JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
The Biden presidency Chapter I
The Coming GOP Inquisition
Biden’s classified documents, the “weaponization of the federal government,” and other new targets for House investigations
By Russell Berman
House Republicans are readying their subpoenas.
(The Atlantic) After a few (er, 14) initial stumbles, House Republicans have elected a speaker and handed out committee gavels, and are now poised to deliver on the one promise to voters that they have the unchallenged power to keep: pursuing aggressive investigations of President Joe Biden, his administration, and, yes, even his family.
The flurry of inquiries that Republicans, under the auspices of Congress’s oversight power, plan to launch in the coming days and weeks might well overwhelm the Biden administration, not to mention the public. None of the hearings are likely to command the attention of last year’s Democratic-led January 6 committee, but they have the potential to reveal new information about how the federal government has operated over the past two years and to create political headaches for the president as he prepares to run for reelection. The investigations also carry risks for Republicans, who could lose public support if they appear to be tilting too far at conspiracy theories or pursuing overly partisan—and personal—takedowns of Biden and his son Hunter.
Document discovery differences divide House GOP and Democrats
Lawmakers volleyed talking points back and forth in reaction to the discovery of classified documents outside the Biden White House.
Biden political future clouded by classified document probe
By STEVE PEOPLES and JILL COLVIN
(AP) — Virtually everything was going right for President Joe Biden as he opened the year.
His approval ratings were ticking up. Inflation was slowing. And as Democrats united behind his likely reelection campaign, Republicans were at war with themselves after a disappointing midterm season.
But on Thursday, Biden’s political outlook veered into more uncertain territory after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the Democratic president’s handling of classified documents. …
There are major differences between the two cases. Most notably, there is no suggestion that Biden purposefully tried to prevent the documents discovered at his home or office from being turned over or that he was even aware of their presence. Trump, who is being probed for potentially obstructing investigators, also had far more classified documents in his possession.
But Thursday’s appointment of a special counsel nonetheless thrusts legal uncertainty over the sitting president and could revive debate among Democrats about the wisdom of him seeking a second term. …
Thus begins a messy election season in which the current and former presidents of the United States are both under investigation by special counsels as they gear up for a potential rematch in 2024. Many voters in both parties were already calling for a new generation of leadership to emerge in the nascent presidential contest. Such calls are now growing louder.
On many political fronts, Biden’s touted 2024 campaign is potentially vulnerable,” said Norman Solomon, a progressive Democrat who leads the so-called Don’t Run Joe campaign, which is already running television ads against Biden in key states. “Democrats and the country as a whole would be much better off this year and next if he’s not running for president.”
Democrats publicly and privately conceded that the stunning development was at best an unwelcome distraction at an inopportune time that muddies the case against Donald Trump.
Some Democrats were hopeful, but not certain, that voters might distinguish between Biden’s cooperative approach involving a small trove of documents he apparently possessed by mistake and what federal prosecutors described as Trump’s willful obstruction of hundreds of government secrets.
Foreign trip becomes victory lap for strengthened Biden
(AP) Biden spent the trip making congratulatory calls to Democrats who fared better than expected in the midterms, emboldening him during three global summits where he pushed for stronger action on climate change, closer economic ties in Asia and greater condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After facing doubts at home and abroad over his insistence that the United States is turning the page on his chaotic predecessor, Donald Trump, Biden’s contention that “America is back” appeared more durable than ever.
As Biden returns from his trip, though, he faces daunting challenges to his presidency, including worries about a potential recession and questions over whether he should run for a second term. Because of inflation and other factors, Americans will sit down to more expensive Thanksgiving dinners next week.
… Now Biden, who turns 80 on Sunday, has to decide whether to run for a second term. He has said he intends to do so but wants to talk it over with his family. An announcement could come early next year.
A recent AP-NORC poll, conducted before the midterms, showed that just 5 in 10 Democrats want Biden to seek a second term.
Cedric Richmond, who worked in the White House before becoming a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said the midterms were a demonstration of Biden’s political strength and validation of a record that gives the president a good foundation for another term.
“This president has done an extremely effective job,” he said. “He’s accomplished things that other Democratic presidents and leaders have not been able to accomplish.”
Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, said it would be tough to deny Biden the nomination if he sought it again.
Biden approval rises sharply ahead of midterms: AP-NORC poll
By JOSH BOAK and HANNAH FINGERHUT
(AP) — President Joe Biden’s popularity improved substantially from his lowest point this summer, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November midterm elections. During a few bleak summer months when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers appeared deadlocked, the Democrats faced the possibility of blowout losses against Republicans.
Biden’s approval is shifting, but the media’s narrative is not
Ukraine has made a stunning and dramatic advance in chasing Russia from its territory. Gas prices are dropping. Congress passed a slew of popular legislation over the summer.
Even inflation might be moderating. The Wall Street Journal reports that “many Wall Street analysts estimate the Labor Department’s overall consumer-price index was unchanged or dropped in August from July. If so, it would mark the second straight month of slower inflation since annual inflation surged to a four-decade high in June.
Polls indicate voters increasingly recognize President Biden’s tide of good news. Alas, much of the mainstream media is stuck in a narrative that paints him as politically toxic. Consider Democrats’ Midterm Dilemma: How to Back Biden, Yet Shun Him, Too – Democratic candidates have been trying to signal their independence from the White House, while not distancing themselves from his base or his agenda.
An Investor’s Business Daily-TIPP poll released on Monday shows that “46% of American adults approve how Biden is handling the presidency, and 48% disapprove. Even more dramatically, the poll reports, “Adults 18-44 now approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency by a 51%-40% margin. … And independents have drifted back toward Biden from “dire levels” in the last few months.
Max Boot: The GOP reaction to Biden’s speech shows that his anti-MAGA strategy is working
Biden stubbornly insisted that he could pass bipartisan bills — and he did. He passed legislation to stimulate the economy, build infrastructure, fund semiconductor production, pay for veterans’ health programs, regulate gun sales, lower prescription drug prices and roll back greenhouse gas emissions. He hasn’t gotten everything he wanted, but from a legislative standpoint, this is one of the most successful presidencies in decades.
Now that Biden has gotten so much of his agenda enacted, and with the midterm elections looming, he has switched to a more combative mode. His Thursday speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia was billed as a salvo in the continuing battle for “the soul of the nation,” but it was really a well-justified expression of rage and despair about what the Republican Party has become. The president is finally telling Democrats what they want to hear: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Is it fair to forgive student loans? Examining 3 of the arguments of a heated debate
Economists worry President Biden’s plan to forgive student loans could encourage more people to take on debt in the hopes of also being forgiven.
(NPR) [C]ritics are questioning the fairness of the plan and warn about the potential impact on inflation should the students with the forgiven loans increase their spending.
Here are three key arguments – for and against the wisdom of Biden’s decision.
Raising living standards or adding fuel to inflation?
People whose payments are cut or eliminated should have more money to spend elsewhere – maybe to buy a car, put a down payment on a house or even put money aside for their own kids’ college savings plan. So the debt forgiveness has the potential to raise the living standard for tens of millions of people. Critics, however, say that additional spending power would just pour more gasoline on the inflationary fire in an economy where businesses are already struggling to keep up with consumer demand.
Helping lower income Americans or a sop to the rich?
Another big point of contention has to do with fairness.
Forgiving loans would would effectively transfer hundreds of billions of dollars in debt from individuals and families to the federal government, and ultimately, the taxpayers.
Some believe that transfer effectively penalizes people who scrimped and saved to pay for college, as well as the majority of Americans who don’t go to college.
The White House estimates 90% of the debt relief would go to people making under $75,000 a year. Lower-income borrowers who qualified for Pell Grants in college are eligible for twice as much debt forgiveness as other borrowers.
[Everything You Need to Know About the Pell Grant – Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid awarded to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need.]
But individuals making as much as $125,000 and couples making up to $250,000 are eligible for some debt forgiveness.
Helping those in need or making college tuition worse?
For years, the cost of college education has risen much faster than inflation, which is one reason student debt has exploded.
Economists worry President Biden’s plan to forgive student loans could encourage more people to take on debt in the hopes of also being forgiven.
By forgiving some of that debt, the government will provide relief to current and former students.
But [Marc Goldwein senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget] says the government might encourage future students to take on even more debt, while doing little to instill cost discipline at schools.
Student loan forgiveness application coming in October, White House says
After making successful applications, borrowers should expect to have their loan balances reduced or in some cases fully erased in a month or so.
An Act of Mercy Ignites the Class War
(New York) As a matter of political clarity, it is important to acknowledge who owes forgiveness to whom. The student-debt regime should not exist. In other countries, it doesn’t. American policy-makers made deliberate choices that entrapped debtors in an inhumane and intolerable scheme. The very working class that commentators say they’re defending bore the brunt of this scheme on their backs. Higher education has become almost ubiquitous for many kinds of work in this country — including the work of changing seniors’ bedpans. Meanwhile, tuition has risen at public as well as private colleges. Working-class teenagers understand early the strictures imposed on someone by their class. To grow up without money in this country is to hear repeatedly that college opens the door to the middle class. For many, student-loan debt slammed that door shut. There is no set “trajectory to financial security,” as Ryan put it. For anyone who loses a significant portion of their monthly income to their student-loan debt, there’s just the grind. That’s what the status quo looks like for millions. Although it’s obscene, it doesn’t lack defenders.
Biden’s student debt cancellation doesn’t solve the root problems facing borrowers—but it’s a start
(Brookings) According to the White House, the plan will “provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including cancelling the full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers.” But it does not go far enough in addressing the root of the problem: a postsecondary education system that has seen tuition rise three-fold in the last 30 years. That same system will put future borrowers in peril
Joe Biden’s Best Week Ever
By Jonathan Chait
(New York) A month ago, Joe Biden’s presidency was on the brink of failure. His legislative agenda was moribund, the economy was teetering on the precipice of recession, and Democrats were speculating in the press about who else they could nominate for president in 2024. Biden, like Jimmy Carter, seemed destined to be remembered as a president overwhelmed by economic crosscurrents and a Democratic Congress he could not productively lead.
The situation has changed with astonishing speed. Biden has salvaged his domestic-policy agenda, his party’s base has snapped out of its torpor, and the economy is showing signs it just might pull through. And while not all these developments are his own doing, nor do they completely extinguish the political danger he faces, they all redound to his benefit. In the span of a few weeks, Biden’s presidency is back from the dead and looking something close to triumphant.
Heather Cox Richardson August 9, 2022
Today, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law. The new measure will provide $52.7 billion in subsidies to semiconductor production in the U.S. and invest in science and technology. Biden noted that with signing of the bill into law, Micron would announce a $40 billion investment in new chip-manufacturing facilities in the United States through the end of the decade, and GlobalFoundries and Qualcomm “announced yesterday a $4 billion partnership to produce chips in the U.S. that would otherwise have gone overseas.”
“Fundamental change is taking place today—politically, economically, and technologically—change that can either strengthen our sense of control and security, of dignity and pride in our lives, in our nation; or—or change that weakens us so that people are left behind, causing them to question whether or not the very institutions—our economy, our democracy itself — can still deliver for them, for everybody,” Biden said.
Biden signs bill to boost U.S. chips, compete with China
The Biden Age Is Hitting Its Stride
By Errol Louis
The debate over how old the president is and whether he should run again is a distraction from how much he has already accomplished.
(New York) … With Election Day only three months away, the party should be laser focused on trying to buck a decades-long tradition of the president’s party losing, on average, more than two dozen seats in Congress in the midterms. And that means rallying around Biden’s eminently defensible record. …
The president should announce a date certain — say, Christmas of this year — when he will decide whether or not to run for reelection. And then he should hit the road to help members of his party make the case to midterm voters that the progress we’ve seen over the past two years, especially the economic recovery, is a trend worth continuing.
Heather Cox Richardson August 7, 2022
“The yeas are 50; the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative, and the bill, as amended, is passed.”
So spoke Vice President Kamala Harris this afternoon as, after an all-night session, her vote passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 through the Senate. It will now go to the House, where it is expected to pass.
…in the past 18 months, Democrats have rebuilt the economy after the pandemic shattered it, invested in technology and science, expanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, pulled troops out of Afghanistan, passed the first gun safety law in almost 30 years, put a Black woman on the Supreme Court, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, addressed the needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, and invested in our roads, bridges, and manufacturing. And for much of this program, they have managed to attract Republican votes.
Now they are turning to lowering the cost of prescription drugs—long a priority—and tackling climate change, all while lowering the deficit. …
Since he took office, this has been President Joe Biden’s argument: he would head off the global drive toward authoritarianism by showing that democracy is still the best system of government out there.
At a time when authoritarians are trying to demonstrate that democracies cannot function nearly as effectively as the rule of an elite few, he is proving them wrong.
This is a very big deal indeed.
Senate Democrats strike a blow against cynicism — and hopelessness
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
In a democracy, cynicism is the enemy of progress and realism is progress’s friend. A realistic view would insist that what happened in the U.S. Senate on Sunday is a big deal. …
Pause for a moment to consider what the world would look like if this bill — expected to pass the House later this week and go to President Biden for his signature — had failed. …
Nothing feeds cynicism about democracy and collective action more than abject institutional failure. That’s why what happened on Sunday matters. Despite partisan obstruction, arcane rules and dilatory habits, the Senate struck a blow against hopelessness.
POLITICO Playbook: The politics of making history
Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act will make Biden one of the most legislatively successful presidents of the modern era. We once noted that the mismatch between the size of Biden’s ambitions and his margins in Congress made it seem like he was trying to pass a Rhinoceros through a garden hose. It ended up being more like a pony, but it’s still pretty impressive.
— American Recovery Act: $1.9 trillion
— Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: $550 billion
— Chips and Science Act: $280 billion
— Inflation Reduction Act: ≈$700 billion
That’s a nearly $3.5 trillion agenda. The scope of the issues addressed is notable: the pandemic and its economic fallout, highways, bridges, broadband, rail, manufacturing, science, prescription drug prices, health insurance, climate change, deficit reduction and tax equity.
He also expanded NATO, passed a new gun safety law and passed a bill to address the effects of vets exposed to toxic burn pits. Five out of seven of these laws — all but the two biggies, the ARP and IRA — received significant Republican support.
There’s not much debate anymore over whether Biden has been a consequential president. In the long run, his first two years may be remembered as akin to LBJ when it comes to moving his agenda through Congress.
The current political question is how much it will matter in the short term.
Passing legislation is no guarantee of electoral victory. All modern presidents, with the exception of GEORGE W. BUSH after 9/11, saw midterm losses two years after being elected regardless of how successful they were with Congress. For members facing reelection, voting with the president can just as easily be a political burden as a political boost. One study after the Democrats’ 2010 midterm drubbing suggested that the more a Democratic House member voted with BARACK OBAMA on his top priorities, the more likely they were to lose. Last year, Biden literally mailed checks to every American and he was repaid with lower approval ratings than any of his predecessors at this point
Wait, Is Biden a Better President Than People Thought?
Biden is making a comeback with his breakthrough on climate legislation — but limitations to his leadership still shadow his presidency
John F. Harris, Founding editor
(Politico) The pending breakthrough on climate legislation likely puts Biden’s approach to the presidency in the best possible light. Importantly, even that best light still reveals large gaps between the demands of the moment and his ability to meet those demands — or to use the tools of the modern presidency in a way that the most successful leaders have done. Biden’s presidency has more life, and more possibility, than it looked like 48 hours ago. But it is still fundamentally defined by his limits — most of all by his weak rhetorical skills and his inability to tell a compelling story about where he would take the country.
Biden enters the Always Be Closing phase of his first term
After enduring a brutal year dominated by economic angst, legislative setbacks and sinking approval ratings, the president is suddenly on the verge of a turnaround that, the White House believes, could salvage his summer — and alter the trajectory of his presidency.
Over the next few weeks, the president will have to land centerpieces of his domestic agenda aimed at boosting the nation’s global competitiveness and revamping whole swaths of its economy. Major decisions on student loans and expanding abortion rights hang in the balance. There’s also the matter of containing twin outbreaks of monkeypox and the coronavirus, the last of which Biden just spent five days personally fending off.
If that weren’t enough, he’s juggling a slate of foreign affairs challenges as well — headlined by longer-term efforts to reset with Iran on a nuclear deal and negotiate the release of a basketball star and another American jailed in Russia.
The Biden agenda gets a boost
The House passed the $280 billion “Chips and Science” act today designed to bolster the country’s semiconductor industry. It’s a win for Democrats and President Joe Biden, whose legislative agenda appeared to be at a standstill.
(Politico Nightly) To break down why the bipartisan measure matters, and what comes after Biden signs it into law, Nightly called Janet Napolitano. From 2003 to 2009, Napolitano was the governor of Arizona, a leading state for semiconductor manufacturing. … She’s now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and serves as an outside adviser to Intel, the country’s largest microchip manufacturer.
“…building these plants is extraordinarily expensive. This bill pumps money into the domestic construction of semiconductor fabrication plants. … Intel started building fabs in Arizona back when I was governor, producing lots of semiconductors and lots and lots of jobs.
In the bill that passed, they were able to add back in the extra funding for research. … The extra $100 billion for the National Science Foundation and the other monies in there for research — who knows what that kind of funding will produce in the long haul.”
Is this the beginning of a Joe Biden comeback?
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
It’s been a rough month — and, really, year — for President Joe Biden.
Beset by the Omicron variant, high inflation and the uncertainty in Ukraine, Biden’s poll numbers have lagged badly, with his approval ratings stuck in the low 40s.
A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll suggests that all might be changing. Biden’s overall job approval rating among Americans is at 47% in the survey, up 8 points from where he was in the same poll last month.
That bump is reflected in individual issues too. A majority (52%) of Americans now approve of how Biden is handling the situation with Russia and Ukraine — up 18(!) points from last month. On Covid-19, 55% now approve of the way he is handling the pandemic, up 8 points from last month. And 45% approve of his handling of the economy, a 9-point increase.
Is Biden the comeback kid?
CNN Opinion contributors share their thoughts on President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union speech.
Van Jones: Biden nailed it
The real Joe Biden is back. Tonight, he reminded us why America picked a tried-and-true defender of democracy — at home and abroad — to lead us through these tough times.
On the campaign trail in 2020, Biden challenged autocracy and dictatorship overseas, while offering himself as a champion of national unity and cross-party cooperation at home.
He has blown off course at times during his first year. But during his first State of the Union address, Biden found his footing — and his true north — once again. He rose tonight as a global leader and a national unifier at the very moment that the forces of freedom and solidarity most need strong leadership.
Historian Heather Cox Richardson interviews President Joe Biden February 25, 2022
Historian Heather Cox Richardson talks with President Joe Biden about his views on American democracy in the 21st century
Heather Cox Richardson: January 22, 2022
Biden set out to use government to make people’s lives better and, apparently, believed that successful policies would bring enough Republicans behind his program to ease the country’s extreme partisanship.
By any historical measure, Biden’s first year has been a roaring success, proving that democracy can, in fact, provide better lives for its people and can protect the rule of law internationally. And yet Biden’s popularity hovers in the low 40s.
Biden’s worldview demands that government accomplish things; the Republicans simply have to say no. They have focused on stopping Biden and the success of his view of government, and because it is only the Democrats who are in the arena, as President Theodore Roosevelt put it, Democrats are bearing the weight of popular discontent.
Andrew Mitrovica: A year on, I’m still glad Biden, not Trump, is president
For all his faults and foibles, Biden is not what ails America – ‘the former guy’ is.
(Al Jazeera) Before writing, I waited to read what others had to say, since I did not want to repeat what they had to say. I soon discovered that most columnists said the same thing: Joe Biden’s presidency is already dead. Stillborn. A few were a bit more charitable: his presidency is on life-support.
Biden, they wrote, had a bad year. He is too old, too timid and too slow on the uptake. Exhibit A: He muffed the retreat from Afghanistan. He could have avoided the dreadful scenes of panicked Afghans trying to get out if he had a “strategy”. He had none. … Biden’s annus horribilis was so bad, the chorus of columnists – caught in that space between hope and hopelessness where resignation lies – wrote, Democrats are going to get whomped in the mid-term Congressional elections. The Republicans are “poised” to re-take control of the House and the Senate.
… One columnist – plus a headline writer – offered Democrats “three simple moves” to “salvage the Biden presidency.” If you, and presumably the Biden administration, want the elusive blueprint to “salvage” a listing presidency, read the whole column, I suppose.
Condensed version: Biden “needs a win”, the columnist wrote, using standard, inside-the-beltway-speak. Right, a win. How? Easy. More cliché.
First, “reach out” to a sane Republican: i.e Mitt Romney. Second, “move quickly to seal a bipartisanship deal” on semi-conductor chips. Yes, semi-conductor chips. Third, “find out what” Joe Manchin wants. Play let’s make a deal on the moribund Build Back Better bill “and then go sell it like crazy to the public.”
Silliness and derision aside, this is my contribution to the autopsy of Biden’s opening 12 months that, I suspect, will evaporate as quickly as all the rest: I am glad that he is president and the “former guy” is not.
Biden’s infrastructure bill, explained – Here’s what’s in it, why it matters, and what comes next for the president’s agenda.
An accomplishment that eluded Democratic and Republican administrations alike, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill known as BIF will reauthorize planned surface transportation spending for the next five years as well as new spending on roads, bridges, rail, transit, power grids, water pipes, and broadband.
Ian Bremmer: Biden balls and strikes – A clear-eyed appraisal of his first nine months as president
In short, nine months into his presidency, President Biden has shown himself both capable of acting on America’s greatest needs and short on the forceful leadership needed to become a more effective president.
…what I think is most encouraging about Biden. If America’s middle- and working-class people – of all races – are to be given the boost they need to feel they have an ownership stake in America’s future. … That’s the importance of Biden’s “infrastructure plans,” which I believe will pass both houses in slimmed down form. They won’t be a New Deal, but they are a big deal, because they give people who believe government doesn’t care about them the means to come much closer to their potential.
More people with a stake in American success means fewer people willing to tear America down to win a partisan fistfight. Here, Joe Biden deserves credit. If these investments are made, even if the final package is much smaller than progressive Democrats want, it’s in part because the president knows this is the most important goal his administration can accomplish.
Biden also deserves credit for getting serious about vaccination.
On foreign policy, he deserves credit for seizing the chance to use vaccines as a way of pushing back against China’s muscle-flexing in Asia. The so-called pivot to Asia, which Obama talked about but never accomplished, is finally happening under Biden. The Quad security alliance with Japan, India and Australia will vaccinate a lot of people across that region as the US provides vaccines, Japan comes up with financing, India lends the production capacity, and Australia boosts logistics. That will accomplish save lives and achieve foreign policy goals in pushing back against China’s expanding influence across the region.
… we also have to hold Biden accountable for some egregious failures of leadership. …he doesn’t listen to the allies. The Quad is important, but the US has much deeper and better-established relationships with the Europeans. American strength depends on smart cooperation with countries that share our values, our interests, and especially those that share both.
NPR Politics: Biden Says ‘America Is Back.’ The World Has Some Questions
The White House was dealt a trifecta of bad news stories on Friday afternoon, underscoring international concerns about how the Biden administration is working with allies and partners.
… the Pentagon acknowledged that it had killed an aid worker, seven children and two adults in an Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul that it originally said had been a “righteous strike” on Islamic State terrorists.
Longtime ally France was furious when it was left in the cold by a new defense pact with Australia and the United Kingdom. France pulled its ambassadors from both Washington and Canberra.
The Biden administration had been forging ahead with plans to provide COVID-19 booster shots for Americans, even as vast swaths of the world remain unvaccinated. The White House had brushed aside criticism from the World Health Organization and others, saying that it has donated more vaccines than all the rest of the world combined, and was prepared to do more. Then, on Friday, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted against approving a booster shot for all but people ages 65 or older, or at high risk from COVID.
In Afghan Withdrawal, a Biden Doctrine Surfaces
The messy ending to the war has underscored President Biden’s discomfort with prolonged military engagements, even as the United States faces complex new threats. … President Biden said in a speech this week that the United States had reached the end of “an era of major military operations to remake other countries.”
By Helene Cooper, Lara Jakes, Michael D. Shear and Michael Crowley
In the chaotic finale of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, a Biden Doctrine is emerging: a foreign policy that avoids the aggressive tactics of forever wars and nation building, while uniting allies against the authoritarianism of rising powers.
President Biden began to define this doctrine on Tuesday when he declared the end of “an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” offering what he said was a better way to protect American interests around the world through diplomacy, the military’s targeted antiterrorism abilities and forceful action when necessary.
But the disordered ending to the war has laid bare the strains inherent in Mr. Biden’s foreign policy, which calls for a return to protecting human rights and promoting democracy, but only when consistent with U.S. goals. The president’s withdrawal from Afghanistan makes clear that he saw risking more American lives there as no longer in America’s national interest.
Jamelle Bouie: How Has Joe Biden Become So Unpopular?
(NYT) Biden’s slide is noteworthy, but it is also exactly what we should expect given the structural conditions of American politics in the 21st century. But this cuts against the unstated assumption that a president should have an approval rating above 50 percent. It’s an assumption that, as Sam Goldman, a professor of political science at George Washington University, observed, is “another example of how we’ve adopted the deeply exceptional midcentury interlude as our baseline — partly because it remains our vision of normality, and partly because that’s when reliable data start.”
Biden’s Approval Rating Goes Underwater
By Ed Kilgore
…there’s no reason for Team Biden to freak out, unless congressional Democrats become frightened and cannot sustain their remarkable degree of unity this year long enough to enact the combo platter of infrastructure and budget-reconciliation legislation that contains much of Biden’s agenda. But while you never know what lies ahead these days, the odds continue to diminish that the 46th president is going to be popular enough (and he would need to be very popular to defy midterm history) to lift his party to victory in the 2022 elections.
Biden Plays the Long Game as He Justifies the End of the ‘Forever War’
President Biden is banking on the assumption that he will be remembered for finally extricating the country from the war in Afghanistan, not for how he did it.
Can the Biden presidency survive the impact of Afghanistan?
William A. Galston
(Brookings) If Mr. Biden can convey a sense of command over the next few weeks and successfully complete the evacuation of American citizens and our Afghan partners, he may be able to blunt what has been non-stop, withering criticism across party lines and begin to restore his standing.
This begins, as it always does in a crisis, by leveling with the American people. Nonpartisan observers have been struck by the president’s seeming detachment from the facts of the situation. In his speeches last week, Mr. Biden overstated the strength of the Afghan government forces, understated the difficulties Americans are experiencing reaching the Kabul airport for evacuation, asserted—against the military and intelligence consensus—that Al Qaeda is no longer a factor in Afghanistan, and falsely claimed that our allies have not been critical of his administration’s decisions.
Afghanistan cuts short Biden’s victory lap
(Politico Playbook) We finally got infrastructure week. Yet at the end of it, infrastructure is not the biggest story — and the ones that obscured it spell real trouble for the White House.
In part, that’s because they’re headaches on issues that are important to key constituencies for Biden. For many members of the Washington establishment, the collapse of Afghanistan is horrifying. For many younger voters and people on the left, the UN’s dire new climate change assessment is a call to action on an issue where they don’t see Democrats doing enough. And for many in the Democratic base — especially Black voters — the continued lack of urgency around voting rights feels discouraging and self-defeating.
9 Moderate Democrats Threaten to Tank Entire Biden Presidency The party has managed to work together, until now.
By Jonathan Chait
(New York) Joe Biden’s success to date has owed itself to many factors, the largest of which is the willingness of congressional Democrats to compromise with each other.
That dynamic is beginning to change, and the instigators are easy to identity: a handful of moderate House Democrats who have been issuing increasingly aggressive demands, culminating in a new letter threatening to withhold their votes from a budget resolution that will contain Biden’s signature domestic legislation and the basis of the party’s campaign. …
The suicidal illogic of the demand may explain why only nine Democrats signed the letter. The most famous Democratic members representing purple districts — Ellisa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger, and many others — are absent from the list, which is heavy with Democrats focused monomaniacally on protecting the bank accounts of their funders.
The moderates’ desperation to pass the infrastructure bill is perfectly understandable. It’s a popular bill that has wide Republican support and the perfect issue to support their message that they can work across party lines. But the only way for them to actually get that bill signed into law is to work cooperatively with their party’s liberals and find an agreeable deal to pass Biden’s signature domestic legislation.
What Biden should learn from Obamacare
By Elana Schor
the most important calendar comparison of the first two years of the Biden presidency: not whether 2021 is 2009, but how much 2022 will be like 2010.
(Politico Nightly) Biden and his party are hoping they can avoid unforeseen obstacles, beat the clock and sell their infrastructure plan — both the concrete-project component that’s wobbling ahead of a test vote later this week , and its $3.5 trillion social spending counterpart — a lot better this year than the last Democratic administration did 11 years ago.
Jonathan Chait: Biden’s FDR-size Bet
(New York) …the goal of an FDR-style presidency — shaped along the same contours, though smaller in scale — remains very much alive. That ambition came into its clearest view on July 13, when Senate Democrats announced their more or less unified support for a hugely ambitious domestic-spending package. It would come in at roughly $3.5 trillion, minus the normal congressional haggling down of the price. Tax, spend, elect.
The precise contents of the bill have yet to take final form. In general, though, it will include a clean-electricity standard and deployment of green technology, expansions for Medicaid and Medicare, subsidies for child care and community college, and a $300-per-month child tax credit. It will, in other words, be a big climate plan, a big health-care plan, a big education plan, and a big social-policy plan all wrapped in a single package. At first blush, the sheer size of the bill might appear like a political liability — how does Biden get every single Democratic senator, and almost every single House Democrat, to vote for the same thing, especially when the most moderate members are afraid to be seen as too liberal?
As it turns out, the sheer size creates a kind of protection by reducing Biden’s agenda to a single vote. Some moderate Democrats from conservative states or districts might wish to position themselves to the administration’s right, but none of them can afford to let Biden’s presidency come crashing down in Congress.
Biden’s Big Left Gamble
The president is overseeing a sea change in the world of economic policy, and so much hangs in the balance.
By Rebecca Traister
(New York) The president’s hiring at many levels of his administration has been unexpected and diverse, and not just in a Gina Haspel, Girl Torturer way. He has injected new ideological blood, much of it from the lineage of his primary opponent Warren, who has long believed that personnel is policy; Biden brought in these wonks to implement his economic agenda.
Now, the question is whether he can execute theirs. Few expected Biden would be at the helm of the Democratic Party’s biggest left turn since LBJ.In some ways, the Biden administration is edging toward something Democrats have been scared to do since the rise of Ronald Reagan: showcasing government as a salubrious force in regular people’s lives.
Biden, in contrast, regularly frames the federal government as the force that stemmed mass death and permitted economic survival through the pandemic: shots in arms, checks in bank accounts. He publicly centers equity — that government investment in housing, jobs, climate initiatives, and care work is good because it addresses racial and gender injustice — and gives speeches about employers needing to compete for workers by raising wages. Despite an unwilling Senate, he speaks with conviction about raising taxes on the wealthy, rather than bailing out banks. For the first time since 1993, Biden’s 2022 budget proposal did not include the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal insurance money to pay for abortions.
One senior member of the administration described what keeps them up at night: “This is an economic policy strategy that hasn’t been undertaken in 40 years, being undertaken in a moment that is unprecedented.” Getting that transition right, they said, “is so important.”
And there is so much — from Senate obstruction to supply-chain blockages to the logistical challenges of implementing new ideas — that could go wrong. Screwups would harm millions of Americans, the planet, and Joe Biden’s legacy. But they could also halt a crucial and overdue turn of the Democratic Party away from its compromised past and toward a more humane future. “This is an extraordinary moment,” the official said. “It couldn’t be higher stakes. But if something goes wrong, we’re going to discredit everything many of us have been working toward.”
Richard N. Haass: Biden’s First Hundred Days
(Project Syndicate) …the basic themes of the Biden presidency, articulated in his April 28 address to Congress, have emerged: an emphasis on tackling domestic challenges, a vastly expanded role for the federal government in both stimulating the economy and in providing basic services and financial support for citizens, and a commitment to confront racism, modernize infrastructure, increase the country’s competitiveness, and combat climate change. There is also a willingness to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for some of what these initiatives will cost. How much of this agenda can be realized remains to be seen; for now, comparisons between Biden and Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson are understandable but somewhat premature.
President Biden’s Address To Congress, Annotated
[T]hank you all. Madam speaker. Madam vice president. [applause] No president has ever said those words from this podium. No president has ever said those words. And it’s about time.
President Biden took a moment to acknowledge the groundbreaking nature of Vice President Harris’ position. Harris is the first woman and the first woman of color to ever serve as vice president. Tonight is also the first time ever that two women — Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — are on the dais as a president delivers a joint address to Congress.
Big Government Is Back, And 3 Other Takeaways From Biden’s Address To Congress
1. Era of big government is back, and Biden is all in
(NPR) Former President Bill Clinton notably declared in his 1996 State of the Union address that “the era of big government is over,” marking a shift for Democrats then trying to show attention to fiscal responsibility. But Biden, in unabashedly rolling out new, liberal federal programs, rejected that and instead argued government was the solution.
Biden, Calling for Big Government, Bets on a Nation Tested by Crisis (with video clips)
The president’s speech laying out trillions of dollars in new economic proposals plays to voters’ warm feelings toward federal aid in the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s Workmanlike Love Song to the Middle Class
By Ed Kilgore
In the tradition of such addresses, Biden eventually covered the waterfront of issues. But the placement of topics very clearly reflect public opinion, and likely Biden’s priorities:
Two issues on which he made a rare reference to the GOP were gun safety and immigration, where he quite accurately called out Republicans for obstructing legislation popular with voters from both parties. But while scoring some points, you didn’t get the sense he thinks anything will change, with the possible exception of relief for Dreamers, which many Republicans in theory support.
From the point of view of traditional presidential addresses, the foreign-policy sections were unusual. His main reference to national defense was to call an end to the Afghanistan War far overdue. Other foreign-policy subtopics were climate change and trade, with the latter subject bringing forth some additional warnings toward China. And then there was this amazing sentence: “The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance a foreign policy that benefits the middle class.” Here as elsewhere Biden never strayed far from a love song to the middle class that probably had focus groups nodding approvingly.
Biden pitches his ambitious investment and tax plans as he recasts role of government
Biden’s 100-day strategy: Under-promise and over-deliver
(Brookings) The secret sauce then is that Biden actually knows how to govern. His experience stands in stark contrast to his predecessor who had no governing experience, but it also stands in stark contrast to the two other 21st century presidents whose federal governmental experience was thin compared to Biden’s. Behind Biden’s victory lap is governing competence.
The strategy so far is to speak softly and rarely and spend the time solving problems. This is not typical of the modern presidency. As political scientist Sam Kernell showed, in recent decades American presidents have spent a great deal of time talking and travelling, often at the expense of governing. In its first 100 days, the Biden White House seems to have broken that habit. By concentrating on governing, Biden is taking the presidential model back to an earlier time where problem-solving mattered. Perhaps this change is driven in part by preference and in part because the traveling presidency is hindered by COVID restrictions. Regardless, the contrast with Trump could not be more stark. As Andrea Risotto discussed in a recent piece, Biden is content to let surrogates carry the messaging load. He doesn’t feel that he has to dominate the news every day, and when he does speak it is to announce something he has done.
Here’s What You Need To Know Ahead Of Biden’s Address To A Joint Session Of Congress
(NPR) President Biden is set to address a joint session of Congress for the first time on Wednesday night, on the eve of his 100th day in office.
What will Biden talk about?
Biden made a number of promises ahead of the 100-day mark, from rolling out a vaccination plan to establishing the U.S. as an international leader on climate change. Wednesday’s speech will allow the president to reflect on his achievements — like pushing his signature $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package through Congress and getting 200 million shots in arms in his first 100 days.
Biden is expected to use the address as an opportunity to pitch his newly unveiled American Families Plan, which focuses on child care and education largely paid for by higher taxes on wealthy Americans. That’s in addition to his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, which has sparked debate among lawmakers about what should be included under the infrastructure umbrella.
OK Boomer (video)
Bill Maher: A funny thing happened on the way to the old-age home. Biden slayed the Orange Dragon and with an approval rating of 59%. He got better at 78. Writing someone off simply for their age is the last acceptable prejudice. The younger generations hate every ism except ageism.
Biden sees record approval among college-age Americans in Harvard poll
(The Hill) Overall, 59 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of Biden’s job as president, with 65 percent approving of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and 57 percent of his handling of race relations specifically, according to the poll released on Friday.
Sixty-three percent of college-aged adults surveyed approve of Biden’s job in the White House, higher than any figure recorded in the 21-year history of the poll.
At 100 days, where does President Biden stand with the public?
(Brookings) By most measures, Joe Biden has gotten off to a strong start. His overall job approval has been rock-solid at 53% while disapproval has stabilized at around 41%. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans give him high marks for the manufacture and distribution of the Covid vaccine, and 67% approve of his COVID-19 aid bill, which Congress enacted in March. Other high-quality surveys have yielded similar results.
Overall, a recent Monmouth survey finds, 46% of Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction, the highest share in more than a decade. This is a promising foundation for the Biden administration’s future initiatives.
Now for the clouds. The flipside of party unity is partisan division. The gap between Democratic and Republican approval of Mr. Biden is a record-high 86 points, compared to 77 points for Trump, 56 for Obama, 57 for Bush, and 50 for Clinton. The gender and education gaps also stand at record levels, and Mr. Biden is the only president in recent polling history—perhaps ever—to hold the support of less than half of white Americans at this point in his administration. If these gaps persist, it will be hard for the president to redeem his campaign promise of reunifying the country.
Democrats Were Lukewarm on Campaign Biden. They Love President Biden.
Joe Biden never captured the hearts of Democratic voters in the way Barack Obama once did. But now that he is in office, he is drawing nearly universal approval from his party.
(NYT) Mr. Biden has avoided taking up liberals’ most politically thorny proposals — like expanding the Supreme Court or canceling $1 trillion in student debt — while sticking to a public posture of bipartisan outreach and measured language. But his policy agenda has given progressives plenty to cheer, including the dozens of executive orders he has signed and the ambitious legislative agenda he has proposed, beginning with the passage of one of the largest economic stimulus packages in American history.
He began his term this winter with an approval rating of 98 percent among Democrats, according to Gallup. This represents a remarkable measure of partisan consensus — outpacing even the strongest moments of Republican unity during the presidency of Mr. Trump. … And as Mr. Biden nears his 100th day in office, most public polls have consistently shown him retaining the approval of more than nine in 10 Democrats nationwide. In separate polls released on Wednesday by Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University, Mr. Biden’s approval was at 95 percent and 94 percent among members of his own party.
Beyond bridges: Biden redefines infrastructure to add people
(AP) — Beyond roads and bridges, President Joe Biden is trying to redefine infrastructure not just as an investment in America the place, but in its workers, families and people.
The first phase of his “Build Back Better” package to be unveiled Wednesday in Pittsburgh would unleash $2 trillion in new spending on four main hard infrastructure categories — transportation; public water, health and broadband systems; community care for seniors; and innovation research and development, according to people familiar with the proposal.
The next phase would focus on soft infrastructure investments in child care, family tax credits and other domestic programs.
… Taken together, the administration’s approach is transforming the old ideas of infrastructure investment into a 21st century concept that includes developing the human capital of America’s population.
Becerra Confirmed As HHS Secretary in Closest Vote Yet
By Ed Kilgore
Becerra’s confirmation leaves just three Cabinet posts unfilled: secretary of Labor (former Boston mayor Marty Walsh is the nominee), director of the Office of Science and Technology (Biden has nominated pioneering geneticist Eric Lander), and director of the Office of Management and Budget. Withdrawn OMB nominee Neera Tanden represents the only casualty Biden has suffered in Cabinet confirmations, and he hasn’t named a replacement yet.
Biden under pressure to tap fewer political ambassadors than Trump, Obama
Donors are growing impatient as Biden delays naming coveted ambassador posts.
(Politico) The State Department is still waiting on the White House to signal which posts will be reserved for career diplomats, according to two current and former U.S. officials. The administration has yet to nominate people for an array of top State Department positions, including assistant secretaries and undersecretaries.
“We continue to engage in conversations with the White House and we’ve been gratified that our counterparts understand and value the importance of career professionals in senior roles, including ambassadorships,” a senior State Department official said when asked about the status of the situation.
During the Democratic primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on her rivals to pledge not to reward donors with ambassadorships. Biden refused to rule out the practice but said that anyone he appointed would be qualified and would not receive the nod based on their contributions.
Biden Tells Nation There Is Hope After a Devastating Year
In his first prime-time address from the White House, the president said that he would order states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1 and that a return to normalcy was possible by July 4.
President Biden signed a historic $1.9 trillion economic relief package into law Thursday afternoon, a day earlier than the White House had planned, ushering in new federal aid across the country amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Biden had originally been scheduled to sign the bill on Friday, after it had been reviewed again and printed. But the president and his advisers, aware that low- and middle-income Americans are desperate for the round of direct payments that the bill includes, moved up the timeline to Thursday afternoon.
David Brooks: Joe Biden Is a Transformational President
We’re seeing a policy realignment without a partisan realignment.
Congress Clears $1.9 Trillion Aid Bill, Sending It to Biden
The sweeping legislation had no support from Republican lawmakers, who called it bloated and unaffordable. It will deliver emergency aid and broader assistance to low- and middle-income Americans.
By a vote of 220 to 211, the House sent the measure to Mr. Biden for his signature, cementing one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression.
Merrick Garland Is Confirmed as Attorney General
The federal judge will take over a Justice Department battered during the Trump administration and confronting the threat from domestic extremism.
Marcia Fudge, Biden’s Pick to Lead HUD, Is Confirmed by Senate
Ms. Fudge faces as tough a task as any cabinet secretary: rebuilding a neglected agency central to the fight against racial inequity and poverty.
Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, becoming the first Black woman in decades to run an agency that will be at the forefront of the Biden administration’s efforts to fight racial inequity and poverty.
Senate Confirms Biden’s Pick to Lead E.P.A.
Michael S. Regan has said he intends to act aggressively in carrying out the president’s agenda of fighting climate change.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Michael S. Regan, the former top environmental regulator for North Carolina, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and drive some of the Biden administration’s biggest climate and regulatory policies.
As administrator, Mr. Regan, who began his career at the E.P.A. and worked in environmental and renewable energy advocacy before becoming secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, will be tasked to rebuild an agency that lost thousands of employees under the Trump administration.
25 -27 February
House Democrats pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan despite setback on minimum wage
The president’s wide-ranging relief bill clears the House over unanimous GOP opposition, heads to Senate
The House approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan early Saturday and sent it to the Senate, as Democrats defied united GOP opposition to advance the massive relief package aimed at stabilizing the economy and boosting coronavirus vaccinations and testing.
The legislation, Biden’s first major agenda item, passed 219-212. Republicans unanimously opposed the bill, a strikingly partisan outcome just a month after the new president was inaugurated with calls for bipartisanship and unity. All but two Democrats voted in favor.
The action in the House came after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the $15 minimum wage in the legislation is not permitted under Senate rules. House Democrats included it anyway, and it’s not clear how the issue will get resolved.
Ahead of the vote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged that even if the Senate takes out the minimum-wage increase — the No. 1 priority for many liberals — the House will “absolutely” pass the revised legislation and send it to Biden to sign.
Top Senate Official Disqualifies Minimum Wage From Stimulus Plan
(NYT) The parliamentarian ruled that the provision, which would gradually increase the wage to $15 an hour, violated the strict budgetary rules that limit what can be included in the package. … Ms. MacDonough told Senate offices on Thursday that the provision as written violated the strict budgetary rules that limit what can be included in a reconciliation package. …reconciliation ensures speed, but it also comes with stringent rules that aim to prevent the process from being abused for policy initiatives that have no direct effect on the federal budget.
Biden’s top doctor nominee made more than $2 million doing pandemic consulting, speeches
Tapped to be surgeon general, Vivek Murthy’s financial entanglements draw scrutiny before his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday
(WaPo) Murthy, whose Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday, is expected to narrowly win confirmation to return to the role of surgeon general, six years after his first grueling confirmation battle as President Barack Obama’s nominee — and four years after President Donald Trump abruptly fired him, shortly after taking office. Murthy’s financial disclosures could complicate his candidacy given strong conservative opposition to him on other grounds — such as his longtime advocacy of treating gun violence as a public health problem. But Republicans have thus far stayed away from his finances and it’s unclear whether Democrats will raise the issue, despite repeatedly chastising Trump’s health nominees for their corporate ties
Biden Takes Center Stage With Ambitious Agenda as Trump’s Trial Ends
President Biden’s has said he hopes for bipartisan support, but his prospects are complicated by the fact that much of his agenda is aimed at dismantling the policies of his predecessor.
The president plans to quickly press for his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, and then move on to infrastructure, immigration, climate change and other major priorities.
Mr. Biden has so far succeeded in pushing his agenda forward even amid the swirl of the impeachment, trial and acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump. House committees are already debating parts of the coronavirus relief legislation he calls the American Rescue Plan. Several of the president’s cabinet members have been confirmed despite the Trump drama. And Mr. Biden’s team is pressing lawmakers for quick action when senators return from a week-long recess.
Biden’s economic point man draws praise — and pushback
Allies laud Brian Deese’s leadership on the stimulus negotiations, but he’s rubbed some the wrong way.
The 42-year-old head of the National Economic Council, Deese has emerged as a major player in the early days of the administration. … Some GOP lawmakers have said they’d like to see other Biden administration officials get involved in the coronavirus relief talks, as well. Several noted that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin worked productively with Democrats to craft Congress’ previous coronavirus relief packages and said they’d be open to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen playing a similar role.
Biden, Emphasizing Job Creation, Signs Sweeping Climate Actions
The array of directives — touching on international relations, drilling policy, employment and national security, among other things — elevate climate change across every level of the federal government.
Biden Team Rushes to Take Over Government, and Oust Trump Loyalists
(NYT) When President Biden swore in a batch of recruits for his new administration in a teleconferenced ceremony late last week, it looked like the country’s biggest Zoom call. In fact, Mr. Biden was installing roughly 1,000 high-level officials in about a quarter of all of the available political appointee jobs in the federal government.
Antony J. Blinken is confirmed as secretary of state.
Blinken Takes Over at State Dept. With a Review of Trump’s Policies
The Senate confirmed Antony J. Blinken as secretary of state. He is looking to reverse the Trump administration’s confrontational approach to diplomacy.
Biden’s Cabinet and Senior Advisers
President Biden’s nominees are slowly making their way through Senate confirmation.
The Biden plan to be boring – programming the news coverage of their opening weeks in office through thematic days based around executive orders — each day involving “a slate of unilateral actions, a background briefing with reporters and a press appearance by a top aide, or, perhaps, the head honcho himself.”
Biden is firing some top Trump holdovers, but in some cases, his hands may be tied
The Biden team, showing a willingness to cut tenures short, moved quickly last week to dump several high-profile, Senate-confirmed Trump appointees whose terms extended beyond Inauguration Day — in some cases by several years. [Biden Has Already Fired Three of Trump’s Worst Appointees]
But other, lower-profile Trump loyalists, some of whom helped carry out his administration’s most controversial policies, are scattered throughout Biden’s government in permanent, senior positions. And identifying them, let alone dislodging them, could be difficult for the new leadership.
Three days into the Biden administration and lots of commenters are noting the return of calm in the media, and the return of a sense of stability in the government. People are sleeping so much better that the word “slept” trended on Twitter the day after the inauguration.
Biden, a long-time institutionalist, seems to be trying scrupulously to restore the precise functions of different branches of government, as well as the nonpartisan civil bureaucracy that, so far, has protected our democracy from falling to a dictator.
Who is Lloyd Austin, America’s first Black defense secretary?
Austin’s confirmation followed back-to-back votes in the House and Senate Thursday that granted him a waiver to hold the position, as federal law requires individuals to wait seven years after retiring from active-duty service before holding the role of defense secretary
These are the executive orders Biden has signed so far
The new president signed 17 executive orders and other directives on the first day of his presidency in what administration officials have said is an initial wave of actions Biden will take in his first 10 days in office. Among them:
Executive order reversing U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO)
Executive order rejoining the Paris Climate Accords
Executive order revoking permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and stopping oil and pausing gas leasing at Arctic refuge
Proclamation cutting off funding for the border wall
Memorandum strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
The Defining Battle of Biden’s Presidency Is Already Raging in the Senate
(New York) When the Democratic party lost Congress back in 2010, many of its core constituencies were left holding IOUs. Labor left the Obama era without card check, climate hawks got neither “cap” nor “trade,” immigrant-rights groups never collected on their promised path to citizenship, and advocates for gun control and myriad other progressive causes were similarly stiffed.
In the years since, the party’s debts to its coalition have only mounted. Among other things, Joe Biden enters office having promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, enact a wide array of collective-bargaining reforms, pass a new voting rights act, grant statehood to Washington, D.C., and put the U.S. on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
But he will do none of this unless all 50 Senate Democrats agree to abolish the legislative filibuster.
Democrats shoot down McConnell’s filibuster gambit
Democrats are shooting down an effort by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to include protections for the legislative filibuster as part of a Senate power-sharing deal.
Biden ousts controversial head of US Agency for Global Media
Pack drew fire from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike for ignoring a subpoena to testify before a House panel over several controversies, including his widespread firings of the heads of multiple broadcast agencies and halting funds for the U.S. Open Technology Fund