Bad economic news hurts political progress.
Written by William Stroock, observer, author of military fiction
With just a few weeks left in 2021 President Biden’s poll numbers are abysmal. The Real Clear Politics aggregate of polls gives Biden an approval rating of 44%. The news gives little relief to the president. Overall, the Consumer Price Index shows inflation was up 6.8% in November. Prices for durable goods (cars, appliances, etc…) are up 14.9% and wholesale prices rose 9.8% over November of 2020. Compounding economic woes is the Covid Omicron variant which is raging across the United States. As of 14 November, the United States is averaging more than 117,000 Covid cases per day. Here in New Jersey, the state is averaging just over 4,000 new Covid cases a day, and the transmission rate stands at 1.26. Any number above 1.0 means the virus is spreading. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the Omicron variant accounts for 13% of new Covid cases in New York and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to fight over Joe Biden’s signature piece of legislation, the Build Back Better (reconciliation) bill. Interestingly the battle is being fought entirely within the Democratic party which holds slim majorities in both the House and Senate. Not one Senate Republican will vote for the bill. The Build Back Better Bill, sometimes called the reconciliation bill because it needs to be passed through the special budgetary process called reconciliation, contains dozens of items from the Democrat Party’s wish list. This includes expanding Medicaid and Obamacare, raising taxes on corporations and the very wealthy, a child tax credit and Green New Deal initiatives.
The House passed a version of this bill last month, but this was dead on arrival in the senate. So said the Senate GOP, so said Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), who didn’t like the way the house version of the BBB was structured and thought it was too expensive besides. He also argue that the bill ad to the nation’s inflation woes. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Senate version of the BBB bill will cost nearly 3 trillion dollars over ten years. Manchin wants to keep the bill at or below $1.75 trillion over ten years. Without his vote, BBB cannot pass.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has tabled the BBB bill for now. Instead Schumer plans to focus on a voting bill that would essentially federalize elections. Senate Dems already tried to do this via SB-1 earlier this year. That bill was filibustered on the Senate floor without a formal up or down vote. 60 votes are needed to end debate and bring a bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
So once again Democrats are talking about filibuster reform. This week Schumer is negotiating with Manchin and other senate Dems about changing filibuster rules to allow a special vote for their voting bill. Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) has already said she opposes new filibuster rules. A spokesman said that Sinema supports the filibuster because the filibuster, ‘protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government.’
Over on the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s special January 6th Committee continues its investigation of the January 6th protests. The committee has been working hard to prove President Trump orchestrated the sometimes violent protests, which Democrats insist was an insurrection. This week the House voted to hold in contempt Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff at the time of the January protests, for failure to cooperate with the committee.
On Tuesday Congresswoman Liz Cheney (D-WY) read to the committee text messages sent to Meadows by Donald Trump Jr. and several Fox News personalities including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham urging President Trump to take action wile January 6th protestors occupied Capitol Hill. Cheney believed these texts to be damning, but Republicans pointed out that President Trump went on television and urged the protestors to go home. The latest poll by Soco Strategies reveals Republican voters in Wyoming have turned decisively against Liz Cheney. Challenger Harriet Hagemen leads Cheney 38%-18% in a crowded race.
Elsewhere, the battle between the GOP Establishment and Trump for control of the party continues. In Georgia Republican David Purdue, who lost his US Senate election runoff last January, has announced he’s challenging incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp for the nomination in next year’s election. Trump deemed Kemp insufficiently supportive of his election fraud allegations and election challenges last autumn and publicly supports Purdue. The Purdue campaign’s internal polling shows kemp leading 47%-43%. But when respondents were told that Trump supports Purdue the numbers change to 56%-34%. Whoever win the GOP nomination will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran in 2016 at lost to Kemp by 55,000 votes but insists widespread voter suppression cost her the victory.
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