Just how good is it?
July 29, 2022
Just how good is the surprise agreement between Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin? It is so good it has caused a Republican nuclear meltdown resulting in an uncontrolled release of anger and irrationality. Under orders from Mitch McConnell, Republicans are seeking revenge by voting against legislation they previously supported—thereby voting against the interests of their constituents and American business.
For example, Republicans supported the $52 billion investment in the US semiconductor industry (the so-called CHIPS and Science Act). The CHIPS Act was widely popular among Republicans because it challenged Chinese dominance in semiconductor manufacturing. After Manchin and Schumer resurrected the Inflation Reduction Act, House Republicans voted against the CHIPS Act en masse—thereby voting against American jobs, technology, and cybersecurity. Despite the Republican tantrum, the CHIPS Act passed and is headed to Biden’s desk for signature—a BIG win for Democrats.
So, too, with the Respect for Marriage Act. Susan Collins was attempting to convince her Senate colleagues to support a bill granting federal recognition to same-sex and “inter-racial” marriages. After Schumer and Manchin announced a deal on the Inflation Reduction Act, Susan Collins said that it would be “much harder” to pass the Respect for Marriage Act because Manchin and Schumer kept their negotiations “under wraps” until after Senate Republicans voted in favor of the CHIPS Act.
Hmm . . . because Democrats kept negotiations among Democrats under wraps regarding the Inflation Reduction Act, that is cause for Republicans to vote against federal recognition of same-sex marriage? That makes sense only if the GOP’s animating principle is to frustrate Democratic efforts to do anything.
Another example is the GOP’s cruel flip-flop on support for a bill providing compensation to military veterans injured and sickened by toxic “burn pits.” The PACT Act had previously passed in the Senate with support from 42 Republican Senators. On Thursday, the PACT Act came back for another vote in the Senate (to approve technical changes). To “punish” Democrats, Senate Republicans voted against the bill they previously supported. The only people Republicans “punished” by voting against the bill were veterans suffering from cancer and emphysema from toxic fumes generated by “burn pits” used to dispose of ammunition.
Former Daily Show host John Stewart (now veterans advocate) was furious at the GOP’s betrayal of veterans. See Newsweek, Jon Stewart Calls Out GOP 'Cruelty' After Vote Against Veterans' PACT Act. Republicans will regret their cruel vote, especially Ted Cruz, who was caught celebrating the defeat of the bill by “fist bumping” GOP Whip Senator John Thune on the Senate floor—a gesture that will rank with Josh Hawley’s “white power salute” to the insurrectionists on January 6th.
The GOP’s votes against American competitiveness, jobs, veterans, and same-sex marriage are irrational and destructive. Republicans are providing free advertising copy for Democrats in the midterms. While it remains too early to attach reliance on polls, the trends are moving in favor of Democrats (but by no means assure Democratic victory).
With each cruel vote—including upcoming votes to safeguard contraception and abortion at the national level—Republicans will distance themselves from persuadable independents. Indeed, as the three votes today demonstrate, Republicans have no interest in governing but are concerned only about obstructing the Democratic agenda—even if that agenda benefits Republican constituents.
So, what is in the Inflation Reduction Act that has caused the GOP nuclear meltdown? Details are scarce, but the Senate has published a one-page summary, here: Inflation Reduction Act One Page Summary, along with separate outlines for energy and climate initiatives, prescription drug pricing reform, and closing tax loopholes to generate revenue. If you have time over the weekend, I recommend reading each of the summaries. But in case you can’t, I recommend Vox, The policies in the Inflation Reduction Act, explained.
Per Vox, the most significant expenditure in the bill will go to energy and climate:
The policies overall aim to push American consumers and industry away from reliance on fossil fuels. The biggest share of the funding goes to tax credits and rebates for a host of renewable technologies — solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles. The bill would also invest in energy efficiency at industrial sites that can help lower the sector’s hefty carbon footprint, while also dedicating some funds to forest and coastal restoration.
On prescription drugs, Medicare will be able to negotiate the prices for twenty drugs beginning in 2026. That will save the federal government $288 billion in expenses! Out-of-pocket costs for Medicare will be capped at $2,000 per year.
On the tax side, corporations earning more than $1 billion in revenue annually will pay a minimum 15% tax. The bill will also close the abusive “carried interest” loophole that favors hedge fund managers.
There is much more, but as I wrote yesterday, the Inflation Reduction Act is a big deal. If it passes, it will only be the latest “big deal” in a long line of successes for Joe Biden. A reader sent a link to a website titled, What Biden Has Done? The site is no longer being updated, but it provides a wealth of information. I urge you to spend ten minutes reviewing Biden’s accomplishments. I have highlighted a few:
Passed the largest infrastructure bill in a generation.
Passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Ended the war in Afghanistan.
Passed the first gun safety legislation in a generation.
Banned ghost guns.
Invested $3 billion in mental health and substance abuse prevention
Rejoined the Paris Climate Accords.
Rejoined the World Health Organization.
Appointed 42 federal district court judges—the most in 40 years (during first year).
Restored California’s ability to set stricter climate requirements
Prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ patients in healthcare
Forgave $11.5B in student loans for disabled students, students who were defrauded
There is a lot more, believe me! Check out the list!
Here’s my point: Democrats have a legitimate basis for a winning narrative going into the midterms. The Inflation Reduction Act may be the development we need to convince the mainstream media to stop with the bias against Biden and the false-equivalency both-siderism that infects nearly all major outlets. Comparing the politics of Joe Biden’s efforts to tame inflation with the GOP’s ongoing effort to undermine democracy is not fair, responsible, or intellectually honest. Those two things are not alike and should not be treated as such by political pundits.
There is nothing Trump can’t make worse.
The golfing world has been rocked by a scandal of global proportions. In short, Saudi Arabia has sought to repair its image as a murderous, repressive, corrupt regime by buying the top talent from the PGA Tour and forming its own golfing league—the LIV. In the process, privileged men who have been made obscenely wealthy by the PGA Tour switched their affiliation to the LIV faster than you can say, “$100 million signing bonus!”
The aforesaid obscenely rich, privileged men were speechless when reporters asked them to comment on widely known facts about Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and terrorist connections. When the president of the LIV (golf legend Greg Norman) was asked about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi ordered by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Norman responded, “We’ve all made mistakes.” I don’t know about you Mr. Norman, but I don’t know anyone who has murdered a journalist in a foreign embassy, dismembered his body, and then packed his remains into suitcases that were flown back to Saudi Arabia on a private jet. That hardly qualifies as a “mistake.”
Greg Norman’s grotesque gaffe caused him to be put in deep freeze for a month until the controversy over his remarks dissipated. Unbelievably, Donald Trump has surpassed Norman’s stupidity and insensitivity. The LIV is holding a golf tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club this week. Family members of victims killed by the fifteen Saudi Arabian hijackers on 9/11 protested outside Bedminster. Trump defended his willingness to host the murderous regime by saying “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11.”
The ignorance of Trump’s comment was surpassed only by its insensitivity to the family members of the victims of 9/11. In fact, the US government—of which Trump was president for four years—has “gotten to the bottom” of 9/11. The US 9/11 Commission issued a 419-page report detailing a terrorist attack led by a Saudi Arabian citizen—Osama bin Laden—financed by funds originating in Saudi Arabia, carried out by fifteen (of nineteen) hijackers from Saudi Arabia. Later releases of FBI files indicated that the hijackers were assisted by a Saudi Arabian consular official in California and by a member of the Saudi intelligence service. The 9/11 Commission also concluded that “Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al-Qaeda funding.”
So, yes, Donald, the US has “gotten to the bottom” of 9/11 enough to know that you should not be hosting Saudi Arabia’s “sports-washing” golf tournament at your private club over objections from families whose loved ones were murdered on 9/11 by Saudi Arabian terrorists.
About once a week, I receive a note from a reader that says, “Stop talking about Trump; you are just giving him free publicity.” I can’t. He is the leader of the Republican Party, the symbol and the cause of its debasement, the leading contender for the 2024 GOP nomination, and a former coup-plotting president who is currently planning a second coup. He is also the GOP’s biggest strength and biggest liability. As long as he says monumentally stupid things like, “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11,” Democrats should seek to hold Trump accountable in the court of public opinion.
The Secret Service text destruction gets worse.
A bad situation just got worse. Much. The Secret Service is part of the Treasury Department—which inexplicably “lost” text messages for crucial Secret Service agents for January 5th and 6th. In a coincidence not to be believed, the leadership of the agency that houses the Secret Service—Homeland Security—claims that its leadership's January 5th and 6th texts were “lost” because—wait for it—their phones were “reset” after January 6th. See WaPo, Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security secretary and deputy.
The excuse that texts are missing in the USSS and for the leadership of DHS because phones were “reset” is ludicrous. Those texts were required to be preserved by the Federal Records Act. The IT professionals at the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security know how to preserve texts, even when phones are “reset.”
We should avoid falling victim to conspiracy theories. But the widespread destruction relating to a critical date in US history is not believable. The most reasonable— indeed compelling—explanation is that there was an intentional, wholesale destruction of texts. If so, the implication is that someone was (or is) attempting to cover up the complicity of federal agencies in Trump’s coup. The DOJ must open an investigation and act with lightning speed before more evidence is destroyed!
J6 Committee to share information with DOJ.
Good news for those seeking to hold Trump accountable: The J6 Committee has agreed to a “template” for sharing its evidence with the DOJ. See Politico, Jan. 6 committee has a formal path to share investigative material with DOJ, its chair says.
The Politico article is informative on two points. First, Chair Bennie Thompson said that the DOJ was particularly interested in the “fake electors” evidence—a crime that touches Trump directly through the infamous “Eastman memo” that laid out the scheme for stopping the electoral count.
Second, Thompson said that the Committee was concerned that turning over the information to the DOJ would impose an obligation on the DOJ to turn information over to criminal defendants. Thompson’s concern suggests that the Committee still has important information it has not yet shared with the public. Inhabitants of Trumpworld should be losing sleep until the J6 Committee gavels its proceedings to a close!
It has only been a week since the last public hearing of the J6 Committee. Liz Cheney concluded that hearing with words that proved prophetic: The dam is beginning to break. It sure has. In one week, it has become clear that the DOJ has at least one open investigation focusing on crimes that implicate Donald Trump. The NYTimes released emails from Trump campaign officials and advisors that make clear they knew the fake electors were “fake.” It is only one short step from the Trump campaign to Trump. If the DOJ squeezes the campaign advisors and officials who knew the elector’s scheme was fraudulent, they may deliver Trump as their “stay out of jail card.”
Like the sudden turn of events in the investigations of Trump, the dramatic change in the legislative prospects for Democrats was head-spinning. We should not assume that Trump will be indicted or that the Inflation Reduction Act will pass. But we should be heartened by the fact that a single week can make a significant difference in the momentum of an investigation and a campaign.
We are 100 days out from the midterms. That is both the blink of an eye and an eternity in politics. No one should assume that anything is impossible or guaranteed. Fortune favors the bold—and those who refuse to quit. We cannot know what advantages will accrue or disasters will strike in the next 100 days. But the only way to benefit from unknowable events is to act as if the future is filled with limitless opportunities—because it is. That fact alone should be enough to sustain us during the struggle to come.
Stay strong! Talk to you on Monday!