Cup of Joe – May 22, 2023

Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that he and President Joe Biden will meet on Monday in person to discuss raising the nation’s debt limit, the AP reports.

McCarthy and Biden spoke by phone as the president was flying back from a trip to Japan. McCarthy said the call was “productive.”

“Republican negotiators rejected a White House offer to limit spending next year on both the military and a wide range of critical domestic programs as part of high-stakes negotiations over the federal debt ceiling,” the New York Times reports.

“Republicans are pushing instead for higher defense spending and more significant domestic spending reductions.”

Politico: Debt ceiling talks break down and attacks escalate as deadline approaches.

Playbook: “Congressional Republicans have not only rejected a new White House offer to essentially freeze domestic spending at FY2023 levels, they’re now demanding work requirements for SNAP recipients that are more rigid than those they originally proposed. They’re also insisting on adding new immigration provisions from the GOP’s recently passed border bill — which, mind you, Republicans didn’t include in their own debt ceiling bill.”

“The GOP’s dug-in position comes at the end of a week when both President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy acknowledged that a budget deal would have to be bipartisan. Vote-counters on the Hill believe that any eventual deal will need the backing of about 100 House Democrats since a number of conservatives will never support a compromise. Yet given what Republican negotiators are now countering, they’re far from that number.”

“The White House is not happy with the new GOP demands.”

Democrats and the White House have long thought that enough Republicans would eventually back a clean debt-limit hike if the default date approached there wasn’t a deal in the works. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen affirmed today that June 1 was the “hard deadline.” That’s just nine days away. he pointed out that the odds are “quite low” that the federal government can make it to June 15 without defaulting if no congressional intervention happens. 

But despite those warnings, there’s been no movement among moderate Republicans to back a clean bill. It would require a handful of House Republicans who would have to sign onto a Democratic discharge petition to pass a clean debt limit hike though the House. And it would also need at least nine Senate Republicans as well. So far, most Republicans are staying quiet and backing Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“President Biden on Sunday said he believes he has the authority to use the 14th Amendment to unilaterally address the debt ceiling, but he acknowledged potential legal challenges could still lead the nation to default if he went that route,” The Hill reports.

Said Biden: “I’m looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority — I think we have the authority.”

He added: “The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it would not be appealed, and as a consequence past the date in question and still default on the debt. That is a question that I think is unresolved.”

Josh Marshall: “Today President Biden seems to be increasingly teasing 14th Amendment authority, after headlines yesterday suggesting he was telling congressional progressives to drop the idea. I’ve basically stopped trying to interpret what’s happening here. But one thing is clear: even if President Biden has no intention of doing this or resorting to other extraordinary measures it is insane to rule it out in advance publicly. At a minimum he needs Republicans to think he might take an action that would leave them with no ransom at all. Otherwise you’re simply negotiating against yourself.”

President Biden said he would be blameless if the U.S. defaults on its debt in the coming days, Fox News reports.

“We agreed the only way to go forward was a bipartisan bill. I’ve done my part. … Now it’s time for the other side to move from its extreme positions because much of what they’ve proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said Sunday he was “extremely worried” amid ongoing debt and budget negotiations and Democrats should now look to their “Plan B” to try to move their own deal through the House via a discharge petition, ABC News reports.

“Jeffrey Epstein discovered that Bill Gates had an affair with a Russian bridge player and later appeared to use his knowledge to threaten one of the world’s richest men,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Microsoft co-founder met the woman around 2010, when she was in her 20s. Epstein met her in 2013 and later paid for her to attend software coding school. In 2017, Epstein emailed Gates and asked to be reimbursed for the cost of the course.”

“The email came after the convicted sex offender had struggled and failed to convince Gates to participate in a multibillion-dollar charitable fund that Epstein tried to establish with JPMorgan Chase. The implication behind the message, according to people who have viewed it, was that Epstein could reveal the affair if Gates didn’t keep up an association between the two men.”

Ty Cobb, Donald Trump’s former attorney, predicted that the former president is going to jail as the criminal investigation into the trove of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago continues to heat up, The Independent reports.

Said Cobb: “I wouldn’t necessarily expand the case to try to prove the Espionage Act piece of it because there is so much evidence of guilty knowledge on the espionage piece that all they really have to do is show that Trump moved these documents at various times when DOJ was either demanding them or actually present, that he filed falsely with the Justice Department, had his lawyers file falsely with the Justice Department and affidavit to the effect that none existed, which was shattered by the documents they discovered after the search and the many other misrepresentations that he and others have made on his behalf with regard to his possession of classified documents.”

He added: “Yes, I do think he will go to jail on it.”

“A conflict inside former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team erupted into public view on Saturday as one of his former lawyers went on television to attack one of his current lawyers, who has been the focus of ire from others on the team,” the New York Times reports.

“The former lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, withdrew this past week from representing Mr. Trump in the special counsel’s investigations into his handling of classified documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But Mr. Parlatore did not explain the reasons behind his departure at the time, saying only that it was not related to the merits of the inquiries.”

“Appearing on CNN on Saturday, Mr. Parlatore disclosed that his departure had been spurred by irreconcilable differences with Boris Epshteyn, another lawyer who has been working as something akin to an in-house counsel for the former president, hiring lawyers and coordinating their efforts to defend Mr. Trump.”

Donald Trump’s “second-term governing plans are coming into clearer focus, as he lays out a vision for a dramatic expansion of federal power — particularly the presidency,” Axios reports.

“In public statements, videos and posts on his campaign’s website, Trump complains about Washington’s ‘swamp’ — but lays out a plan that would give him, as president, more control of virtually every facet of life in America.”

“Trump’s plans go well beyond the provocative promises he made during his recent CNN town hall — to pardon nearly all of the convicted Jan. 6 rioters (there have been about 500), and to immediately broker an end the war in Ukraine.”

“The FBI has misused a powerful digital surveillance tool more than 278,000 times, including against crime victims, January 6 riot suspects, people arrested at protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, and — in one case — 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate,” the Washington Post reports.

“The FBI says it has already fixed the problems, which it blamed on a misunderstanding between its employees and Justice Department lawyers about how to properly use a vast database named for the legal statute that created it, Section 702.”

An amazing statistic from a Washington Post profile of Jeff Roe, founder of the GOP consulting firm Axion Strategies: “Axiom now captures at least 63% of every dollar spent by its campaigns, versus less than 10% as just general consultant.”

“In the 2022 cycle, Roe told investors his firm, which also has corporate clients, had taken in $196 million in net revenue, while earning more than $22 million as profit after depreciation and taxes. By 2024, he said those numbers would climb to $250 million and about $36 million in profit.”

“The scale of that revenue — which both allies and detractors consider staggering within the Washington consulting class — underscores the extent to which Roe has rapidly become a major player in the Republican political consulting world, guiding the campaigns of thousands of candidates in recent years, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and building a lengthy list of clients.”

“The White House wants to make a diplomatic push for a Saudi-Israeli peace deal in the next six to seven months before the presidential election campaign consumes President Biden’s agenda,” Axios reports.  “Any normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel brokered by the U.S. will likely include an upgrade in U.S.-Saudi relations and a package of tangible deliverables from the U.S. government.”

A bipartisan group of senators — including Elizabeth Warren Josh Hawley, Raphael Warnock, Lindsey Graham and Steve Daines — are spearheading a new proposal to ban lawmakers from owning and trading individual stocks while serving in Congress, Punchbowl News reports.

Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos told Time that even the $775 million settlement with Fox News won’t be enough to save his company because the reputational damage is just too severe.

Said Poulos: “It’s just easier for our customers to use something that’s not Dominion. We just know that our business ultimately goes to zero.”

“The Biden administration announced new steps Thursday to assist the nations unsheltered population, launching a new initiative accelerating local efforts in six of the nation’s most populous cities as part of a larger goal to reduce the country’s homelessness by 25% by 2025,” CNN reports.

Politico: “Afghanistan is a far trickier oversight for the Republican Party than the base-pleasing topics of border security or the Biden family. That’s because, as even some GOP lawmakers acknowledge, it’s not clear whether the 2021 pullout still resonates with voters.” The public wanted out of that 20 year war, and while the messiness of which that was accomplished was not ideal, everyone has moved on happy that we are out of the war. The alternative the GOP is arguing for is to have stayed in the war forever. That is not a winning hand.

Wall Street Journal: “With one blunder after another, the brewing giant behind the brand became a case study in how not to handle a culture-war storm.”

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

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