Cup of Joe – May 2, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has informed congressional leaders that the federal government must raise the debt limit by as early as June 1 or face a potentially catastrophic default, the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “The new estimate followed less than a week after House Republicans delivered on their pledge to try to leverage the looming deadline to secure spending cuts, defying President Biden and officially touching off a political stalemate that could tip the fragile economy into another recession.”

President Joe Biden called Speaker Kevin McCarthy Monday, asking him to meet about the looming debt-limit deadline.

Biden is also calling other top congressional leaders. Biden is expected to convene a meeting of Big Four leaders.

NBC News: “Biden aides strategized Friday over how to use the upcoming congressional recess to hammer lawmakers in their backyards for supporting a bill that would undo Biden initiatives to relieve student debt, support clean energy tax incentives and ramp up IRS enforcement, while strictly limiting growth in most domestic spending programs.”

“The messaging plan seeks to spell out what the House’s proposed spending plan would mean for specific states and congressional districts, through cuts to programs that provide medical care for veterans, nutrition assistance for women and young children, and invest in medical research.”

In a new “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by Punchbowl News, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Senate committees will hold hearings on the Republican legislation to lift the debt ceiling.

The bill didn’t go through regular order in the House. Instead, the legislation was drafted by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other senior House Republicans following consultations with their rank-and-file.

From the letter: “This bill was hastily drafted and forced through the House at a break-neck speed. Not a single Committee of jurisdiction held a hearing or a mark-up on a bill that would fundamentally remake American society. The Senate will show the public what this bill truly is.”

“A divide has opened between House and Senate Democrats over whether President Biden should negotiate a debt ceiling compromise with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),” Axios reports.

“The public discordance between the two caucuses, at a time when Democrats want a united front against GOP efforts to slash government spending, appears to have party leaders spooked.”

“At least one House Democrat has received a call from Senate Democratic leadership urging them to tamp down their advocacy for talks between the White House and House Republicans… Nearly a dozen House Democrats have told AxiosPolitico and the Washington Post, or written publicly, that they believe Biden and McCarthy should be in discussions on the debt ceiling.”

“President Biden is clearly trying to run out the clock and create a debt crisis. That’s irresponsible.”— House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), in an interview with ABC News.

Wall Street Journal: “While the two parties are at an impasse now, the U.S. Treasury is expected to provide new guidance soon on when the U.S. could default on payments to bondholders and other obligations, a deadline that could stir the White House and lawmakers to action. The Treasury is currently using so-called extraordinary measures to keep the nation’s bills paid, but such maneuvers are expected to run out this summer, perhaps as early as June.”

“If talks begin, Mr. McCarthy will need to weigh the demands of hard-line fiscal conservatives with more moderate members to reach a deal with Democrats. Any debt-ceiling deal would need to clear the House—where the Republicans’ opening bid almost failed because it wasn’t sufficiently conservative—and the Senate, where 10 or so Republicans would be needed to join all Democrats. If Mr. McCarthy alienates his party in the process, he could lose the speakership.”

Washington Post: With debt bill adopted, far-right House Republicans ready for fiscal war.

“Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell insists he will not come up with a rescue plan this time as Republicans and a Democratic president battle over the debt limit,” The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “The president knows how to do this…. Until he and the Speaker of the House reach an agreement, we’ll be at a standoff. We have divided government. The president and the Speaker need to come together and solve the problem.”

“McConnell has a long history of negotiating with President Biden on high profile issues, such as extending the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010, avoiding a national default in 2011 and avoiding the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012.”

Wall Street Journal: “The party, united for decades around the view that net tax increases are unacceptable, on Wednesday advanced debt-ceiling legislation that would raise taxes by more than $300 billion over a decade, according to official congressional estimates.”

“The bill, which passed in the GOP-controlled House and won’t survive the Democratic-led Senate, would repeal clean-energy tax credits that Congress created last year. The changes would shrink breaks for wind energy, solar power, hydrogen and electric vehicles, effectively raising taxes on some manufacturers, car buyers and others.”

Donald Trump “indicated he would consider signing into law legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy if he is elected president again in 2024,” Axios reports.

Said Trump: “We’ll get something done where everyone is going to be very satisfied. I think we’ll get it done on some level, it could be on different levels, but we’re gonna get it done. I know the issue very well. I think I know the issue better than most and we will get that taken care of.”

“The new comments came as a departure from his campaign’s previous support for individual states deciding restrictions — as abortion again looms over the upcoming major election cycle.”

“Two hospitals that refused to provide an emergency abortion to a pregnant woman who was experiencing premature labor put her life in jeopardy and violated federal law, a first-of-its-kind investigation by the federal government has found,” the AP reports.

“The findings are a warning to hospitals around the country as they struggle to reconcile dozens of new state laws that ban or severely restrict abortion with a federal mandate for doctors to provide abortions when a woman’s health is at risk.”

“Donald Trump has requested a mistrial in a civil case where the writer E. Jean Carroll is accusing him of rape and defamation,” Reuters reports. The basis for such a request was less than clear, and it was rejected.

Donald Trump claimed in a Fox News interview that he’s been treated worse than any other president — including Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated.

While being questioned by NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard about his role in hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump grabbed the reporter’s phones and threw them to the side, Vanity Fair reports.

Said Trump, in remarks caught on audio: “Get him out of here.”

Some of Trump’s comments on the plane have been previously reported… But the full scope of Trump’s tirade has not been previously reported.

Wall Street Journal: “New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan was assigned to preside over the hush-money prosecution of former President Donald Trump because he had experience overseeing previous litigation involving the former president and his company, according to people familiar with the process, but that history could complicate the proceedings and expose him to more of Mr. Trump’s attacks.”

“The highest court in the land should not have the lowest standard of ethics in the federal government.” — Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL), quoted by Politico.

“The Supreme Court on Monday announced it will hear a case that could significantly scale back federal agencies’ authority, with major implications for the future of environmental and other regulations,” The Hill reports.

“The justices next term will consider whether to overturn a decades-old precedent that grants agencies deference when Congress left ambiguity in a statute.”

“Back in 1923, the Supreme Court had issued 157 rulings by May 1 in a term that started the previous fall,” NBC News reports.

“On the same date a century later, the current justices, facing a firestorm of scrutiny on multiple fronts, have disposed of just 15 cases, fueling speculation about why they are falling behind.”

“In fact, the court has decided fewer cases at this point of the term — which begins each October and ends in June — than at any time in the last 100 years.”

“Russian forces have suffered more than 20,000 fatalities in recent months as they battle to take the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut,” the Financial Times reports.

“Overall there have been more than 100,000 Russian casualties, including the fatalities, since December, the White House said, a number that underscores the cost of the full-scale invasion to president Vladimir Putin.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “shot down a Russian reporter’s suggestion that he does not support aid to Ukraine, pledging continued U.S. support for the country and calling on Russia to pull its troops from Ukraine,” The Hill reports.

Said McCarthy: “No, I vote for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine. I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine.”

He added: “And I think for one standpoint, you should pull out. And I don’t think it’s right. And we will continue to support, because the rest of the world sees it just as it is.”

“Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch held a previously unreported call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this spring in which the two discussed the war and the anniversary of the deaths of Fox News journalists last March,” Semfor reports.

“The Ukrainian president had a similar conversation with Lachlan Murdoch on March 15, which Zelensky noted in a little-noticed aside during a national broadcast last month.”

Pope Francis said on Sunday that the Vatican was involved in a secret “mission” to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine and that it would do “all that is humanly possible” to return children taken from Ukraine to Russia and reunite families, the New York Times reports.

“President Biden’s global agenda faces significant challenges as major developing nations seek to evade the intensifying standoff between the United States, Russia and China and, in some cases, exploit that rivalry for their own gain, classified American intelligence assessments show,” the Washington Post reports.

“The documents, among a trove of U.S. secrets leaked online through the Discord messaging platform, provide a rare glimpse into the private calculations by key emerging powers, including India, Brazil, Pakistan and Egypt, as they attempt to straddle allegiances in an era when America is no longer the world’s unchallenged superpower.”

Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), the transgender Montana lawmaker who made “blood on your hands” remark, sues to be allowed back on House floor, the AP reports.

A district board appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis passed a motion Monday during an emergency meeting to counter-sue Disney, Insider reports.

Washington Post: “One by one, many of the initial 20 arrests announced by the Office of Election Crimes and Security have stumbled in court. Six cases have been dismissed. Five other defendants accepted plea deals that resulted in no jail time. Only one case has gone to trial, resulting in a split verdict. The others are pending.”

“In its first nine months, the new unit made just four other arrests, according to a report the agency released earlier this year. Critics say the low numbers point to the overall strength of Florida’s electoral system and a lack of sufficient evidence to pursue further charges. Nonetheless, as he gears up for a possible presidential run, DeSantis is moving to give the office more teeth, asking the legislature to nearly triple the division’s annual budget from $1.2 million to $3.1 million.”

“The man wanted by law enforcement for the killings of five Texas neighbors – including a 9-year-old boy – had entered the US illegally and been deported by immigration officials at least four times,” CNN reports.

“An Arkansas judge on Monday ordered President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to answer additional written questions about his investments, his art sales and other financial transactions as part of a paternity-related case,” CNN reports.

“Hunter Biden also will sit for a deposition in mid-June, where he’ll have to answer questions under oath, the judge said.”

A new trove of documents uncovered by the Wall Street Journal show that CIA Director William Burns met with Jeffrey Epstein at his New York townhouse in 2014, years after he had become a convicted sex offender.

“JPMorgan Chase is buying most assets of First Republic Bank and assuming all of the lender’s deposits in a deal announced Monday that was arranged by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,” CNN reports.

Wall Street Journal: “San Francisco-based First Republic, the second-largest bank to fail in U.S. history, lost $100 billion in deposits in a March run following the collapse of fellow Bay Area lender Silicon Valley Bank. It limped along for weeks after a group of America’s biggest banks came to its rescue with a $30 billion deposit.”

“Three of the four largest-ever U.S. bank failures have occurred in the past two months.”

“Growth in the U.S. slowed considerably during the first three months of the year as interest rate increases and inflation took hold of an economy largely expected to decelerate even further ahead,” CNBC reports.

“Gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced for the period, rose at a 1.1% annualized pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting growth of 2%.”

“Neither corporate earnings nor the latest GDP numbers imply we’re careening toward an economic contraction,” Axios reports.

“Last year, as the Fed tightened rates at the most rapid clip since the early 1980s — and stocks fell about 20% — obsession with the possibility of a downturn overtook both executives and the business press.”

“To paraphrase the economist Robert Solow, the downturn has been everywhere, but in the economic statistics.”

Bloomberg: “With inflation as high as 9% in the past year, Powell’s colleagues were all-in on the fight to curb price pressures, with another 25 basis-point hike expected Wednesday that might be the concluding increase.”

“Yet that consensus is already showing signs of splintering.”

“Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell held a call with a pair of Russian pranksters posing as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy,” Bloomberg reports.

“Apparently thinking he was speaking to Zelenskiy, the video shows Powell answering questions on topics ranging from the outlook for inflation to the Russian central bank. There were several clips lasting about 15 minutes and it’s unclear if the footage was altered.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), the man in charge of retaking the Senate for Republicans in 2024, told NBC News that he thinks he has a secret weapon: former President Donald Trump. 

Said Daines: “You look back — his endorsement certainly was a significant factor in primary elections. And so I’m going to continue to work with the president.”

New York Times: “The minority leader believed that somebody in the Senate GOP leadership ranks should have a working relationship with the party’s leading presidential contender — and it might as well be the man charged with winning back the Senate majority.”

“Mr. Daines’s endorsement of Mr. Trump this week — and Mr. McConnell’s private blessing of it — highlighted how top Senate Republicans have quietly decided to join forces with their party’s leading presidential candidate, putting aside the toxic relationship that some of them have with him to focus on what they hope will be a mutually advantageous political union.”

Politico: “McConnell’s gambit underscores the reality that, with the presidential primary still ramping up, he is probably Trump’s greatest foil in the Republican Party right now. He has not changed his mind about Trump’s conduct after the 2020 election, according to confidantes, and he sees Trump’s nomination as complicating the task of defeating Joe Biden next year.”

“But McConnell, true to form, is not letting emotion or his low view of Trump get in the way of the task at hand. The Senate GOP leader doesn’t talk about Trump in public, and does so little in private.”

Politico: “The president’s team has made the issue of book banning a surprisingly central element of his campaign’s opening salvos. He referred to GOP efforts to restrict curriculum — Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was the third most banned title in America last year — in his first two campaign videos. He presents himself in each video as the defender of the country’s core values, a bulwark against an extreme Republican Party rolling back America’s freedoms.”

“The campaign’s first TV ad, a 90-second spot running in seven states over the next two weeks as part of a seven-figure buy, warns Republicans ‘seek to overturn elections, ban books and eliminate a woman’s right to choose.’ Biden followed up with a tweet hitting ‘MAGA extremists … telling you what books should be in your kids’ schools.’ That followed the explicit reference to book bans in Biden’s launch announcement video Tuesday.”

“The early focus on book banning is part of the campaign’s attempt to reinforce a broader message, said one Democratic adviser involved in the effort: Biden is the only one standing between the American people and a Republican Party determined to roll back rights and limit freedoms.”

Donald Trump on Thursday praised and embraced a woman convicted of defying police orders on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump, who was campaigning here in New Hampshire, then agreed to sign the backpack she said she carried to the Capitol complex on the day of the interruption of the congressional proceedings to formally certify Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.”

It appears Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are hanging out again.

John Harris: “There’s no question — relative to Trump’s cynicism and lawlessness — that journalists remain on the side of the good guys. But that is hardly a demanding test. What’s more, a passing grade doesn’t mean the profession has reckoned with the ways it has emerged from the Trump experience — or possibly just the first half of the Trump experience — in a diminished or even compromised state.”

“The Trump years, like the Nixon years, came with triumphal language in which journalists portrayed ourselves as soldiers in a righteous army. ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ is the Washington Post’s new portent-filled slogan. But how effective is that army? And how righteous really? Exploring the gap between aspiration and achievement can be uncomfortable.”

“The reality is that the defining ethos of contemporary journalism is not confidence but insecurity — a reality that is expressed in everything from the business models of news organizations to the public personas and career arcs of reporters and editors.”

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s (R) son David is a gay, nonbinary 32-year-old — and is lobbying his father against signing anti-transgender bills, the Montana Free Press reports.

“U.S. cigarette smoking dropped to another all-time low last year, with 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers,” the AP reports.

CNN: “A Latino man and a Black man went missing three months apart in Florida. Both vanished after getting in a patrol car driven by the same White deputy sheriff.”

Eric Casteel (R), who ran for Allegheny County Council two years ago, is accused of threatening several people with a gun at a Plum Borough Republican Committee meeting, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports.

CBS News: “The U.S. government, in concert with its allies, has now facilitated the departure of nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens [from Sudan].”

Bud Light sales are down 26% after the fallout from a social media promotion featuring a transgender influencer, Barron’s reports.

“The U.S. military is tracking a mysterious balloon that flew over American soil, but it’s not clear what it is or who it belongs to,” NBC News reports.

Nikki Haley asserted that President Biden is likely to die before the end of his second term if he were re-elected in 2024. But is she correct?

Mary Pat Campbell, who works as a life insurance actuary, compiles these figures for President Biden, who is 80 years old:

  • Probability of survival to election (2 years): 88%
  • Probability of survival to end of second term (6 years): 63%

And here are the figures for Donald Trump, who is 76 years old:

  • Probability of survival to election (2 years): 92%
  • Probability of survival to end of second term (6 years): 74%

The odds for either man surviving to the end of a second term aren’t that great, especially for a job as important as president. As Campbell points out: “Again, these are broad estimates. The main point is to show the steepness of the mortality curves with old age, especially past age 80.”

“Labor unions are looking to planned marches across France on Monday to rebuild pressure on the government over its unpopular reform of the pension system, even after President Emmanuel Macron signed the reform into law last month and as protest numbers wane,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Joe Biden is expected to welcome Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the White House this week as part of continued efforts to strengthen security and economic relations between the US and the Philippines amid regional concerns over an increasingly assertive China,” CNN reports.

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

1 comment on “Cup of Joe – May 2, 2023

  1. cassandram

    When I heard that Susan Rice was resigning, I wondered if she was the woman Ron Klain expected to step into the CoS shoes.

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