Cup of Joe – May 27, 2023

“President Joe Biden and top Republican lawmaker Kevin McCarthy are edging close to a deal on the U.S. debt ceiling, with the parties just $70 billion apart on discretionary spending,” Reuters reports. “What is likely to emerge will not be a hundreds-page long bill, something that could take lawmakers days to write, read and vote on, but a slimmed-down agreement with a few key numbers.”

Politico reports there’s “no deal yet but predicting votes Tuesday night or Wednesday night.”

The White House and House Republicans are discussing a debt-limit deal that would lift the government’s borrowing cap through 2024 while putting in place a mechanism to incentivize Congress to pass all 12 annual spending bills,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The exact spending levels, Covid relief rescissions, work requirements and permitting reform are all still open. Negotiators are discussing a mechanism that would allow Congress to pass appropriations bills at the agreed-to spending caps. If they fail to do so, a CR would snap spending to the agreed-upon caps.”

The House Freedom Caucus sent a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) with new demands for a debt ceiling deal and urging GOP unity.

Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) to HuffPost: “I am concerned about rumors to the effect — and I haven’t read or seen anything yet — but rumors that we may have some sort of a deal in place that would raise the debt limit for more than what was called for in [the House debt-ceiling bill passed in April] for a whole lot less in return. … If that were true, that would absolutely collapse the Republican majority for this debt ceiling increase.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in a radio interview: “I am going to have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and the leadership team. I don’t like the direction they are headed.”

The subtext is whether McCarthy will be able to keep his job.

CNN: “The widespread angst comes as Democrats fear that the White House is getting rolled in negotiations with McCarthy, who has insisted he would only give into one concession – to raise the debt ceiling – in exchange for a host of Republican priorities. In particular, any deal is expected to include spending cuts for a wide range of domestic programs, many of which are top Democratic priorities.”

A new Fox News poll finds 47% of respondents would blame President Biden for the U.S. defaulting on its debt, while 44% said it would be the GOP’s fault.

Aaron Blake: “The blame question was somewhat close early in the 2011 fight, but polling soon showed voters preparing to blame Republicans more by 15 points, 18 points and even 21 points. Things were a bit closer in 2013, when a debt ceiling fight was paired with a government shutdown. But polling at the tail end showed a clear edge for Democrats.”

“Were the splits today similar to then, you might see a more hard-line approach from Biden and the Democrats because they would be more confident that Republicans might own whatever adverse outcome would result and would have to back down. But the current numbers apparently don’t instill such confidence, which Biden seemed to subtly nod to this weekend.”

“The Treasury Department is preparing to change how the U.S. processes federal agencies’ payments if the debt ceiling is breached, dusting off a contingency plan crafted after the 2011 borrowing-limit standoff,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that the U.S. potentially defaulting on its debt “bodes very well for the Republican field.”

Josh Marshall[N]ews out tonight from the Times, now also confirmed by the Post, points to the outlines of a deal that actually looks fairly good for the Dems.  […]

Defense and Veterans spending continues to rise at the level Biden outlined in his budget. No freeze there. Other spending (non-defense discretionary spending) gets frozen but at roughly 2023 levels rather than 2022 levels. That difference may not sound like a big deal but it is.

There are cuts that bring the numbers in a bit under 2023 levels. But they make up that money but taking $10 billion from the $80 billion of expanded funding for the IRS. Taking $10 billion away from the increased funding for the IRS allows Republicans to say they clawed back some of the money going to that mythical army of IRS “agents” who are going to harass ordinary working folk. That’s not great. But $10 billion off the $80 billion leaves the great bulk of the funding intact and it basically protects key social spending

There are two additional provisions which, if they pan out, seem key. The debt ceiling is raised into 2025, so out past the next election. The deal also prevents Republicans from coming back for another bite at the apple later this year when it comes time to put together an actual budget. That’s always been one of the huge risks here. You’re forced to agree to ruinous cuts and then Republicans come back in 4 or 5 months to extort more cuts, this time with the threat of a government shutdown. This prevents that second bite at the apple and basically rules out the possibility of a government shutdown later this year.

Clawing back unspent COVID spending isn’t even mentioned in this piece. Perhaps that’s because it’s assume at this point. I don’t know.  They’re still arguing over work requirements and so-called ‘permitting reform’.  his isn’t great. There shouldn’t be a negotiation at all. But this is a fairly small payment for the hostage, given what was possible.

“Two of Donald Trump’s employees moved boxes of papers the day before FBI agents and a prosecutor visited the former president’s Florida home to retrieve classified documents in response to a subpoena — timing that investigators have come to view as suspicious and an indication of possible obstruction,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump and his aides also allegedly carried out a ‘dress rehearsal’ for moving sensitive papers even before his office received the May 2022 subpoena.”

“Prosecutors in addition have gathered evidence indicating that Trump at times kept classified documents in his office in a place where they were visible and sometimes showed them to others.”

“The day before a key meeting last year between a lawyer for former President Donald Trump and officials seeking the return of classified documents in Mr. Trump’s possession, a maintenance worker at the former president’s private club saw an aide moving boxes into a storage room,” the New York Times reports.

“The maintenance worker offered to help the aide — Walt Nauta, who was Mr. Trump’s valet in the White House — move the boxes and ended up lending him a hand. But the worker had no idea what was inside the boxes, the person familiar with the matter said. The maintenance worker has shared that account with federal prosecutors.”

Rolling Stone: “This month, several legal and political counselors to Trump have bluntly informed him that they expect the Justice Department to charge him in the criminal investigation into his hoarding of highly classified documents following the end of his presidency… The feds have also been probing whether or not Trump tried to obstruct the investigation prior to last year’s FBI raid of the ex-president’s Florida estate.”

“Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for leading a far-reaching plot to keep then-President Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election,” CNN reports.

New York Times: “The sentence, handed down in Federal District Court in Washington, was the most severe penalty so far in the more than 1,000 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack — and the first to be increased for fitting the legal definition of terrorism.”

NBC News: “When given the chance to speak before sentencing, Rhodes, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, called himself a ‘political prisoner’ and said he believes the only crime he committed was opposing those who are ‘destroying our country.’ He added that he hopes former President Donald Trump wins in 2024.”

A New York state judge has set a trial date for Steve Bannon’s fundraising fraud case for May 24, 2024, CNN reports.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that, if elected president, he would consider pardoning some of those convicted on charges related to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

“DeSantis avoided directly answering questions on whether he’d pardon Donald Trump but left open the possibility.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to police water pollution, ruling that the Clean Water Act does not allow the agency to regulate discharges into some wetlands near bodies of water,” the New York Times reports.

Hillary Clinton told Time that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) should not retire.

Said Clinton: “I don’t know in her heart about whether she really would or wouldn’t, but right now, she can’t. Because if we’re going to get judges confirmed, which is one of the most important continuing obligations that we have, then we cannot afford to have her seat vacant.” Hillary, if she resigns, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom appoints her replacement immediately.  There will be no vacancy.  The seat is for all purposes vacant now, with an 89 year old dying Senator who can’t do the job.

A substantial majority of Californians feel that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is no longer fit for the job because of her recent declining health, and more voters believe she should resign than support her staying in office, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll.

Her overall favorability rating is now just 29%.

“A top leader in the organization that puts on CPAC, the highly influential conference of conservative leaders, resigned on Tuesday night, citing financial mysteries surrounding the organization’s leader,” New York Magazine reports.

“Bob Beauprez, the longtime treasurer of the American Conservative Union, said that he was not fully informed about money being paid for chairman Matt Schlapp’s legal defense against a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.”

Said Beauprez: “I cannot deliver a financial report at the upcoming board meeting with any confidence in the accuracy of the numbers.”

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) complained that President Biden isn’t appointing enough straight “white guys” to be judges.  In Biden’s first two years, he has appointed 97 federal judges.

Said Grothman: “I was expecting maybe 25 or 30 were white guys. Five of the 97 judges were white guys. Of those, two were gay. So, almost impossible for a white guy who’s not gay, apparently, to get appointed here.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) named the city’s first-ever “Drag Laureate,” who will become an ambassador for San Francisco’s drag and LGBTQ+ community for an 18-month term, CNN reports.

“House lawmakers failed to garner enough support Wednesday to override President Joe Biden’s veto of a measure that would have rescinded his two-year moratorium on tariffs for imports of solar equipment from four Southeast Asian countries,” Politico reports.

“The House voted 214-205 on Wednesday, falling short of the two-thirds majority required to override Biden’s veto of the resolution, H.J. Res. 39 (118). Eight Democrats voted in favor of the veto override and eight Republicans voted against.”

Forbes: “It was, to borrow a Sports Illustrated phrase, a sign that the apocalypse is near. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeen Jeffries were all photographed wearing the so-called hybrid ‘sneaker shoes’ in a recent Oval Office meeting with President Biden.”

“Americans in same-sex marriages and partnerships account for about 1% of households, according to newly released figures from the decennial census that show the changing composition of U.S. families,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) son called 911 in December to report that his father, Jayson Boebert, had gotten physical with him and was “throwing him around the house,” and he didn’t know why, Insider reports.

“In an unprecedented move, a Texas House committee voted Thursday to recommend that Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached and removed from office, citing a yearslong pattern of alleged misconduct and lawbreaking that investigators detailed one day earlier,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“If a majority of the 149-member House approves the articles before the regular legislative session ends Monday, senators would need to convene a special session to hear the case.”

The Economist: “Despite his stumbles in recent months, Mr DeSantis is a clever and driven man. He may regain his lean and hungry look and let slip the dogs of war. Many voters will pay close attention to the televised debates, the first of which will be held in August in Wisconsin (although the former president may not participate). Mr DeSantis could point out that the national debt soared by $8 trillion during Mr Trump’s presidency; that crime and illegal immigration both increased despite all the former president’s big talk on both scores; that covid-19 was poorly contained and that another epidemic, of wokeness, became more rather than less contagious during his presidency…”

“Such barbs could draw some blood. If wielded with enough force and frequency, they might even fell a man as mighty as Caesar. Luckily for Mr Trump, he is facing a fractious, squabbling and timid bunch.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis “raised $8.2 million in his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate, his campaign said on Thursday, a huge sum that cements his standing as the leading Republican rival to Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “The figure includes online donations as well as money raised by around 100 donors who converged on the Four Seasons in Miami starting Wednesday evening — as DeSantis launched his campaign in a live Twitter discussion that quickly went haywire.”

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

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