Congress

Oh Good, Now We Know What Joe Manchin Wants, Maybe. And It's AWFUL.

Dok is Mad About A Thing.

One of the recurring mysteries getting in the way of progress on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill is that nobody really knows what exactly the the two Democratic holdouts, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are holding out for. They've both been extremely coy about not saying in public what top-line amount of spending they could vote for, other than "Not $3.5 trillion over 10 years."

Now, last night, Manchin did release that screed about the "fiscal insanity" of spending lots of money on social programs while raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for it, but even that wasn't terribly specific about changes he might want to make to the reconciliation package beyond insisting Congress should wait and see whether poor people stop being poor, and also we should means-test any new benefits to make sure the middle class won't support the bill since it's frozen out of getting any help.

As for Sinema, she's been even less clear. Asked whether the rest of the Democratic caucus knows where she is, she hilariously said "I'm clearly right in front of the elevator" because she's the second coming of goddamn John "turn left at Greenland" Lennon.

Today, however, Politico reports it has dredged up a copy of a July 28 document that it says Manchin has been handing to Senate colleagues who want to know what his own position on reconciliation might be, if he'd be so kind. It's a brief outline of some fairly radical changes he'd like to make to Biden's first-term agenda, like slashing most of it. Look at this shit, would you just LOOK AT IT:

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climate change

Climate Vs. Jobs? Ford And Its New $11.4 Billion EV And Battery Plants Say STFU.​

Also 11,000 new jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Ford Motor Company announced yesterday that it's partnering with South Korean energy firm SK Innovation to build two new factories in Tennessee and Kentucky to manufacture electric vehicles and the batteries that go in 'em. The two complexes — wait, they're "hubs!" — will employ some 11,000 workers total when they open in 2025.

The Detroit News reports the plant in Tennessee, to be called "Blue Oval City," will manufacture Ford's new electric F-series pickups in a

"vertically integrated ecosystem" consisting of a vehicle assembly plant, a battery plant jointly operated by Ford and SK, as well as facilities for suppliers and battery recycling operations. Ford says the new assembly plant will be carbon neutral with zero waste to landfill when it's fully operational in 2025.

Ford says it will be "among the largest auto manufacturing campuses in US history."

Ford and SK will also construct two battery factories in Kentucky, which will produce batteries to be used in Ford and Lincoln EVs built at other assembly plants around North America. An industry insider we just made up right now said the Kentucky and Tennessee sites were "chosen deliberately to fuck with Doktor Zoom," who can never keep the two states straight.

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Military

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Happy Christmas, War Is Over

Defense contractors: What are they good for? (Absolutely nothin')

Here's your feel-good video for the morning, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) speaking Wednesday in favor of an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would cut 10 percent, or roughly $77 billion, from the defense budget. The amendment was offered by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), with co-sponsors Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), after the House Armed Services Committee voted earlier this month to add $24 billion to Joe Biden's requested defense budget, matching a similar spending boost by the Senate.

Ocasio-Cortez argued that there are plenty of better things we could be spending that $77 billion on right now:

During a time when our country is withdrawing from foreign wars, when COVID-19 and its fallout is one of the greatest threats that we face, when record levels of unemployment, housing and healthcare crises are among us, the United States should be reducing its military spending by at least 10% and prioritize the very needs of our communities here at home.

But wait! If we cut defense spending, won't that make America less safe? Surely we absolutely need every single dollar to protect America from its many enemies. AOC had some suggestions for stuff we might do without, in this excerpt of the debate posted to Twitter by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota):

Responding to a claim by ranking Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, Ocasio-Cortez said,

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Nice Time

Illinois Did Its Very Own Green New Deal!

This is kind of huge!

If you want to take the risk of getting a little optimistic about the prospects of getting this crazy world through the climate emergency, take a look at the latest edition of David Roberts's "Volts" newsletter, which is pretty much a green nerdy love letter to the ambitious new climate bill that the state of Illinois just enacted. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the state's Climate and Equitable Jobs Act on September 15, and Roberts, who knows his climate legislation, says it's "one of the most environmentally ambitious, worker-friendly, justice-focused energy bills of any state in the country," and makes Illinois the first state in the Midwest to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions.

It's not just a really good bill; it was also passed through a process that other states should look to in their own climate plans, bringing a whole bunch of very diverse stakeholders into the negotiations. In fact, only one major stakeholder — the state's biggest electric utility — wasn't at the table, and that may have made a huge difference:

Exelon subsidiary ComEd had been caught up in a bribery scandal that left it disempowered and weak, under a deferred prosecution agreement. The scandal also led to House Speaker Michael Madigan, a reliable utility ally, being removed from his position.

Utilities were, to put it crudely, on the shit list, allowing political leadership to restrain their historic (and largely counterproductive) influence.

It remains to be seen whether the Illinois example will lead climate activists to urge their states' biggest carbon polluters to please get caught taking bribes; perhaps it would be enough to simply do everything possible to keep them from bigfooting states' climate plans.

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