Daily Politics Update

Biden capital critical to get the reconciliation votes

Heather Caygille, 9-22, 21, Politico, Biden set to play peacemaker for warring Democratic factions, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/22/biden-warring-democratic-factions-513564 The two fractious wings of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus are tumbling toward intraparty war. President Joe Biden is hoping to head off disaster. Biden will hold a series of meetings with key Democrats Wednesday, including Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as party leaders try to salvage their two-part domestic agenda — a massive social safety net expansion and bipartisan infrastructure bill — amid a fresh round of hostage-taking from centrist and progressive members. “I hope he is the secret sauce,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Biden. “The president of the United States is always a very influential figure, and I know he wants both bills passed.” Many of those restive Democrats have been waiting weeks for their president, who has spent the summer largely focused on crises off the Hill, to turn his attention to the House. And Biden’s attempt at a kumbaya moment could hardly come at a more critical time, with the narrowly divided House nearing an uncertain vote Monday on the Senate’s infrastructure deal. The president’s sales pitch for unity won’t be easy. Progressive leaders are still publicly threatening to tank the infrastructure bill despite warnings from leadership that doing so won’t deliver them the multitrillion social spending plan. Liberals are holding firm, daring Democratic leaders to bring up the infrastructure package and see what happens. “I don’t think the speaker is going to bring a bill up that is going to fail,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said after leaving a lengthy meeting in Pelosi’s office Tuesday. “Our position has not changed.” But other Democrats, including some of Jayapal’s fellow progressives, are more skeptical that they’ll make good on the threat when the infrastructure bill finally hits the House floor — particularly after a personal plea from Biden. In addition, the reconciliation bill is far from finished, much less ready for a House vote next week. Meanwhile, moderates — even beyond the group of nine that halted floor action last month — are vowing mutiny if the left does upend the infrastructure bill Biden embraced as a signature achievement, especially after Pelosi promised them a vote by Monday in an agreement that salvaged the dual-track domestic plan last month. “It would be deeply disappointing to have the bill on the floor only to have people … vote against it for political grandstanding,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), one of the nine centrists who struck that deal to set up Monday’s infrastructure vote. And if Pelosi pulls the infrastructure bill next week to avoid defeat, Murphy added: “The mistrust that exists currently between members will spread to mistrust between leadership and members." Still, House Democrats got plenty of signals that disappointment was close. Tensions have risen for weeks between the two wings of the caucus as Pelosi and her leadership team struggled to reconcile a pair of separate commitments that seemed impossible to achieve by the end of September — no matter how often they promised they’d get it done. Moderates were assured a vote on that Senate deal by Sept. 27, while progressives were told that the Senate’s plan wouldn’t move without the party’s broader spending plan in tow. But as late September approached, it became increasingly clear that the two sides’ preferred scenarios wouldn't line up, leading Jayapal and her fellow progressive leaders to strengthen their threat last week. “We’re in a situation where any three Democrats on any given issue can basically derail the effort,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said before issuing a subtle but bleak assessment of the caucus dynamics: “In my view, leverage is something that we use with an adversary.”

Default triggers global collapse

Matt Eagan, 9-22, 21, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/22/business/us-default-job-loss-prediction/index.html,  US default would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs, Moody's says US default would be a "catastrophic blow" to America's economic recovery from Covid-19, setting off a downturn that would rival the Great Recession, Moody's Analytics warned in a new report. If the US defaults on its debt payments and the impasse drags on, the ensuing recession would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs and lift the nation's unemployment rate to nearly 9%, Moody's projected in a report published Tuesday. The market meltdown would slash stock prices by one-third, erasing about $15 trillion in household wealth, the report found. "This economic scenario is cataclysmic," wrote Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. The US Treasury Department estimates it will run out of cash at some point in October unless Congress raises the debt ceiling. Despite the specter of a default, Republicans have refused to back an increase in the debt limit due in part to concerns about the Biden administration's vast spending plans. Moody's notes that financial markets are not freaking out about the debt ceiling showdown, suggesting there is widespread belief that Congress will eventually act. The impact on Wall Street has been far smaller so far than during standoffs in 2011 and 2013. "Ironically, because investors seem so sanguine about how this drama will play out, policymakers may believe they have nothing to worry about and fail to resolve the debt limit in time," Zandi wrote. "This would be an egregious error." 'TARP moment'? Even a close call could cost the economy and taxpayers. Fears of a US default in 2013 lifted Treasury yields, costing taxpayers an estimated half a billion dollars in added interest costs as well as making it more expensive for families and businesses to borrow, Moody's found. If Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling and the Treasury begins paying bills late and defaults, markets would react very negatively. "There would likely be a TARP moment," Zandi wrote, referring to the 2008 market plunge after Congress initially failed to approve the Wall Street bailout — and then quickly reversed. The worst-case scenario, Moody's found, would be if Congress still didn't act to lift the debt ceiling and the impasse wears on. That would force the federal government to delay about $80 billion in payments due November 1, including to Social Security recipients, veterans and active-duty military, Moody's said. Further drastic spending cuts would need to be imposed if the crisis lasted through November. Beyond the immediate hit to the US economy, a default would likely cast a shadow over the United States for a long time to come. "Americans would pay for this default for generations," Zandi wrote, "as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government's finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it."

Biden’s approval has collapsed

Megan Brennan, 9-22, 21, https://news.gallup.com/poll/354872/biden-approval-rating-hits-new-low-harris.aspx, Biden's Approval Rating Hits New Low of 43%; Harris' Is 49% Eight months after President Joe Biden's inauguration, his job approval rating has fallen six percentage points to 43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden's performance. These findings are from a Sept. 1-17 Gallup poll that was conducted after the U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan. The United States' exit from the nation's longest war was marred by the Taliban's quick takeover of most of the country and a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, which killed 13 U.S. service members. Over the same period, COVID-19 infection rates, nationally, were surging, leading to hospital overflows in some regions. Line graph. Joe Biden's presidential job approval ratings since Biden took office. Forty-three percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, down six percentage points since August and the lowest of his presidency. The latest drop in Biden's job approval score is the second significant decline since June. Biden's honeymoon ratings near 55% first faltered in July, falling to 50% amid rising COVID-19 cases caused largely by the delta variant. In Gallup's Aug. 2-17 poll, Biden's rating was essentially unchanged, at 49%. Midway through the most recent poll's field period, as U.S. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continued to rise, Biden announced new directives to limit the spread of the disease, including vaccine requirements for private-sector businesses, healthcare workers and federal government contractors. Except for Donald Trump, every U.S. president since Harry Truman has enjoyed a honeymoon period characterized by above-average approval ratings upon taking office. Biden's recent slides in approval put him in the company of Trump and Bill Clinton, whose ratings were at or below Biden's current 43% at some point in the first eight months of their presidencies. However, by September 1993, Clinton's approval ratings began to recover and averaged 50% that month. Thus, among elected presidents since World War II, only Trump has had a lower job approval rating than Biden does at a similar point in their presidencies. Independents Show Greatest Decline in Approval of Biden Democrats' approval of the job Biden is doing has remained high and not varied by more than eight points since he took office. Their highest rating of Biden was 98% in late January/early February, and their lowest is the current 90%. Republicans' ratings of Biden are similarly stable at the other extreme, ranging from 12% in February and July to 6% this month.

Immigration thumper

Korecki, 9-22, 21, Politico, Biden slips into political quicksand amid Haitian migrant buildup, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/22/biden-haitian-migrant-513561 The mass of thousands of Haitians at the U.S. southern border has put the Biden administration in the exact place it’s tried to avoid: knee deep in immigration politics. In the past 24 hours, the White House has responded to images and videos of aggressive tactics used by Border Patrol agents to corral those migrants by supporting an internal investigation into the matter. What it hasn’t done, yet, is figure out a solution to the crowding and sanitary issues arising in what’s become a makeshift encampment — or stop its policy of deporting migrants upon arrival. That’s left the president and his team with few supporters and allies. A coalition of more than 38 civil rights and immigrant advocacy leaders sent the White House a letter Tuesday evening calling on Biden to immediately stop expulsions of Haitians, some of whom arrived at the border community of Del Rio, Texas, after fleeing violence and natural disaster in their home county. The letter, first provided to POLITICO, marks a “final straw,” said Nana Gyamfi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. The coalition, which includes the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described the moment as “an inflection point” for Biden’s commitment to a humane immigration policy. Border Patrol and Haitian immigrants U.S. Border Patrol agents interact with Haitian immigrants on the bank of the Rio Grande on Sept. 20. | John Moore/Getty Images “Responsibility for the suffering and deaths resulting from summary expulsions and removals now falls squarely on your Administration and will be part of your enduring legacy,” the letter states. “Deportation flights to Haiti must stop, and those seeking safety at our borders must be granted their legally assured chance to seek asylum." Members of the president’s own party — from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on down — echoed the call to end the expulsions. Increasingly, they did so while directing their ire at the White House for its handling of the situation. On Wednesday, 12 House Democrats, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) will hold a press conference calling on Biden to halt the deportations. The White House condemned footage of Border Patrol agents on horseback appearing to use reins to deter Haitian migrants, which drew blowback from the agents themselves. In sharply visceral terms, the national Border Patrol union blasted the White House on Tuesday, characterizing it as inept for failing to have a plan in place to deal with the influx of some 15,000 migrants that left agents overwhelmed. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council provided text from emails he says the union had sent to the administration in June warning of an influx of migrants in Del Rio. In those texts, the union suggested a way to process the crowds more smoothly. But the response from management in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, according to the union, was that “several other platforms are being considered which are more efficient.” The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Border Patrol, did not have a response by deadline late Tuesday. Judd said Border Patrol agents are beyond frustrated. “They knew this was coming, and they didn't take the steps to mitigate this so now you've got a bunch of people that are sitting under a bridge in conditions — these are little tiny kids sitting under this bridge in deplorable conditions,” Judd said. “It looks like a warzone but in the United States. I'm completely, totally floored.” As for the images that the White House had condemned on Tuesday, Judd said Border Patrol agents were simply using methods they were trained to use under the Biden administration. “We’re outnumbered by 200 to one. We’re put into a situation where we’re in between people — there’s a propensity for violence when there’s large crowds. We’re expected to control that,” Judd said. “We don’t strike anybody. We used the tactic we were trained with — and the White House vilified us.” The cascading criticisms and calls for policy reversals underscored what the White House has long feared — that the issue of immigration is, for Biden, the equivalent of political quicksand. The president faces pressure from the left to grant asylum to immigrants at the border and reverse Trump-era policies over expulsions. But Republicans immediately characterized a spike in asylum seekers as Biden’s failure to secure the border.

Biden pushing infrastructure, it will barely pass

Jacqueline Alemany, 9-22, 21, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/22/pelosi-best-hope-save-white-house-agenda-is-biden-himself/, Pelosi's best hope to save the White House agenda is Biden himself Can Biden break the logjam? The deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month struck with moderate Democrats to keep the two bills at the heart of President Biden's agenda moving is close to failing. Pelosi and her lieutenants have a decision to make: Will she break her pledge to the moderates to hold a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that's already cleared the Senate by Sept. 27? Or will she plow ahead with the vote even though progressives have pledged to oppose it until the House and the Senate have passed a still-unfinished multitrillion-dollar spending bill? The speaker is in a real bind. But those who know her best think she'll prevail. “Never bet against Speaker Pelosi,” Blake Androff, a former Pelosi aide who's now a lobbyist, wrote in an email to The Early. “She is usually several steps ahead of those on the other end of the negotiating table.” Another former Pelosi aide turned lobbyist, Nadeam Elshami, said he'd been advising clients the party would find a way forward. “At the end of the day there’s too much at stake here for Democrats,” he said. Maybe. But members are already getting pretty heated as the rift between moderates and progressive Democrats appears to be growing wider. Asked what would happen if Pelosi delayed the Sept. 27 vote on the infrastructure deal, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a moderate from a swing district, heatedly told reporters, “Then the trust issue that exists between members will now expand to a trust issue between members and leadership.” Enter Biden, who's hosting multiple meetings today at the White House with House Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum, in an effort to save his economic agenda. The meetings will also include Democratic senators, our Seung Min Kim reports, along with Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Threading the needle The White House has already been working to shepherd both bills through Congress. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell, the White House legislative affairs director, met Tuesday with members of the New Democrat Coalition. The lawmakers made the case for four top priorities, according to someone in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity: extending the beefed up child tax credit through at least 2025; cutting carbon “emissions as much and as quickly as possible”; lowering health care costs and investing in “persistently distressed communities.” But divisions between progressive and moderate Democrats on policy, which flared last week when three moderates voted with Republicans to derail Democrats' prescription drug plan, have been subsumed at least temporarily by increasingly bitter fights over whether to pass the infrastructure bill before the reconciliation package comes together. Some moderates insist progressives don't have the votes to block the bill if it comes to the floor on Monday. And Pelosi has not indicated that she plans on postponing the vote — at least not yet. “I'm optimistic we'll have the votes on Monday,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told us in-between evening votes.

No reconciliation bill kills US climate leadership

Gary Sargent, 9-21, 21, Washington Post, Opinion: Biden’s agenda is in trouble. It’s absolutely clear who is to blame. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/21/biden-agenda-centrists-blame/ The progressive position is realistic on substance, too. As David Dayen notes, the centrist tendency to start with the generalized aim of lower spending levels for their own sake creates “artificial” constraints on our investments in our country and people, regardless of the value of their returns. What’s more, it will be disastrous if the United States goes into this fall’s global climate conference without passing a very robust climate agenda via reconciliation, potentially hamstringing U.S. global leadership and our long-term ability to do what scientists say is needed to curb global warming. Aren’t those who want to avoid that scenario the true realists? Biden pushing, momentum, but only a few votes can be lost on the reconciliation bill and uniqueness doesn’t overwhelm the link Burgess Everett, 9-21, 21, Dems fear Biden's domestic agenda could implode, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/21/democrats-biden-domestic-agenda-implode-513218 Internal Democratic discord has wounded President Joe Biden’s massive social spending plan, raising the prospect that the package could stall out, shrink dramatically — or even fail altogether. Myriad problems have arisen. Moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) continue to be a major headache for party leadership’s $3.5 trillion target. The Senate parliamentarian just nixed the party’s yearslong push to enact broad immigration reform. House members may tank the prescription drugs overhaul the party has run on for years. And a fight continues to brew over Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) push to expand Medicare. “If any member of Congress is not concerned that this could fall apart, they need treatment,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who warned his party “will pay for it at the polls” if it fails in enacting Biden’s agenda. “Our caucus has the feeling of freedom to support or oppose leadership.” Those headwinds threaten to sap the momentum from this summer, when Biden clinched a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the Senate and found support from all corners of his party for a budget setting up his sweeping spending bill. Now, Manchin is calling for a pause, moderates are resisting key components of the legislation and a new fiscal fight over the debt limit is heating up. Those dynamics have Democrats essentially looking for an internal reset from a monthslong debate over Biden’s agenda that keeps publicly playing out through leaks, lines in the sand and fights over the topline number. “I wish that we could all be more on the same page, in terms of timing, of the need to push the [American Families Plan],” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “I’m hopeful we are going to have a meeting of the minds and not wait until next year … we better have a Plan B.” The multi-problem pileup comes at a critical moment for the party and for Biden, who needs a legislative win amid slumping approval ratings. But though polls show much of his social spending bill is popular outside Congress, winning approval among Democrats’ slim majorities has been harder. With a three-vote margin in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can’t afford to alienate either wing of their fractious party or else the chances for either of Biden’s signature domestic victories could evaporate all together. “None of us know where this is gonna go,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). “This is where leadership is made or broken, plain and simple. And that's true of the president, that's true of speakers, that's true of majority leaders.” Manchin has been the most outspoken Democrat, publicly asking for a pause on the big spending bill with inflation rising, but the West Virginian declined to lay out his thinking Monday night when asked just how long he wants his party to put the brakes on: “Let’s see if you understand English: not a word.” It’s unclear exactly how many Democrats are siding with prominent House and Senate moderates. One centrist Democrat up for reelection next year, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), declined to say whether she’s comfortable with the $3.5 trillion spending number on Monday, or whether she agrees with pausing the legislation. “We are at a critical moment,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. “The total amount to be spent has to be negotiated with those who are questioning the $3.5 trillion. So, this is the key week.” Democrats are broadly rejecting Manchin’s overtures to stall the social spending plan, arguing doing so is akin to killing the bill. If Democrats don’t keep positive momentum behind their effort to fight climate change, improve child care and raise taxes on the wealthy, they worry that the whole thing could fall apart. “You can’t stop this process. If you stop it it won’t get started again,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “You’ve really got to keep it moving, there’s no magic date, but as you get closer and closer to other deadlines, this one gets more difficult.” For progressives, the dissension over a bill they see as vital for delivering on their party's priorities is enough for some to weigh tanking the bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated by centrist Democratic senators. Many on the left say they’ve already compromised by agreeing to a $3.5 trillion spending bill rather than $6 trillion or more proposed by progressive leaders like Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a bill enrollment ceremony. 'Mutually assured destruction': Pelosi and centrists drag budget standoff into wee hours What’s more, the party’s long-running goal of enacting immigration reform is now in major doubt, as there may be no path to including legal status in the reconciliation bill and bipartisan talks have repeatedly stalled out. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) acknowledged “the immigration stuff is a setback, but certainly not a death knell.” And progressives have grown increasingly annoyed by what they see as grandstanding by Manchin and Sinema. Just as behind-the-scenes negotiations on the social bill get underway, one of the two prominent moderates keep blasting out statements that jolt the talks and stall what progress has been made, they say. “I am very tired of it,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “I don’t think they are making their decisions based on the needs of the American or even the people in their own state.” He added that they seem more motivated by “corporate interest.” But Democrats close to the centrists say progressives are vastly overplaying their hand. A group of five to 10 House moderates have signaled to leadership that they would be willing to let the infrastructure bill fail rather than be held hostage by liberals over the broader spending bill. It's a more attractive alternative to them than having to vote for painful tax increases to pay for an unrestrained social safety net expansion, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is pictured. “I think it would be counterproductive to reconciliation,” said centrist Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), speaking about progressive threats to tank the bipartisan bill without the broader spending plan. “This fiction that linking the two bills will somehow enact leverage on the reconciliation side — I think it’s just that, a fiction.” Despite the Democratic handwringing, a spokesperson for Biden said the administration is lobbying an array of members and “good progress is being made. ”The administration is “articulating the need to invest in families over big corporations at this crucial inflection point and ensure our economy delivers for the middle class,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson. Meanwhile, progressives are not as united as the smaller, tight-knit band of House and Senate moderates that forced votes on the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate this summer and a commitment for one in the House next week. The Progressive Caucus has a sprawling membership that is unlikely to vote in lockstep — and may not have the oomph to tank the bill if House Republicans help pass the bipartisan legislation. “There is absolutely a level where it’s not just something is not better than nothing, but something can actually do more harm,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of the infrastructure bill. “That’s why we are holding firm on our line. …This isn’t just a flight of fancy.”

Dreamers legislation no longer part of the stimulus

Bernal, 9-21, 21, The Hill, Democrats look for Plan B after blow on immigration, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/573108-democrats-look-for-plan-b-after-blow-on-immigration Democrats and immigration advocates are ready to pitch a Plan B after the Senate parliamentarian spiked a Democratic proposal aimed at providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of people. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, a former immigration lawyer, shut down the possibility of granting 8 million people the right to apply for legal permanent residency, determining in a Sunday opinion that it did not meet the Senate’s rules for the budget reconciliation package because it was a policy change that went well beyond the budget.  The decision is critical because under Senate rules the filibuster cannot be used to block a reconciliation package, meaning policy changes included in the massive package can become law if Democrats can secure 50 votes from their own caucus in the Senate.

Biden popularity rebounding

American Research Group, 9-21, 21, https://americanresearchgroup.com/economy/, Biden Overall Job Approval At 50% A total of 50% of Americans say they approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president and 46% say they disapprove of the way Biden is handling his job according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. In August, 49% approved of the way Biden was handling his job as president and 46% disapproved. When it comes to Biden's handling of the economy, 52% of Americans approve and 43% disapprove. In August, 51% approved of the way Biden was handling the economy and 45% disapproved. When it comes to Biden's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 59% of Americans approve and 37% disapprove. In August, 57% approved of the way Biden was handling the coronavirus outbreak and 38% disapproved. Among Americans registered to vote, 51% approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president and 46% disapprove. On Biden's handling of the economy, 52% of registered voters approve and 43% disapprove. And on Biden's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 59% of registered voters approve and 37% disapprove. Of the 50% of Americans saying they approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, 86% say they expect the national economy to be better a year from now. Of the 46% saying they disapprove of the way Biden his handling his job as president, 93% say they expect the national economy to be worse a year from now. Also, of the 50% of Americans saying they approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, 55% say they expect the financial situations in their households will be better a year from now. Of the 46% saying they disapprove of the way Biden his handling his job as president, 63% say they expect the financial situations in their households will be worse a year from now. The results presented here are based on 1,100 completed interviews conducted among a nationwide random sample of adults September 17 through 20, 2021. The theoretical margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split. Overall, 50% of Americans say that they approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president, 46% disapprove, and 4% are undecided.

GOP win in 2024 ends NATO

Jon Pike, 9-20, 21, Global Risk Insights, The Afghanistan Withdrawal’s Impact on the EU’s Strategic Autonomy, https://globalriskinsights.com/2021/09/the-afghanistan-withdrawals-impact-on-the-eus-strategic-autonomy/ The resurgence of the ‘America First’ mentality is a threat to transatlantic defense cooperation. Hardline voters in Republican strongholds may determine the extent to which US foreign policy reflects isolationist doctrine. A 2024 general election triumph by a viable Republican candidate might call into question America’s commitment to Article V and to NATO itself.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling causes an economic collapse

Syklvan Lake, 9-19, 21, The Hill, Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight, https://thehill.com/policy/finance/572842-five-questions-and-answers-about-the-debt-ceiling-fight What happens if the U.S. defaults? The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, but experts say doing so could spark an economic catastrophe on a global scale. “A default would have devastating effects on U.S. and global economies and the public. It would immediately and significantly decrease demand for Treasury securities and increase costs,” said the Government Accountability Office, the federal government’s independent audit firm, in an analysis this past week. “We have reported numerous times that the full faith and credit of the United States must be preserved.” The White House warned Friday that a default would leave the federal government unable to run dozens of essential programs, likely plunging the economy into another recession that could not be buffeted by stimulus or emergency relief. "The U.S. economy has just begun to recover from the pandemic and a manufactured debt ceiling crisis would threaten the gains we’ve made and the future recovery. If the U.S. defaults on its obligations, the ripple effects will hurt cities and states across the country," the White House said in a Friday memo obtained by The Hill. "If the U.S. defaults on its debt — cities and states could experience a double-whammy: falling revenues and no federal aid as long as Congress refuses to raise or suspend the debt limit," the White House wrote. A default could also upend the global financial system, which relies heavily on the easy flow of Treasury bonds across borders. Businesses and foreign nations frequently use the U.S. dollar for international transactions, and hold trillions in Treasury bonds as safe assets, with demand often rising in times of economic distress. “The US is seen as a reliable debtor in the world,” said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab. "When you look at the number of transactions that take place, either in the financial markets, or in goods and services, the vast majority are still done in US dollars, particularly in the financial market, because the full faith and credit of the US is important." If Congress allows the U.S. to default, it could cause a severe decline in the value of Treasury bonds that in turn could trigger dysfunction across the financial system. "I don't think anyone doubts that we have the ability to pay our bills. It's the willingness to pay them,” Jones said. “Raising the debt ceiling is just an indication that yes, of course, we're willing to pay our bills. We're not going to default."

Biden pushing infrastructure and $3.5 trillion reconciliation, compromising to get Sienna and Manchin on board

Liptak, 9-17, 21, https://www.kten.com/story/44758488/biden-looks-to-recapture-his-political-momentum-with-a-full-court-press-on-his-domestic-agenda, How Biden hopes to recapture his momentum after a week of unexpected setbacks Biden did not weigh in on any of the developments himself, leaving the response to aides. He still hopes the coming weeks will provide an opportunity to move on. Acutely aware of the stakes, Biden has begun more directly involving himself in the strategy to see his priorities passed this autumn. He plans to put himself more at the center of the legislative process, a place the longtime Delaware senator feels very comfortable. He meets daily in the Oval Office with senior advisers for updates on legislative process and messaging strategy, repeatedly asking them to find ways to better explain the complicated and wide-ranging proposals in ways Americans can understand. In recent weeks, the President has seized opportunities, like a series of natural disasters, to make the case for sweeping climate change provisions in his pending legislation. He is planning to invite lawmakers to the White House next week to press on the economic package, according to a person familiar with the matter. "Let's not squander this moment," Biden implored during a speech from the White House. Now at the lowest approval rating of his nearly eight-month term -- putting him, according to some polls, above only former Presidents Donald Trump and Gerald Ford at similar points in their tenures -- Biden is pressing Democrats to put aside their ideological differences and pass what could become his lasting legislative legacy and a political lifeline. The bills have the potential to overhaul the nation's physical infrastructure and the American social safety net for decades to come and would likely make Biden one of the most consequential Democratic presidents in decades. The summertime slide in his popularity among Americans has frustrated the President and his team, who believe he is receiving little credit for a rapidly improving economy. Despite setbacks related to the Delta variant surge, the unemployment rate is down, wages are up and retail sales are improving -- tied, in part, to the emergency measures Biden pushed through at the start of his term. Yet the pandemic is still simmering, delaying a full return to workplaces and complicating the start of the school year for children. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS found 62% of Americans say economic conditions in the US are poor, up from 45% in April and nearly as high as the pandemic-era peak of 65% reached in May 2020. Biden, based on advice from his health team, had predicted a vaccine booster rollout for all adults starting next week. But the FDA decision Friday threw the plan into flux. Biden's attention turns toward Capitol Hill As a part of his recalibration to his domestic agenda, Biden has spent much more time speaking with Democrats on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, both on the phone and in person. He spoke by telephone Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to confer on a path forward on his massive legislative agenda. "The three are in regular touch and engaging daily on bringing Build Back Better to the finish line," the White House said afterward. In conversations with other Democrats during periodic "congressional call time" blocked off on his daily schedule, Biden has repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping intact the tangible benefits in the bills that can be easily sold to the American people, according to people familiar with the talks. He has stressed that items like free community college and subsidized child care are clear political winners he says Democrats can campaign on for months or years to come. Polling and messaging memos sent to congressional Democrats and outside allies have sought to double down on this point, while also pushing lawmakers to focus on a bigger -- and more populist -- picture, rather than get bogged down in the policy disputes that are raging on both sides of the Capitol. "He's been actively engaged over the last couple of months in helping members of Congress who are more centrists or who are progressive understand and embrace his agenda," said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who is close to the President. "President Biden is very persuasive," Coons said, "and I think he's making the case and making it well." Implicit in Biden's message, as well as those coming from his senior team, is also the clear reality of the moment, according to people familiar with the discussions: For Democrats, there is no alternative path at this point. The specific policy proposals may shift or shrink in scale or duration, but there is no turning back or a broad shift in course in the cards. If Democrats -- particularly those who are skittish about the political repercussions of enacting such significant changes to the role of government in the US economy -- can't unify now, they will likely be left with nothing. White House tries to keep a level head It is impossible to know whether Biden's current political predicament will last, and some of his aides are confident that improvements in the pandemic and distance from the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal will help reverse the fall in approval. They note it is still more than a year before the 2022 midterm elections, when historically the sitting President's party suffers. A positive result for California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, for whom Biden campaigned on the eve of his recall vote this week, has also led to renewed confidence in the administration's fights over mask-wearing, vaccines and more. "California won't end the Covid debate," a White House adviser told CNN, "but it could be a tremendous boost for what Democrats are trying to do." Biden's team, during last year's presidential campaign, prided itself on avoiding overly reactive steps when negative polls emerged. Officials stress there is no sense of panic in the West Wing, largely pointing to clear opportunities in the high-stakes weeks ahead as clear and tangible opportunities to shift the dynamics that overtook Biden's first summer in office. But like any political operation, advisers remain highly attuned to shifts in public sentiment, studying focus groups and surveys from top Democratic pollsters who work on behalf of the White House and the Democratic Party. To be sure, any comparisons in approval ratings between Biden and his predecessors are filled with caveats, given the acrid political climate and the remarkable changes in the presidency over the decades. The chaos that surrounded the Afghanistan withdrawal has led some advisers to recognize there is less room for error going forward. The drop in Biden's approval ratings has prompted what one adviser called a "hardening" of the President's mission to see his agenda passed. The White House softens on a $3.5 trillion price tag This week, before leaving for his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Biden began meeting in-person with moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, hearing out their concerns about the amount of spending. With Manchin, he listened patiently to a proposal that would more than halve the size of the final bill. Biden has not endorsed that plan, but also hasn't yet had luck in convincing the skeptical Democrat to come along with his. In public, Biden has begun signaling the final bill could come in below $3.5 trillion, the figure proposed in an initial blueprint. White House officials acknowledge that's a near certainty at this point in order to secure the votes of Manchin and Sinema. The ever-present balancing act between moderates and progressives has become even more acute as a result. But Biden is pressuring Democrats to avoid stripping out what he believes will prove to be the bill's most salient selling points. "I think the important thing is to make sure we meet the moment on the key items. Maybe they have to be cut down in size -- maybe. Maybe they have to be shortened in duration — maybe," said Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, in an appearance this week at the annual SALT conference organized by Anthony Scaramucci, the financier who briefly served in Trump's White House. Progressives warned Biden that greater risk exists in significantly reducing his package than in passing something too large. They said his engagement with moderates like Manchin and Sinema is worthwhile, but that eroding the bill's safety net provisions would prove damaging in the long run. "I think he's doing the right thing -- to use the full weight of his presidency, and the people expect no less and deserve no less," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat. "They have delivered a House, a Senate, and a White House with the decisive majority and a mandate. I know that there are some who fear that if we are too bold, we risk the majority. I would argue that by playing small, that that is what will risk the majority." The world is not waiting The singular importance of passing the economic agenda does not mean other issues are not looming. Biden is about to enter an intensive week of global diplomacy -- annual United Nations meetings in New York, bilateral meetings on the sidelines, a virtual Covid summit and in-person talks with foreign leaders at the White House -- at a moment of serious strain with Europe. American officials said that, for now, there is a general belief that the dust-up with France will not permanently damage relations, but acknowledged the spat remains in its early days. The official acknowledged that relations between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron -- who is preparing to run for re-election -- will likely take time to repair.  

Biden’s capital is collapsing

Jonathan Lemire, 9-18, 21, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-europe-business-health-france-516d7c24943c830823ff1602e4ab604e, One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for any president from the uncontrollable events that can define a term in office. They came as Biden has seen public approval numbers trend downward as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened and Americans cast blamed for the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The administration had hoped to roll out tougher vaccine guidelines, a new international alliance to thwart China and a recommitment to what Biden has done best: drawing on his years on Capitol Hill and knowledge of the legislative process to cajole fellow Democrats to pass the two far-reaching spending bills that make up the heart of his agenda. Those ambitions are now more difficult. Biden has proclaimed defeating the pandemic to be the central mission of his presidency but the U.S. is now averaging more than 145,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, up from a low of about 8,500 per day three months ago. The president has moved to shift the blame for the resurgence of cases to the more than 70 million Americans who haven’t gotten a vaccine and the GOP lawmakers who have opposed his increasingly forceful efforts to push people to get a shot. Aides had hoped for full FDA approval for the boosters, yet the advisory panel only recommended them for those over 65 or with underlying health conditions or special circumstances. Biden aides in recent days had quietly expressed relief that the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal — like the war itself for much of its nearly two decades — has receded from headlines. That feeling was shattered Friday afternoon when the Pentagon revealed the errant target for what was believed to be the final American drone strike of the war. Biden had long advocated leaving Afghanistan and, even after a suicide bombing killed 13 American service members, and told advisers the decision was correct. The president is known for his certitude, a stubbornness that flashed when he shot down suggestions that he express regret for how the withdrawal occurred. Aides have since been quick to note that more than 120,000 people have been successfully evacuated and contend that quiet U.S. efforts are securing the steady departure of others from under Taliban rule. The end in Afghanistan was part of an effort to refocus foreign policy on China, an aim that accelerated with the surprise announcement of the agreement between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. But not only did Beijing balk, so did Paris, as France angrily accused the U.S. of cutting France out of the alliance and scuttling its own submarine deal with Australia. And then France recalled its ambassador after its officials expressed dismay that, in their estimation, Biden had proven to be as unreliable a partner as his predecessor Donald Trump. The strain with France came just as Biden had hoped to pivot to his ambitious domestic agenda. But there are sharp ideological divides among the Democrats on Capitol Hill about the size and substance of the $3.5 trillion spending package meant to be passed in tandem with the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. And all of Congress will be forced to juggle the White House’s legislation while being swamped with imminent deadlines on the debt ceiling and government funding.

Without vaccines Africa will be a breeding ground for variants

Clara Linnane, 9-17, 21, WHO warns lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply in Africa could make it breeding ground for new variants and ‘send the whole world back to square one’, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/who-warns-lack-of-covid-19-vaccine-supply-in-africa-could-make-it-breeding-ground-for-new-variants-and-send-the-whole-world-back-to-square-one-11631890568 . The World Health Organization made another urgent plea to developed nations to make a greater effort to get vaccines against the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 to Africa, and prevent the continent from turning into a breeding ground for new variants that may prove resistant to existing vaccines. “The staggering inequity and severe lag in shipments of vaccines … could end up sending the whole world back to Square 1, ” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director at a Thursday news briefing. The comments came as the WHO-backed Covax alliance, which was created to get vaccine supply to lower-income countries, was forced to cut its projected shipments to Africa this year because of global shortages. Africa is now expected to be able to vaccinate just 17% of its population by year-end, far below the 40% goal set by the WHO earlier this year. “As long as rich countries lock Covax out of the market, Africa will miss its vaccination goals,” Moeti said. Her comments were echoed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who called on world leaders attending next week’s United Nations General Assembly to prioritize vaccine equity, fulfill their dose-sharing pledges and facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to allow for regional manufacturing of vaccines. “More than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 73% of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries,” Tedros said. “High-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per inhabitant than low-income countries. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue.” The comments came as a panel of independent experts that acts as advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were convening to review data and take a vote on whether Americans need booster shots of vaccine. Pfizer PFE, -1.30% and Moderna MRNA, -2.41%, which stand to make billions of dollars from a booster program, have both said this week that they believe people over the age of 16 should get a booster dose. But many medical experts disagree and say the data shows vaccines remain effective at preventing severe disease and death, as MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. “Is it necessary at this point? Does the data justify a mass rollout to 150 million [or] 200 million Americans who are younger and in good health?” asked John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “What we have got to get away from is this idea that the vaccines are failing, because they’re just not.” The meeting is scheduled to end at 3.45 p.m. Eastern time. The FDA is not obliged to follow the committee’s recommendations, but it often does. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to record almost 2,000 COVID deaths a day, according to a New York Times tracker, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated people. New cases are averaging 150,366 a day, while hospitalizations are averaging 97,424, the highest readings since winter.

Biden needs to get moderate Democrats on-board for people to pass $3.5 trillion stimulus

Jonathan Lemire, 9-18, 21, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-europe-business-health-france-516d7c24943c830823ff1602e4ab604e, One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset The West Wing is recreating a legislative strategy that worked to secure passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief in March and pushed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill through the Senate in August, according to a half dozen White House aides and outside advisors who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. With Biden cajoling lawmakers, the infrastructure bill is to be passed through the House along with the $3.5 trillion spending bill that contains many of the president’s priorities — like climate change and child care — and would pass the Senate along party lines. With the Senate in a 50-50 tie and Democrats’ margin in the House only a handful of seats, few votes can be lost, and it could be a formidable task to unite Democratic moderates, like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who want a far smaller spending bill, with liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has steadfastly said it could not shrink. The White House also has begun filling the president’s schedule again with events meant to highlight the need to pass the bills, including linking visits to the sites of natural disasters — fires in California and Idaho, hurricanes in New York and New Jersey — to the climate change funding in the legislation. And this past Thursday, on what had previously been tentatively planned as a down day for Biden, the White House scheduled him to give a speech from the East Room during which he zeroed in on how tax enforcement to get big corporations and wealthy Americans to pay more would help fund his plan, without offering any new details.

Voting rights reform won’t pass

Marianne Levine, 9-17, 21, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/17/schumer-warns-fall-schedule-512528, Dem senators warned of long nights and weekend work as fiscal cliff looms Senate Democrats are also set to vote as soon as next week on an intraparty compromise bill on election and ethics reform. A working group of Senate Democrats introduced the legislation this week, but it’s widely expected to fail amid unanimous opposition from Senate Republicans.

Biden’s popularity collapsing

Express News, 9-17, 21,, Highlight: JOE BIDEN is facing a crisis after a new poll found his approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1492612/Joe-Biden-news-approval-rating-poll-US-president-election-economy Body The latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion survey suggested just 44 percent of US adults approved of Mr Biden's performance in office. The poll carried out from September 15-16, suggested one-in-two Americans, or 50 percent of those surveyed, disapproved of his leadership. Related articles The remaining six percent remained undecided on the 78-year-old. Mr Biden officially took over the presidency at the end of January and has faced questions over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the US economy and most recently the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The President has made mask-wearing mandatory in most public spaces and has driven the take up of the Covid vaccine. Many Republicans argue the US President has been too slow in combatting the pandemic and keeping restrictions, including on travel, in place for too long. The Democrat also unleashed a huge $1.9 trillion spending spree in March as part of a pandemic relief bill. The measures extended emergency support for businesses and those on the unemployment benefits programme - but the huge stimulus package raised fears of rising levels of inflation. Last month, President Biden's economic plan suffered a major blow after job figures revealed just 235,000 vacancies were filled in August - the lowest for seven months. The figure fell considerably short of the 1.05 million jobs created in July. Labour market data also shows the number of people unemployed was down to 8.4 million - however, this is still above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million in February 2020. Mr Biden said: "While I know some want to see a larger number today - so did I - what we've seen this year is a continued growth, month after month, in job creation. "Some months are fewer, some months are more, but we're always adding jobs. This is the kind of growth that makes our economy stronger and not boom or bust." READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Remainer uproar as imperial units return President Biden has most recently drawn huge criticism from the international community over his chaotic withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. The Commander-in-Chief took a unilateral decision to remove troops from the region by the August 31 deadline and left allies to scramble to rescue civilians. Polls suggest many Americans supported the withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years - but many disapproved of the way it was handled. President Biden did, however, oversee the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from Kabul airport in just over two weeks. DON'T MISS Nigel Farage taunts France over AUKUS deal as he hails 'Anglosphere' [INSIGHT]Royal Family LIVE: Meghan Markle fans furious with UK [LIVE]UK weather forecast: Temperatures set to soar - latest maps [FORECAST] Despite taking a hit on his approval, President Biden still commands a higher rating than his predecessor at the same stage of their respective terms. Eight months after entering office in 2017, 38 percent of Americans approved Donald Trump's performance in office. A huge 57 percent of US adults disapproved on his leadership at the time. The latest Reuters/Ipsos online poll surveyed 1,005 adults, including 442 Democrats and 360 Republicans. Related articles BBC on brink as broadcaster braced for licence fee clash Prince Harry's speech with Jill Biden left royal fans feeling 'snoozy' WAR fears as Boris 'rules nothing out' after new alliance Budget bill reopens moderate vs. progressive divide for Dems

No democratic unity now

The Associated Press, September 17, 2021, https://wacotrib.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/image_421910ba-cfde-54b8-8dc5-e591e2aeca91.html WASHINGTON — One side is energized by the prospect of the greatest expansion of government support since the New Deal nearly a century ago. The other is fearful about dramatically expanding Washington's reach at an enormous cost. They're all Democrats. Yet each side is taking vastly different approaches to guiding the massive $3.5 trillion spending bill through Congress. The party is again confronting the competing political priorities between its progressive and moderate wings. The House version of the bill that was drafted this week ushered in a new phase of the debate that could test whether Democrats can match their bold campaign rhetoric on everything from income inequality to climate change with actual legislation.

Manchin won’t go along with the $3.5 trillion stimulus, killing progressive support for the infrastructure bill

Axios, 9-17, 21, Biden bombs on persuading Manchin to budge on proposed $3.5T spending bill, https://www.axios.com/scoop-biden-bombs-manchin-b2b4acbd-24d0-40a3-ba6f-c0509e0e0224.html President Biden failed to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to agree to spending $3.5 trillion on the Democrats' budget reconciliation package during their Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. Why it matters: Defying a president from his own party — face-to-face — is the strongest indication yet Manchin is serious about cutting specific programs and limiting the price tag of any potential bill to $1.5 trillion. His insistence could blow up the deal for progressives and others. Axios was told Biden explained to Manchin his opposition could imperil the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that's already passed the Senate. Biden's analysis did little to persuade Manchin to raise his top line.Manchin held his position and appears willing to let the bipartisan bill hang in the balance, given his entrenched opposition to many of the specific proposals in the $3.5 trillion spending package, Axios was told.While the two left the meeting having made little progress, and are still some $2 trillion apart, the conversation was friendly and they agreed to keep talking. What they're saying: "Sen. Manchin is an important partner," said Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary. "We do not discuss the contents of private meetings. Flashback: In early March, with Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in danger of failing, he called Manchin and told him, 'If you don't come along, you're really f**king me[1],' according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Manchin eventually voted for the bill[2], after holding out for some last-minute changes. Between the lines: While Biden has claimed he's pursuing a dual-track approach on the two spending bills, he's occasionally jumped tracks — like when he essentially threatened to veto the bipartisan transportation bill moments after endorsing it. Two days later, Biden withdrew his threat and said in a statement that a veto threat 'was certainly not my intent[3]."His latest comments to Manchin linking the two bills underscore a political reality on Capitol Hill: House progressives will sink the $1.2 trillion bipartisan transportation bill if Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) don't agree to massive amounts of new spending in the reconciliation package.Biden wants to use the Democrat-only reconciliation package to expand the social safety net as part of his Build Back Better Agenda[4]. The big picture: Biden predicated his presidency on his ability to appeal to Republicans and help heal the country. He also counted on dusting off some signature Senate moves to convince his former Republican colleagues to help him usher in a new, post-Trump, bipartisan political world.With the exception of a bipartisan China bill, the president has had little success persuading Senate Republicans to support his priorities. Opposition hardened after he jammed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in March.In recent days, Republicans seem even more recalcitrant, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Ky.) insisting Democrats raise the debt ceiling by themselves. and Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) all-but-freezing the Senate's confirmation process. Go deeper: The White House said Thursday night[5] the president spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about "their ongoing coordination and outreach around making the case for building an economy that delivers for the middle class."

Voting rights and the filibuster are not a thumpers – it’s after the stimulus and infrastructure

Burgess Everett, 9-15, 21, , Democrats grapple with faltering filibuster push, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/15/democrats-progressives-filibuster-511828 But some of Manchin's caucus colleagues are unsure when he and other leery moderates will be ready for that conversation, if ever. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of President Joe Biden, said of the filibuster debate that could antagonize Manchin and others: “Let’s not get there yet.” “We’ve got other stuff that’s got to happen. Like, right now," Coons said, citing Democrats' hopes to land a triple axel by getting a bipartisan infrastructure deal through the House alongside a multitrillion-dollar party-line spending bill. “The fight over voting rights and the filibuster is not coming to a head next week. It is coming to a head in the coming weeks if there’s no receptivity at all in the Republican [conference].”

Increasing taxes undermines small business and investment needed for renewable energy

Ian Maclean, 9-15, 21, Congress picked the worst possible time for business tax hikes, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/572416-congress-picked-the-worst-possible-time-for-business-tax-hikes?rl=1 This week, congressional committees are crafting the details for President Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion federal stimulus that will be paid for, in part, by raising taxes on businesses. That is the worst thing Congress can do. Our elected leaders in Washington should do everything possible to help America’s job creators and innovators, not hurt us. To say the last 18 months have been a struggle is an understatement. As chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council, I’ve witnessed the heart warming and the heart wrenching throughout the pandemic. From store owners going to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of their employees, to shop local gift-card campaigns, to agonizing decisions on whether to limit hours, let employees go, or close down for good. As terrible as COVID-19 itself is, the impact of the virus is also being felt by small business owners, like myself, in the challenge of finding qualified and willing employees, equipment shortages and rising costs that I can’t pass on to my customers. At a time when so many small businesses like mine are struggling, now is the worst time for Congress to be considering tax increases. When Biden first revealed plans for a massive stimulus, he characterized raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent as only affecting big business. While proposing a tax hike on larger businesses that employ more than half of America’s workers is not a good idea either, the mischaracterization of the president’s tax plans as harmless to Main Street employers ignores the fact that 1.4 million small businesses are structured as corporations. For Small Business Council member Michael Canty, president of Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding, Inc. near Cleveland, Ohio., Biden’s tax proposal equates to a 33 percent increase in taxes for his business, which is structured as a C corporation. Canty would like to grow beyond his staff of 85, but instituted a hiring freeze for fear of tax increases and an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Increased taxes that stifle job creation are an awful prescription for our country as our economy continues to recover from a COVID-induced recession. The president and congressional committees are also considering doubling the capital gains tax rate from 23.8 percent to 43.4 percent. This tax hike was portrayed as targeting Wall Street tycoons, but the reality is raising the tax will drive investors away from innovators like Small Business Council member Paul Shmotolokha, founder of New Use Energy in Bellingham, Wash. Shmotolokha’s business engineers and manufactures a range of portable solar and battery systems which can replace traditional fossil fuel alternatives. It raises funding under Rule 506(c), which requires purchasers to be accredited investors that meet specific criteria. Raising the tax rate on capital gains will make it harder for Shmotolokha, and for thousands of other entrepreneurs like him, to attract accredited investors as the increased tax rate will drive investors away from opportunities by lowering the potential reward. We should be rewarding investors for taking a chance on companies such as New Use Energy, as well as other cutting-edge enterprises that collectively are keeping America competitive in a global economy. Penalizing investments in innovators is a terrible idea.

Debt ceiling default inevitable, no way to get Republican support

Alayna Treen, 9-14, 21, https://www.axios.com/the-debt-ceiling-stare-down-b7efb4c2-f1f2-404f-a0e2-a67cf074c4d9.html Congress is fast approaching its deadline to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the nation's debt, and, as of now, there's no serious plan to stave off what many members are calling the worst-case scenario. Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt. If Congress doesn't take "extraordinary measures" to finance the government, it would "likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week. Driving the news: Democrats are banking on at least 10 Republicans to eventually give in and vote for a debt increase. But Republicans insist they're not bluffing and have remained united in their insistence that if the U.S. defaults on its debt, the blood will be on Democrats' hands. “It's their obligation. They should step up. It's hard being in the majority. They are the ones who will raise the debt limit,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Punchbowl News. What we're hearing: Axios spoke with more than a dozen senators this week about how they think Congress should handle the stalemate. Democrats largely told us they think Republicans are willing to get as close to the deadline as possible but then will fold after banks, lobbyists and donors call them. "Oh come on, they're not gonna let us default," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). He said he and his Democratic colleagues think the most likely scenario is Republicans "fuss, fuss, fuss, then do it" in a continuing resolution. Some Republicans, though, said they're willing to let a default happen and blame it on Democrats. "It's going to be entirely determined by the Democrats," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the few moderate Republicans usually willing to break with her party. "They are the ones whose actions are making the increase in the debt limit necessary." What they're saying: Coons: "We came right up against [default] once," referring to a 2013 clash. "And the amount of input senior Republicans got from the financial community, I mean, this would be catastrophically foolish." Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.): "I've seen nothing but resolve on the parts of Republicans. ... It'd be really, really, really difficult for Democrats to get Republicans to help them raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance right now ... even if it leads to a government shutdown." Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.): "I am a 'No,'" regardless of whether a no-vote means the government defaults on debt. Between the lines: In the coming weeks, Democrats plan to lean even harder into their argument Republicans should give in because Democrats raised the limit by trillions of dollars during the Trump administration for COVID-19 relief. Many Republicans say they don't care if Democrats accuse them of a double standard. They argue spending on pandemic relief is very different from funding Democratic plans to spend trillions on Biden's progressive policy agenda. "That's like us voting for their [$3.5 trillion] program, if we open the door for them to do it," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told Axios. Biden’s popularity collapsing Qunnipac University Polling, 9-14, 21, Biden Underwater On Job Approval And Handling Of Key Issues, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; More Than 6 In 10 Americans Believe U.S. Troops Will Return To Afghanistan, https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3819 Americans' views have dimmed on the way President Joe Biden is handling his job as president, with 42 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today. This is the first time Biden's job approval has dropped into negative territory since taking office. In early August, 46 percent of Americans approved and 43 percent disapproved of the way Biden was handling his job. In today's poll, Democrats approve 88 - 7 percent, while Republicans disapprove 91 - 7 percent and independents disapprove 52 - 34 percent. Biden's numbers on his handling of the response to the coronavirus are mixed, with 48 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. This compares to August, when he received a 53 - 40 percent approval rating on his handling of the coronavirus. Americans give him a negative score on his handling of foreign policy, 34 - 59 percent. In August, 42 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved of his handling of foreign policy. They also give Biden a negative score on his handling of his job as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, with 40 percent approving and 55 percent disapproving. On his handling of the economy, Biden receives a negative 42 - 52 percent rating. In August, it was a slightly negative 43 - 48 percent rating. On his handling of climate change, Americans are divided, as 42 percent approve and 45 percent disapprove. This compares to a positive 48 - 35 percent approval rating in August. "If there ever was a honeymoon for President Biden, it is clearly over. This is, with few exceptions, a poll full of troubling negatives... from overall job approval, to foreign policy, to the economy," said Quinnipiac University Polling  High taxes needed to find the $3.5 trillion proposal will collapse the economy Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/572338-history-shows-democrats-tax-proposals-will-hurt-hiring-wages-and-economy Investors finally got a glimpse of how Democrats intend to pay for their $3.5 trillion spending spree. It did not go well; the Dow sank almost 300 points, despite a slightly better than expected inflation reading. Who can be surprised? When you snatch more than $2 trillion away from job creators and investors for the purpose of income redistribution, as Democrats propose to do via huge tax hikes, the country will suffer. President Biden has promised he will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year. But among the proposals from the House Ways and Means Committee is a tax hike on the makers of tobacco, nicotine and vapor products. Who will ultimately pay that bill, estimated to raise close to $100 billion? Consumers who smoke or vape, of course, the majority of whom fall under that income ceiling, and who will undoubtedly pay more for cigarettes and other products as manufacturers raise prices to cover the higher taxes. That is not the only questionable premise in the proposed ways Democrats hope to pay for their $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” blowout. Another is the astounding claim that the legislation will boost the economy, contributing $600 billion from “budgetary savings from faster economic growth.” When has hiking taxes ever led to increased growth? Never. Taking money from investors and spenders and handing it over to bureaucrats and politicians leads to lower productivity, lesser wage gains and slower growth. Every time. A wide-ranging study from the Tax Foundation in 2012 found, “Nearly every empirical study of taxes and economic growth published in a peer reviewed academic journal finds that tax increases harm economic growth.”  For example, a study by economists David and Christina Romer analyzed the U.S. federal tax burden since World War II as a share of GDP and discovered that a tax increase of 1 percent of GDP lowers real GDP by about 3 percent after about two years. Even President Clinton’s 1993 tax hikes, which Democrats claim led to the boom of the late 1990s, actually crimped the next several years’ expansion by about 1.5 percent, according to Treasury analysts. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, passed by a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, and signed into law by Clinton, raised taxes on corporations and resulted in below-average post-recession growth and near-stagnant wages. Real hourly wages rose only 2 cents to $7.43 an hour in 1996 from $7.41 in 1992.   It was actually Clinton’s tax cuts two years later, including a reduction in the capital gains tax rate, combined with welfare reform, which encouraged workers to return to their jobs by reducing disincentives to do so, that set the stage for the economic growth of Clinton’s second term. There is a lesson there for Joe Biden. Though the 1993 tax increase depressed growth mildly, the damage was in part offset by provisions in the bill that helped small businesses and encouraged workers. For example, the new law made permanent tax-exclusions of employer-provided educational assistance and allowed a targeted job credit to incentivize hiring qualified participants in school-to-work programs. In addition, the bill allowed small businesses to take a tax credit of 5 percent of their qualified investment in depreciable property and allowed non-corporate filers to exclude 50 percent of the long-term gain from a sale of a small business stock from their gross income. There are no business boosters in the plans just released by the House Ways and Means Committee. In particular, there is no help for small businesses, the major engine of U.S. job creation. On the contrary, small business owners take it on the chin. If small business owners pay taxes as individuals, they will be hit by a steeply higher top tax rate, and a new 3.8 percent surtax on small business income; they will also lose an existing 20 percent deduction on qualified business income. Small business owners will also have a harder time passing their operation along to an heir, given that the death tax exemption will be sliced in half to $5.5 million. Corporations also face higher taxes, which will reduce pay hikes for workers and once again leave our businesses paying the highest taxes in the developed world. How does that help U.S. competitiveness? And wealthy individuals will pay more; those living in high tax states will pay as much as roughly 60 percent of their income over to federal, state and local authorities. The exodus to Florida and other low-tax locales will continue. Some Republicans claim that Democrats are poised to push through the biggest tax hike in U.S. history. Democrats dispute that, pointing out that the tax increases enacted during and immediately after World War II were bigger, when compared to the nation’s total output, or GDP. Okay, but we are not at war. There is no nation-saving reason for Democrats to spend $3.5 trillion today. We do not have to “rebuild our economy”; we do not have to prepare our defenses against a threat from without; we do not even have to manufacture jobs so that Americans can go to work. There are nearly 11 million job openings. If we have an economic emergency, and most would argue we do not, it is the extreme labor shortage brought on by excessive and unnecessary federal handouts. Filibuster thumper, Voting rights legislation won’t pass, filibuster reform won’t pas Jordan Cainey, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/572299-democrats-revive-filibuster-fight-over-voting-rights-bill, Democrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill Senate Democrats’ new push to pass voting rights legislation is reviving tensions over the legislative filibuster, the biggest roadblock to passing significant pieces of President Biden’s agenda. Democrats rolled out a fresh voting and elections proposal on Tuesday, touting it as a unifier for their 50-member caucus. The measure could come to the floor as soon as next week, setting up another high-profile showdown over the party’s top issue as GOP-led states pass more voting laws in response to the 2020 presidential election. But absent a significant shift in the form of 10 GOP senators voting to help the bill clear its first procedural hurdle, the measure will get blocked. That will in turn put new pressure on Democrats and the White House to try to sway holdouts in their own party to embrace changing the Senate’s rules requiring 60 votes for most legislation to advance. “I think we need to move forward with a voting rights bill,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “What we need to do is abolish the filibuster or drastically reform it.” Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), during an interview with MSNBC, added that if Republicans wouldn’t support the revised voting rights legislation, then Democrats would “have no choice but to revisit the rules of the Senate.” Though voting rights is a top priority for Democrats, who argue it goes to the roots of American democracy, the legislation faces a rocky road in Congress. Democrats view coming up with a bill that all 50 of their members can support as a crucial first step in the rolling discussions over the filibuster. They are now giving Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a holdout on changing the filibuster, space to try to find 10 Republicans who would support the new bill. “We have ... Sen. Manchin who believes that we should try to make this bipartisan. And we’re giving him the opportunity to do that with a bill that he supports,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “If that doesn’t happen, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” In order to nix the filibuster or change it, Democrats would need total unity from all 50 members of their caucus. Manchin, however, is focused on trying to pitch Republicans on the new voting bill, saying those conversations have started and will ramp up next week. “I work with everybody. I want to find out where they are at, what we can do,” Manchin told reporters after meeting with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, confirming that he was pitching the Kentucky Republican on the voting rights bill. “I always think there’s a pathway forward. You know me, ... I’m optimistic. I’m here to work with everybody,” Manchin added. But GOP leadership is already warning that they won’t support the bill, all but guaranteeing that the renewed Democratic effort falls short when Schumer brings it to the floor. “No amount of repackaging or relabeling will let Democrats sneak through big pieces of the sweeping, partisan, federal takeover of our nation’s elections that they have wanted to pass since they took power,” McConnell said before meeting with Manchin. McConnell added to reporters that Republicans “will not be supporting it.” The brewing battle comes after Democrats missed a self-imposed August deadline to try to pass election legislation. Advocates had long viewed August as a crucial period because of the release of Census Bureau data that states will use to redraw their legislative maps. Senate Republicans previously blocked the For the People Act, another bill that would have overhauled federal elections, from coming up for debate. The new bill from Democrats builds on a framework initially circulated by Manchin earlier this summer and includes automatic voter registration, making Election Day a federal holiday, same-day voter registration, national standards for voter ID, new requirements for reporting foreign contact with campaigns and new disclosure requirements for online campaign ads. Once Republicans block the bill, Democrats say they will want to focus on what, if any, changes to the filibuster could get the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “I think we have multiple stages here. We first have to have a bill that hopefully 60 senators will support. If that fails to be the case, then we’re going to have a conversation among 50 senators and a vice president on how we get this bill passed,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the Democratic bill would get 50 votes when it comes to the floor “and then we’re going to have to talk about how do we make it happen if we only have 50 votes.” “A lot of us have ideas for reforms that we could make that would not be abolition of the filibuster,” Kaine said. Democrats have been privately floating potential changes for months, ranging from an exemption from the 60-vote requirement for specific issues to reverting to a talking filibuster that would allow opponents to block a bill for as long as they could hold the floor. Asked if he was offering reform ideas, Manchin said, “We haven’t gone down there.” He added that his Democratic colleagues “pretty much know where I stand” on the filibuster  Outside groups are already leaning in to try to increase the pressure on Senate Democrats to embrace changing the chamber’s rules after months of being in limbo as they prepare to bring voting rights back to the floor. “This negotiating will be for absolutely nothing if they don’t also take the steps required to get it to President Biden’s desk. That means reforming the Senate rules and removing the filibuster from the Senate Republicans’ obstructionist toolbox,” said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, director of democracy policy for Indivisible. But there’s no guarantee Democrats will be able to get the support needed to nix the filibuster or even create a carveout for voting rights, as some of Biden’s closest allies have suggested. Schumer would need total unity from his caucus to get a rules change through the Senate. Biden, according to a Rolling Stone report, has offered to try to push moderates toward supporting changes to the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation. White House officials have neither confirmed nor denied the report. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have warned for months that they don’t support getting rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster. And Manchin has specifically ruled out supporting a carveout that would exempt voting rights legislation while keeping the same hurdle intact for other legislation. Manchin said he was open to speaking with Biden about the issue but gave no indication that he was changing his thinking after telling reporters this week that the filibuster is “permanent.”  “Any time the president calls, I’m always awaiting and accepting that call,” Manchin said, “and look forward to talking.” Need the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better to solve climate, the infrastructure bill is not enough Manish Bapna is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/572311-congress-must-help-keep-the-climate-crisis-from-boiling-over With key congressional committees working overtime this week to shape bills to complete President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, the White House is spotlighting the need for robust action to confront the climate crisis. The Build Back Better agenda will help us to do just that, and Congress has no more urgent mission than to make certain it does. As a nation, we’ve reached a make-or-break moment. The next few weeks could well mark our last best chance to keep the climate crisis from boiling over into full-on catastrophe. For leaders of conscience on Capitol Hill, preventing that must be job number one. We’ve watched in horror this summer as the climate crisis has engulfed our country, and our world, into a widening hellscape of raging fires, monster storms, deadly floods, famine and forever drought.  We’re not talking here about computer models. This summer alone, nearly one in every three Americans experienced an extreme weather event amped up by climate change. It all gets worse, the science makes clear unless we cut the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels in half by 2030 and stop adding it to the atmosphere altogether by 2050. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda sets us on course for climate action that drives equitable recovery, but only if Congress fully enacts this initiative.The Senate took the first step last month, passing bipartisan infrastructure legislation centered on revitalizing aging roads, bridges and ports. That bill was never meant to confront the climate crisis, and it doesn’t. To do that, congressional leaders have kicked into high gear this week on committee-level efforts to pull together a second package of strategic investments that can be passed through a budgetary process called reconciliation. That would allow supporters to bypass a likely filibuster by those in the Senate intent on obstructing the climate action we so urgently need  With the country teetering on a climate knife-edge, and a livable future hanging in the balance, the broad majority of Americans that support strong climate action are counting on lawmakers to pass a reconciliation package that meets the moment. That starts with investments, tax incentives and other measures to help clean up the dirty power plants that account for a third of our carbon footprint and the cars, trucks and buses that make up nearly another third.  Biden has pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 50-52 percent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030. That means getting 80 percent of our electricity without fossil fuels, and electric cars and light trucks making up half of all new passenger vehicle sales, by then. We know we can do this. Last year, despite the pandemic, wind and solar power accounted for 77 percent of all new electricity generating capacity nationwide. In the first six months of this year, that share rose to 91 percent. Small wonder why. Over just the past decade, wind and solar power costs have plummeted b 70 and 90 percent, respectively, making clean power the better bet, dollar for dollar, than dirty.   To clean up our dirty power sector quickly enough to confront the climate crisis, we need to align our national investments with these market trends to both support and accelerate the transition to clean power, as broad majorities across the country understand. The Clean Electricity Payment Program the White House rolled out Monday will help, and it will create 7.7 million jobs and generate nearly $1 trillion in economic growth over the coming decade, a study commissioned by my organization has found. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will also speed the shift to electric vehicles. By 2035, General Motors plans to build only electric vehicles. The auto giant is investing $35 billion over just the next five years to help get there, part of the more than $257 billion the industry is investing, globally, on electric vehicles by 2030. The reconciliation package must sync up the country with this global transformation, by providing consumer incentives that help put electric cars within reach for families of every income level. Because reducing carbon emissions also cuts other dangerous air pollution, it will dramatically reduce asthma attacks, heart disease, missed days at work or school and even premature death.  That’s why cleaning up our dirty power plants, cars and light trucks will save the country a staggering $3 trillion in health and environmental costs between now and 2050, avoiding 240 thousand premature deaths, an April study concludes.  There’s more the reconciliation package needs, like investments to cut carbon pollution on the factory floor by supporting modern, efficient manufacturing processes; highway improvements aill get this done. It can create, by one estimate, 15 million jobs, including for workers who want to join a union. It will save our families money on utility bills, at the gas pump and the doctor’s office. nd public transit expansions that reduce the hassle — and pollution — of commuting; and support to cap abandoned oil and gas wells, replace aging lead service lines and reconnect urban communities divided by misguided highway schemes. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda w Biden’s political muscle critical to the $3.5 trillion stimulus Amy Parnes, 9-15, 21, 0https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/572295-democrats-say-biden-must-get-more-involved-in-budget-fight, DemDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fightocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Democrats expect to see President Biden get more intimately involved in the messy budget reconciliation process in the House and Senate to ensure that the $3.5 trillion social spending package gets across the finish line.   Biden for the last month has been occupied by major crises — namely the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the COVID-19 pandemic — and has largely left it to congressional officials to work out the details of the package.  Yet to get the measure through a Congress narrowly held by his party, Democrats believe Biden needs to publicly and privately put more muscle into resolving disputes within his party.   “He has to get involved for a lot of reasons,” said one Democratic strategist who talks to the White House. “He doesn’t want to apply pressure, but he knows he has to in his own way. This is a massive legacy item for him. “He doesn’t want it to be winnowed down like Obama’s bill,” the strategist said, referring to the 2009 stimulus legislation. That legislation cost more than $700 billion, a huge amount at the time, but might have been even larger if Democrats had been able to win more support from Republicans and centrists in their own party. Biden will take a big step toward getting more involved on Wednesday. He is expected  meet separately with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to hear their concerns about the reconciliation package.  Those close to the White House say Biden will continue speaking to key players involved in the congressional battle. He’s likely to travel and speak about the legislation when the time is right, the sources said. Biden has already been plugging his economic agenda, and specifically the aspects of it that address climate change, during his first official trip out West as president this week.   “I think Biden will be involved but probably more behind the scenes until he needs to apply public pressure. We’re still in the posturing and positioning phase right now,” added Democratic strategist Joel Payne.   Payne predicted Biden would likely do some kind of “road show” to sell the package.   “I think when he needs to, he will use the bully pulpit of the White House to apply pressure and get it over the finish line,” he said.   The White House says that Biden and other officials are regularly engaged with lawmakers on Capitol Hill about his agenda. But officials have kept Biden’s conversations with lawmakers largely private, including avoiding saying whether he’s spoken to Manchin, a centrist who has aired complaints about the $3.5 trillion price tag of the reconciliation package.  “The president and White House officials are in constant communication and contact with members on the Hill, their staff, and this has been, for us, all hands on deck in making sure the president’s agenda moves forward,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, after declining to confirm any calls with Manchin. “We’re continuing to do that.”  The success of the reconciliation bill depends on getting support from centrist Democrats like Manchin, Sinema and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) without alienating progressives, who see $3.5 trillion as the baseline price tag for the reconciliation package.   It’s clear that the ongoing negotiations are on Biden’s mind. During a speech Monday evening in Sacramento, he swatted away concerns about the package’s price tag, saying that it would be “as much as $3.5 trillion” but that it would be spread over 10 years.  “He supports $3.5 trillion, which is a bill that he proposed, legislation that he proposed, and he’s going to continue to work with Congress in pushing that agenda through,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday, declining to say Biden’s words are an indication he is open to a smaller package.  Speaking to reporters last week, Biden expressed confidence he could get Manchin on board. Joe at the end has always been there. He’s always been with me. I think we can work some ng out. I look forward to speaking with him,” Biden said.  Every other  agenda item is a thumper Amber Philips, 9-15, 21, Washington Post, What to know about the big budget battles in Congress, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/09/congress-budget-fights/ The next few weeks will be the most challenging in perhaps a decade for Democrats in Congress. They need to figure out a way to keep the government open, raise the debt ceiling to avoid an economic catastrophe, pass emergency natural disaster aid and provide money for resettling Afghan refugees. And that’s just their must-do list.  mWhat Democrats really want to do is write and pass a massive spending bill that dramatically expands the federal government safety net. They also want to send a bipartisan infrastructure bill to President Biden’s desk, and they are trying to pass voting-rights legislation to counter GOP-led efforts at the state level to restrict how people vote, but that could require a historic rules change in the Senate. All Republicans oppose, can only lose a few Democrats to tube the stimulus Amber Philips, 9-15, 21, Washington Post, What to know about the big budget battles in Congress, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/09/congress-budget-fights/ Democrats don’t expect any GOP votes for their $3.5 trillion spending plan. The only way they’re getting this done is to go around Republicans and pass this massive bill through a process called reconciliation. Reconciliation lets Congress pass bills directly related to spending with a simple majority of votes — the minority cannot block these bills with a filibuster. Passing legislation with only one party might sound easier than having to compromise with the other. But mathematically, it means Democrats have fewer votes to work with to get their big legislative priorities done. And that means any one senator or a handful of Democrats in the House of Representatives could block this….And Democrats have very little margin for error among themselves to pass that huge social safety net legislation. The Senate is split 50-50, and House Democrats have only a handful of votes to spare. Getting everyone on the same page on a bill this big is going to be tricky. Moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona want the $3.5 trillion bill to be significantly smaller, potentially by as much as half. Can’t assess the impacts, as it could be as low as $1.5 trillion Alexander Bolton, 9-12, 21, The Hill, Democrats see $3.5T spending goal is slipping away, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571780-democrats-see-35t-spending-goal-is-slipping-away There’s a growing realization among Democrats that their plans for a $3.5 trillion spending package to reshape the nation’s social safety net and to tackle climate change will have to be slimmed down because of anxious centrists worried about the 2022 midterms. Democrats by and large feel confident that President Biden’s ambitious “human” infrastructure agenda has strong public support and that a majority of Americans favor raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help pay for it. But there’s also a recognition that moderate Democrats in swing states and districts need to show they’re shaping the emerging reconciliation package. And a part of that process may be slimming down the package from the $3.5 trillion goal set last month by the Senate- and House-passed budget resolutions. “Most times when you face these situations there have to be some changes made in order to get the votes, especially when here in the [Senate] chamber it’s tied and only the vice president can break the tie,” said former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who presided over the budget reconciliation process in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats passed sweeping health care reform legislation. “You probably will have to shave this back some,” he said of the $3.5 trillion proposal outlined in the budget resolutions passed earlier this summer. “I suspect there are going to have to be some changes in order to get the votes to pass it,” he added. “Biden has himself said that these things should be paid for. He said that very clearly and he said it repeatedly. “The closer you get to actually paying for it, the better the chance you have of getting the votes.” Some centrist Democratic strategists are already warning that the size of the human infrastructure bill needs to be substantially curtailed to avoid a political disaster in the 2022 midterm elections. “You’ve got all these Democrats in the center who are quietly saying ‘I don’t want to support $3.5 trillion because who wants to run on that given the current climate?’ Have you seen some of the recent polls coming out of the states?” said one strategist. By battling with progressives over the size of the package, moderates can insulate themselves from Republican claims that their party has been taken over by the “far left.” Another factor is Biden’s declining approval rating. A Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll Friday showed Biden with a 47 percent national approval rating and a 46 percent national disapproval rate. A Civiqs tracking poll this week showed Biden’s approval ratings in several battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — trailing his disapproval ratings by 10 points to 14 points. Two of the toughest Democratic votes to corral in the Senate belong to Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who have both said in recent weeks, they will not support a $3.5 trillion package. Moderate Democrats in the House such as Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) are also threatening to vote "no." Former Rep. Ron Klink (Pa.), a centrist Democrat who represented a Republican-leaning district in western Pennsylvania, says there are other moderate Democratic lawmakers besides Manchin and Sinema who are balking at the $3.5 trillion price tag. “They’re going to go back and forth,” he predicted about the upcoming negotiations over the size of the package. “There are other senators, too, that are just saying, wait, this is too much, this is too big.” Klink, however, is urging jittery Democrats not to run away from Biden’s infrastructure agenda. He warns that ducking for political cover was a fatal mistake made by moderates during the 2009 debate over the Affordable Care Act, which was followed by a landslide Republican victory in the 2010 midterm elections. “You have to sell your constituents on what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing what you’re doing,” he said. Faced with mounting Republican criticism over tax increases that will be part of the reconciliation package, the White House is emphasizing the benefits for the middle class, stressing its desire to enact tax cuts for daycare, health care and working families with children. Klink said Democrats also need to make the case that floods, drought and fires that have devastated the nation show the pressing need for more infrastructure investment. But Klink acknowledges it’s a safe bet the total size of the spending bill will fall below $3.5 trillion, though likely not as low as the $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion goal that Manchin has floated as alternatives. ADVERTISING “I don’t think it will be $3.5 trillion but I think it will be much closer to that than $1.5 trillion,” he said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) made an important disclosure Thursday evening when he told reporters that the revenue-raising package coming out his committee will raise well less than what is needed to fully offset Democratic leaders’ official $3.5 trillion spending goal. Asked if his package of revenue raisers would reach $3.5 trillion, Neal quickly replied: “Oh, no, no. No, that’s not at the moment what we’re talking about.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday tacitly acknowledged the final package is likely to come in under $3.5 trillion by characterizing that number as a ceiling. “I don’t know what the number will be. We are marking at $3.5 trillion. We’re not going above that,” she told reporters. Some Democrats now say it was inevitable that the $3.5 trillion number was going to slip, even though it already represents a major concession by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives, who initially pushed for a $6 trillion budget reconciliation spending target. “I don’t know what the final number’s going to be. I always felt it was going to be less than $3.5 [trillion,]” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, and a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Biden’s capital has collapsed

Doyle, 9-11, 21, Katherine Doyle, White House Correspondent |   | September 11, 2021, Biden baits GOP on COVID-19 at moment of political peril, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/biden-baits-gop-covid-moment-political-peril?utm_campaign=article_rail&utm_source=internal&utm_medium=article_rail Political rivals of President Joe Biden view his latest salvo of attacks against GOP governors over how to get the coronavirus pandemic under control, alongside sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as an attempt to distract from his own problems. The Democrat faces rolling waves of COVID-19 hot spots, inflation woes, slowed economic growth, and the fallout of a chaotic Afghanistan drawdown. Meanwhile, polls show the once-buoyant president backsliding as the return to normalcy he promised months ago has faded. According to an Economist/ YouGov survey this month, 39% approved of Biden’s performance in office, while half disapproved — placing the president underwater by 10 percentage points. Sixty percent of respondents said they believed the country was heading in the wrong direction. Just 26% felt it was on the right track. Announced on Thursday, Biden’s new rules aim to require vaccinations for federal workers, with vaccine mandates or weekly tests for employees at larger companies. Though exemptions may apply, Biden’s rule will target some 80 million private-sector employees . Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, charged the White House was looking for a narrative shift as voters balked at the president’s handling of other issues. “The White House recently said it’s ‘not the federal government’s role to enforce a mandate. What changed?” Cotton tweeted. “Biden’s poll numbers.” The senator added: “He needs a distraction from his failures.” Speaking in the State Dining Room on Thursday, Biden heaped blame on Republican governors, accusing them of thwarting efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said. Though the president didn’t name governors in his address, he appeared to reference a threat by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to withhold pay from educators who defied a ban on mask mandates in his state. A Florida appeals court ruled in DeSantis’s favor on Friday, reinstating a stay on mask mandates in schools. “Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100%,” Biden said. “I promise you, I will have your back.” Biden also claimed unvaccinated citizens are slowing the country’s recovery from the pandemic. “The constant stream of insults and threats from the White House is a desperate attempt to regain control of the Narrative and distract from the Biden administration’s abject failures: Afghanistan, the border crisis, and the COVID-19 response,” DeSantis's press secretary Christina Pushaw told the Washington Examiner on Friday.

Biden won’t spend capital on the debt ceiling, he knows Republicans will cave

Barron-Lopez, 9-8, 11, Biden wants to force Republicans to vote on the debt ceiling, sensing they’ll cave, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/09/biden-mcconnell-debt-limit-threats-510922 President Joe Biden is treating the latest Republican threats over the debt limit like a bluff. And the entire party, from congressional Democratic leadership to the top brass at the Treasury Department, is calling them on it. Multiple Democratic sources on the Hill and with knowledge of the White House’s thinking said the administration wants to include a suspension of the debt limit — a legal cap on how much the U.S. can borrow — in a continuing resolution to fund the government. Such a bill, which Congress is expected to consider as early as this month, would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans would need to vote to advance the measure. To challenge those Republicans, Biden is also calling on Congress to include funding for hurricane relief in the bill, and Democratic leadership has continued to shoot down questions about possible alternative legislative vehicles in recent conversations with members and close allies. Including a debt limit increase in Democrats’ pending party-line reconciliation package, for example, is one option. But the White House and Democratic leaders are not entertaining it at present. “They're right at the moment to say, 'We're working on Plan A,'” said a lobbyist with knowledge of the party’s strategy. “The minute you start to signal that that doesn't work then you're signaling weakness.” The posture from the president on down is setting up a game of chicken with incredibly high stakes — if a vote to suspend or increase the debt limit fails, the U.S. economy will likely crater. Treasury officials have said lawmakers will have until an unspecified date next month before the department runs out of ways to prevent a default. The debt limit is the foundation of the “full faith and credit” of the country’s currency and bonds. If it isn’t raised or suspended, the U.S. defaults on its bond investors, its credit rating could tank and, in turn, the government could be forced to scale back on Medicare benefits, Social Security checks and other programs. The belief in the White House is that a mix of pressure — from business leaders expressing urgency to fears of a full blown financial crisis — will be most acute on Republicans as the deadline nears. After voting for years to suspend or increase the debt limit with Democrats — a routine step required by law — GOP lawmakers in recent history have used the threat of default to score political points when a Democratic president is in charge. Learning from his former boss, President Barack Obama — who vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling after doing it once — Biden is essentially daring Republicans to vote down a debt limit suspension or increase. Since Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced publicly that his party members wouldn’t support an increase in the debt limit, the Biden administration has not had any additional talks with him on the issue. McConnell’s office pointed to the senator’s past comments on the debt ceiling but did not address whether the two sides had talked. A White House official said the administration is largely deferring to congressional leaders on the procedural aspects of how to pursue a debt limit increase or suspension. Whether Democrats are pursuing a long- or short-term increase remains unclear. In public and private conversations and briefings with Hill aides, the White House has two main positions: Don’t negotiate with Republicans over what should be a routine vote and clearly message that the debt limit addresses past, not future, spending, seeking to avoid confusion and rebuff GOP attacks over a complex topic. “The debt limit is a function of bills that Congress has already passed, already wrapped up,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “Even if Congress took no future action ever, did nothing else in the future, Congress would have to raise or suspend the debt limit because it’s a reflection of actions already taken.” The showdown comes as Biden faces a grueling month that will determine the fate of his signature economic items: the bipartisan infrastructure bill and social spending package. On top of that, government funding runs out Sept. 30, the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage and parts of the country are struggling to rebuild after devastating hurricanes and wildfires. “With everything from Covid to Afghanistan to the weather incidents, the idea that we would self inflict another blow to our country right now and even putting in potential jeopardy the full faith and credit of the United States would be crazy,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Warner said it’s imperative that Democrats clearly articulate why a default is so cataclysmic and that Republicans are also responsible for the debt limit. “Do you really want to vote for shutting down the government, not giving aid to people who are the third of Americans who've had weather affect [them] and mess with the full faith and credit of the United States all in one vote?” Warner said of Republicans. “I hope not.” Warner added that a decade ago, there was near unanimity about the dangerous consequences of not raising the debt limit. “But that was before there was an age of the level of misinformation and disinformation,” he said. “This was not a tool that was used against President Trump so on a fairness argument, we’re making the case. Whether that wins the day at a time when things are so unusual, time will tell.” To stave off a crisis, the administration is also having conversations with business leaders and community bankers and expects them to apply pressure to Republicans with warnings that a default would be catastrophic for the economy, the White House official said. Others who have spent years working on the issue said the fiscal cliff standoff between Obama and Republicans in 2011 — and the resulting lessons both parties have taken since — is informing Biden’s strategy as president. Seth Hanlon, a former special assistant to Obama at the National Economic Council, said the lesson from that episode is that the debt limit is plainly non-negotiable. Republicans took away a different lesson altogether. At the time, they refused to vote to raise the debt limit unless they got corresponding budget cuts. Obama negotiated with congressional GOP leaders on a deal and, after talks scuttled, Biden himself picked up the baton and hammered out an agreement with McConnell. McConnell later said he came away believing that the debt limit, which underlies the financial well-being of the country, was “a hostage that's worth ransoming." “There were a number of times after 2011 where there was a lot of Republican hue and cry over the debt limit when Obama was president, but ultimately, Mitch McConnell found the cover for himself and his members and joined in raising it,” said Hanlon, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. So far, McConnell has put the onus squarely on Biden and Democrats to raise the debt limit, saying last month that “they have the House, the Senate and the presidency. It’s their obligation to govern … and the essence of governing is to raise the debt ceiling to cover the debt.” In recent remarks on the subject, McConnell stressed that “the debt ceiling needs to be raised,” but said the emphasis is “who should do it. And under these uniquely unprecedented circumstances,” he added, “it’s their obligation to do it.” But Hanlon said he’s confident that pressure from Republican allies in the conservative ranks of big business will ultimately force them to capitulate. “They’re attuned to financial markets and they know the disastrous consequences that will result,” he said of the GOP brinkmanship on Capitol Hill. “As extreme as the Republican Party has become, I don't think McConnell is ultimately willing to push the U.S. over the cliff.”

Any climate targets alienate Manchin and kill his support for the $3.5 trillion stimulus

Manu Raju, 9-8, 21, CNN, Manchin lays out long list of demands as key Senate chairs move to win his vote, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/08/politics/joe-manchin-senate-reconciliation-demands/index.html In the Senate, all roads lead to Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat and his staff have been engaged for weeks in intensive negotiations with the chairs of key Senate committees ahead of his party's release of a sprawling bill to expand the social safety net, laying down his demands on a wide-range of issues: health care, education, child care and taxes, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. And With Democrats needing every vote in their caucus to get the bill through the Senate along straight party lines, Manchin has received more attention than any other Democrat, even as others -- like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema -- have also balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag. Indeed, as committee chairs have held regular meetings with their members over the summer recess to shape key provisions of legislation under their jurisdiction, they often will later have individual meetings with Manchin, even if he doesn't serve on their respective committees. As she met with her members on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the panel, also talked privately with Manchin to hear his concerns about provisions on free community college and universal pre-K -- issues that are also central to President Joe Biden's agenda. Her staff has since been in contact with Manchin's aides, while Murray has been in constant communication with other members as well. Manchin and his staff have been in consistent talks with Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon, a committee where the two powerful Democrats have clashed over several key provisions central to financing the proposal, including on corporate tax hikes, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Wyden has had weekly Zoom meetings with his committee members on individual areas of their proposal, but has made sure to have regular talks with Manchin -- either with him directly or through his staff. = And Manchin has engaged in long discussions with rank-and-file Democrats as well, including Sen. Michael Bennet over the Colorado Democrat's push to broaden and bolster the child tax credit, which the West Virginian wants to bring down to a level far lower than what many in his party want, multiple Democrats said. On education, Manchin is trying to limit the Democrats' efforts to provide universal pre-K and tuition-free community college. He's talked to Democrats about limiting the number of Americans eligible for pre-K by setting income thresholds, while also discussing ways to measure students' performance for community college assuming their tuition is paid for over two years. And on health care, Manchin has suggested substantially reducing funding for home-care services, a key priority of many Democrats. The private discussions come amid Manchin's public call last week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed for a "strategic pause" in consideration of the expensive bill, which Democrats are trying to advance through a process known as budget reconciliation since it can be approved along straight party lines in the 50-50 Senate. Democratic leaders want to resolve their disagreements and have a proposal ready by September 15. "Sen. Manchin's op-ed made clear that both the present and unknown challenges facing our country far outweigh the politics of passing something of this magnitude at this time," a Manchin aide told CNN, referring to the moderate Democrat's concerns over inflation and the ballooning national debt. "This was true last week, and it is today." The talks underscore the challenges ahead for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who needs to win over Manchin but also avoid provoking a revolt among progressives -- particularly in the House -- who are already balking at the West Virginia's private suggestion to bring the price tag of the overall bill down to around $1.5 trillion. And without Senate passage of the reconciliation bill, House progressives are warning they'll derail the Senate's $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan that Manchin was central in negotiating. "The idea of a $1.5 trillion price tag being sufficient to accomplish those goals for the people is fanciful," Rep. Mondaire Jones, a progressive Democrat from New York, said on CNN. MORE ON COVID-19 RELIEF Jobless Americans left scrambling after pandemic unemployment benefits end Analysis: The government's pandemic help has run out August child tax credit payments reach roughly 61 million kids Student loan payment pause extended to January 31 What remains to be seen is whether the Senate chairs ultimately cater to Manchin's demands or try to railroad him into making a choice: Approve the most sweeping piece of domestic legislation in decades -- or be responsible for sinking it singlehandedly. "We're moving full steam ahead," Schumer said Wednesday, rejecting Manchin's much-publicized call last week for a "strategic pause" in consideration of the bill. Schumer and Manchin -- who have long had a frank and collegial relationship -- have been in constant talks throughout the month of August and was not caught off-guard by Manchin's op-ed last week, multiple sources say. Schumer knows full well that he needs to keep his most important swing vote at bay, in addition to Sinema, who has already said she'd oppose a bill that costs $3.5 trillion. "There are some in my caucus who believe $3.5 trillion is too much. There are some in my caucus who believe it's too little," Schumer said Wednesday. "And we're going to work very hard to have unity because without unity, we're not going to get anything." To get unity, the committee chairs have been working to ensure that Manchin is not caught off guard by provisions in their plan that they hope to unveil next week. Helen Hare, a spokeswoman for Murray, said the Washington state Democrat spoke with Manchin and has had "regular conversations" with her committee members since last month. "She's talking to lots of senators with the goal of getting the strongest possible agreement on free community college, child care and all the other policies she's working to get across the finish line," the spokeswoman said. Some issues may be unresolvable -- such as climate change. Manchin, who represents a major coal-producing state, has balked at Democratic proposals to impose a clean energy standard to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Democrats have also discussed including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, something that could lead to industry's use of cleaner-burning fuels. But Manchin has not been amenable to the aggressive climate targets, leaving it unclear where the talks will land. "If they're eliminating fossils, and I'm finding out there's a lot of language in places they're eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you're sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that's going to clean up the global climate, it won't clean it up all," Manchin told CNN in July of his party's plans. "If anything, it would be worse."

Delta has destroyed Biden’s political capital and agenda, killing the stimulus

Natasha Korecki, 9-9, 21, Politico, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/09/biden-presidency-bottlenecked-covid-pandemic-510798, How the Delta variant bottlenecked Biden’s presidency The resurgence of Covid-19 is rapidly dominating Joe Biden’s administration, putting into question the future of his broader legislative agenda and increasingly steering Democrats into treacherous political territory. The president on Thursday is expected to lay out a detailed, six-point plan that’s aimed at staunching a loss in public confidence as the Delta variant sends hospitalizations, deaths and infection rates soaring. Democrats, anxious about the state of the presidency and the country, say Biden must use the moment to forcefully outline how he intends to combat this worsening stage of the pandemic. “Fundamentally, for our public health, for our economic health and for the president's political health, getting Covid right is the single most important issue that they face in the immediate term,” said Robert Gibbs, who served as a White House press secretary in the Obama administration. “We’re stepping into a different phase and the new administration has to meet the moment of that new phase. I think that begins in earnest with this speech.” The speech comes just months after the president held a celebratory tentative return to normalcy, by first lifting mask mandates then holding a 4th of July barbeque on White House grounds. On Thursday, Biden’s remarks will be delivered against the backdrop of falling approval numbers, driven in part by his handling of the pandemic. A Gallup poll this week found that for the first time — either as a candidate or as president — more people disapproved of Biden's communication on Covid than approved of it. It’s a reversal from early in his presidency, when Biden’s handling of Covid overall helped buoy his standing. The president had stayed above water until a few weeks ago. Today, roughly 44 percent of the public approves of the job he is doing, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Inside the White House, there’s frustration at suggestions that the president and his team have taken their eye off the pandemic. Instead, aides argue that it was the media that shifted focus to other issues, including the drawdown of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. As evidence, the White House official pointed to a successful push to ramp up sagging vaccination rates over the summer and the dispatching of more than 700 surge teams to assist with states battling spiking infection rates. Biden himself has called the new surge in cases a pandemic of the unvaccinated — with those who’ve refused the vaccine still making up the vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations. But despite spending the summer emphasizing vaccinations, rates of infection remain stubbornly high and hospitals in hard-hit areas are again running out of space in their intensive care units. Health officials have complained about confusion over the need and the timing of booster shots. And parents fear school closures now that kids (many unvaccinated) are cramming back into classrooms. An inability to keep Covid cases from mushrooming over the fall could threaten to crowd out Biden’s massive economic agenda, forcing the president to devote more time and attention and political capital to the pandemic rather than directing energies toward shepherding a lofty infrastructure package and a $3.5 trillion social spending bill through Congress. But some Democrats say the best way for the president to negotiate with lawmakers on those initiatives is to demonstrate progress on the pandemic. “One of the most helpful things the president can do to sell Congress on his plan is to launch a big campaign to defeat Covid, see progress against the virus and get his numbers moving in a positive direction again,” said Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic operative. Making sure Covid is contained, Rosenberg said, would “increase his authority in the end game negotiations.” If the massive spending bills do pass and the pandemic fails to relent next year, the White House would be hard-pressed to go back to Congress and ask for another round of Covid bailout funds, having secured a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill earlier this year. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said Biden would be wise to use his Thursday remarks to address how he will protect children who cannot be vaccinated and offer more clarity on booster shots — the top concerns she’s hearing as she talks to voters door to door. “Let’s talk about how we deal with this Delta variant, and whether or not folks need booster shots,” Barnes said. “All of that information needs to be coming forward, not just once or twice. I think President Biden talks about it every day, we all need to be talking about it.” Biden does not lack for complicated issues on his docket. A chaotic and bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan dominated his August. Voters have persistent reservations about the state of the economy and more than 60 percent of those polled think the country is on the wrong track under Biden. But voters’ feelings about all of those issues, Democratic party leaders say, are tied to Covid. And it’s reflected in the polls: His approval numbers began to slide as Delta took hold across the country. “It impacts absolutely everything,” says Felesia Martin, vice chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “I don't know how we can separate our economy or anything else from Covid because it affects every intersection of our life.” Martin went on to say, however, that it’s unfair to place the blame on the Biden administration for the virus’ resilience. She argued that the president and his team have followed the science as they promised, but people are still refusing to get vaccinated and protesting mask wearing.

Manchin and other moderates are just posturing on the $3.5 trillion

Alexander Bolton, 9-9, 21, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571421-democratic-leaders-betting-manchin-will-back-down-in-spending-fight, Democratic leaders betting Manchin will back down in spending fight Sanders argues that $3.5 trillion is what needs to be spent on transforming the nation’s energy economy to address climate change and “dealing with the needs of the working class.” “To my mind, this bill at $3.5 trillion is already a major, major compromise. And at the very least this bill should be $3.5 trillion,” he said Wednesday. Democratic strategists warn of a backlash from the party’s base if the legislation -- which includes substantial spending on long-term care for the elderly and disabled, an extension of the child tax credit, funding for expanded childcare and significant investments in renewable energy sources -- falls well below $3.5 trillion. “The reaction from progressives, which is already being indicated, would be very bad. People would be very disappointed,” said Mike Lux, a Democratic strategist. Sanders says spending plan should be $3.5T 'at the very least' Schumer rejects Manchin's call for pause on Biden plan But Lux said the threats from moderates should be viewed more as bargaining positions. “People are doing a lot of posturing right now and throwing out broad numbers and broad statements. The fact is that Joe Manchin and other Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the $3.5 trillion budget outline,” he said. “We’re going to have to work very hard to get everybody on board with the budget plan again. “There are going to be a lot of changes, a lot of compromises that everybody is going to have to make. The most important thing is to stay calm and keep talking to each other. Sooner or later we’ll get to a package that both Joe Manchin and [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.)] can embrace because we need everybody,” he added. “I think it will work itself out in the end.”

NO stimulus, no infrastructure

Scott Lillis & Mike Long, 9-9, 21, Democrats hit crunch time for passing Biden agenda, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/571418-democrats-hit-crunch-time-for-passing-biden-agenda Last month, Pelosi and her leadership team struck a deal with House moderates guaranteeing a floor vote on the Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, while liberals are warning they’ll sink that bipartisan proposal without assurances that the larger reconciliation package will pass the Senate. “Many members of the Progressive Caucus simply will not vote for Sen. Manchin's infrastructure bill unless it is tied together with the Build Back Better Act so that we have an all-of-the-above approach,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. "We aren't saying it's either your bill or our bill, but that both of these bills must move forward together — or neither will.” Brink of debt default Carney, 9-8, 11, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571413-yellen-triggers-alarm-bells-over-debt-ceiling-cliff, Yellen triggers alarm bells over debt ceiling cliff Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is setting off alarm bells over a looming brawl about the nation's borrowing limit that could spark a global economic crisis if Congress fails to take action. Yellen's warning, delivered to congressional leaders on Wednesday, that the country could default on its debt as soon as next month is casting new urgency on the behind-the-scenes discussions about how to raise the debt ceiling.>

Massive partisanship, no deal to increase the debt ceiling

 Carney, 9-8, 11, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571413-yellen-triggers-alarm-bells-over-debt-ceiling-cliff, Yellen triggers alarm bells over debt ceiling cliff Democrats could need 10 GOP votes to raise the debt ceiling if Republicans filibuster the measure. Democrats have only 50 votes in the Senate, and GOP leaders have indicated they will not help raise the borrowing limit. Including a debt ceiling hike in the budget reconciliation measure that Democrats are now drafting would be one way around the GOP. The budget rules prevent a GOP filibuster. Democratic leaders have signaled they don’t want the debt ceiling to be a part of that package. “We won't be putting it in reconciliation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Wednesday. It’s also unclear whether the package will be finished in time to meet the debt deadline. Yellen on Wednesday said the limit would be breached in October. “The time for Congress to act is now to make sure the U.S. does not come close to defaulting on some of its obligations,” said Rachel Snyderman, associate director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that closely tracks the debt limit. “But what's concerning right now is that there are so many important priorities at play,” she continued. GOP lawmakers helped suspend the debt ceiling under former President Trump, who added to the debt by signing a huge tax cut bill and several major spending bills. But the GOP has vowed not to provide votes for President Biden as Republicans fume over Democrats’ plan to pass the $3.5 trillion spending package under budget reconciliation rules. The GOP wants to make Democrats own both the spending measures and the debt vote, with the view it will help Republicans retake majorities in the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) jabbed last month as the fight ramped up that if Democrats were going to greenlight the spending, shouldn't they “be proud to own all the debt it requires?” And 46 GOP senators signed a letter vowing that they won’t support raising the debt ceiling, leaving Democrats short of the votes. Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell, said on Wednesday that flirting with a debt default would be a “crisis” of Democrats' “own making.” “Democrats control Washington now. They can raise the debt limit on their own,” he said. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters, saying that opposing a debt hike would be a “horrible” and “despicable act.” “It would be just the height of irresponsibility for Republicans to play games to take the debt limit hostage,” he said. Allowing the nation to default would be unthinkable, but it’s not entirely clear how Biden and Democrats will deal with the issue. The increasingly partisan fight comes as Congress deals with a full plate of legislative issues, including funding the government by month’s end and the sweeping $3.5 trillion spending package. Yellen tried to drive home the stakes in a letter to lawmakers warning that amid a pandemic, which rocked the global economy, “it would be particularly irresponsible to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.” The debt ceiling kicked back in on Aug. 1 after a suspension included in a 2019 budget deal expired without action from Congress. The Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to keep the U.S. solvent since then, but they will run out next month, Yellen warned Wednesday. “Once all available measures and cash on hand are fully exhausted, the United States of America would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history,” Yellen said. “Given this uncertainty, the Treasury Department is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last. However, based on our best and most recent information, the most likely outcome is that cash and extraordinary measures will be exhausted during the month of October,” she continued. The federal debt limit is a legal cap on how much debt the U.S. can take on to pay obligations already approved by the president and Congress for several years. Raising the ceiling does not erase or create any new debt but instead gives the federal government more room to pay off its bills. Wall Street and the banking system have grown accustomed to high-stakes fights over the debt ceiling in Washington. Credit ratings firm Standard & Poor's downgraded the county’s credit rating during a 2011 showdown over the debt limit, and the 2013 debt limit fight likely added tens of millions of dollars to the national debt through higher borrowing costs, according to a Government Accountability Office report. But until the deadline gets much closer, market reaction seems unlikely to put much pressure on lawmakers and the administration. Still, Synderman noted that yields on short-term Treasury bonds have risen in recent weeks as investors become increasingly concerned about the risk of a default, particularly as the impact of the pandemic limits the ability to nail down when it may happen. The general dynamics of the fight have been brewing for months: Senate Republicans previously got nonbinding language into their conference rules recommending that any hike in the debt ceiling is contracted by spending reforms or cuts.

Tony Roman, 9-8, 21, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/08/democrats-september-debt-ceiling-reconciliation/

Democrats have sought the help of Republicans to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, citing the fact that they did so to prevent a crisis under President Donald Trump. But GOP lawmakers have refused to supply the necessary votes under Biden, as they bristle over Democrats’ plans to seek as much as $3.5 trillion in new spending and tax increases they oppose.

Any climate targets alienate Manchin and kill his support for the $3.5 trillion stimulus

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