Friday Talking Points -- Crunch Time

[ Posted Friday, September 24th, 2021 – 16:58 UTC ]

It's one of those rare weeks in Washington, where Congress is actually forced into doing its job -- legislating, holding hearings... you know, the things the taxpayers actually pay them to do. As usual, they are facing multiple deadlines. They deserve zero pity, though, since they just returned from their annual month-long summer vacation. If they had stayed and worked instead of gone and played, then they wouldn't be facing all these time crunches simultaneously. Which is why we say: zero pity.

Right now, there are two enormous legislative efforts underway. One is to raise the debt ceiling as well as keep the government functioning past the first of October (when a new fiscal year begins). It's a double-whammy, both a fiscal cliff and a government shutdown rolled into one. The second is to finalize the huge budget reconciliation bill, which has a laughably impossible deadline of next Monday attached to it. As a quick glance at a calendar shows, that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for an enormous amount of work. Right now the media is mostly spotlighting the fight to raise the debt ceiling, but next week the reconciliation bill will also deserve some attention in one way or another.

First, the debt ceiling. There is an obvious answer to this problem, but Democrats are likely not going to act as boldly as the situation demands. They may timidly raise the debt ceiling by wrapping it into a bill that only requires Democratic votes to pass the Senate, but what they really should do is to just obliterate the entire concept of a debt ceiling altogether. It is absolutely clear that, while Republicans don't currently have the leverage to issue demands, at some point in the future they will have this power once again, and they will hold the American economy hostage to further their own political agenda. There is absolutely no doubt that this is true. So Democrats should really do the right thing and avoid all such future showdowns by eliminating the legal need for a debt ceiling once and for all.

We wrote about this earlier this week, but it's a pretty simple concept -- one that all other countries worldwide use, in fact. When a budget is passed, this authorizes the Treasury to raise any money necessary to pay for that budget. Automatically. Without the secondary layer of a "debt ceiling" constraining the Treasury. Again, this is how every other country operates, so it would work just fine for the United States. We even had a period of over 15 years when this was the case, when the "Gephardt rule" was in place (right up until Newt Gingrich took over control of the House of Representatives). The sky did not fall, chaos did not ensue, everything worked just fine. And now Democrats have the power to take us back to such halcyon days.

But they probably won't. Their timidity knows no bounds, it seems. They'll probably settle for bumping the debt limit up perhaps enough to cover the next year or more (they'll try to punt the next debt ceiling hike until after the midterms, most likely). And they'll have to do it alone.

This is something the media is spectacularly failing to accurately report, because Mitch McConnell has come up with a brand new "rule" which states it is perfectly fine for the "out" party to vote for the utter destruction of not just the American economy but also the world's, merely out of spite. Destroying the economy is an acceptable outcome if it contributes in any way to "owning the libs." Think this is overstated? We don't:

If that were not sufficient evidence of irresponsibility, recklessness and lack of patriotism among Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday displayed total indifference to potential economic calamity. "We will not support legislation that raises the debt limit," McConnell said flatly. This follows a statement from the Republican leader last week that perfect crystallizes the GOP mind-set: "Let me make it perfectly clear. The country must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised. But who does that depends on who the American people elect." Other Senate Republicans seem inclined to filibuster raising the debt ceiling, another gross abuse of the Senate arcane mechanism.

Got that? The country must never default, but I and my colleagues will be voting for the country to default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised, but we're not going to lift a finger to help because if the economy craters we intend to blame the whole thing on the Democrats, not the Republicans who will be voting for precisely that outcome. It's downright Orwellian, and yet this basic fact seems to have escaped almost everyone in the mainstream media.

Democrats likely will solve this problem, especially since the deadline for default is later than the other two big deadlines they are already facing. The Treasury can perform some smoke-and-mirrors accounting to keep things running until roughly mid-October, it has been reported.

The government shutdown deadline is earlier than that. Some sort of continuing resolution will need to pass by the end of this month, or else we'll all be watching scenes of National Parks closing their gates once again as the federal government won't be able to operate. Again, hopefully this won't actually happen and some sort of continuing resolution (hopefully paired with a debt ceiling hike) still has a decent chance of passing before we hit the deadline.

But both these measures may have to piggyback somehow on the budget reconciliation bill, which could be the only train leaving the station which only requires 51 votes in the Senate. Since Republicans are in lockstep obstructionism mode, everything may have to be bundled together into one giant bill.

The problem with the reconciliation bill is that it is the one facing a self-imposed deadline of next Monday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised the corporatist Democrats in her caucus that the bipartisan infrastructure bill (which has already passed the Senate) would receive a floor vote in the House. The big problem is that this was supposed to allow enough time for Democrats in both chambers to coalesce around a finalized budget reconciliation bill.

This is not going to happen in time. There has been plenty of squabbling between House corporatists (together with the two big Senate corporatist Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema) and the progressive wing of the Democratic party. But there has (as of this writing) been no real breakthrough. Progressives have made their wants known, led by Bernie Sanders insisting on a $3.5 trillion bill. The corporatists have been much more vague, at least in public. They want the total amount to be lower (but they won't say by how much). They want drug companies to be allowed to continue their highway robbery against prescription drug patients in the United States. They don't want their rich donors (individuals or corporations) to pay too much more in taxes. They want a future chock-full of fossil fuels, not a greener one.

As you can see, these positions are not exactly popular with the Democratic base. Or the general public, for that matter. Perhaps that's why the corporatist Democrats are being so quiet about what it is they're fighting for. So far, these battles seem mostly to be happening in back rooms, rather than in the media, which might just be a good thing. Democrats from both factions have been meeting with their own chamber's leadership and also (a welcome development) directly with President Biden and his advisors.

As things stand, the infrastructure bill will likely be voted down if Pelosi puts it on the floor Monday. Progressives were promised a companion bill to vote on, and that bill doesn't yet exist (much less "has made it through the Senate already"). So the progressives will vote against the infrastructure bill. This won't utterly kill it -- it will still be able to come back up for another vote in the future -- but it would prove to the corporatist Democrats that the progressives should be taken at their word (something they now don't seem inclined to believe). The two-track plan all along has been that both bills have to pass -- or neither of them will pass.

Right now it seems like Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and the White House are trying to at least nail down the big picture of the reconciliation bill. Their goal is to at least get a "framework" agreed upon by Monday, which (they hope) will be enough for the progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill. Pelosi could, at that point, then refuse to send the bill to the White House -- which would mean it will never become law until the companion reconciliation bill is ready as well. But it remains to be seen whether all of this will be acceptable enough to the progressives -- who will be taking on faith the future votes of the corporatists once the "framework" is actually written up as a bill. It's all about trust, on both sides of the factional divide.

One way or another, something is going to happen on Monday. Either the vote for the infrastructure bill will be postponed (until the reconciliation bill is ready), the vote will be held and fail, or the progressives will wind up voting for it because they feel they've somehow gotten a solid agreement on the reconciliation bill. One way or another, though, it'll be a notable day in the House.

Let's see, what else is going on? There are a few amusing stories worth mentioning here before we move along to the awards segment of the program.

Republican things which gloriously fizzled this week: the rally in support of the insurrectionists of January 6th wound up being a real dud. Only a few hundred people showed up, and they were vastly outnumbered not only by police but also by journalists. It's pretty embarrassing when you can't even estimate a crowd's size because over half of them are journalists covering the event, to state the obvious. And today we got the news that the Arizona "fraudit" also fizzled badly. Astonishingly, even though the organization selected to conduct the "forensic audit" was run by an election conspiracy-theorist (who scanned the ballots in an attempt to find secret bamboo fibers) -- and who was given months and months and months longer than he had promised -- in the end even he had to conclude that Donald Trump lost Arizona. And lost by 360 more votes than the official count, even. This won't stop Trump and his Big Lie minions from calling on more states to conduct such "fraudits" of the 2020 election, but this was the big cheese -- and it turned out to be pretty stinky for Trump.

Charles Grassley will be running for another term in the Senate despite being 88 years old. Democrats can't really point the finger on this one, however, as the oldest sitting senator isn't actually Grassley, it is in fact Dianne Feinstein from California. Anyone for a mandatory retirement age in the Senate? Anyone?

Britain's Boris Johnson addressed the United Nations General Assembly this week, and made a rather odd case for transitioning to a green economy:

When Kermit the Frog sang, "It's Not Easy Bein' Green" I want you to know that he was wrong. It is easy, lucrative and right to be green, although he was unnecessarily rude to Miss Piggy, I thought.

Um, OK, Boris. Sure. Whatever you say.

And speaking of politicians doing comedy, we have to end on a cheerful note. Al Franken has announced his "The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently On Tour Tour," where he'll be ripping into all the senators he used to work with. Unfortunately for us, as of this writing it seems the farthest west he'll get is Colorado. We're hoping maybe he'll add some West Coast dates at the end of the tour, however. For those elsewhere, check out the tour's schedule. And don't forget to tip your waitress, of course....


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

While Democratic timidity is a perennial problem, for once Democrats have stepped up to the plate and delivered. Well, House Democrats, at any rate.

Which is why we're giving the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for shepherding through a bill which will codify the Roe v. Wade decision into law. Please note, Democrats could have done this at any time since Roe was decided, back in the 1970s, but have not.

For all that time, American women have been subjected to more and more outlandish restrictions being put on their right to an abortion by conservative state legislators, and have only had the Supreme Court as a backstop. The justices have interpreted and reinterpreted the original Roe decision, splitting all kinds of hairs, but mostly reaffirmed a woman's right to choose. This is now in jeopardy, with the current makeup of the Supreme Court.

But all along, there has never been anything stopping Democrats from just passing a law rather than relying on the re-reinterpretation of the Roe decision. Which the House has now done:

The House on Friday passed legislation that would create a statutory right for health-care professionals to provide abortions, amid an intensifying legal battle over a Texas law that is the most restrictive in the nation.

H.R. 3755, the Women's Health Protection Act, was approved by the Democratic-controlled House 218 to 211, but faces tough odds in the evenly divided Senate.

The measure states that health-care providers have a statutory right to provide, and patients have a right to receive, abortion services without any number of limitations that states and opponents of the procedure have sought to impose.

The measure would essentially codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to abortion before viability, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.

There are two major reasons why this has not happened until now. The first is that, historically, the Democratic Party used to be more diverse on the issue. There was an antiabortion faction in the party, so there was no party unity. Over time, fewer and fewer of these Democrats remained in office. Now, the party is not completely unified, but is pretty close to that goal. The Republicans have charted the opposite course over the same time period -- there used to be a faction of pro-choice Republicans, but no longer (Susan Collins doesn't count).

The second big reason this hasn't happened until now is Democratic timidity. They were afraid of the issue politically, since the antiabortion people were so well organized and so forceful in their advocacy. Now, however, Democrats are beginning to wake up to how politically potent an issue this is -- and how they are actually on the winning side of it. Polls back this up. A recent poll asked questions specifically about the new Draconian Texas law, which essentially outlaws abortion past six weeks (before most women are even aware they are pregnant):

In the Monmouth University poll, 70 percent of Americans say they disapprove of "allowing private citizens to use lawsuits to enforce this law rather than having government prosecutors handle these cases."

Meanwhile, 81 percent say they disapprove of giving $10,000 to "private citizens who successfully file suits against those who perform or assist a woman with getting an abortion."

The poll also finds that 54 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to let the law stand while the legal battle over it continues.

. . .

The poll finds that 62 percent of Americans say abortion should either be always legal or legal with some limitations. About 24 percent of respondents say it should be illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother's life, and 11 percent say it should always be illegal. Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Monmouth poll two years ago.

That is a healthy and persistent majority. Which puts Democrats on the right side of the argument. All they have to do is realize it and start fighting as hard as they can in the court of public opinion. Thankfully, this is now much easier to do, as Republicans get more and more extreme in their own stances. Here is a well-known candidate for Senate in Ohio, explaining what is fast becoming the new Republican orthodoxy on abortion:

When asked during a local interview whether abortion laws should include exceptions for rape and incest, [J. D.] Vance, a Republican, said he thinks "two wrong[s] don't make a right."

"It's not whether a woman should be forced to bring a child to term, it's whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child's birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to the society," Vance told Spectrum News in Columbus on Wednesday.

"The question to me is really about the baby," Vance added. "We want women to have opportunities, we want women to have choices, but, above all, we want women and young boys in the womb to have a right to life."

That is the new normal for Republicans -- if you get raped, you have to have the rapist's child. If a 13-year-old girl is molested by her father, she has to carry the baby to term. These used to be considered extremist positions even among Republicans, but no more.

Democrats need to lean in to this issue in a big way. The bill the House passed is almost certainly going to die in the Senate, but that doesn't mean it can't be a potent issue in the next election -- especially if the Supreme Court further dismantles (or even overturns) Roe v. Wade. This is a real possibility now, with court cases already lined up for their consideration.

Women played an enormous part in electing Joe Biden and rejecting Trumpism. This could be a huge motivator to get them to the polls in 2022. Which is why Nancy Pelosi deserves the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week, for putting the House on the record, passing the codification of the right to choose in federal law.

[Congratulate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on her official contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We did note one Democrat worthy of a (Dis-)Honorable Mention award this week, but she was so minor we simply couldn't see giving her the main award.

Here's the story:

Speaking before a group of Democratic leaders in Florida's Miami-Dade County on Zoom last week, Miami Beach city commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez made her pitch as to why the party should endorse her.

She called herself "the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach." Not endorsing her, she continued, "would be upsetting and confusing" for constituents.

But Rosen Gonzalez is not Hispanic.

The 48-year-old picked up the latter name after she married Emilio Gonzalez. They divorced in 2009, according to WFOR, which first reported on the video.

If you read further, it becomes pretty apparent that this wasn't a misstatement on her part but rather a calculated move to boost her support among Latino voters. But, again, "city commission candidate" is pretty far down the political ladder, so we're just giving her a (Dis-)Honorable Mention for her cultural appropriation.

Instead, we decided on one of our two default candidates for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Senator Kyrsten Sinema represents a state with a rather large population of seniors. High prescription drug prices are a potent issue, both in Arizona and all over the country. It polls stratospherically high among the general public -- people want to see the drug companies reined in. They want the obscene gouging of American customers to stop. So of course, Sinema is against all of that.

Here's a headline which really speaks for itself: "Big Pharma, medical firms donated $750K to Kyrsten Sinema -- then she opposed drug bill."

Before she jumped into this debate, a battle was already raging in the House. Part of the budget reconciliation bill would have forced drug companies to set reasonable prices for prescription drugs. But bought-and-paid-for House Democrats wanted the provision severely watered down. Progressives were holding firm. After all, the public is squarely on their side. Even Donald Trump supports lowering prescription drug prices, after all.

Sinema jumped in and has made it known that not only is she against the strong version of the plan, she's also against the watered-down version as well. Drug companies should be allowed to continue to gouge all of her elderly constituents in Arizona, because big Pharma had so generously donated to her election fund, obviously.

This -- right here -- is why we refuse to call this faction "moderate" or "centrist." They are neither. They are corporatist, plain and simple. That headline really says it all. Which is why Kyrsten Sinema is this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Senator Kyrsten Sinema on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 635 (9/24/21)

We took last Friday off, so it's been two weeks since we wrote out our talking points. We must admit that we didn't even attempt to cover all two weeks of this period, and instead concentrated just on the past week's news. We've got another mixed bag as a result, including one excerpt that is rather long but deserved to be included.

Enjoy, and as always, use responsibly.


   The right to choose needs to be written into law

As we mentioned, this issue is a lot safer and a lot more politically potent than ever. So use it!

"Democrats are not waiting for the conservatives on the Supreme Court to toss out Roe v. Wade, because we believe that a woman's right to choose -- a woman's right to determine what medical care she gets -- is so important it needs to be written into federal law. Passing federal legislation would mean we wouldn't have to rely on whatever the Supreme Court decides and we wouldn't have to accept Draconian restrictions at the state level any more -- restrictions that are all designed to shame women and make exercising their constitutional rights as hard as possible. Elect Democrats and know that all women will not be put into some Handmaid's Tale dystopia merely because they live in the wrong state. We think women's rights to healthcare of their choosing is more important than leaving it to all the men in the state legislature who think they should decide what happens in a doctor's office between a woman and her physician. Republicans now want to outlaw abortion for even rape and incest victims. Don't let them! Vote Democratic instead, to protect a woman's right to choose."


   GOP voting to destroy the economy

Make this point plain, because the media is falling down on their job to do so (once again).

"Republicans have announced that they intend to vote against raising the debt ceiling, which, if they win the vote, would mean the United States would default on its debt. This would destroy millions of jobs, it would mean trillion-dollar losses for investors, it would double unemployment, and it would crater not just the American economy but likely send the entire worldwide economy into a depression. This, obviously, is not just irresponsible; it is downright reckless. How can Republicans make the case with a straight face for voting for such widespread destruction and economic devastation? How can they justify voting to do as much damage to our economy as possible? I have no idea. Perhaps some journalists might want to ask them that, because I for one think their constituents should hear why Republicans are voting in unison for such chaos."


   Kill the debt ceiling

As previously discussed, this relic needs to go.

"There simply is no real reason for the debt ceiling to exist. We're the only country in the world that has this crazy two-tier way of authorizing federal government spending. So I am calling on all Democrats to not just vote to raise the debt ceiling, instead I call on them to abolish the debt ceiling forever. Republicans are showing once again that they cannot be counted on to avoid economic catastrophe, and that they will engage in such hostage-taking whenever they have the chance. So why let them ever have this chance again? Abolishing the debt ceiling forever would make it impossible for these hostage-taking games to even happen. We could do it with one vote, and then Congress would never have to vote on it again. When we pass a budget, it should automatically authorize the Treasury to raise whatever funds are necessary for the agreed-upon spending. Plain and simple. Abolish the debt ceiling now and we'll never have to hear the term 'fiscal cliff' ever again."


   Kill the filibuster

This is a bit long for a talking point, but it is so important that we expanded a bit to fit it in.

The Senate filibuster is currently blocking Democrats from acting on immigration reform, police reform, raising the minimum wage, raising the debt ceiling, a new Voting Rights Act, and reforming the Electoral Count Act which lays out the steps for how a president is officially elected. In other words, a major portion of the Democratic agenda is at risk. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is backing only Republican candidates who believe and support his Big Lie and will do anything under the sun to subvert democracy to always declare Republicans the winners in any election (no matter what the voters say about it). We are in a crisis, in other words.

Which is why Paul Waldman made the case in the Washington Post for the filibuster issue to become a big litmus test for the Democratic Party. We find his argument persuasive, which is why we had to include so much of it here (emphasis in original).

It's now time for a real litmus test. Or even a purge.

If Democrats actually care about the things they say they believe in, they have to place filibuster reform at the absolute center of their agenda and their identity. No less than support for abortion rights, fair treatment for workers, universal health coverage, or action to address climate change, it's time to say that if you don't want to reform the filibuster then you can't call yourself a Democrat in good standing.

Which means that if you're already in office, Democrats should run primaries against you if you don't support filibuster reform. If you haven't been elected yet, no primary voter should accept that you're sincere in what you say you believe. And they should vote accordingly.

That may sound radical, but let's start here: The situation Democrats face now -- in control of the White House and Congress, but unable to act on many promises that got them elected, while forced to cram a more limited agenda through the legislative Rube Goldberg machine of reconciliation -- is the best they can hope for. That is, if the Senate's abominable rules are not changed.

It doesn't matter how many Americans support their agenda. It doesn't matter how big their electoral victories are. Their hands will be tied, and the voters will not get what they asked for.

. . .

It was absolutely predictable, and those who help maintain the system that guaranteed this outcome have to be held responsible. If someone says, "I support abortion rights, but I also think Roe v. Wade should be overturned," your response would be, "Then you don't actually support abortion rights."

And so, if someone says, "I believe in passing a new Voting Rights Act, a minimum-wage increase, and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, but I don't think we should get rid of the filibuster," then the only reasonable response is, "Then you don't actually support those things."

. . .

There is and will remain plenty of diversity within the Democratic Party. But there should be no disagreement on this fundamental principle: When Democrats win elections, they should be able to enact the agenda they ran on (and that applies to Republicans too). If you don't support that, you don't deserve the trust and support of your party.


   Fraudit fizzles

Too, too funny.

"Arizona spent a whole bunch of money paying an organization that had zero experience in conducting election reviews to perform what they called a 'forensic audit' (and what most everyone else called a 'fraudit') of the 2020 election results in the most Democratic county in the state. They fully expected these charlatans to manufacture a win for Donald Trump somehow. They were supposed to do so many months ago, in fact, but they were so inept and disorganized it took them forever to issue their report. But -- surprise! -- the leaked copy of this report purports to show that Donald Trump lost by an even bigger margin in Maricopa County. The fraudit fizzled -- or perhaps even backfired! This is no real surprise, since pretty much every review of the election to date has shown exactly the same thing -- Trump lost. Period. And now Arizona doesn't even have faked, ginned-up 'evidence' to show anything more than Trump got beat by 360 more votes than has been reported. What a monumental waste of time, and what an absolute joke."


   Getting to the bottom of the insurrection

This whole process needs to start moving a lot faster.

"This week, a bunch of pro-insurrectionists rallied right by the United States Capitol, in support of those who tried to violently overthrow our government in the biggest coup attempt in over a century. We also learned, through another tell-all book about the Trump administration's last days, that there was a six-point memo being circulated with specific steps Vice President Mike Pence was supposed to take to throw out the votes in seven states, so that Donald Trump could retain power illegally. This was not just a bunch of hotheads attacking the shrine of our democracy on January 6th, folks, this was a concerted effort to ignore and subvert the will of the voters. Thankfully, it didn't succeed -- this time. But to make sure there is no 'next time' the House committee charged with uncovering the truth about that dark day has issued its first subpoenas to four Trump henchmen. It's about time! I urge the committee to start holding regular hearings on the matter, because the American people deserve to know the truth about this insurrection attempt as soon as possible."


   Tax the rich

This has been true for a very long time, but Democrats never seem to get behind it with the proper amount of fervor.

"Once again, a poll recently came out which shows how wildly popular taxing the rich truly is among the American people. This echoes just about every other poll taken on the subject over the past few decades, at the very least. Fully 61 percent of the public supports raising the income tax rate on the wealthiest earners by a few points. Even 41 percent of Republicans support this. Large majorities also favor increasing the corporate tax rate as well as taxing investment income more, instead of letting those who make all their money off of stocks and bonds pay half what a hardworking family pays. Taxing the rich is incredibly popular, no matter what Republicans tell you. This is why Democrats are going to raise revenue to pay for their reconciliation budget by making the top earners in this country finally pay a little more of their fair share. And you know what? The people are solidly behind us in this."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


50 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Crunch Time”

  1. [1] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    It was surprising to learn that the Cyber Ninjies are actually lying, corrupt, Deep State Swamp Criminals. How does Hillary keep getting away with this stuff?

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Hillary caught a lucky break, finding and kidnapping Q.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    when you think about it, roe v wade is pretty much the only major civil rights decision of the mid 20th century that was never really followed up on with legislation.

  4. [4] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Welcome back, Chris. I hope you had a good vacation.
    This week is a solid FTP column.
    As a long-time admirer of Speaker Pelosi, I won't complain about this week's MIDDOW award (though I think the action you cite is not particularly courageous nor a good example of her impressive talents.)

    I also can't complain about any of the talking points.

  5. [5] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Re: talking point #3.

    In any discussion about the debt ceiling, it is important to point out that we're approaching the limit because of PAST appropriations. (Perhaps you pointed this out in your earlier column, but I didn't see it in this FTP column.) So anyone who pontificates on withholding approval of an increase because s/he wants to rein in spending is playing fast and loose with the facts. In the same way that I don't refuse to pay my monthly mortgage payment because I object to the loan I obtained from the bank years ago, Congress cannot refuse to pay for spending they previously approved.

  6. [6] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I'm disappointed that once more there is no talking point about COVID-19. I don't understand why, but will refrain from speculating.

    In any case, a delicious news item HANDED the Democrats a talking point. This will be critically-important in 2022, in Texas and Florida, if nowhere else.
    'Majorities support mask and vaccine mandates advocated by the Biden administration, as the coronavirus pandemic remains a top concern, according to the latest Fox News poll.

    Three-quarters of registered voters are "extremely" or "very" concerned about the pandemic (74 percent), a 5-point increase from August when 69 percent were worried. The shift comes mainly from Republicans (+14) and men (+8).'

  7. [7] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    IMO the Republican Senators' intransigence is increasing the pressure on reluctant Democrats to suspend the filibuster. Joe Manchin came up with voting-rights legislation that he has offered as an alternative to the House-approved measures. And of course the debt-ceiling threats highlight the GOP's obstructionist dogma.

    When these two measures fail in the Senate on party-line vote, what will Manchin and Sinema do?

  8. [8] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Both in your intro and your talking points (#5) you have a good chortle about the failure of the so-called Arizona audit to show any fraud, much less a revised count to support Trump's assertion that he won the state.

    "...this was the big cheese -- and it turned out to be pretty stinky for Trump."

    Now, as I read in the NY Times this morning, I learned that this audit failure has had ... zero -- That is, ZERO -- effect on the Stop the Steal movement that drives Trump's current political profile. As the NYT reports, Stop the Steal media outlets, promoters, and consumers are simply ignoring the reports about the audit showing a larger Biden victory than initially recorded. They are instead focusing on the minutiae in the audit that explain which votes were in fact disqualified, etc.

    In short, no embarrassment, no shame, no changing of hearts or minds. No effect whatever. Chortle all you want. They didn't hear you. And they're not going to stop trying to alter the voting laws around the country to allow Republican assemblies and state officers to recount future elections as necessary to ensure Republican-only victories.

  9. [9] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Talking Point #7-

    Tax the rich but understand what that means. There is a progressive idea to look at Bezos and those like him as though they have a giant Grigotts vaults full of gold and if only we could figure out how to get a wheelbarrow down to them, we could scoop up some and pay for the legislation-du-jour. The problem is Bezos made $81,000 in 2019. Now that he is no longer CEO of Amazon, he may have not made anything last year. Income tax increases ain't doing squat if the wealth is outside the "income" system. When you see headlines like Bezos makes such and such per minute, what they are really taking about is billionaire pissing contest money: stock value. Yes, he owns x number of shares times the stock price creates a number that is pretty big, but there is a huge difference between theoretical value and liquid value. He could never convert the theoretical value to liquid in any sort of short time frame without grossly reducing the total. Kicking up the "income tax" of the ultra-wealthy is likely to not amount to much. Better enforcement of tax laws, a better system of auditing the ultra-wealthy and figuring out how to tax the loopholes like taking low/no interest loans with the stock as collateral for day to day living expenses will likely bring in much more tax revenue. I'm not sure the "wealth tax" is a good idea either. Somehow taxing unrealized capital gains probably also means tax rebates on unrealized capital losses as that is how the tax code generally works. What is a tempting revenue generator in good years could be quite the disaster in a downturn...

  10. [10] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    TP1 Obviously, every woman should have the "right to choose her (own) health care". Surely, no one would dispute that. The real question is, should she have the right to choose OTHER peoples' health care. And if she does, why does nobody else (specifically men) have that right?

    TP7 Whoda ever guessed that the non-rich would be heavily in favor of taxing the rich? Next thing you're gonna tell us is that water is wet, and the sun rises in the east!

  11. [11] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    How could Big Pharma donate $750,000 to a single politician if we have limits on the amount that they can give? If it is possible for an industry to donate that much money simply by creating enough lobbying groups so that each can give the maximum allowed donation and they can still influence our politics, what would stop them from maintaining their influence by creating enough lobbying groups necessary to donate $750k via $200 individual donations?

    One Demand cannot prevent corporations from buying influence over our politicians. Of course, anyone who believes they are truly buying influence for $750k in reported campaign donations while ignoring the millions of dollars given to PAC’s supporting the candidate via “dark money” from unknown sources is kidding themselves.

  12. [12] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    . . . or grifting.

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    so, back to talking point #1

    there is something concrete that can be done about roe v. wade failing, and that is making federal laws to protect women's health and privacy from state encroachment.

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Madam, how like you this play?

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    ~hamlet, act 3, scene 2

    (for liz, who probably won't click the link: it's an article from the AP suggesting that justice barrett says she's concerned about the supreme court seeming like it's partisan.)


  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    You should know by now that I will always click your links.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It sure sounds that way.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, everyone!

    It's going to be a very special evening, celebrating the life and music of a very special singer.

    I hope you'll all stop by for a listen and play a favourite tune!

  18. [18] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    BashiB Your [12]

    You manifest a level of common sense and comprehension of the workings and of the problems of the tax system that represents something FAR beyond anything I've ever encountered on this blog, or for that matter anywhere, among normal Americans!!! Way to go!

  19. [19] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Which very special singer, oh Board Mother?

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Excellent point, which is why the whole thing is effing silly.

    We'll see, Don. If the Dems get reconciliation and voting rights done you will prove to be wrong. If not, you'll be right. Either way, OD would be swamped by non-OD money and no credible candidate would commit electoral malpractice by so limiting themselves.

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Excellent and trenchant point says Supreme TaxDoctor. I'd add that Elizabeth Warren's Wealth Tax is unworkable. How would one value wealth? How would one even define wealth?

    The answer lies in revamping the Tax Code.

    First, why does the tax rates increase as income rises but stops at just under $520K/$625K Married?

    I say, continue the increasing brackets and tax rates until it tops off at exactly 91.09%.

    That's one for you,

    And ten for me.

    The Beatles

    Second, why is income above roughly $143,000 exempt from Social Security Tax ?

    I say, remove the cap! This insures,

    1- the fund remains solvent until 2100, because,

    2- everyone is now payinh into the fund evenly.

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    The real question is, should she have the right to choose OTHER peoples' health care.

    That's the thing. It's NOT "OTHER people's health care."

    And it's NOT an "unborn baby."

    It's a fetus, inside a free American women's uterus, where Big Government doesn't get to supervise.

    Freedom of religion is meaningless if a minority of America's religious views are imposed on the rest of us.

    It's that simple, Amigo, no matter how strongly your beliefs on the subject may be.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    This very special singer would have celebrated his 68th birthday yesterday.

    Be back around 7pm, Cali time, give or take ...

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... maybe a little earlier, 'cause I'm kinda anxious to get started. Just got back from work and must eat first. :)

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Welcome, everyone, to the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party where we put aside our politics for a few hours and let the tunes take us away ...

    Don't be shy - post your favourite songs and let's dance the night away!

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yesterday, friends and fans of Ron Tabak celebrated his life and his music on what would have been his 68th birthday over at the facebook page for Fans of Prism: the Ron Tabak Era.

    Continuing here in that celebration I'd like to highlight some of my favourite Ron Tabak vocals as well as bandmates and friends of his and their bands from the Vancouver area.

    This is one of the songs that garnered PRiSM their first record deal with GRT Records in Toronto. Written by PRiSM's original drummer, Jim Vallance (aka Rodney Higgs), it became the second track off PRiSM's phenomenal debut album, released in May 1977 - the first debut album by a Canadian artist to achieve platinum status in Canada!

    Open Soul Surgery

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of Ron's friend and bandmate, Jim Vallance, a big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to Jim, one of Canada's foremost songwriters for his song, What About Love, co-written with Toronto band members Brian Allen and Sheron Alton, which was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame just last week on September 22, 2021! It's so exciting!

    We Canadians like to think of Heart as one of our own since their first success was here and they lived in Vancouver for several years.

    What About Love - Inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame!

    What About Love - Heart

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ron's good friend and PRiSM bandmate, Al Harlow, has been busy of late on albums and memoirs. Al Harlow Now is a new project and Al Harlow Then harkens back to his (wild and crazy) days before PRiSM (not that his PRiSM days were any less wild, you understand). The memoir will be must read, suffice to say. :)

    With any luck, they'll all be out this year!

    Anyway, here is the single from Al Harlow Now ...

    Let It Go

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    One of Ron's favourite songs to sing was one penned by Al Harlow and it is track seven off the 1978 See Forever Eyes album ...

    Take Me Away

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here's another of Ron's friends, Ronald Vaughan, on drums in his band, Bounty Hunter from the Vancouver area ...

    Pocket Full of Blues

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ron's friend, Dave Skinner, recently turned me on to his band, Zingo. Which was formed in Vancouver in the early 1970s and were together for about six years. In 2016, they released a cd with songs from the seventies.

    Zingo - the band

    It has become one of my favourites.

    Here's a tune off that cd written by Dave Skinner ...

    Merry Go Round - Zingo

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    PRiSM was eventually born out of another Vancouver band of the seventies called Sunshyne. More about that fun band another time.

    Ron was hired as lead vocalist in August 1975 and here is a beautiful song that came out of the Sunshyne studio sessions in 1976 but is not found on any of the PRiSM albums. I'm still scratching my head as to why that might be and how the album track would have sounded because Ron's brilliant vocals come soaring through even on this one, seemingly effortlessly, as per usual.

    Hope you enjoy Lost Horizons

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here's how you can get your hands on that wonderful Zingo cd

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In the wake of the tragic murder in August 1980 of fellow Vancouverite and Playboy Playmate of the Year for 1980, Dorothy Stratten, PRiSM released a tribute song for Canada's cover girl ... shortly after this recording, the last as a member of PRiSM, Ron was out of the band. I don't want to talk about it, anymore. :(

    Cover Girl

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is a wonderful fan video of the signature and iconic PRiSM tune, with a beautiful tribute to Ron ...

    Spaceship Superstaaaaaaaaaar

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, just because ...

    Alone again, naturally!

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is more from Ron's friends and PRiSM bandmates ...

    A Message of Love

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Written by Ron's, ah, sparring partner, ahem, as well as guitarist and co-founding member of PRiSM, Lindsay Mitchell, this PRiSM ballad is sure to delight!

    Night To Remember

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Tom Lavin played bass with PRiSM for the first year before leaving to form his legendary Powder Blues Band.

    Here they all are at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

    Powder Blues Live

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, I'll end with one of Ron's final recordings in 1983/84 of a BJ Thomas song that he loved ...

    Ron Tabak - (I need a) Miracle

    Take care and stay safe, everyone!

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, one more tribute video put together by Fans of Prism: the Ron Tabak Era (1977-1980) ... the ultimate place to go for the early beginnings of PRiSM and music of the first four studio albums, set to the music of See Forever Eyes, written by original PRiSM members Lindsay Mitchell (guitar) and John Hall (keyboardist) ...

    Ron Tabak, September 25, 1953 - December 25, 1984, gone but never forgotten. Rock on, Ron!

  42. [42] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Hey, Elizabeth, sorry but I got a tax return job come in yesterday. But I shall be enjoying your Ron Tabak Tribute over the beginning of this week.

  43. [43] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Caddy [27]

    OK, you object to people characterizing it as an "unborn baby", I object to you characterizing it as a "fetus", but both terms are arbitrary and have no real meaning.

    So my suggestion would be, we call it a "human being" Then it becomes generic and serves to reveal any and all of your rationalizational efforts to be just that, rationalized murder.

    And in case you're unaware, I'm all in favor of abortion rights. The only thing I'm against is hypocrisy and political correctness serving as the justification for it.

  44. [44] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    CRS [49]

    OK, you object to people characterizing it as an "unborn baby", I object to you characterizing it as a "fetus", but both terms are arbitrary and have no real meaning.

    Except they are not arbitrary and have very specific meanings based on their definitions. One is a scientific term, the other is not. If the woman wants to be pregnant, referring to it as an “unborn baby” is acceptable. For the woman who had no intention of getting pregnant and that does not want children, referring to it as a “parasitic organism” is just as acceptable.

    And you support a woman’s right to an abortion, which you refer to as “rationalized murder”? And who has ever used political correctness to justify a woman’s right to determine her medical choices for herself ? How would that even work?

  45. [45] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    LWYH [50]

    Human life exists on an unbroken continuum. You can theoretically assign a word to represent every point on that continuum, but as I said, that is totally arbitrary to the 'point' of being meaningless. Points have no dimension. It may be medically handy or convenient, but it's still totally arbitrary. It's equivalent to pretending to designating a specific spot on a rainbow where the color changes - can't be done.

    Of course, "parasitic organism" is perfectly acceptable, but she should add "self-imposed parasitic organism", right? Not fair to imply that the organism attacked her like did the Covid virus!

    You lost me on your last paragraph, sorry.

  46. [46] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    CRS [49]:

    I was surprised to read that fetus was an arbitrary term with no real meaning. I had no idea it was no longer part of the medical lexicon. When did this happen and what is the current medical term for that period between the end of the embryonic phase (7-8 weeks) and birth? I don't know, but it seems there ought to be a medical term for this as a lot of stuff happens during this phase of pregnancy; some of it may need to be discussed and attended to.

  47. [47] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Your very "7-8 weeks" terminology makes my point by itself, for gawdsake!

    ALL those terms and designations are useful and handy for medical reasons, but except possibly for 'conception' or 'fertilization', there is NEVER a precise point on a continuum when one term evolves into the next term. How about 'childhood, 'adolescence' 'adulthood' 'old age', etc.? Aren't they "part of the medical lexicon"? But not a damn one of them excludes the universal 'human being', right???

  48. [48] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    [53] C. R. Stucki:

    So your stance is that because things in every pregnancy don't happen at a known precise moment -- because every pregnancy develops uniquely -- that words are meaningless? The medical term you so cavalierly dismiss is actually based on known changes that occur during pregnancy. When it "ought" to occur in any given pregnancy is more or less predictable, but whether and when it does is based on specific markers.

    Adolescence, by the way, is based on the onset of puberty. This also does not occur at the same time for everyone. Just because the term is used by non-medical persons without regard to whether an individual has entered puberty does not render the term meaningless.

    Fetus has a medical definition. Development has markers. "Human being," on the other hand, is up for individual interpretation; I'm not aware that it has a medical definition.

  49. [49] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    I couldn't care lest about medical terminology for identifying perceived 'phases' of human life. I only object when some of the are used by morons to attempt to de-humanize any human being at any stage of life, as justification for murdering him/her.

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Abortion: Safe, Legal and RARE!

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