Joe Manchin gonna miss the point like whoosh! right over his fool head.
When you read reports that Joe Biden has offered to cut his infrastructure proposal nearly in half, holding off on any specific mention of paying for it by rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts, your reaction may well be "WTF, JOE, THAT IS LIKE GIVING REPUBLICANS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT, WTF AGAIN!??!" That is a very understandable reaction, because that is what we said our ownself.
Fortunately, our reaction was tempered somewhat by this Greg Sargent column in the Washington Post, in which Sargent points out that Biden's proposal, floated to Republican infrastructure negotiator Shelly Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), just might be a pretty damn smart idea, and a very loud message aimed right at Joe Manchin, who keeps insisting Democrats need to try bipartisanship even as Republicans keep pantsing him.
For one thing, while it's a huge cut from his most recent $1.7 trillion offer, Biden's new offer is right at $1 trillion, just a hair more than the recent not-serious GOP offer that claimed to be for $928 billion. Thing is, most of that package was already-planned spending, with just $257 billion in new infrastructure projects. Biden's offer is for a real trillion bucks in new infrastructure projects, on top of baseline spending, according to a source Sargent spoke to.
And even without explicitly calling for rollbacks of the Big Fat Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads, both CNN and Politico report that Biden's offer does include other tax hikes to pay for it, while avoiding the repeal of the 2017 cuts, which Republicans have said is a red line for them.
Sargent explains that this all seems very directly aimed at opening Manchin's eyes to what the GOP of 2021 has become. Biden's infrastructure proposals have all included a mechanism to pay for themselves, although Manchin has called for a smaller increase in corporate tax rates than Biden proposed.
The message is that if Republicans reject this, it should be unavoidably clear that Republicans are beyond hope as a governing partner on any terms that Manchin himself would find acceptable. If so, it's time to move to passage of a bill via the simple majority "reconciliation" process. But that's not all: If this is so, it's also time to seriously debate reforming the filibuster. [...]
And so, if Biden keeps slashing his plan's spending levels to win Republicans while keeping the pay-for Manchin wants — and Republicans still don't budge — at what point does Manchin realize Republicans will never support anything close to what Manchin himself wants?
Now, this really is just regular chess, with no extra dimensions involved. Biden has certainly said he would be happy if Republicans play ball, and in the extremely unlikely event 10 Republican senators actually do accept this offer, then hooray, there's a trillion-dollar infrastructure package that Joe Biden can sign. Thing is, Biden seems a lot more clear-eyed about where Republicans really are.
Biden has put forward a proposal that has the spending target Republicans say they want, and avoids the red line they insisted on, AND includes the funding Manchin says he wants.
If (really, when) Republicans still say no, maybe, just maybe, that will help Manchin realize that there just isn't any agreement to be reached. (If you're the little Joe Manchin cartoon angel whispering in Manchin's ear, you could also add in the Republican rejection of a January 6 commission they initially claimed they'd support.)
Mind you, Sargent notes, there's a catch, and it's some catch all right:
The bigger question is this: How many times must Democrats be led down rabbit holes in search of GOP support that never materializes before Manchin accepts that in a fundamental sense, the bipartisan possibilities he dreams of are simply gone?
If nothing else, this should be the very last offer Joe Biden makes on infrastructure. It's a pittance compared to the original $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, but the worst likely outcome is that 10 Republicans might sign on, and then we still have a trillion dollars of new infrastructure and resulting jobs. (OK, the absolute worst that could happen is that Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema suddenly decide to switch parties and make Mitch McConnell majority leader again, but we ran outside, turned around three times and spat to prevent that. And cursed.)
The more likely result is that Republicans will once more reject it and Democrats can get on with passing as much of the original proposal by reconciliation, and we can keep hoping that someday a bunch of Star Trek cosplayers can exclaim in relief, "Manchin, his eyes uncovered!"
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month. If you're Joe Manchin, we'd happily accept $2.50 or $5 a month, but then you gotta sign on to filibuster reform.
'Jello Shots' not an option yet.
With summer coming on, Joe Biden yesterday reminded America that there is in fact still a pandemic out there, and while we're making really good progress on getting people vaccinated (60 percent of Americans over 12 have gotten at least one shot), we still have a lot of work to do to meet the goal of getting at least one shot into 70 percent of American arms by Independence day. Biden announced a "month of action" aimed at increasing vaccination rates, especially in the Midwest and the South, which lag behind the rest of the country.
"The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're going to have in the fight against this virus," Biden said from the White House. He predicted that with more vaccinations, America will soon experience "a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations. An All-American summer."
Here's the excellent news: The White House announced yesterday that 12 states have already vaccinated 70 percent of their adult residents — with at least one shot, although to be fully effective, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two injections. Politico points out that all 12 of those states voted for Biden, but you did not hear Joe Biden calling attention to that detail. The most completely vaccinated states are in New England, and if you want to brag about bipartisanship, the most-vaccinated state right now is Vermont, whose governor, Phil Scott, is a Republican. Nearly 80 percent of folks 12 and up there have had at least one shot, Scott tweeted yesterday. Just three people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the whole state.
Biden announced several initiatives yesterday aimed at getting the rest of the country moving in that direction, some which will make it even easier to get the free vaccinations, and others that will reward people who get their vaccination cards filled out.
For folks who haven't found time to go get vaccinated, the administration announced that many pharmacies participating in the vaccine effort will be extending their hours, including some 24-hour stores. "If you're too busy at work or school, you can get vaccinated around the clock," Biden said in his speech.
Beyond that, the White House has partnered with a bunch of child care outfits to make it easier for parents with young children to get vaxxed. The coolest part of this is at the end of the paragraph:
KinderCare, Learning Care Group, Bright Horizons and more than 500 YMCAs [will] provide free childcare coverage for Americans looking for shots or needing assistance while recovering from side effects.
Maybe I'm a sap, but that almost made me cry. It's how things should work all the time: Everybody should have childcare when they aren't feeling up to chasing after the kids.
This strikes us as incredibly smart, too:
The administration is also launching a new partnership to bring vaccine education and even doses to more than a thousand Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons, building on a successful pilot program in Maryland.
In addition, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden (happy birthday, Dr. Biden!), second gentleman Doug Emhoff, and other officials from the Cabinet will go on a "We Can Do This" vaccination tour, mostly concentrating on the South, where vaccination rates are well behind the rest of the country.
And before y'all Terrible Ones start yammering on in the comments about how states that voted for Trump can just get sick and die, keep in mind that the virus doesn't care about politics, and there are tens of millions of people who aren't wingnuts in all those states, but who may need information and persuasion to get vaccinated. (Also, remember that people travel, so the more parts of the country bring up their vaccination rates, the safer we all are.)
And then there are the goofy lotteries and rewards, like Minnesota's program offering all vaccinated folks a choice of rewards, like free admission to aquariums, parks, zoos, and minor league ballparks, or a free fishing license. Biden called attention to several other programs sponsored by companies, like Anheuser-Busch's offer — if we get to the national 70 percent vax rate — of a free beer to anyone over 21 on July 4.
"Get a shot and have a beer," Biden said, advertising the promotion even though he himself refrains from drinking alcohol.
There will also be Major League Baseball ticket giveaways, and a very nice offer by Microsoft to give XBoxes to Boys and Girls Clubs as part of vaccine outreach and education. Whatever gets people moving, although the AP does also note that people signing up for the free shitty beer will have their data collected, according to the fine print on the offer website, because America.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 monthly, and you could win a free "iPhone!" *From somebody if you enter a drawing, we suppose, not us. But we'll buy you a beer at a meetup when this is all over, and we won't even track your data!
You just stop that, Kyrsten Sinema! You stop it right now!
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), who missed last week's vote on establishing an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, showed up in Tucson yesterday and explained she'd missed the vote because she "had a personal family matter," although she didn't care to elaborate on that in the least. We're pretty sure that's US Senate for "Fuck off, I will never explain myself and you can't make me," which is true but unsatisfying. Her office hasn't explained her absence either, but did say that had she been there, she'd have voted for the bill, which nonetheless failed because it couldn't get 10 Republican votes.
But Sinema did have a bit more to say about the many calls for her and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) to please recognize that democracy is in some pretty desperate straits these days, and that their opposition to any sort of reform to the legislative filibuster gives Senate Republicans a veto over investigating the insurrection, and over important Democratic priorities like the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, both of which Sinema says she supports, but which will never get 10 votes from Republicans. Even Joe Biden subtweeted her the other day, albeit while actually talking.
We bet you are really looking forward to the logical case she built for letting the Republicans block everything that Joe Biden wants to achieve, much of which Sinema supports as well!
Here is what Sinema said about the filibuster, courtesy of the Arizona Republic. It's a doozy!
Sinema reiterated her position that the filibuster is a tool that "protects the democracy of our nation" and is meant to create comity and encourage senators from both parties to work together.
"To those who say that we must make a choice between the filibuster and 'X,' I say, this is a false choice," she said.
Except for how, no, that is not actually what the filibuster does. We have been over this before! The filibuster is a mechanism that historically has been used primarily to block civil rights legislation. It has no roots in the Constitution, or even in the debates of the Founders, who spoke of the Senate being a place where a simple majority would prevail. And since it's become routine, the filibuster has more commonly thwarted democracy and discouraged bipartisanship. Here, go listen to a podcast about all that!
OK, but that stuff there was only Sinema's preamble. We bet you are still really looking forward to the logical case she built for preserving the filibuster. Here it is!
The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively — and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior.
Let's break Sinema's statement down a bit, as we rhetorical cartoon doktors like to do.
Stated: The Senate is a system.
Stated: The Senate is not working effectively.
Unstated, and perhaps disputed: The filibuster is a reason the system is not working.
Also, yeah, sure, we do all pretty much agree the system is fucked up so badly that Bob the Builder (From "Bob the Builder") and Bill (From "Only a Bill") would look at it and say, 'Nope, we're fucked." This however, is tangential to the premises.
Someone please explain to this Doktor of Rhetoric how the hell Sinema gets from those premises to the conclusion "The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior"? As sequiturs go, that fucker is NON.
Clearly, Sinema is pulling a bait and switch here, blaming the problems in the system on some personal flaw in the members of the Senate. It's an unstated assertion of additional, entirely unproven premises:
Unstated: The flaw is not in the rules.
Unstated: The flaw is in senators' behavior.
Mind you, assuming the truth of an unexamined premise or premises like that leads to Rebecca's favorite logical fallacy, which she enjoys spotting in the wild, and it is ...?
Rebecca: BEGGING THE QUESTION!
Indeed! Now, you could certainly argue that, in the hands of Republicans since 2009, there has indeed been some pretty bad, dishonest, bad-faith behavior. The best solution actually would be for Republicans to fix their behavior, but they have a political interest in behaving as badly as possible, because gumming up the works is what passes for their actual political ideology, which largely rejects governance from the get-go.
Here's what's missing in Sinema's logic: If the system is broken because of your behavior, you can fix the system by changing your behavior.
But if the system is broken because of someone else's behavior, and they are determined not to change their behavior, you can change your own behavior all you want, but it won't fix the goddamn system. So you'll need to change what, kids? THE SYSTEM.
Now get out of here and don't be tracking syllogism all over the carpet, we just cleaned.
Yr Wonkette is funded by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep bad logic off the premises.
And he took a minute to jump up Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema's asses.
Difficult though it is to believe, Joe Biden yesterday became the first US president to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to mark an anniversary of the 1921 race massacre that leveled the city's Greenwood district, leaving as many as 300 Black residents dead, and thousands homeless and having lost everything. It took the centennial for a president to come. No one was ever arrested in the massacre, which was covered up by white officialdom for decades.
In his speech, Biden recounted the horror of the two-day rampage by white mobs, fueled by a false newspaper account suggesting that a 19-year-old Black man had attempted to rape a 17-year-old white elevator operator.
One hundred years ago, at this hour, on this first day of June smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed in rubble. In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage. Ten thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in interment camps.
Biden drew applause from the crowd when he said "this was not a riot. This was a massacre." He noted that it was "among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories."
Here's the full speech:
A few highlights:
History Has To Be Honest
In a clear rebuke to Republican-led states that are banning discussions of race and history that might make white people uncomfortable, Biden said, "We can't just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, everything. That's what great nations do. [...] I come here to fill the silence. Because in silence, wounds deepen."
Referring to the past year's reckoning with systemic racism in policing — and the backlash to the very idea that there's a problem — Biden said,
There's greater recognition that for too long we've allowed a narrow, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game, where there's only one winner. "If you succeed, I fail." "If you get ahead, I fall behind." "If you get a job, I lose mine.'" [That one, remember, got Jesse Helms reelected in 1990 — Dok] And maybe worst of all: "If I hold you down, I lift myself up." Instead of: "if you do well, we all do well."
It's The Generational Wealth, Stupid
Biden pointed out that the tragedy of Greenwood — and of the multitude of similar white raids on Black communities throughout the Jim Crow era — wasn't just the immediate loss of homes, belongings, and businesses, but a much greater loss, of the opportunity to pass on homes and businesses through the generations. And through policies like discriminatory lending, redlining, and building freeways that divided communities of color, the federal government actively participated in denying Black Americans the opportunities to build wealth. Repeating a point he'd made in his proclamation on the anniversary of the massacre, Biden noted that the people of Greenwood — and so many other places in the last century — never had a chance to rebuild.
This is fairly remarkable stuff for an American president to acknowledge, although as we noted yesterday, it's a core part of arguments for reparations: The harm done by slavery and segregation didn't just affect those who lived it, but all their descendants. The steps Biden announced yesterday — efforts to steer more federal contracts to small disadvantaged businesses, and to strengthen federal fair housing policy — represent just a start at closing the racial wealth gap.
Another Impossible Job For Kamala Harris
Biden then turned to Republican attacks on voting rights, promising to "fight like heck" (yes, he is Joe Biden) to preserve the right to vote. "This sacred right is under assault with incredible intensity like I've never seen," he said, "with an intensity and an aggressiveness we've not seen in a long, long time." Biden called the attempts to make voting harder "simply un-American," but noted that it's not unprecedented. You could certainly argue that, considering the events he was in Tulsa to mark, white supremacy is entirely too American.
Calling for June to be a "month of action on Capitol Hill," Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the effort in the Senate to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The former would set national standards to ensure people can vote in federal elections, and the latter would restore the requirement that state changes in voting laws be cleared by the Justice Department, to make sure they don't restrict access to the ballot.
Yeah, Joe Manchin And Kyrsten Sinema, Biden Means You
While he was at it, Biden also took what seemed to be an off-text and slightly frustrated jab at Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for their reluctance to move his legislative agenda forward.
I hear all the folks on TV saying, "Why doesn't Biden get this done?" Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House, and a tie in the Senate — with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.
Brace yourself for mutterings and flutterings from the civility police, and the inevitable fact checks pointing out that Manchin and Sinema don't actually vote more frequently with the Republicans. The Washington Post points out that Sinema at least supports the voting bills; Manchin has suggested he'd rather focus on the John Lewis Act and restoring the "preclearance" provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Manchin would apply preclearance to all states, mooting the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby County decision, which nuked preclearance because it only applied to states with a history of voter suppression prior to 1965.
But Manchin and Sinema have both opposed doing away with the legislative filibuster, which in effect has given Senate Republicans a veto over virtually every part of Biden's agenda, so on that one, we'll go with fact check true.
Biden closed his Tulsa speech by coming back to the original American sin that led to the 1921 massacre, white supremacy, noting that the intelligence community has identified white supremacist extremism as "the most lethal threat to the homeland." He warned, as he has in other speeches, that
hate is never defeated. It only hides. It hides. It is given a little bit of oxygen, just a little bit of oxygen by its leaders, it comes out from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away.
He ended on a hopeful note, pointing out that on the whole, young people today embrace diversity and reject hate, and offering the sort of goofy Joe Bidenish observation that one degree of social change is reflected in TV ads that feature lots of racially diverse couples. It wasn't really a scientific data point, he acknowledged, but he said advertisers aren't stupid, and know what images of America will catch on with consumers. "They're sellin' soap!" We figure the rightwing rage machine will be all over that one by dinnertime tonight.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 to $10 a month so we can keep being terribly uncivil to people what need it.