Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems Act — the SHOW UP Act — which would largely end working from home for federal employees. It could move in tandem with the Pandemic is Over Act, which would officially end the COVID-19 public health emergency.

In an early salvo of the congressional battles ahead, the Senate could begin work to kill one of the few bills to pass the new GOP House so far: the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would rescind IRS enforcement funding approved under the Inflation Reduction Act.

“When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion in June, it declared that it was sending the issue back to the “people and their elected representatives.” But the fight has largely moved to a different set of supreme courts and constitutions: those in the states,” the New York Times reports.

“On a single day this month, South Carolina’s highest court handed down its ruling that the right to privacy in the State Constitution includes a right to abortion, a decision that overturned the state’s six-week abortion ban. Within hours, Idaho’s highest court ruled in the opposite direction, saying that state’s Constitution did not protect abortion rights; the ban there would stand.”

“Those divergent decisions displayed how volatile and patchwork the fight over abortion rights will be over the next months, as abortion rights advocates and opponents push and pull over state constitutions.”

McKay Coppins: “Press them hard enough, and most Republican officials—even the ones with MAGA hats in their closets and Mar-a-Lago selfies in their Twitter avatar—will privately admit that Donald Trump has become a problem. He’s presided over three abysmal election cycles since he took office, he is more unstable than ever, and yet he returned to the campaign trail this past weekend, declaring that he is “angry” and determined to win the  GOP presidential nomination again in 2024. Aside from his most blinkered loyalists, virtually everyone in the party agrees: It’s time to move on from Trump.”

“But ask them how they plan to do that, and the discussion quickly veers into the realm of hopeful hypotheticals. Maybe he’ll get indicted and his legal problems will overwhelm him. Maybe he’ll flame out early in the primaries, or just get bored with politics and wander away. Maybe the situation will resolve itself naturally: He’s old, after all—how many years can he have left?”

“This magical thinking pervaded my recent conversations with more than a dozen current and former elected GOP officials and party strategists. Faced with the prospect of another election cycle dominated by Trump and uncertain that he can actually be beaten in the primaries, many Republicans are quietly rooting for something to happen that will make him go away. And they would strongly prefer not to make it happen themselves.”

Charlie Sykes: “For Trump, this is hardly a new theme. His enthusiasm for violence — including torture, extra-judicial murder and shooting both migrants and protesters — has been a consistent feature of his politics for years.”

“Trump has long cultivated cruelty as a political weapon. But he has not confined his cruelty to mere rhetoric.”

“Indeed, the ‘pro-life’ former president makes no secret of his passion for actual violence — including the maiming, wounding, flesh-tearing, shooting and killing of human beings.”

“And this appetite for brutality will soon become a litmus test for right-wing politicians, including any of his GOP challengers.”

“Donald Trump demanded reams of information from the Internal Revenue Service as it was preparing to turn over his personal tax returns to a congressional committee, papering the agency with a deluge of Freedom of Information Act requests in search of a behind-the scenes look at its deliberations,” Bloomberg reports.

“The former president routinely works to drag out any legal challenge to him personally or politically. But this effort took an unusual turn when he filed several FOIA requests during the nearly four years he spent unsuccessfully trying to block his tax returns from becoming public.”

“Trump’s decision to use the public records request law to get information from his own government is unconventional, largely because as commander-in-chief and leader of the Executive Branch he has numerous options to get data from federal agencies that don’t require him to use a last-resort tool available to anyone.”

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

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