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The MAGA tide is cresting.
June 2, 2023
The Senate passed the debt ceiling/budget bill on Thursday evening. The bill passed with a “side agreement” to allow a vote on a supplemental defense bill and a statement that the “debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds” to counter threats from Russia and China. The side agreement also acknowledges that the bill does not restrict the Senate’s ability to address natural disasters or the fentanyl epidemic. See Politico, Senate leaders reach agreement to quickly vote on debt deal.
The additional carve-outs for defense, disasters, and drug epidemics suggest that neither chamber of Congress feels bound by the spending caps in the bill. In other words, it appears that McCarthy bargained for—and got—an unenforceable spending cap.
When most subscribers read these words, the debt ceiling relief bill will be headed to President Biden’s desk. A six-month nightmare that frightened tens of millions of Americans will be over. It should have never happened—and should never happen again. Ensuring that it will never happen again involves regaining control of Congress in 2024 and retaining the presidency. We can do that—and the GOP’s use of the debt ceiling to engage in financial terrorism should boost Democratic chances of achieving those goals.
Joe Biden has been lauded for his achievement in negotiating the deal. Perversely, McCarthy is also garnering praise for convincing only 149 members of his 218-member caucus to vote for the bill. When Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, she repeatedly pushed legislation over the line by securing the vote of every member of the Democratic majority. That is what leadership looks like—and McCarthy’s performance on this bill does not hold a candle to Pelosi’s achievements.
As the media moves past the details of the sausage-making that resulted in the compromise bill, a larger truth is coming into focus: By averting default and entering into an eighteen-month budget agreement, President Biden has protected the economic recovery that has spanned his tenure in office. Economic experts have been predicting a recession for more than a year—predictions that can be found on the financial pages of leading outlets today. It is a moral certainty that a default by the US would have triggered a deep recession. Instead, the post-pandemic recovery will continue unimpeded by a self-inflicted financial crisis.
CNN reported on Thursday that the US economy continues to defy expectations—more robust in some areas than expected (private sector business) and softer than expected in others (manufacturing). See CNN, The US economy grew faster in the first quarter than previously reported.
US economic growth in the first three months of the year was faster than previously estimated, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, increased at an annualized rate of 1.3% in the first quarter, up from an initial estimate of 1.1% reported last month.
Private-sector business activity expanded at a robust pace in May, mostly thanks to the services sector, according to preliminary survey data released by S&P Global on Tuesday. Service-providing businesses reported stronger demand, an easier time hiring workers and increased optimism for business activity in the year ahead. Meanwhile, the US manufacturing sector fell back into contraction territory in May as manufacturers reported substantially weaker demand.
And, of course, the annual inflation rate is 4.93%--down from its peak of 9.06% in June 2022. While an inflation rate of 4.93% is not great, it is a substantial improvement over the torrid pace of inflation last year. Although the debt ceiling bill is not about partisan advantage, a default would have been an economic disaster. For those hoping to avoid another debt default crisis, the fact that Biden avoided default in 2023 increases the likelihood of his reelection and a permanent solution to the outdated debt ceiling. In that regard, all Americans are the beneficiaries of Biden’s successful negotiating strategy.
But on the day that Biden’s opponents should be chastened and silent, they are providing non-stop coverage of his trip and fall over a sandbag on the stage at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. For context, the fall occurred after Biden spent ninety minutes shaking the hands of every graduating cadet. Biden later jogged to his waiting limousine and joked that he had been “sandbagged.” See CNN, White House says Biden is fine after tripping on sandbag and falling on stage at Air Force Academy commencement.
Still, the media is primed to amplify every stumble, stutter, and gaffe that might be interpreted as a sign of senility. While such coverage is unpleasant to watch and unfair to Biden, his supporters must simply accept that such stories are inevitable and ignore them. It comes with the territory of being a presidential candidate—just as Ron DeSantis’s supporters must cringe every time his paper-thin skin and anger management issues flare, as they did on Wednesday. After a reporter asked DeSantis why he wasn’t taking questions from voters, DeSantis snapped at the reporter, “Are you blind? Are you blind?” To see the video, check out Huffington Post, Ron DeSantis Snaps At Reporter Asking Why He Won’t Take Questions: 'Are You Blind?'
So, too, with Donald Trump's daily admissions of criminal behavior. During a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity on Thursday evening, Hannity asked Trump if he knew anything about the recorded call in which he admitted that he had classified documents in his possession after leaving the White House. Although Trump has previously claimed that the documents were packed into boxes inadvertently, Trump told a different story to Hannity.
Trump first resorted to a lie—"I don’t know anything about [the audio recording]”—even though Trump has a copy of the recording. But Trump then invoked a defense that admits that he took the documents knowingly, saying, “Everything I did was right. We have the Presidential Records Act, which I abided by 100%.” Since we know Trump took classified documents, his claim that he “did everything right [under] the Presidential Records Act” is a clear admission that he took the documents knowingly.
So, Biden tripped and fell on the day Congress passed a historic bill suspending the debt limit for eighteen months, a victory that is the direct result of Biden’s brilliant negotiating skills. On that same day, DeSantis lost his temper at a reporter and twice asked, “Are you blind?,” while Trump incriminated himself in a felony case of espionage. Given a choice among those alternatives, you would opt for Biden’s day, without a doubt.
The nightmare is over. America can rest easy for at least eighteen months regarding the validity of its debt, thanks to Joe Biden.
DeSantis’s anti-immigration bill is already hurting Florida.
. DeSantis signed an anti-immigration bill on May 10th that will go into effect next week. The bill is a smorgasbord of punitive measures designed to make life miserable for the 900,000 immigrants in Florida. Those measures are already having an in terrorem effect and have provoked protests across Florida. In addition, the bill is exacerbating Florida’s already inadequate labor market. See Mother Jones, All Floridians Should Be Worried About DeSantis’ New Anti-Immigration Law.
Per Mother Jones,
Local governments will be prohibited from providing funds to issue identification documents for undocumented immigrants;
Immigrants will be barred from using legally issued driver licenses from other states. (Currently, 18 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.)
Hospitals that accept Medicaid now will be required to collect immigration data on their admission or registration forms and report costs associated with any treatment of patients.
The transportation of undocumented immigrants across state lines into Florida becomes a felony—punishable by up to 15 years in prison if the immigrant is a minor.
Alienating and panicking 900,000 residents of Florida is not a good idea for Florida’s economy. Per Mother Jones, “about one in five Florida residents are immigrants and hundreds of thousands of US citizens live in mixed-status households.”
According to Mother Jones,
Without undocumented workers, the Florida Policy Institute projects, the industries that employ most undocumented workers—including construction, agriculture, retail, and hospitality—"would lose 10 percent of their workforce and the wages they contribute along with them.” In one year, the state’s GDP could drop by $12.6 billion.
Florida relies on immigrants to harvest fruits and vegetables, a mainstay of the Florida economy. And immigrants are a significant portion of the service industries in Florida. According to one immigration rights lawyer, business owners of companies that provide landscaping, pool service, food service, construction, and temporary staffing are considering laying off workers. The lawyer reports that
We’re seeing not only reports of people leaving but also that they have already left,” she says, explaining that a likely ripple effect is a worsening housing affordability crisis. “Individuals who used to sublet a room or co-habit with other families have walked out, and that creates a true issue for those who have to uproot their families but also for those who stay behind”—and must cope with higher costs absent the additional rent.
Illegal immigration is a complex issue. But illegal immigration is also a central component of labor in Florida and other states. Using a sledgehammer to punish illegal immigrants will adversely affect all Floridians and may push Florida into a local recession. In his haste to position himself as a presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis has shown that he lacks the foresight, knowledge, and skills necessary to manage a large economy in which immigrants play a central role—like it or not.
DeSantis’s anti-immigration bill is another example of MAGA overreach that is already coming back to bite Republicans in the ****. Undocumented workers do not vote, but their family members, employers, and customers do. The 900,000 immigrants directly touch and improve the lives of tens of millions of Floridians. The anti-immigration law effectively banishes immigrants from Florida.
The adverse effects of the law will become apparent as DeSantis is in mid-campaign—assuming he makes it past Iowa. The negative press from DeSantis’s anti-immigration bill should have a sobering effect on Republicans and a rallying effect on Democrats. Despite the pain inflicted by the bill, it is another example of the cresting of the MAGA tide of cruelty.
Talk to you tomorrow!