We’re back and we hope you are too. A lot has happened since our first newsletter on Tuesday while a lot has remained the same. We’re still talking infrastructure and trying to figure out where we think this train is now heading (get it?). We then turn to the increasing bitter feud now raging around the politics of the January 6 investigation in the House and believe it or not, we’re both on Speaker Pelosi’s side. (Murphy is having his head examined). Yes, you read that correctly. Now please read more below (and leave your comments along the way).
MASTER STROKE OR MAJOR BLUNDER?
I wrote in our earlier newsletter that this would be the most important week for the Biden agenda. Well, to add to that, I think we will look back and realize that this was the week that actually got infrastructure from talking to moving (thought I’d keep it going). If you compare this whole infrastructure process to baking a cake, at some point, you’ve got to put the ingredients in the bowl and mix it up. For weeks, these guys assembled ingredients on their kitchen counter - all of what it takes to make the cake - but hadn't truly started mixing it. Time is of the essence here and I think what Schumer did successfully was get everyone back in a room, get them back on Zoom calls and get them to actually create a legislative document. You can't pass a framework of agreement into law. I think that the process needed the kick in the ass that Schumer gave it, which was let's start making some decisions and putting them actually on paper so we can vote.
I get the put up or shut up argument, my dear Gibbs, but – staggering from baking analogies to medical analogies – I don't understand why when the patient is ready to leave the hospital on Monday, on the Wednesday before, Dr. Schumer would kick the patient off the bed and onto the floor, then ask the patient to stand up and walk out of his hospital even though their legs are broken and need a few more days to heal. So, I call Wednesday’s Senate vote malpractice; a bungle by the Senate Leader. After all, 11 R’s, (and they need 10 for final passage) said before the vote, “Hey, we will vote to begin the procedure to vote on the infrastructure deal on Monday. Just give us the weekend to work out the tricky revenue fig leaf we need for passage.” If I was Schumer – I know, but go with me here – I would have taken that deal on Wednesday and declared victory with a loud holler of, “Look what I did! We got 11 R’s on board for a Monday vote to move the bill forward. We're going to get serious now.” Instead we got a silly Kabuki vote, that failed, and got the Republican Senate caucus feeling cranky, and feisty. Meanwhile the progressive D’s, particularly in the House, who never liked the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the first place, are gleefully predicting the death of the deal. Now we’ll see if the Senators in both parties who actually want to get something sensible done can piece this thing back together. So I think Schumer’s move was far more a bungle than a master-stroke.
I think the master stroke is it caused the Republicans to have to come up with a date to answer all of their framework questions that had been sitting for weeks. That answer is Monday, and if they can't come to that answer by then, it's not because Chuck Schumer made them vote on Wednesday. Do you really think Lindsey Graham is voting for this deal? I think what Schumer is again smartly doing is saying, we're not going to sit here and dither all day. As I said earlier this week, if this thing doesn’t happen, it's because there aren't 10 Republicans to do it, not because of Schumer this week. Now, make no mistake, whenever the Senate does move on this procedural step, infrastructure still has a long, long way to go. The House has indicated they won’t take this legislation up until AFTER the Senate passes Reconciliation, which means the leaves will be falling off the trees when that happens. So, find a comfortable seat, this will be a while.
Well I don't know about that. I actually think Graham might actually vote for the infrastructure deal in the end. And it looks like Sen. Portman is inching the R’s toward a revenue fix – closing a loophole on drug pricing – that the Republicans could actually live with (unlike the increased IRS funding to find more tax money idea that died a quick death last week). So again, I think Monday will be very revealing.
The other train moving this week was the Pelosi Express!
SAVE THIS HEADLINE: MURPHY AGREES WITH PELOSI!
Speaker Pelosi has rejected, bounced, frog-marched and trampled two of the five Republicans that Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has suggested for the special Committee that is supposed to honestly investigate the events of January 6th at the Capitol. Two GOP Members got dunked: Jim Jordan of Ohio (he’s the guy who never wears a suit jacket; maybe he finds it too mentally taxing to remove one from the closet hanger) and Jim Banks of Indiana. Both have been ass-clowns on the whole who won the election topic, yet alone spewing lots of crazy about January 6th. Both were appointed by McCarthy to undermine the Committee’s work.
So get this Gibbs, I’m with Pelosi on this one! They should be bounced off this vital Committee. They have nothing but malicious and disruptive intent.
Hold on, the doctor’s restarting my heart. Hold one second. I thought I saw the light there. I totally agree. I mean I would say this: good for her! When we would sit in the Oval Office with President Obama in 2009 and 2010, we would have discussions about what Republicans were doing vis-à-vis his agenda and the President and several of us had a saying, which we would kind of half smile after the end of this discussion and say, “These guys aren't on the level.” And in reality, Kevin McCarthy and the picks that Pelosi dispensed with simply weren't on the level. He hasn't been serious about this largely because he's almost certainly going to be a witness sworn in to have to testify about the callousness of the man whose ring he kissed just a couple of weeks after that. And so I say good for her and I will tell you this, I'm going to double down on my good for her. She was asked as she was leaving an event in the Capitol earlier this week and was asked about Congressman McCarthy saying she was playing politics with the panel and her response was, “Perhaps you mistake me for somebody who would care about that.” Bravo!
A question Robert: when she said that was Pelosi holding a baseball bat or a bowl of chocolates?! (What the hell is Murphy talking about? Check out the secret tales from inside Pelosi’s office in our latest episode of Hacks on Tap).
As a Republican and a conservative, this whole sordid thing breaks my heart. And I hate that I have to lose the moral high ground bow to the ridiculous and usually wrong Left. But you’re right. The truth is these guys are not on the level and the worst tragedy here is any legitimate January 6 investigation is now headed into a pathetic morass of Banana Republic-style squabbling. McCarthy now says he is not appointing anybody. So, it’s a total mess. All I can tell fair-minded Republican patriots to do is listen to Liz Cheney, who is a legit conservative Republican on the Committee appointed by the Democrats, and will speak the truth. I’ll give Kevin McCarthy a tiny microscopic chunk of credit for two of his five appointees: Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Rodney Davis of Illinois would have been serious, fact-based investigators on the Committee. If McCarthy had appointed a few more R’s like that, we’d be in much better shape. But instead he appointed two Master clowns, so Leader McCarthy this disaster for the nation is on you.
This leads me back to the idea that I think in politics, as in life, it's important to understand the concept where you want to end up and work backwards from there. I think Kevin McCarthy made a series of fairly large strategic miscalculations and the biggest of which now looks like how he handled Liz Cheney. No matter what Kevin McCarthy says or does around the January 6 Committee, this is the only bipartisan investigation happening in the House, and that's because he freed Liz Cheney to be an active, robust member of this investigation and essentially provided a bipartisan imprimatur because he so poorly bungled how to handle her in the Republican caucus. I think that's a strategic mistake that has done nothing but empower Liz Cheney, made her quite frankly a stronger voice on this, and it's something that he's going to have to continue to deal with at least for the next year and a half.
I agree, every time they try to kill off Cheney, they make her bigger. It's like the Sci-Fi classic Forbidden Planet, where the big electric monster shows up and they blast it with the ray guns and it only gets bigger and stronger and more dangerous until they figure out that it's their weapons and fury that is increasing the power of the monster. Clearly the R’s in the House do not understand the secrets of the Krell…
THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEKEND…
Looking to next week, we’ll find out on Monday what's what with the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I predict we’ll see a progressive stampede do all kinds of bad stuff. And then finally, it looks like a fight over the debt limit, since the government will run out of money in 10 days.
Yeah, I will say once and for all, somebody needs to figure out how to short circuit these silly debt limit fights. All they're going to do is cause economic uncertainty, threaten our country’s credit rating and demonstrate again for the world just how unserious we all are about dealing with what has to get done to govern our country without causing unnecessary political drama. It’s emblematic of why Americans have genuine disdain for Washington.
Politicians forget that we get away with a lot because the dollar is the world's reserve currency and every time we take a hard turn toward Banana Republic stuff we undercut that. It’s really bad for our national interest. That said, the debt issue ought to be bigger in our national debate because we are spending in a way that is an insult to drunken sailors. Republicans lost a lot of high ground on this under Trump, who was another mad spender, but the level now is becoming just nuts.
Yeah, well, Murphy, the altar of fiscal conservatism tends to get rolled out only in Democratic administrations on the Republican side. Whether it's Trump or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, I think fiscal conservatism has been on life support for a very long time.
Now to a new regular section of the newsletter…
I know our readers are cosmopolitan so here’s a good story on the German elections coming up in late September. Old pro Angela Merkel is leaving office and while polls indicate her center-right CDU/CSU party will lead the vote, there is very limited enthusiasm for any of her potential replacements. Her chosen successor, Armin Laschet’s security code name is “Der snooze-moister” and the other party candidates also have challenges.
I was in Germany two weeks ago and talked with a lot of top German CEOs. The local CW at the time was the Green Party – now reinvented to sell a far more pragmatic and young professionals friendly message, mostly on climate – had a very good chance to score a strong second place and enter a coalition government. But the horrible floods that have struck Germany may now shake up the election. All the major party leaders have made blunders, but my hunch is the issue agenda of the election will move even more toward climate and give the greens a bit of a forward nudge, despite the many stumbles of their party leader and candidate for Chancellor Annalena Baerbock. Here is the NYT’s take on the floods and the election.
One last thing from me. It’s a story from the state I was born and raised in and it will break your heart. By now, we have become used to reading tragic news during this pandemic. This one is straight from a doctor inside the hospital.
Give it a read. Please. And afterwards, think if you have a friend or a loved one who might be vaccine hesitant or resistant. If you do, give them a call or text them and see if you can help answer any questions they may have or figure out someone who can. This pandemic is now honestly a pandemic almost entirely for the unvaccinated. They need to hear a helping voice not a scolding one why it’s important to get vaccinated so we can finally stop reading these stories and so doctors won’t have to tell these terrible stories any longer.
Thanks for reading,
Gibbs and Murphy