As we near the Thanksgiving holiday and now that Kevin McCarthy has wrapped up his soliloquy, Democrats finally have something to be thankful for in the form of the Build Back Better legislation. We start there then give our take on the brouhaha around Congressman Gosar’s nasty Tweeting and, a few tidbits.
(cover photo cred: Credit: Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images News)
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The Forecast For Build Back Better Is…
Well, we can now report the weather forecast heading into the latter part of November is partly to mostly sunny for Democrats, as a warm front moves in and the passage of Build Back Better moved through the House today, kicking the legislation over to the Senate and at least making it past the important milestone of getting it through half of Congress. This by no means guarantees ultimate passage. And the one thing that is certain is there's an extraordinary amount of work for Congress to do in a month when they don't normally do a lot of work in. Government funding runs out at the beginning of December. The debt limit has to be raised by the middle of the month. There's defense legislation and then, of course, there's Build Back Better. So, it will be a busy end of this year in Congress.
Well, Gibbsie, it’s a punt, not a field goal, but you're right, the ball is finally in the air. This whole process has been a costly and lengthy opera for the Democrats, who seem to keep confusing the fact that while they have partisan control of the House and Senate, they do not have ideological control. Hence the miles of distance between Senators Manchin and Sinema and the surly Comrades of the House Progressive Caucus. So now the House’s version of the bill heads over to the Senate, where Fort Manchin remains steadfast. It’s a punt because an exhausted Speaker Pelosi has decided to make Senator Manchin Chuck Schumer’s problem. So now the big question is; when a deal finally lands in the Senate and Manchin and “Silent” Sinema (maybe her next edgy and sure to be talked about fashion move will be a Charlie Chaplinesque outfit, if only to prove she gets the joke) vote for it, what will the House do on final passage; fight or flight. No doubt the bill will be smaller and some of the Progs' cherished programs will be on the Senate’s cutting room floor. Will the House Progs riot again, or will they declare victory and pass the final bill quickly? I know what the White House is pining for, and my unsolicited advice to the POTUS is simple: Don’t be passive, it’s killing you politically. Time for a little gunpoint triangulation, and to stretch the metaphor and historical reference bank to the breaking point… the President could really use a Sister Souljah moment with his Lefties to remind the country he's actually President in Charge. The most pleasing news I’ve heard all week is that when Biden fired up Air Force One to visit a GM plant in Michigan, Squad arsonist Rep. Rashida Tlaib was uninvited to ride with him after voting NO on the Biden Infrastructure plan.
(It’s a standard political protocol for the President to invite the local Members from your party along when visiting their home areas.). But Tlaib – along with AOC and the other four usual suspects – didn’t play loyal party ball on Biden’s Infrastructure Bill, so goodbye Air Force One; no souvenir throw blanket for her.
Bravo Joe! Time for the whip, and more of it. Channel your inner LBJ and keep it up. Nobody voted for Joe Biden just to trade right wing nut chaos for left wing wackadoo chaos. A big reason Joe Biden’s poll numbers have deflated is that the Boss is looking weak and sidelined. That's toxic for a President. It's time for Joe to go a little Delaware on the troublemakers and reestablish his position as the Alpha Donkey.
You may have set the record for metaphors in that last rant! For Dems, it’s focus, focus, focus on their legislation. There is a lot ahead for Biden and lots of maneuvering to think through, but getting this thing over the finish line is his job one, two and three. Again, this is still going to take some time, but today is an important one, no doubt.
Well, Gibbsie, do you think the rough outcome from the elections a few weeks ago has tamped down a little of the revolutionary fervor in the Prog troops and they may now be more flexible about a compromise than they were before? Many seem to be signaling that.
Yeah, I think the strategic change of passing legislation that wasn't previously agreed to by Senate Democrats means that the House in some ways has given up control of what the final product is likely to look like. And I think that's largely recognition and a nod to the fact that it's not necessarily what Progressives might want, it’s what Progressives can get. And so, I do think the elections have been a sobering enough moment to understand it's time to get something, even as the rallying cry for a while was the silly notion that you heard espoused by some that sometimes nothing is better than something. That's not true in either math or politics.
Let me vent my spleen a little bit on L’Affaire Gosar. I am so exhausted with hysterical outrage politics. Let's recap what actually happened: a toxic and moronic Republican congressman from Arizona named Paul Gosar (IQ around 37, you can look it up) took a Japanese sword fighting anime cartoon…
and with the likely help of an equally moronic staffer, Gosar photoshopped in his face (as the sword swinger) and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Angry Social Media)’s face as the victim. Bad, Gosar, bad. It’s stupid, offensive and totally inappropriate, especially now; a time when our democratic norms are under assault. So the House moved to censure Gosar (a pretty big deal; doesn’t happen much.) Then, the screaming began. On the right, it was all about free speech and cherishing stupid cartoons. On the left, there's apparently now a Republican sponsored cartoon death plot against AOC. What the House did in censuring Gosar was fine in my opinion (he’s sort of a career criminal with a long rap sheet of awful Congressional behavior), but the Kabuki over the vote was extremely tiresome. I'm so tired of the screaming hysterics on both sides aimed purely to fund their political outrage into dollars alchemy machines. Enough already. Move on. The Dems are right; no violence vibes in Tweets, etc. Censure the idiot. And shame on the GOP for howling instead of doing the right thing and joining the censure vote (only Kinzinger and Cheney did exactly that). But enough with the outrage to rile up bases and general contributions. No need for more attention and publicity. It's just another sign of the erosion of responsibility and civility in our politics. And, of course, the media breathlessly covered the whole damn thing.
Well, Murphy, I think this says more about the strength of the person who hopes to be the next Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, than it says about anything else. Just a few years ago, McCarthy himself sidelined an outspoken kook in Congressman Steve King, removing him from his committee assignments proactively after his latest in a million offensive screeds. It's telling now that the Republican leader seems to have lost all of his spine in dealing with what he and many others must really think is a terrible distraction on what they hope is their journey to the majority. Maybe it speaks to your point about our politics that McCarthy would rather react to what Democrats did in rightly censuring Gosar than react to what he actually posted. I don’t blame Democrats one bit for their reaction here. If your workplace included an employee who posted a video, even a Japanese cartoon, killing a colleague, swift action was sure to follow. Lastly, if you think Gosar is even remotely sorry understand that he reposted the video again before somebody I assume asked him finally to take it down yet again. What’s stunning most to me is the ever-increasing lack of seriousness by an ever-increasing number of House GOPers in, well, actually governing the country, despite their inclusion in America’s legislative branch. For all the invocation of the Founders, there would be a lot of eyerolling if they could see the current crop of House GOPers.
Oh, I agree Gosar is despicable in every dimension. We Republicans used to know how to handle these things. So did the Democrats (well, there was Bill Clinton, but I digress.) Anyway, no doubt that Kevin McCarthy has gone, on these bad actor policing matters, from Sheriff Buford Pusser to Deputy Don Knox.
Yeah, but in that case, Andy Griffith took the bullets away from his deputy. In this case, Kevin McCarthy has unloaded his punishment gun proactively.
My first tidbit for today: lots of eyes are on the Rose Garden awaiting a decision on the next chair of the Fed. Will President Biden renominate current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell or go in a different direction, most likely Fed Governor Lael Brainard. Intrigue in this pick has accelerated over the past several weeks with the challenges that occurred with the Fed’s stock buying scandals, plus Washington becoming much, much more focused on inflation than they had been in the months before. So, worth watching to see what Biden does, what the economic reaction to all of it is, and then ultimately, whether or not the Fed starts to take more concrete action at all on inflation. Not an insignificant set of actions and consequences coming with this announcement.
I think that the Democrats are finally realizing that inflation is the greatest threat of all to their political future. But you can't spend trillions of dollars and not have a consequence. That may put more wind behind Sen Manchin’s attempt to trim down their spending plans in the Senate.
Lastly, there’s a new most important man in Washington. No, it's not Joe Manchin. No, it may not even be Joe Biden. His name is Mitch Landrieu. The Biden administration has smartly picked somebody to oversee how this infrastructure money is spent. This simply had to be somebody’s full-time job/obsession. Getting a former mayor of this stature and somebody who understands infrastructure and rebuilding, as Landrieu does from his time as New Orleans Mayor during the important post-Katrina rebuilding, he couldn't be a better pick for a truly important job. To give you a sense of the challenge that's coming with the size of the infrastructure legislation, Amtrak has more money coming to it right now than it has had in total funding since its inception. So, understanding that, planning for, and actually spending all that important infrastructure funding is going to be enormously important from both a policy and a political perspective. Biden had this role for Obama during the Recovery Act and stayed in constant contact with people on the ground to ensure that the money was used in the right way. So, kudos to the Biden administration for picking somebody that's this talented and good luck to Mayor Landrieu.
He’s the right guy for a tough job. But it was another grim bit of news for beleaguered Vice President Harris, who didn’t get the big mission in a definite snub from the West Wing. She is left with only one big job, the Gordian knot on the border. And that red phone is ringing louder and louder with no progress.
We hope all you Hackaroos have a great weekend! We’ll see you on Tuesday.
Murphy and Gibbs
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