But perhaps the most destructive, least noticed part of the bill is a provision that would force virtually all federal regulatory machinery to grind to a halt.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: May 16, 2023 Filed under: Crime, Domestic terrorism, Economy, Global Financial Crisis | Tags: debt limit, GOP extortion, guns, mass shooting, mental illness, violence 12 Comments
I’m still trying to recover from Dakinikat’s post yesterday. She seems convinced that the Supreme Court will agree with the 5th Circuit that the way the Consumer Finance Protection bureau is financed is unconstitutional and their decision will lead to the downfall of the Federal Reserve, Social Security, Medicare, and other off-the-books programs. I’m not convinced it will happen, but I’m still extremely depressed by Dakinikat’s arguments.
But for today, I’m trying to set all that aside and just worry about what’s happening (or not happening) with the debt ceiling. Here’s the latest on that emergency.
This is an opinion piece by The Washington Post’s Katherine Rampell, who is very knowledgeable about economic issues: After breaking itself, Congress tries to break the rest of government, too.
The GOP House’s debt-limit-and-spending-cuts bill does a lot of things to sabotage the basic functions of government. It decimates spending on safety-net programs. It creates more red tape to block Americans from accessing services they’re legally eligible for. And it makes it harder for government to fund itself in the first place.
Tucked into Republicans’ debt-limit-ransom bill is some legislative language that has been kicking around Capitol Hill for a while, known as the Reins Act. If enacted, the law would prevent “major” agency regulations — somewhere around 80 to 100 per year — from going into effect unless Congress first approves each and every one.
To be clear, under current law, Congress already has the ability to rescind regulations it dislikes. This new bill would essentially change the default, so that no major regulation could take effect before Congress gives its blessing.
This change might sound reasonable. After all, tons of American problems have been dumped at the feet of executive-branch agencies (guns, immigration, health costs, etc.). It would be great if federal lawmakers got more involved in trying to solve literally any of them.
But if you think about how Congress actually functions (or rather, doesn’t), you’ll realize this is not an earnest attempt to get lawmakers to roll up their sleeves and conquer the Big Issues. It’s about throwing sand in the gears of the executive branch, so that no one can solve any issue. Ever.
Rampell explains why the system is set up the way it is.
There are two main reasons Congress currently delegates certain regulatory issues to executive-branch agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
First, some policy questions aretechnically challenging. What amount of arsenic in the air is “safe”? What should bethe technical standards for mammography equipment? How should the Volcker Rule be implemented in practice? As talented and hard-working as congressional staff are, they might not have the time or expertise to make informed decisions about such minutiae. Agency scientists or other subject-matter experts are tapped to weigh evidence, solicit input from the public, hold hearings, etc., to execute the objectives Congress has enacted.
The second reason is political.
There are plenty of policy questions that Congress has technical capacity to resolve but might prefer not to. Maybe lawmakers can’t come to an agreement within their caucus. Maybe they know that whatever they choose to do will be unpopular.
So: They punt, and make it some other government functionary’s problem.
For example, Congress has been unable to pass significant immigration reform in more than three decades, leaving the executive branch to address migration-related problems in sometimes legally tenuous ways (see: the legal limbo ofso-called dreamers, or former president Donald Trump’s unfunded border wall). Congress has all but abdicated many of its basic responsibilities to other branches of government, such as passing a budget, setting tariffs or deciding on abortion rights.
Or, you know, making sure the federal government doesn’t default on its debt. Apparently even some Republicans are now rooting for President Biden to direct Treasury to mint a new $1 trillion platinum coin to pay off government expenses or adopt some other deus-ex-machination.
Read more at the WaPo.
Biden and McCarthy are meeting again today. From The New York Times: Biden and McCarthy Set for More Talks as Debt Limit Deadline Nears.
The 3 p.m. meeting comes a day after Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen reiterated that the United States could run out of money to pay its bills by June 1 if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt limit.
Republicans have said they want to slash federal spending before lifting the debt ceiling. The president has maintained that raising the limit is a responsibility of Congress and should be done without conditions to avoid an economic disaster, even as he has said he is open to separate negotiations over spending.
Over the weekend, the White House projected cautious optimism regarding a potential agreement, but on Monday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed doubts.
“I don’t think we’re in a good place,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I know we’re not.”
Some potential areas of compromise have emerged in recent days, however. Mr. McCarthy said on Monday that he wanted to negotiate some of the key provisions of the bill to raise the debt limit that House Republicans passed last month. Those include spending caps, permitting changes for domestic energy projects, work requirements for safety net programs like food stamps and clawing back unspent money allocated for pandemic relief programs. “All of that I felt would be very positive,” he said.
Most of the people on food stamps are children, so this would go along with the new Republican push to get rid of child labor laws.
In addition to Mr. McCarthy, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader; Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader; and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, will join Mr. Biden at the White House.
The government hit the $31.4 trillion debt limit on Jan. 19, and the Treasury Department has been using accounting maneuvers to keep paying its bills. Mr. Biden is also scheduled to leave for Japan on Wednesday to attend the Group of 7 meeting, heightening the sense of urgency to make progress on the debt limit….
“We welcome a bipartisan debate about our nation’s fiscal future,” Mr. Schumer said on Monday. “But we’ve made it plain to our Republican colleagues that default is not an option. Its consequences are too damaging, too severe. It must be taken off the table.”
Ms. Yellen will warn on Tuesday that the standoff over the debt limit is already having an impact on financial markets and is increasing the burden of debt on American taxpayers. Investors, she will note, have become wary of holding onto government debt that matures in early June — when the government could start running out of cash.
“We are already seeing the impacts of brinkmanship,” Ms. Yellen will say at the Independent Community Bankers of America summit, according to excerpts from her prepared remarks.
The Washington Post: Liberals grow fearful Biden may reward GOP for weaponizing debt ceiling.
The White House’s liberal allies are increasingly worried that negotiations with House Republicans over the budget risk rewarding the GOP for threatening the U.S. economy with default, even as Biden administration aides insist the talks have nothing to do with the looming debt ceiling deadline.
Since last week, Biden aides have been in talks with staffers representing leaders in Congress about a deal to fund the federal government next year that would also raise the nation’s debt ceiling, which must be lifted by as soon as June 1 to avoid potential economic catastrophe. President Biden will host House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other top congressional leaders again on Tuesday for more discussions.
The fresh talks follow months in which Biden and his top aides insisted that the White House would not entertain making any trade-offs to raise the debt limit, saying that would set a dangerous precedent that encourages GOP brinkmanship. And yet, to some critics, the administration appears to be doing exactly that — following unrelenting pressure from the business community and even some moderate Democratic voices to enter bipartisan talks after the House passed a spending and debt limit bill last month.
Publicly, Biden administration officials are adamant that they are working with House Republicans on a deal to fund the federal government in the next fiscal year — not to raise the debt ceiling. Privately, however, even some Biden aides recognize that the negotiations appear to be in part about the debt limit. Behind the scenes, negotiators are clear that any deal on the budget must resolve the debt ceiling deadline, as well. Democratic negotiators also acknowledge that they will have to agree to more spending cuts if they want to secure a longer extension of the debt ceiling — an implicit recognition that lawmakers are bartering over the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, an approach Biden has repeatedly disavowed.
“The issue here is principle: If you accept the idea that you can, in essence, be held to blackmail with the debt ceiling, it will be done again and again. Not to be crass, but it’s essentially negotiating with terrorists who have taken hostages,” said Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, a left-leaning think tank. “More and more people in progressive circles are becoming concerned with it.”
Of course most of the mainstream media is reporting on all this as if it’s a typical negotiation over a political dispute, and failing to point out that Congressed raised the debt limit with no fuss when Trump was in the White House.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: The Media Is Normalizing Debt-Ceiling Extortion. No, this isn’t how Congress always does it. It’s different and dangerous.
Ten years ago, when Barack Obama faced down an attempt by House Republicans to extract concessions in return for lifting the debt ceiling, he explained that he saw this tactic as inimical to functioning self-government. “If we continue to set a precedent in which a president … is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to … pay the bills unless you give us … what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely,” he explained….
But as the new Republican-led House seeks to renew the effort to use the debt ceiling as a hostage, a revisionist interpretation has taken hold: This isn’t a new or dangerous tactic, it’s just how Congress operates.
“The House Republicans’ insistence on negotiations and compromise is not hostage taking. It is the ordinary stuff of politics,” claims law professor Michael McConnell. “A standalone clean debt ceiling is dead on arrival … In modern times, the debt ceiling is raised with negotiations,” asserts Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman.
Fabulous Friday ReadsPosted: October 21, 2022 Filed under: 2022 Elections, abortion rights, Donald Trump, Economy, inflation, morning reads, Steve Bannon | Tags: criminal contempt, Elon Musk, Georgia election interference case, January 6 Committee, Joe Biden, Kash Patel, Kelly Loeffler, Lindsey Graham, Pat Cipollone, stolen documents case, Twitter 29 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!!
Steve Bannon is in court for his sentencing hearing right now. I’m keeping an eye out for the final decision, but so far Judge Carl Nichols has said he will have to serve at least a month in prison because that is the mandatory minimum sentence for contempt of Congress. The maximum is 2 years. According to CNN, the judge has called a short recess, after which he will announce the sentence. Bannon declined to speak, saying that his lawyers had spoken for him. I’ll update the post as soon as I learn Judge Nichols’ final decision.
UPDATE: Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison. Obviously, he will appeal his conviction. From Yahoo News: Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison for criminal contempt of Congress.
WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, ex-White House strategist and adviser to former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday to four months in federal prison and a $6,500 fine for refusing to appear before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols sentenced Bannon to four months each on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, but the prison terms will be served concurrently.
A jury found Bannon guilty of the charges in July of two counts of criminal contempt — one for refusing to appear for a deposition before the panel and the other for refusing to produce requested documents. Each count carries a minimum potential sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000.
Federal prosecutors sought six months in jail, while Bannon’s attorneys asked the court for probation.
Trump’s legal problems continue to escalate. Down in Georgia, former White House Counsel Pat Cippolone, and form George Senator Kelly Loeffler have each testified to the grand jury in the election interference case, and Lindsey Graham has been ordered to testify as well. And Trump crony Kash Patel has testified to the grand jury in stolen documents case.
CNN: Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, former US Sen. Kelly Loeffler testify to grand jury in Georgia investigating 2020 election interference.
Prosecutors in Georgia have secured grand jury testimony from two prominent witnesses – former US Sen. Kelly Loeffler and former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone – in their investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Their grand jury appearances in recent months, which have not been previously reported, highlight the wide-ranging investigation underway as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis probes efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to try to keep him in power.
Cipollone was the top White House lawyer at the end of the Trump administration and attended some of the meetings where Trump and his allies discussed ways to subvert the election results. He was among the former President’s advisers who pushed back along with the Justice Department, which found no evidence to support the claims of widespread fraud.
Cipollone has provided testimony to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, as well as to a federal grand jury in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation, where he invoked Trump’s privilege claims to decline to answer some questions. He declined to comment on questions about the grand jury.
The revelation that Loeffler testified before the grand jury comes as hundreds of Loeffler’s text messages have surfaced, revealing new details about the Georgia Republican’s correspondence about efforts to challenge the election in the months leading up to and immediately following the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
More details at the CNN link.
The Washington Post: Lindsey Graham must testify in 2020 election investigation, court rules.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) must appear before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to disrupt the state’s 2020 presidential election, a federal appeals court said Thursday.
Graham’s lawyers had asked the court to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D), claiming that a sitting senator is shielded from such investigations. But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied Graham’s request and upheld a lower-court ruling narrowing the range of questions prosecutors can ask.
“Senator Graham has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate his rights under the Speech and Debate Clause,” the order states, referring to the constitutional provision that protects lawmakers from being questioned about legislative activity.
Graham can ask the full appeals court to reconsider the order or ask the Supreme Court to intervene….
Willis wants to question Graham about calls he made to Georgia election officials soon after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden. Prosecutors say Graham has “unique knowledge” about the Trump campaign and the “multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results” of the 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.
Graham’s legal team has said in court filings that his actions were legitimate legislative activity protected by the Constitution’s “speech and debate clause.”
CNN: Trump adviser Kash Patel has appeared before grand jury in Mar-a-Lago document probe.
Kash Patel, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump who has been deeply involved in disputes over classified records Trump kept from his presidency, appeared recently before the federal grand jury looking into the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Patel spent several hours throughout the morning of October 13 before a grand jury at the US courthouse in Washington, DC. But it’s not clear if Patel answered the grand jury’s questions or declined to respond citing his Fifth Amendment protections, which is within his rights.
He is one of a handful of advisers around Donald Trump after his presidency who could have legal risk related to the Mar-a-Lago situation, according to court records and the sources, though it’s unclear if he is a target of the Justice Department probe. Patel served as a national security and defense official during the administration, and this summer became one of Trump’s designees to interact with the National Archives and the Justice Department as both agencies have tried to repossess classified records Trump kept from his presidency.
He has claimed in media interviews he personally witnessed Trump declassifying records before he left the presidency, and has argued he should be able to release classified information….
CNN spotted Patel walking the halls of the federal courthouse mid-morning last Thursday, remaining in the grand jury area for several hours until about 1 p.m. One of his attorneys, Stanley Woodward, ducked out of the ongoing Oath Keepers trial where he is a defense attorney for another defense client to escort Patel, wearing a bold red plaid jacket, down from the grand jury meeting area and out of the building. When asked at the courthouse by CNN, Woodward refused to say what Patel’s matter was about, and only confirmed that he represented the Trump adviser.
Read more at CNN.
Amanda Marcotte has a good article at Salon about the mainstream media’s election coverage: Please, media, stop pitting abortion against inflation — Republicans suck on both issues.
Cable news in the weeks before an election is the ninth circle of hell. For proof, look no further than the way MSNBC subjected Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to an interview by 79-year-old white guy plagiarist and organized crime apologist Mike Barnicle. Abrams, whose only crime is being a “Star Trek” nerd who wants Georgia to suck less, was subjected to this crotchety fraud demanding she stop talking about abortion rights so much, arguing that what voters supposedly care about is “the cost of gas, food, bread, milk, things like that.” Because, as all old men who have never changed a diaper know, having and raising babies is totally free, unlike a gallon of gasoline.
Abrams handled the question as well as she could, pointing out that you “can’t divorce being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy from the economic realities of having a child.” She went on to outline her plans to help Georgians with rising housing prices and other economic problems. But as much as it’s fun to kick around Barnicle for being out of touch, the sad truth is the false premise of his question is endemic throughout the mainstream media coverage of the 2022 midterm elections. Everywhere you turn, pundits and reporters are treating this election as if it’s a choice between fighting inflation and protecting abortion rights.
This is, and it cannot be stressed enough, total hooey. When it comes to the ballot box, there is absolutely no trade-off between reproductive rights and the economy. Either way, voting Republican is bad: Bad for the economy, bad for abortion rights. Pretending otherwise is misleading to the point of outright dishonesty.
To say Republicans have no plan to fight inflation if they retake Congress is really an understatement. They have nothing concrete to offer about the issue beyond using it as a stick to beat Democrats with. The second polls close on Election Day, all GOP interest in relieving Americans’ economic woes will dry up.
We know this because Republicans aren’t even being subtle about their future plans, which most definitely do not involve giving a fig about inflation. As Heather “Digby” Parton wrote for Salon on Wednesday, Republicans are largely plotting to gin up fake scandals to demonize President Joe Biden. And that’s the best-case scenario.
Read the whole thing at Salon. It’s excellent.
President Joe Biden made the same point yesterday. Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: Joe Biden’s Walk-and-Chew-Gum Campaign.
For most of President Joe Biden’s tenure, Fox News’s Peter Doocy has played the role of pressroom scourge. A barbed question so nettled Biden back in January that the President was caught on a live microphone calling him a “stupid son of a bitch,” for which he quickly called Doocy to apologize. That specific query is the same one that still haunts Biden’s Presidency and his party today: “Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?” The answer, then and now, can be nothing other than the blindingly obvious: yes.
Doocy, at the tail end of a White House photo opportunity. With less than three weeks to go before the midterm elections, the President was signing an order to release fifteen million more barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “It’s not politically motivated at all,” Biden insisted, though even the most diehard Democrat would have a hard time seeing the move as anything other than a last-ditch effort to stop gas prices at the pump from rising further before the vote. Republicans were quick to pounce: Was this the kind of strategic use for which the stockpile was intended?
As Biden stood to leave, Doocy shouted a question. “Top domestic issue: Inflation or abortion?” he asked.
“They’re all important. Unlike you, there’s no one thing,” Biden retorted. “We oughta be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Finally, The Washington Post has an exclusive on Elon Musk’s plans to destroy Twitter if he manages to buy it: Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce.
Twitter’s workforce is likely to be hit with massive cuts in the coming months, no matter who owns the company, interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post show, a change likely to have major impact on its ability to control harmful content and prevent data security crises.
Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy the company that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, whittling the company down to a skeleton staff of just over 2,000.
Even if Musk’s Twitter deal falls through — and there’s little indication now that it will — big cuts are expected: Twitter’s current management planned to pare the company’s payroll by about $800 million by the end of next year, a number that would mean the departure of nearly a quarter of the workforce, according to corporate documents and interviews with people familiar with the company’s deliberations. The company also planned to make major cuts to its infrastructure, including data centers that keep the site functioning for more than 200 million users that log on each day.
The extent of the cuts, which have not been previously reported, help explain why Twitter officials were eager to sell to Musk: Musk’s $44 billion bid, though hostile, is a golden ticket for the struggling company — potentially helping its leadership avoid painful announcements that would have demoralized the staff and possibly crippledthe service’s ability to combat misinformation, hate speech and spam.
The impact of such layoffs would likely be immediately felt by millions of users, said Edwin Chen, a data scientist formerly in charge of Twitter’s spam and health metrics and now CEO of the content-moderation start-up Surge AI. He said that while he believed Twitter was overstaffed,the cuts Musk proposed were “unimaginable” and would put Twitter’s users at risk of hacks and exposure to offensive material such as child pornography.
“It would be a cascading effect,” he said, “where you’d have services going down and the people remaining not having the institutional knowledge to get them back up, and being completely demoralized and wanting to leave themselves.”
Twitter is where I go to get the very latest breaking news, but I guess the days of being able to do that are numbered.
What are your thoughts on these stories? What else is on your mind today?
Monday Reads: Of Laws and Law BreakersPosted: August 8, 2022 Filed under: 2016 elections, Big Pharma, Citizen's United & Super Pacs, Economic Develpment, Economy, inflation, Inflation Reduction Act, Vulture Capitalism 33 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
There are two themes to the news stream this morning. The first is that the Inflation Reduction Act is about to become law. The CBO has scored its expected budget and economic income impacts. It’s amazing how many idiots are lecturing me on how inflationary this Act will be, as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, here’s the inflation analysis if any of your crazy right-wing parrots start screaming “inflation” at you.
This is actually a letter the CBO sent to Lady Lindsey, who is pearl-clutching over inflation because that’s the only thing the Republicans have to discuss.
In calendar year 2022, enacting the bill would have a negligible effect on inflation, in CBO’s assessment. In calendar year 2023, inflation would probably be between 0.1 percentage point lower and 0.1 percentage point higher under the bill than it would be under current law, CBO estimates.
That range of likely outcomes reflects uncertainty about how various provisions of the bill would affect overall demand and output, the supply of labor, the persistence of disruptions in the supply of goods and services, and how the Federal Reserve would respond to offset any increase in inflationary pressure. Responsiveness to the enhancement of health insurance subsidies established by the Affordable Care Act is the most important factor boosting inflationary pressure, and responsiveness to the new alternative minimum tax on corporations is the most important factor reducing inflationary pressure. The range applies to multiple measures of inflation: the GDP price index, the personal consumption expenditures price index, and the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
In other good news, Consumer’s inflation expectations are decreasing. This is important because it is a factor in how customers make decisions about spending. This is from CNBC and not written by the talking head at Fox Business that trolled my analysis. But, that link from the CBO with huge econometrics models agrees with me. My assumption is that Kenny Polcari can’t do modern finance and doesn’t have anything huge around him but his crony capitalism booty. He s undoubtedly enjoying his ability to avoid taxes with the treatment Sinema just granted him. I’m tempted to quote Swift on the confederacy of dunces. This is from Jeffy Cox at CNBC: “Consumers’ expectations of future inflation decreased significantly in win for the Federal Reserve.”
- A New York Fed survey showed that respondents in July expected inflation to run at a 6.2% pace over the next year and a 3.2% rate for the next three years.
- That marks a big drop-off from the respective 6.8% and 3.6% results from the June survey
- Expectations for food increases fell at the fastest rate in survey history and the second-fastest for gasoline prices.
The consumer outlook for inflation decreased significantly in July amid a sharp drop in gas prices and a growing belief that the rapid surges in food and housing also would ebb in the future.
The New York Federal Reserve’s monthly Survey of Consumer Expectations showed that respondents expect inflation to run at a 6.2% pace over the next year and a 3.2% rate for the next three years.
While those numbers are still very high by historical standards, they mark a big drop-off from the respective 6.8% and 3.6% results from the June survey
I guess that high inflation in the Nixon years is part of history. (sigh) But let me just quote from Business Insider on huge Kyrsten Sinema’s suck-up to hedge fund managers and the like. “Kyrsten Sinema ensured a $14 billion tax break for private equity, hedge fund, and real estate executives remains intact. It’s a win for many of her campaign donors.” The analysis is written by Sam Tabahriti.
The Arizona senator’s support was won late Thursday after fellow Democrats dropped a proposal to close the so-called “carried interest” loophole, which is commonly used by private equity, hedge fund, and property investment executives to pay a lower rate of tax on their compensation.
As such, it was a win for many Sinema campaign donors.
According to Open Secrets, the global private equity firms KKR, Carlyle, and Apollo Global Management are among the leading 20 sources of donations to Sinema’s campaign committee between 2017 and 2022.
As Open Secrets notes, it isn’t the organizations in the list that donated money directly, but rather, their “political action committees, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.” Further, subsidiaries and affiliates are included in the organizations’ total donations figure.
Other organizations listed by Open Secrets among the leading 20 sources of donations include Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested in companies including Facebook, Twitter, and Airbnb; and Rudin Management, a private commercial and residential landlord and developer in New York City.
All in all, Sinema has received $2.2 million from investment firms between 2017 and 2022, according to Open Secrets.
Well, that explains that. Then, the other icky result was that Republicans could not bring themselves to support a price control on Insulin which is cheap to make, but its price inelasticity is off the wall. That’s fancy economist talk, for if you need it, you’ll give up everything else. Insulin is basically treated like legal heroin from a huge drug cartel. Republicans used a dodgy procedure to kill that part of the Act.
This is from WAPO: “Republicans block cap on insulin costs for millions of patients. GOP senators move to strip a $35 price cap on insulin under private insurance from the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Republican lawmakers on Sunday successfully stripped a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin for many patients from the ambitious legislative package Democrats are moving through Congress this weekend, invoking arcane Senate rules to jettison the measure.
The insulin cap is a long-running ambition of Democrats, who want it to apply to patients on Medicare and private insurance. Republicans left the portion that applies to Medicare patients untouched but stripped the insulin cap for other patients. Bipartisan talks on a broader insulin pricing bill faltered earlier this year.
The Senate parliamentarian earlier in the weekend ruled that part of the Democrats’ cap, included in the Inflation Reduction Act, did not comply with the rules that allow them to advance a bill under the process known as reconciliation — a tactic that helps them avert a GOP filibuster. That gave the Republicans an opening to jettison it
So, now to more Trumpsters and their crime sprees. I will dump these links here with very few comments and quotes. The headlines say it all, but the stories are worth reading.
Via The New Yorker: “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals.” Remember that big parade for Bastille Day in Paris that enthralled the Russian Potted Plant?
Sure enough, Trump returned to Washington determined to have his generals throw him the biggest, grandest military parade ever for the Fourth of July. The generals, to his bewilderment, reacted with disgust. “I’d rather swallow acid,” his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said. Struggling to dissuade Trump, officials pointed out that the parade would cost millions of dollars and tear up the streets of the capital.
But the gulf between Trump and the generals was not really about money or practicalities, just as their endless policy battles were not only about clashing views on whether to withdraw from Afghanistan or how to combat the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran. The divide was also a matter of values, of how they viewed the United States itself. That was never clearer than when Trump told his new chief of staff, John Kelly—like Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general—about his vision for Independence Day. “Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade,” Trump said. “This doesn’t look good for me.” He explained with distaste that at the Bastille Day parade there had been several formations of injured veterans, including wheelchair-bound soldiers who had lost limbs in battle.
Kelly could not believe what he was hearing. “Those are the heroes,” he told Trump. “In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are—and they are buried over in Arlington.” Kelly did not mention that his own son Robert, a lieutenant killed in action in Afghanistan, was among the dead interred there.
“I don’t want them,” Trump repeated. “It doesn’t look good for me.”
From Mike Allen at Axios, which just got sold to Cox: Exclusive photos: Trump’s telltale toilet
Haberman’s sources report the document dumps happened multiple times at the White House, and on at least two foreign trips.
- “That Mr. Trump was discarding documents this way was not widely known within the West Wing, but some aides were aware of the habit, which he engaged in repeatedly,” Haberman tells us.
- “It was an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.”
The handwriting is visibly Trump’s, written in the Sharpie ink he favored.
- Most of the words are illegible
- But the scrawls include the name of Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate New York, a Trump defender who’s a member of House Republican leadership.
From Mattathias Schwartz at Insider: Exclusive: Paul Manafort admits he passed Trump campaign data to a suspected Russian asset.
Here’s a discussion of the interview and findings at Raw Story by TBogg: Paul Manafort admits sharing info with the Russians during the 2016 Trump campaign.
For years, questions have been raised about Russian involvement in the campaign that saw the New York businessman beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Manafort is now stating that he handed polling data over to the Russians — in particular to “Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.”
According to the report, “Kilimnik then passed the data on to Russian spies, according to the US Treasury Department, which has characterized the data as ‘sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.'”
In the interview, Manafort excused his actions stating he wasn’t looking for help getting Trump elected and did it purely to make money, with Business Insider reporting, “Manafort told Insider that he directed his deputy, Rick Gates, to feed Kilimnik polling data via email to ‘keep Konstantin informed.’ The goal was to use his access to Trump to drum up business for himself.
Well, we already knew he’s a Russian Potted Plant. Didn’t we?
From Tim Miller / Morning Shots writing for The Bulwark: I’m Sorry, But He’s Running. Trump’s CPAC speech was his 2024 blueprint.”
With that little bit of throat-clearing out of the way, I have some bad news to report. If you, like me, had been compartmentalizing a Trump 2024 run for mental-health purposes, I’m sorry to break it to you, but he looks like a man who is definitely running for president in 2024. His CPAC speech this weekend was a rude awakening as to both his intentions and the strength he would bring to that campaign.
First, his intentions: There was no bigger roar from the crowd during the speech than during the following section, and there was no bigger shit-eating grin on his burnt-toast face than the one that came following the roar:
I ran twice. I won twice and did much better the second time than I did the first getting millions and millions of more votes than in 2016. And likewise getting more votes than any sitting president in the history of our country by far. . . . And now we may have to do it again. We may have to do it again.
That little bit of anti-democratic vamping came right on the heels of what would be his core campaign message to the GOP base in a 2024 campaign.
The border was the best and safest in U.S. recorded history. They’ve turned it into a nightmare so quickly, the election was rigged and stolen. And now our country is being systematically destroyed.
If you are reading this, then you are likely a person of reason who is not persuaded by the lies and childish hyperbole.
But let’s imagine this message in the context of a 2024 Republican primary. Trump is claiming that when he was president, everything was great. Then the election was stolen. And now everything is being destroyed by the people his voters hate.
What exactly is his hypothetical challenger’s response to this? It seems to me that Trump has everyone checkmated.
Say it ain’t so Tim!
Anyway, the Republicans aren’t going straight any time soon. We can only rely on the DOJ in a few states and nationally to send them straight to jail.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Wednesday Reads: Fairy visitors…Posted: July 27, 2022 Filed under: 2022 Elections, 2024 Elections, abortion rights, birth control, Black Lives Matter, Black Women Lead, Civil Rights, Climate change, court rulings, Discrimination against women, Donald Trump, Economy, Fox News, fundamentalist Christians, House of Representatives, Joe Manchin, LGBTQIA+, Marriage Equality, morning reads, open thread, Political and Editorial Cartoons, QAnon Queen Marjorie Taylor Greene, racism, Real Life Horror, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Justice, Reproductive Rights, Republican presidential politics, the GOP, Violence against women, Voting Rights, Voting Rights and Voter Suppression, War on Women, Women's Healthcare 17 Comments
Good morning. I’ve been visited by the migraine fairy, so just a quick post today.
Cartoons via Cagle website:
Now that is a pretty purple bird.
This is an open thread.
Monday ReadsPosted: August 6, 2018 Filed under: Donald Trump, Economy, Iran, Middle East, morning reads | Tags: QAnon 13 Comments
Monday Strikes Again!
So, BB and I could not figure out anything that made sense about the “Q Anon” stuff that was a press hot item last week. Do you remember back in the day before the internet was overtaken by commercial interests and most of its denizens were academic nerdy types like me? Well, folks started inventing real life versions of fanfic games including maps, and secrets, and treasures that may have followed a reality set up by a game console game. Most of it was just really bad fanfic too. The entire QAnon thing just read like really, really bad fanfic to me. and that is what it now appears to be. Its motivation was to evidently drive boomers nuts and it’s evidently a leftie bro thing. The nonsensical conspiracy site was called “Bread Crumbs.”
According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a “criminal president” who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.
Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.
Q regularly drops clues that followers call “crumbs,” which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn’t happen
See, bad fanfic. But the bottom line, with tons of documentation at the Buzzfeed piece citied here is that it was a hoax which finally makes sense to me. Imagine bored dateless BernieBros in a basement some where ….
“Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There’s no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who’s pulling it on whom?” they said.
They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. “If [QAnon’s] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?”
So, now that’s cleared up the press can leave it alone. There are real things out there. That sucking sound you hear are wages and wealth going to the richest of the rich.
On May 8th, Brookings officially launched a new initiative on the Future of the Middle Class. Through this initiative, we will publish research, analysis, and insights that are motivated by a desire to improve the quality of life for those in America’s middle class and to improve upward mobility into its ranks. We have already wrestled with how we define this group, considered its changing racial composition, and called upon experts to outline major policies geared toward improving its fate. But why all of this attention? Here are seven of the reasons we are worried about the American middle class.
Today, I feel the “dismal” in the dismal science meme. Retirement prospects for many Boomers includes Bankruptcy.
For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.
The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.
Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.
The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.
Well, that’s no surprise. It’s also no surprise that Trump is behaving badly on the World Stage again. “Trump signs order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it ‘deeply’ regrets.” Well, we knew Bolten had to be getting something to help with all that Putin Ass Kissing.
Donald Trump has signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it “deeply” regretted.
Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of wide range of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of a wide range of of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. A second set will be reimposed in a further three months.
“[The Iran nuclear deal] a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Mr Trump said in a statement.
“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.”
In the aftermath of Mr Trump’s unilateral decision in May, the other parties to the 2015 deal – Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with the deal and to and continue to trade with Iran. Several companies, such as French-based Airbus, felt obliged to pull out of a deal with Iran, rather than risk sanctions from Washington.
The revoking of licensees to the company and its rival, Boeing, saw the aircraft manufacturer lose out on a $39bn deal with Tehran for new planes. Easing sanctions such as this was a major inducement get Tehran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 under President Barack Obama.
The executive order signed on Monday, which will come into effect at midnight EST, releases to the purchase or acquisition of US currency Iran, the trade in gold and other precious metals, materials such as graphite, aluminium, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes. They also target the country’ automotive sector.
The remaining sanctions to be reimposed on November 5 relate to Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. Crucially, they will also target its oil industry and foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.
It’s like he’s single handedly destroying our economic, world order, and the environment. This news is awful but typical Trump policy.
Two of America’s biggest steel manufacturers — both with deep ties to administration officials — have successfully objected to hundreds of requests by American companies that buy foreign steel to exempt themselves from President Trump’s stiff metal tariffs. They have argued that the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers.
Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary filmmade by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump, and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel, which has previously employed several top administration officials, have objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the past several months.
To date, their efforts have never failed, resulting in denials for companies that are based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.
The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence over the exclusions process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. But the boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.
And the psychic trauma will only increase:
But after watching Trump for all this time, there’s no reason to beat around the bush on this question anymore. Donald Trump is a racist, and we all know it. He could barely have tried any harder to convince us. Not only did he turn himself into a political figure by making himself America’s most prominent birther, he repeatedly demanded to see Barack Obama’s high school and college transcripts, on the theory that Obama couldn’t possibly have been smart enough to get into Columbia and Harvard Law School on his own merit. He ran a white nationalist campaign for president, and said that the judge in his Trump University fraud cause couldn’t be fair because “He’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American). On multiple occasions he retweeted racist memes from white supremacists. In a White House meeting about immigration, he said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and complained that once Nigerian immigrants had seen the United States they would never “go back to their huts” (Nigerian immigrants are one of the most highly educated groups in America). He meets a group of Native American war heroes, and decides to bring up the fact that he insults Elizabeth Warren by calling her “Pocahontas.” And of course, he called non-white nations “shithole countries” and averred that a group of neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis were “very fine people.”
So we know who Donald Trump is, and why he says what he does. The fact that much of what Trump says about African Americans is performative—a public show meant to keep his base angry—doesn’t mean that the bigotry isn’t sincerely felt.
This is a good reminder that Trump’s 2020 campaign will be no less built on hate than his 2016 campaign was. In fact, it could be even more so. Trump will no longer be able to plausibly argue that there’s a system controlled by an elite that’s keeping regular people down, since he and his party are the ones with all the power. So it’s likely that he’ll rely even more heavily on white nationalism to get re-elected.
The weirdest thing happened Sunday in a Twitler Special that basically was a confession to collusion and to a cover up.
Donald Trump has admitted for the first time that his son met a Kremlin-connected lawyer in 2016 to collect information about Hillary Clinton, but insists the meeting was legal.
In one of a series of Sunday morning tweets issued in apparent reaction to a CNN report, the US president wrote: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”
That explanation differs entirely from one given by Trump 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”
The 2016 meeting is pivotal to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation, though Trump’s tweets appeared aimed at conveying the message that he is not worried about Donald Trump Jr’s exposure to the inquiry.
He made the remarks as one of his lawyers warned the special counsel against trying to force the president to be interviewed.
The dude seriously keeps admitting to crimes. Why can’t we lock hIm up? “President Trump changes story in Twitter rant admitting Trump Tower meeting was to gather intel on Hillary Clinton.”
The President’s latest social media meltdown was in reaction to what he called a “complete fabrication” in Sunday’s Washington Post claiming Trump was concerned “innocent and decent people,” including his son Donald Trump Jr., could be hurt by Mueller’s probe exploring links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”
Thirteen months ago, Trump gave a different explanation for the meeting between his eldest son and parties alleging ties to the Russian government. A July 2017 statement credited to Don Jr. and later discovered to have been dictated by the President read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”
Though the President maintains he knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting prior to its taking place, his former fixer Michael Cohen, who has reportedly indicated a willingness to cooperate with Mueller’s team, has allegedly said otherwise.
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he had “bad information” when he personally argued that the meeting was about adoption.
So, this is just an open news dump thread! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?