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Friday Talking Points -- "We're Just The Guys To Do It!"

[ Posted Friday, July 23rd, 2021 – 17:23 UTC ]

It's like the Republicans all suddenly got put on double-secret probation or something. It seems to have finally dawned on them that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is actually real, and it is now killing off an inordinate number of their own base voters. So some of them had, as President Joe Biden said this week, their "altar call" moment.

Of course, hearing "Delta," what popped into our minds for this tectonic shift was Animal House's John Belushi asking his fellow Delts: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!" Of course, his speech ended when his frat brother stood up and proclaimed: "I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part." To which Belushi responded: "And we're just the guys to do it!"

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Biden Torpedoes Half His Agenda

[ Posted Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 – 16:52 UTC ]

Last night, President Joe Biden participated in a town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, hosted by CNN and moderated by Don Lemon. He made some news there, because when he was directly asked if preserving the Senate filibuster was more important than passing voting rights bills, he sounded like he kind of wanted to have it both ways. He seems absolutely convinced that either: (1) Republicans are going to suddenly magically develop a conscience and a high-minded sense of civic duty and start joining with Democrats to pass good legislation; or (2) that getting rid of the filibuster would somehow "throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done." The first seems naive, at best. The second, however, is completely backwards.

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Friday Talking Points -- GOP Defunded The Tax Police

[ Posted Friday, July 16th, 2021 – 17:00 UTC ]

There were two interesting developments in the congressional sausage-making process this week, both of which Democrats should immediately adopt as their main messages for the next week or so.

The first was that Senators Bernie Sanders and Mark Warner announced they had come to a compromise on the reconciliation bill which will fund the lion's share of President Joe Biden's economic agenda. They settled on a total figure of $3.5 trillion in new spending, which is far less than Bernie's original goal of $6 trillion (just for this bill alone), but also far more than the opening bid of the fiscally-conservative Democrats, which was in the $1.5 to $2 trillion range. It also will mean that Biden got the exact total he asked for in his "three-legged stool" of economic legislation. His first big legislative achievement (the American Rescue Plan) spent $1.9 trillion, and the bipartisan infrastructure deal represents $0.6 trillion more, which will mean a grand total of $6 trillion for all three -- which is exactly what Biden asked for in the first place.

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Legalize It

[ Posted Thursday, July 15th, 2021 – 16:17 UTC ]

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced this week he will be moving legislation to the floor of the Senate to legalize marijuana at the federal level. This is an important milestone (even if the measure fails), since such legislation has never had leadership support in the Senate before. The House has passed similar bills already, knowing full well they were all going to die in the Senate. But with Schumer on board, the chances that the federal War On Weed could end have improved considerably.

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Friday Talking Points -- Happy Independence Day!

[ Posted Friday, July 2nd, 2021 – 17:57 UTC ]

Happy Independence Day! No, that heartfelt wish is actually not premature, as we pointed out years ago. The second of July is indeed the day American declared her independence from Britain. All the histories, all the traditions, all the celebrations get it wrong each and every year. No, really!

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Will Trump Testify?

[ Posted Thursday, July 1st, 2021 – 15:42 UTC ]

There's a lot of news in the legal world today, so even asking the question: "Will Trump testify?" needs further specification. I am not asking whether Donald Trump will testify in the upcoming case against his namesake Trump Organization and its top financial officer, because it's pretty obvious he would never take the stand in a case like that. Instead, what I'm wondering is whether the still-forming House 1/6 select committee will try to subpoena Trump -- and if they do, whether he'd actually appear or (as is more usual for him) fight it to the bloody end in the courts.

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Friday Talking Points -- The Art Of The Deal

[ Posted Friday, June 25th, 2021 – 17:49 UTC ]

Call it true irony. The man who had a book ghost-written for him called "The Art Of The Deal" could never actually manage to strike any kind of deal. So the man who replaced him ran on his own dealmaking skills, in a time where pretty much everyone in Washington considered the idea too old-fashioned to ever work. But President Joe Biden just got his first big deal, this week. A bipartisan infrastructure plan is now going to move forward in the United States Senate and has what can only be called a better-than-average chance of passing.

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Friday Talking Points -- America Is Back

[ Posted Friday, June 18th, 2021 – 17:57 UTC ]

President Joe Biden had a pretty good week all around. He began the week in Europe, where he met with the leaders of NATO, the European Union, the G7, a few royals (just to mix things up), and Vladimir Putin. That's a pretty packed schedule, but Biden seemed to manage just fine. The Europeans were both visibly thrilled and massively relieved to be visited by a United States president who was, once again, a sane adult (and not a petulant little child-man). They heaped praise upon Biden -- mostly just for being "President Not-Trump." You may laugh, but please recall President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize solely for being "President Not-Dubya," years earlier. But more seriously, Europe announced some deals with Biden (including, notably, a truce being called on the subsidy war over Boeing and Airbus airplanes). Not only were personal relationships either reaffirmed or begun, tangible diplomatic progress was made. Europe stood as one with the United States over the contentious issues of Russia and China, which only strengthened Biden's position for his meeting with Putin. The Putin summit didn't produce a whole lot in the way of tangible deliverables, but then again it didn't produce an American president willing to believe Russia's ex-K.G.B. leader over his own intelligence services either, so it has to be chalked up as a major improvement. Throughout it all, Biden stuck to one very simple slogan that summed up what his trip was supposed to be showcasing to the world: "America is back."

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Joe Manchin Undercuts Biden's Agenda

[ Posted Monday, June 7th, 2021 – 16:25 UTC ]

Senator Joe Manchin may have just torpedoed much of President Joe Biden's agenda. He wrote an opinion piece for a local West Virginia newspaper where he reiterated his full support for the filibuster rule as it stands, and announced his opposition to the For The People Act (also known as "H.R. 1" or "S. 1"). His reason is specious, because what it amounts to is that the Republican Party should be allowed to pass as many voter-suppression laws as it pleases (without any attempt at bipartisanship, of course) in all the states where they hold the majority, and Democrats at the national level should do absolutely nothing to stop them -- unless and until 10 Republicans in the Senate see the error of their party's ways and suddenly decide to join with the Democrats in protecting the bedrock of American democracy. This is beyond magical reasoning, it is downright delusional.

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Friday Talking Points -- Bipartisan Kabuki's Last Act

[ Posted Friday, June 4th, 2021 – 17:43 UTC ]

The ushers are flashing the lights in the lobby. Intermission is over, and the last act of the "Bipartisan Infrastructure Kabuki" extravaganza is about to begin. Actually, truth be told, we were among those who thought this play would be over by now, but apparently a final act was hastily added at the last minute, for no real apparent reason.

President Joe Biden called Senator Shelley Moore Caputo today, in what most view as the final negotiation attempt which will try to hammer together a compromise infrastructure package that 10 Republican senators will actually vote for. Biden is, in essence, making his final offer. It is eminently reasonable, considering where the two sides started from, but that doesn't mean it will have any chance of success, since Republicans are really just trying to run the clock out and stall for as long as they can get away with before they admit to the world that there simply is no infrastructure bill that 10 Republican senators are ever going to vote for -- at least not while a Democrat sits in the Oval Office.

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