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Monthly Archives: August 2022


Heather Cox RichardsonAug 31

The big news until shortly before midnight tonight was that businesses do indeed seem to be coming home after the pandemic illustrated the dangers of stretched supply lines, the global minimum tax reduced the incentives to flee to other countries with lower taxes, and the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act spurred investment in technology.

Yesterday, Honda and LG Energy Solution announced they would spend $4.4 billion to construct a new battery plant in the U.S. to join the plants General Motors is building in Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee; the ones Ford is building in Kentucky and Tennessee; the one Toyota is building in North Carolina; and the one Stellantis is building in Indiana. The plants are part of the switch to electric vehicles.  According to auto industry reporter Neal E. Boudette of the New York Times, they represent “one of the most profound shifts the auto industry has experienced in its century-long history.”

Today, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear (D) announced that Kentucky has secured more than $8.5 billion for investment in the production of electric vehicle batteries, which should produce more than 8,000 jobs in the EV sector. “Kentuckians will literally be powering the future,” he said. 

Also today, First Solar, the largest solar panel maker in the U.S., announced that it would construct a new solar panel plant in the Southeast, investing up to $1 billion. It credited the Inflation Reduction Act with making solar construction attractive enough in the U.S. to build here rather than elsewhere. First Solar has also said it will upgrade and expand an existing plant in Ohio, spending $185 million.

Corning has announced a new manufacturing plant outside Phoenix, Arizona, to build fiber-optic cable to help supply the $42.5 billion high-speed internet infrastructure investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. AT&T will also build a new fiber internet network in Arizona.

The CHIPS and Science Act is spurring investment in the manufacturing of chips in the U.S. Earlier this month, Micron announced a $40 billion investment in the next eight years, producing up to 40,000 new jobs. Qualcomm has also committed to investing $4.2 billion in chips from the New York facility of GlobalFoundries. Qualcomm says it intends to increase chip production in the U.S. by 50% over the next five years. In January, Intel announced it would invest $20 billion, and possibly as much as $100 billion, in a chip plant in Ohio.

This investment is part of a larger trend in which U.S. companies are bringing their operations back to the U.S. Last week, a report by the Reshoring Initiative noted that nearly 350,000 U.S. jobs have come home this year. The coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and China’s instability were the push to bring jobs home, while the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act were the pull. Dion Rabouin notes in the Wall Street Journal that this reshoring will not necessarily translate to blue-collar jobs, as companies will likely increase automation to avoid higher labor costs. 

President Joe Biden’s record is unexpectedly strong going into the midterms, and he is directly challenging Republicans on the issues they formerly considered their own. Today, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he challenged the Republicans on their claim to be the party of law and order, calling out their recent demands to “defund” the FBI and saying he wants to increase funding for law enforcement to enable it to have more social workers, mental health care specialists, and so on. 

He noted that law enforcement officers want a ban on assault weapons and that he would work to pass one like that of 1994. When that law expired in 2004, mass shootings in the U.S. tripled.  

Then the president took on MAGA Republicans: “A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law, not the rule of any one party or any one person.” He addressed Senator Lindsey Graham’s comment yesterday about how there would be violence if the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Trump. “Let’s be clear,” Biden said, “You hear some of my friends in the other team talking about political violence and how it’s necessary.” But violence is never appropriate, he said. “Never. Period. Never, never, never. No one should be encouraged to use political violence. None whatsoever.”

To audience applause, he called out those who supported the January 6 attack on the Capitol: “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th…. For God’s sake, whose side are you on?… You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection. You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attacked the police on January 6th ‘patriots.’ You can’t do it.”

While Biden is consolidating and pushing the Democrats’ worldview, the Republicans are in disarray. The revelation that former president Trump moved classified intelligence to the Trump Organization’s property at Mar-a-Lago has kept some of them sidelined, as they didn’t want to talk about the issue, and has forced others to try to justify an unprecedented breach of national security. Republican candidates for elected office who are not in deep red districts have been taking references to Trump (and to abortion restrictions) off their websites. 

The deadly seriousness of what he has done is clear in part from the former president’s own behavior over it. Yesterday, he demanded to be made president or to have a do-over of the 2020 election; today, after constant reposting of conspiracy theories and defenses on his ailing Truth Social, he wrote: “Why are people so mean?”

The reason for his fear turned up tonight in a Department of Justice filing in response to his demand for the appointment of a special master to review the documents, and for the return of several of them to him. His requests gave the DOJ an opening to correct the record that he and his allies have been muddying.

This document replaced the economic news as today’s big story. The DOJ laid out the timeline behind the attempt of the U.S. government to recover the materials Trump took. First, officials from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recognized that materials were missing and tried to get Trump to return them voluntarily. When he finally handed over 15 boxes, the officials recognized that some of the materials were “highly classified” and told the Department of Justice. 

Trump delayed the FBI examination of the boxes, but when officials got into them, they recognized their haphazard storage threatened national security. They got evidence of more records at Mar-a-Lago, for which they obtained a grand jury subpoena. Trump’s representatives handed over a few more documents, and a lawyer certified that that was it—they had done a diligent search and now could confirm that there were no more documents left. They said there were no materials stored anywhere but a storeroom, but they refused to let agents look inside the boxes there.

It was a lie both that there were no more documents, and that materials were contained in the storeroom. The FBI learned there were still more documents, got a search warrant, and on August 8 seized from at least two locations 33 more boxes with more than 100 classified records—twice as many classified documents as Trump and his representatives had handed over under the subpoena.

The U.S. government spelled out that “those records do not belong to him”; they belong to the United States. It said that Trump never asserted that the records had been declassified or asserted any claim of executive privilege, and Trump’s representatives indicated they thought the documents were classified. It made a strong case that the former president and his lawyer obstructed the search for the documents. 

Even more chilling than the words of the filing was the exhibit attached: a photo of SECRET, TOP SECRET, and SECRET/SCI files recovered from a container, spread out on a carpeted floor next to a banker’s box containing framed TIME magazine covers. 

Trump has added Chris Kise, the former solicitor general of Florida, to his legal team. Although the Republican National Committee has been paying the former president’s legal bills since he left office, it will not pay the legal fees he racks up over this issue.

Notes:

Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyNEWS: DOJ’s new filing includes. photo of the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.usco…

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August 31st 20226,360 Retweets18,752 Likes

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Brian Tyler Cohen @briantylercohenSources: Corning: axios.com/2022/08/30/fib…LG/Honda:cnn.com/2022/08/29/bus…Micron:cnbc.com/2022/08/09/mic…Qualcomm:reuters.com/technology/qua…Intel:Intel to invest up to $100 billion in Ohio chip plantsAn initial $20 billion investment – the largest in Ohio’s history – on a 1,000-acre site in New Albany will generate 3,000 jobs, Gelsinger said.cnbc.comAugust 30th 2022116 Retweets370 Likes

Governor Andy Beshear @GovAndyBeshearKentucky has secured the spot as the top electric vehicle battery producer in the United States. In the past few months, we’ve announced more than $8.5 billion in investment and more than 8,000 jobs in the EV sector. Kentuckians will literally be powering the future. August 30th 2022120 Retweets755 Likes

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/30/first-solar-to-build-new-panel-factory-following-inflation-reduction-act.html

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/29/business/honda-lg-electric-vehicles/index.html

https://www.axios.com/2022/08/30/fiber-optic-cable-corning-factory-broadband-att

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/09/micron-to-invest-40-billion-in-us-chip-manufacturing.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/21/intel-plans-20-billion-chip-manufacturing-site-in-ohio.html

https://www.reuters.com/technology/qualcomm-globalfoundries-sign-pact-double-chip-manufacturing-2022-08-08/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-companies-on-pace-to-bring-home-record-number-of-overseas-jobs-11660968061

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/08/30/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-safer-america-plan/

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/30/trump-forces-republicans-off-script-again-00054121

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/30/republicans-abortion-trump-online/

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/30/trump-florida-solicitor-general-mar-a-lago-probe-00054219

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 28

In a speech Thursday night, President Joe Biden called out today’s MAGA Republicans for threatening “our personal rights and economic security…. They’re a threat to our very democracy.” When he referred to them as “semi-fascists,” he drew headlines, some of them disapproving.

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee called the comment “despicable,” although Republicans have called Democrats “socialists” now for so long it passes as normal discourse. Just this week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Democrats “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits.”

Biden’s calling out of today’s radical Republicans mirrors the moment on June 21, 1856, when Representative Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts, a member of the newly formed Republican Party, stood up in Congress to announce that northerners were willing to take to the battlefield to defend their way of life against the southerners who were trying to destroy it. Less than a month before, Burlingame’s Massachusetts colleague Senator Charles Sumner had been brutally beaten by a southern representative for disparaging slavery, and Burlingame was sick and tired of buying sectional peace by letting southerners abuse the North. Enough, he said, was enough. The North was superior to the South in its morality, loyalty to the government, fidelity to the Constitution, and economy, and northerners were willing to defend their system, if necessary, with guns.

Burlingame’s “Defense of Massachusetts” speech marked the first time a prominent northerner had offered to fight to defend the northern way of life. Previously, southerners had been the ones threatening war and demanding concessions from the North to preserve the peace. He was willing to accept a battle, Burlingame explained, because what was at stake was the future of the nation. His speech invited a challenge to a duel.

Southerners championed their region as the one that had correctly developed the society envisioned by the Founders. In the South, a few very wealthy men controlled government and society, enslaving their neighbors. This system, its apologists asserted, was the highest form of human civilization. They opposed any attempt to restrict its spread. The South was superior to the North, enslavers insisted; it alone was patriotic, honored the Constitution, and understood economic growth. In the interests of union, northerners repeatedly ceded ground to enslavers and left their claim to superiority unchallenged.

At long last, the attack on Sumner inspired Burlingame to speak up for the North. The southern system was not superior, he thundered; it had dragged the nation backward. Slavery kept workers ignorant and godless while the northern system of freedom lifted workers up with schools and churches. Slavery feared innovation; freedom encouraged workers to try new ideas. Slavery kept the South mired in the past; freedom welcomed the modern world and pushed Americans into a new, thriving economy. And finally, when Sumner had spoken up against the tyranny of slavery, a southerner had clubbed him almost to death on the floor of the Senate.

Was ignorance, economic stagnation, and violence the true American system?

For his part, Burlingame preferred to throw his lot with education, morality, economic growth, and respect for government.

Burlingame had deliberately provoked the lawmaker who had beaten Sumner, Preston Brooks of South Carolina, and unable to resist any provocation, Brooks had challenged Burlingame to a duel. Brooks assumed all Yankees were cowards and figured that Burlingame would decline in embarrassment. But instead, Burlingame accepted with enthusiasm, choosing rifles as the dueling weapons. Burlingame, it turned out, was an expert marksman.

Burlingame also chose to duel in Canada, giving Brooks the opportunity to back out on the grounds that he felt unsafe traveling through the North after his beating of Sumner made him a hated man. The negotiations for the duel went on for months, but the duel never took place. Instead, Brooks, known as “Bully” Brooks, lost face as a man who was unwilling to risk his safety to avenge his honor, while Burlingame showed that northerners were eager to fight.

Forgotten now, Burlingame’s speech was once widely considered one of the most important speeches in American history. It marked the moment when northerners shocked southerners by calling them out for what they were, and northerners rallied to Burlingame’s call.

President Biden’s Twitter account has recently been taken over by new White House’s Deputy Director of Platforms Megan Coyne, who garnered attention when she ran the official New Jersey Twitter account with attitude, and it seems as if the administration is taking the new saltiness out for a spin. “All the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh,” the account said tonight. “Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.”

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/25/fiery-midterm-speech-biden-says-gops-turned-toward-semi-fascism/

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/08/11/beto-orourke-greg-abbott-motherfucker-heckler/

The Recount @therecountSen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), lacking any party introspection, slams Democrats as “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits”: “I wish this country had two normal political parties … We debate crazy things, insanity.” August 24th 202265 Retweets255 Likes

President Biden @POTUSAll the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh. Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.August 27th 202211,144 Retweets51,394 Likes

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/2022/08/26/white-house-nj-twitter-thread-megan-coyne-student-loan-debt-forgiveness/65458123007/

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moa/aar7990.0001.001/1?page=root;rgn=subject;size=100;view=image;q1=Slavery

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This is the wat the GOP takes care of the voters. Each bill that will do something good for the people is blocked or touted as terrible for the economy. There have been statements about the cost of higher education being looked at, yet no GOP member has come up with an idea let alone a plan but what they say is more of a sound bite than a call to action, in other words political theater! These are the normal tactics since the pre-civil war days using the “Roy Cohn” method of governance.


Heather Cox RichardsonAug 26

Today, legal news about the former president and members of his team revealed a group of people who appear to have ignored the law.  

The stories began with the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) memo written for Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr arguing that Trump should not be charged with obstruction of justice over his attempts to shut down the Russia investigation despite his firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey, urging of witnesses not to “flip,” hints of pardons to those who stayed quiet, and so on. The memo seems clearly to have been a whitewash to justify Barr’s predetermined decision not to prosecute, illustrating the dangerous politicization of the DOJ.  

The memo argued that because special counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge Trump with conspiring with Russia, there was no crime committed, and thus Trump could not be charged with obstruction. In fact, Mueller noted in the report that the investigation was hampered by the president’s allies who refused to cooperate. Andrew Weissman, a 20-year veteran of the Department of Justice who worked on the Mueller investigation, concluded: “Key ‘reasoning’ of…memo: if you successfully obstruct an investigation, you cannot be charged with obstruction as you were not charged with the crime under investigation. Future defendants will have a field day with this memo unless DOJ repudiates it soon.”

Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and now legal affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted that the principal author of the memo, Steven Engel, “is too good a lawyer not to have known what was going on. In a way, the most important words in the memo are the first 3: ‘at your request.’ This was a political mission.” 

And then there is the attempt of Republican operatives to smear their opponents. Today, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York announced that two people have pleaded guilty to stealing the diary and other personal property of then-candidate Joe Biden’s daughter and selling it for $40,000 to James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. In the process, they transported the material across state lines and then, at the request of the person to whom they sold it, went back to get more. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, and will cooperate with authorities.

The attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results is also in legal news. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is arguing in court that the judge should not let a grand jury question the senator “on all the topics” covered by its recent subpoena of his testimony in the investigation of the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Graham argues that the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says that congress members “shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place,” means he cannot be questioned about his two phone calls to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger about throwing out mail-in ballots in that state. 

For Graham’s argument to prevail, he will have to convince the court that his calls to Raffensperger were part of his legitimate congressional work, rather than part of the efforts of Trump’s campaign to overturn the election, actions outside the scope of Graham’s congressional duties. 

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who helped to invent the false electors plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is refusing to talk to the grand jury, arguing that he has an attorney-client relationship with the Trump campaign and saying the campaign had “instructed” him to maintain confidentiality. But Chesebro never received any payment, and it is unclear whether he was officially working for the campaign. 

Meanwhile, Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis filed petitions today to require Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Meadows ally James “Phil” Waldron, and Trump campaign advisor Boris Epshteyn to testify before the special grand jury next month. 

Finally, the top secret documents Trump stole from the government: Today the DOJ submitted to the court a redacted version of the affidavit it used to obtain a search warrant for Trump’s Florida property Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. The judge has ordered the release of the document by noon tomorrow. Trump had publicly demanded the release of the affidavit but had not actually asked the court to release it. Instead, he has whipped up his followers against the FBI. 

With these headlines from the Republican Party, and coming on the heels of a spectacular few months for the Democrats, the Biden administration came out today swinging against MAGA Republicans.

First, after a day of Republican congress members railing against yesterday’s educational loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for others, the White House tweeted a thread of those members alongside the amount of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money those individuals were forgiven. 

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said: “For our government just to say ok your debt is completely forgiven.. it’s completely unfair.” Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said: “Biden’s reckless, unilateral student loan giveaway is unfair to the 87 percent of Americans without student loan debt and those who played by the rules.” Buchanan had more than $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said: “We do not need farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and teachers in Oklahoma paying the debts of Ivy League lawyers and doctors across the U.S.” Mullin had more than $1.4 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK) said: “To recap, in the last two weeks, the ‘Party of the People’ has supercharged the IRS to go after working-class Americans, raised their taxes, and forced them to pay for other people’s college degrees.” Hern had more than $1 million in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) said: “Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It’s also bad policy.” Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said: Everyone knows that in a $60 Billion+ European land war, it’s always the last $3 Billion that kicks in the door….” Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven. 

Then Biden gave a barn-burning speech to the Democratic National Committee in Rockville, Maryland, clearly dividing the Republican Party between the MAGAs and mainstream Republicans. The MAGA philosophy is “semi-fascism,” he said, and we are seeing either its beginning or death knell. 

“I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year. Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot…. The very survival of our planet is on the ballot. Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even…democracy.”

“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security,” he said. “They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace…political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”

“This is why in this moment, those of you who love this country—Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans—we must be stronger,” he said.

Notes:

Andrew Weissmann 🌻 @AWeissmann_Key “reasoning” of Barr/Engel/O’Callaghan memo: if you successfully obstruct an investigation, you cannot be charged with obstruction as you were not charged with the crime under investigation. Future defendants will have a field day with this memo unless DOJ repudiates it soon.August 25th 20221,712 Retweets5,539 Likes

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/florida-residents-plead-guilty-conspiracy-commit-interstate-transportation-stolen

The White House @WhiteHouseCongressman Matt Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven. Rep. Matt Gaetz @RepMattGaetzEveryone knows that in a $60 Billion+ European land war, it’s always the last $3 Billion that kicks in the door… https://t.co/VwyJUgLCvYAugust 25th 202250,543 Retweets207,424 Likes

Charlie Savage @charlie_savageBREAKING: DOJ has released the full memo to then Attorney General Bill Barr analyzing why Trump should not be charged with obstruction-of-justice based on the Mueller report. DOJ had fought but lost a @CREWcrew FOIA lawsuit seeking this disclosure. August 24th 20223,998 Retweets11,563 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/23/lindsey-graham-georgia-speech-or-debate/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/24/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-election-investigation/index.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/georgia-prosecutor-in-2020-election-probe-seeks-testimony-from-meadows-powell

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/25/trump-attorney-fake-electors-subpoena-00053765

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/25/fiery-midterm-speech-biden-says-gops-turned-toward-semi-fascism/

Harry Litman @harrylitmanSteven Engel, the principal author of the memo, is too good a lawyer not to have known what was going on. In a way, the most important words in the memo are the first 3: “at your request.” This was a political mission.August 25th 20221,628 Retweets9,356 Likes

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/04/trump-obstruction-justice-doj-485360

https://www.c-span.org/video/?522491-1/president-biden-remarks-democratic-national-committee-rally

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August 24, 2022

Heather Cox RichardsonAug 25

Yesterday’s elections suggest that American voters are concerned about the past year’s radicalization of the Republican Party. In a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives in a New York state swing district, the 19th congressional district, Democrat Pat Ryan beat his Republican opponent. Pundits looked at the race as a bellwether (named for the wether, or castrated sheep, fitted with a bell to indicate where the flock was going), and most thought the Republican would win, as he was a strong candidate and the midterm election in a president’s first term usually goes to the opposite party.

Ryan’s opponent emphasized inflation and crime, but Ryan told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: “We centered the concept of freedom…. When rights and freedoms are being taken away from people,” Ryan told Sargent, they “stand up and fight.” The Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision of two months ago overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protected abortion rights was a key sign of the erosion of freedom. Ryan told Sargent that “ripping away reproductive rights from tens of millions of people” was “visceral.”

So, too, are gun safety and threats to democracy. “There’s sort of this power grab of the far, far right,” Ryan told Sargent. “It’s just wildly out of step with where the vast majority of Americans are.”

This is the fourth special election since the Dobbs decision that has shown at least a two-point movement toward the Democrats. A referendum on preserving abortion rights in Kansas also went to those in favor of them.

Tom Bonier, who runs the political data firm TargetSmart, noted that women have outregistered men to vote since the Dobbs decision by large margins: 11 points in Ohio, for example. And a Pew poll released yesterday shows that 56% of voters say that the right to abortion is very important to them for their midterm votes, up from 46% before the Dobbs decision.

The trend is clear, but so is the reality that a number of states are operating under extreme Republican gerrymanders—some, like those in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio, still in force although the state judges have said they are illegal—that will give Republicans a structural advantage.

Biden administration officials are currently touring the country to call attention to how the administration is “Building a Better America.” In 35 trips to 23 states, they will “make clear that the President and Congressional Democrats beat the special interests and delivered what was best for the American people.” They are emphasizing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the gun safety law, and so on. They are urging Americans to unite not by party, but against the extremism on display in the leadership of the current Republican Party. “Every step of the way, Congressional Republicans sided with the special interests—pushing an extreme MAGA agenda that costs families.”

Since the 1980s, Republicans have argued for cutting public programs because they cost too much money, while also arguing that tax cuts for the wealthy would pay for themselves by expanding the economy, thus increasing tax revenues. It has never worked—when government computers showed that President Ronald Reagan’s first tax cut would explode the deficit, the budget director simply reprogrammed them—but that has not stopped the Republicans from passing repeated tax cuts for the wealthy, one as recently as December 2017.

Republicans have warned that the massive investment the Democrats have made in the country during Biden’s term would rack up enormous deficits. But, in fact, today the Office of Management and Budget forecast that this year’s budget deficit will decline by $1.7 trillion, the single largest drop in the deficit in U.S. history. (The record deficit was $3.13 trillion in 2020, during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.) This number is simply a benchmark, and the deficit remains at $1.03 trillion, but it suggests that numbers are currently moving downward.

Today, Biden announced another key change in American policy, this time in education. The Department of Education will cancel up to $20,000 of student debt for Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the federal government and up to $10,000 for other borrowers. Pell Grants are targeted at low-income students. Individuals who make less than $125,000 a year or couples who make less than $250,000 a year are eligible. The current pause on federal student loan repayment will be extended once more, through the end of 2022, and the Education Department will try to negotiate a cap on repayments of 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income, down from the current 10%.

The Department of Education estimates that almost 90% of the relief in the measure will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year, and about 43 million borrowers will benefit from the plan.

Opponents of the plan worry that it will be inflationary and that it will not address the skyrocketing cost of four-year colleges. But its supporters worry that the education debt crisis locks people into poverty. They also note that there was very little objection to the forgiveness of 10.2 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans issued as of July 2022, with $72,500 being the average dollar amount forgiven.

The administration’s plan is a significant pushback to what has happened to education funding since the 1980s. After World War II, the U.S. funded higher education through a series of measures that increased college attendance while also keeping prices low. Beginning in the 1980s, that funding began to dry up and tuition prices rose to make up the difference.

A college education became crucial for a high-paying job, but wages didn’t rise along with the cost of tuition, so families turned to borrowing. Many of them choose the lowest monthly repayment amounts, and some put their loans on hold, meaning their debt balances grow far beyond what they originally borrowed. The shift to “high-tuition, high-aid” caused a “massive total volume of debt,” Assistant Professor of Economics Emily Cook of Tulane University told Jessica Dickler and Annie Nova of CNBC in May. Today, around 44 million Americans owe about $1.7 trillion of educational debt.

Because of the wealth gap between white and Black Americans—the average white family has ten times the wealth of the average Black family—more Black students borrow to finance their education.

Canceling a portion of student debt is a resumption of the older system, ended in the 1980s, under which the government funded cheaper education in the belief it was a social good. In his explanation of the plan, White House National Economic Council Director Bharat Ramamurti told reporters today that “87% of the dollars…are going to people making under $75,000 a year, and 0 dollars, 0%, are going to anybody making over $125,000 in individual income.” He told them it was “instructive” to compare this plan “to what the Republican tax bill did in 2017. It’s basically the reverse. Fifteen percent of the benefits went to people making under $75,000 a year, and 85% went to people making over $75,000 a year. And if you zoom in even more on that, people making over $250,000 a year got nearly half of the benefits of the GOP tax bill and are getting 0 dollars under our [plan].”

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/kornacki-ny-house-election-evidence-dem-voters-motivated-after-roe-decision-146871877640

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/24/pat-ryan-new-york-special-election-2022-democrats/

Tom Bonier @tbonierWow. I’ve been sharing data showing a huge surge in women registering to vote since the 6/24 Dobbs decision. I just started to look at some age and party breakdowns of those new registrants, and the numbers are jaw-dropping.August 19th 202211,059 Retweets59,518 Likes

Ed O’Keefe @edokeefeNEW: White House announces “Building a Better America” campaign to tout passage of climate/health bill, CHIPS Act, gun control/mental health bill, infrastructure bill. @POTUS to visit Ohio and PA soon, Cabinet & VP also planning 35 trips to 23 states. August 15th 2022561 Retweets1,833 Likes

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Tom Bonier @tbonierOhio! Since the Dobbs decision on 6/24, women have out-registered men by an 11 pt margin. In 2018, new registrants were slightly more women than men (.75 pt margin) and in 2020 they were more men (1.5 pt margin). Who are these women who are registering to vote?August 24th 2022833 Retweets3,610 Likes

https://www.whitehouse.gov/build/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/biden-administration-forecasts-1-03-trillion-deficit-down-by-nearly-400-billion

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/24/fact-sheet-president-biden-announces-student-loan-relief-for-borrowers-who-need-it-most/

https://www.npr.org/2022/08/24/1118879917/student-loan-forgiveness-biden

Acyn @Acyn“It’s instructive to compare that to what the Republican tax bill did in 2017. It’s basically the reverse” August 24th 20221,125 Retweets3,400 Likes

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/06/this-is-how-student-loan-debt-became-a-1point7-trillion-crisis.html

https://www.pandemicoversight.gov/data-interactive-tools/data-stories/how-many-paycheck-protection-program-loans-have-been-forgiven

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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 22

On August 21, 1831, enslaved American Nat Turner led about 70 of his enslaved and free Black neighbors in a rebellion to awaken his white neighbors to the inherent brutality of slaveholding and the dangers it presented to their own safety. Turner and his friends traveled from house to house in their neighborhood in Southampton County, Virginia, freeing enslaved people and murdering about 60 of the white men, women, and children they encountered. Their goal, Turner later told an interviewer, was “to carry terror and devastation wherever we went.”

State militia put down the rebellion in a couple of days, and both the legal system and white vigilantes killed at least 200 Black Virginians, many of whom were not involved in Turner’s bid to end enslavement. Turner himself was captured in October, tried in November, sentenced to death, and hanged.

But white Virginians, and white folks in neighboring southern states, remained frightened. Turner had been, in their minds, a well-treated, educated enslaved man, who knew his Bible well and seemed the very last sort of person they would have expected to revolt. And so they responded to the rebellion in two ways. They turned against the idea that enslavement was a bad thing and instead began to argue that human enslavement was a positive good.

And states across the South passed laws making it a crime to teach enslaved Americans to read and write.

Denying enslaved Black Americans access to education exiled them from a place in the nation. The Framers had quite explicitly organized the United States not on the principles of religion or tradition, but rather on the principles of the Enlightenment: the idea that, by applying knowledge and reasoning to the natural world, men could figure out the best way to order society. Someone excluded from access to education could not participate in that national project. Instead, that person was read out of society, doomed to be controlled by leaders who marshaled propaganda and religion to defend their dominance.

In 1858, South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond explained that society needed “a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill.”

But when they organized in the 1850s to push back against the efforts of elite enslavers like Hammond to take over the national government, members of the fledgling Republican Party recognized the importance of education. In 1859, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln explained that those who adhered to the “mud-sill” theory “assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible…. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious, and dangerous.”

Lincoln argued that workers were not simply drudges but rather were the heart of the economy. “The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land, for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him.” He tied the political vision of the Framers to this economic vision. In order to prosper, he argued, men needed “book-learning,” and he called for universal education. An educated community, he said, “will be alike independent of crowned-kings, money-kings, and land-kings.”

When they were in control of the federal government in the 1860s, Republicans passed the Land Grant College Act, funding public universities so that men without wealthy fathers might have access to higher education. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Republicans also tried to use the federal government to fund public schools for poor Black and white Americans, dividing money up according to illiteracy rates. 

But President Andrew Johnson vetoed that bill on the grounds that the federal government had no business protecting Black education; that process, he said, belonged to the states—which for the next century denied Black and Brown people equal access to schools, excluding them from full participation in American society and condemning them to menial labor.

Then, in 1954, after decades of pressure from Black and Brown Americans for equal access to public schools, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former Republican governor of California, unanimously agreed that separate schools were inherently unequal, and thus unconstitutional. The federal government stepped in to make sure the states could not deny education to the children who lived within their boundaries. 

And now, in 2022, we are in a new educational moment. Between January 2021 and January 2022, the legislatures of 35 states introduced 137 bills to keep students from learning about issues of race, LBGTQ+ issues, politics, and American history. More recently, the Republican-dominated legislature of Florida passed the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act, tightly controlling how schools and employee training can talk about race or gender discrimination. 

Republican-dominated legislatures and school districts are also purging books from school libraries and notifying parents each time a child checks out a book. Most of the books removed are by or about Black people, people of color, or LGBTQ+ individuals.

Both sets of laws are likely to result in teachers censoring themselves or leaving the profession out of concern they will inadvertently run afoul of the new laws, a disastrous outcome when the nation’s teaching profession is already in crisis. School districts facing catastrophic teacher shortages are trying to keep classrooms open by doubling up classes, cutting the school week down to four days, and permitting veterans without educational training to teach—all of which will likely hurt students trying to regain their educational footing after the worst of the pandemic.   

This, in turn, adds weight to the move to divert public money from the public schools into private schools that are not overseen by state authorities. In Florida, the Republican-controlled legislature has dramatically expanded the state’s use of vouchers recently, arguing that tying money to students rather than schools expands parents’ choices while leaving unspoken that defunded public schools will be less and less attractive. In June, in Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court expanded the voucher system to include religious schools, ruling that Maine, which provides vouchers in towns that don’t have public high schools, must allow those vouchers to go to religious schools as well as secular ones. Thus tax dollars will support religious schools. 

In 2022, it seems worth remembering that in 1831, lawmakers afraid that Black Americans exposed to the ideas in books and schools would claim the equality that was their birthright under the Declaration of Independence made sure their Black neighbors could not get an education.

Notes:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/21/politics/supreme-court-religious-schools/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-blocks-floridas-stop-woke-act-pushed-gov-desantis-rcna43908

https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2022/html/2809

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/08/17/book-ban-restriction-access-lgbtq/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/08/03/school-teacher-shortage/

https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/education/2022/08/12/sarasota-schools-library-book-purchases-donations-frozen/10307632002/

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The uproar over changes in the IRS with increased funding and arming some agents is overblown and driven primarily by the GOP. Let’s look at a bit of history, first most people have a poor image of the IRS because of misinformation and a poor contact with the agency. The job of that agency is to ensure the proper collection of taxes (which are used to run the country). The “horror” stories are in part true, but many are self-inflicted by the people who have had poor to no correct information on filing taxes. The agency has been underfunded for years and that lack of funding precludes the ability to have enough workers to do the job. The paucity of Workers extends time to audit and process tax forms, look carefully at bad actors looking to “cheat” the government (this means more taxes on you and me). The well-off have always pushed the idea that the government is after you, the average taxpayer in pursuit of your support against the agency, this is also why certain laws are in force that allow big businesses and big money donors to donate to their favorite candidates for high elected offices that enact the laws that prevent IRS expansion and limit their power to pursue tax cheats many of which are the same people we elect time after time. The political parties are quite good at making another agency the scapegoat for their purposes while at the same creating divisions between people (taxpayers) much like the events that preceded the “war between the states”. I have attached a brief history of the IRS; it is worth noting that this is a history that can be explored more, and I recommend it.

1862 – President Lincoln signed into law a revenue-raising measure to help pay for Civil War expenses. The measure created a Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the nation’s first income tax. It levied a 3 percent tax on incomes between $600 and $10,000 and a 5 percent tax on incomes of more than $10,000.

1867 – Heeding public opposition to the income tax, Congress cut the tax rate. From 1868 until 1913, 90 percent of all revenue came from taxes on liquor, beer, wine and tobacco.

1872 – Income tax repealed.

1894 – The Wilson Tariff Act revived the income tax and an income tax division within the Bureau of Internal Revenue was created.

1895 – Supreme Court ruled the new income tax unconstitutional on the grounds that it was a direct tax and not apportioned among the states on the basis of population. The income tax division was disbanded.

1909 – President Taft recommended Congress propose a constitutional amendment that would give the government the power to tax incomes without apportioning the burden among the states in line with population. Congress also levied a 1 percent tax on net corporate incomes of more than $5,000.

1913 – As the threat of war loomed, Wyoming became the 36th and last state needed to ratify the 16th Amendment. The amendment stated, “Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Later, Congress adopted a 1 percent tax on net personal income of more than $3,000 with a surtax of 6 percent on incomes of more than $500,000. It also repealed the 1909 corporate income tax. The first Form 1040 was introduced.

1918 – The Revenue Act of 1918 raised even greater sums for the World War I effort. It codified all existing tax laws and imposed a progressive income-tax rate structure of up to 77 percent.

1919 – The states ratified the 18th Amendment, barring the manufacture, sale or transport of intoxicating beverages. Congress passed the Volstead Act, which gave the Commissioner of Internal Revenue the primary responsibility for enforcement of Prohibition. Eleven years later, the Department of Justice assumed primary prohibition enforcement duties.

1931 – The IRS Intelligence Unit used an undercover agent to gather evidence against gangster Al Capone. Capone was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years.

1933 – Prohibition repealed. IRS again assumed responsibility for alcohol taxation the following year and for administering the National Firearms Act. Later, tobacco tax enforcement was added.

1942 – The Revenue Act of 1942, hailed by President Roosevelt as “the greatest tax bill in American history,” passed Congress. It increased taxes and the number of Americans subject to the income tax. It also created deductions for medical and investment expenses.

1943 – Congress passed the Current Tax Payment Act, which required employers to withhold taxes from employees’ wages and remit them quarterly.

1944 – Congress passed the Individual Income Tax Act, which created the standard deductions on Form 1040.

1952 – President Truman proposed his Reorganization Plan No. 1, which replaced the patronage system at the IRS with a career civil service system. It also decentralized service to taxpayers and sought to restore public confidence in the agency.

1953 – President Eisenhower endorsed Truman’s reorganization plan and changed the name of the agency from the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Internal Revenue Service.

1961 – The Computer Age began at IRS with the dedication of the National Computer Center at Martinsburg, W.Va.

1954 – The filing deadline for individual tax returns changed from March 15 to April 15.

1965 – IRS instituted its first toll-free telephone site.

1972 – The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division separated from the IRS to become the independent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

1974 – Congress passed the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, which gave regulatory responsibilities for employee benefit plans to the IRS.

1986 – Limited electronic filing began. President Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act, the most significant piece of tax legislation in 30 years. It contained 300 provisions and took three years to implement. The Act codified the federal tax laws for the third time since the Revenue Act of 1918.

1992 – Taxpayers who owed money were allowed to file returns electronically.

1998 – Congress passed the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act, which expanded taxpayer rights and called for reorganizing the agency into four operating divisions aligned according to taxpayer needs.

2000 – IRS enacted reforms, ending its geographic-based structure and instituting four major operating divisions: Wage and Investment, Small Business/Self-Employed, Large and Mid-Size Business and Tax Exempt and Government Entities. It was the most sweeping change at the IRS since the 1953 reorganization.

2001  IRS administered a mid-year tax refund program to provide advance payments of a tax rate reduction.

2003 – IRS administered another mid-year refund program, this time providing an advance payment of an increase in the Child Tax Credit. Electronic filing reached a new high – 52.9 million tax returns, more than 40 percent of all individual returns.

Now the current GOP is raging about the recent bills passed by the house and signed by President Biden. In case you’ve not paid attention or read any of this bill, it provides funding to increase the hiring of IRS personnel and upgrading equipment among other things. The GOP has latched onto the fabricated idea that these taxes will hit the poorest the hardest, this tale has been told before and was untrue then and is untrue now. The tax relief bill put in effect by the former guy took away most of the deductions used by many lower income folks and homeowners while giving tax breaks to the wealthy and big companies (which includes many of our congressional members and their big money backers) with the absurd idea that these tax breaks would allow these companies to give more to the workers, instead these companies took the money and did stock buybacks which increased stock prices while paying stock dividends. How much stock do most people who are at the lower incomes have? The new bill does not increase taxes on the lower income people and the additional IRS personnel will be able to fully examine and find tax cheats while pushing through the simpler returns of the less than wealthy. One thing to know about tax returns: if the numbers work then you are not likely to audited and audits ARE RANDOM unless there is a glaring mistake! Please Do not be pulled into the GOP’s circle of lies.

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There is and will be for a long-time debate on the fate of Afghani’s who assisted the American forces in Afghanistan. The country has reverted to pre-Russian state where the religious right (Taliban) has assumed control. The article below explains exactly what happened and where the blame (if any) lies.MA

Trump’s deal with the Taliban, explained

Analysis by Amber Phillips

Staff writer

August 26, 2021 at 7:27 p.m. EDT

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top political leader, shake hands in February 2020 as a peace deal is signed. (Hussein Sayed/AP)

This has been updated with the latest.

With the withdrawal from Afghanistan turning deadly for U.S. troops, President Biden faces new criticism for a situation that he argues presents him few options.

The deal that President Donald Trump cut last year with the Taliban forced Biden to choose between a withdrawal now or an escalation of the war, Biden said Thursday, as he addressed the nation after at least 13 members of the U.S. military were killed in Kabul.

He chose to withdraw.

“I had only one alternative,” he said, “to send thousands more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won, relative to the reason why we went in the first place.”

When the deal was cut in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020, it wasn’t treated as huge news, because the war itself wasn’t big news. So many people don’t actually know its contents.

Here is what’s in it and how it has been perceived.

Biden: ‘These ISIS terrorists will not win’

0:53

President Biden said he had asked for plans to strike ISIS-K assets in light of the Aug. 26 attacks in Kabul that killed civilians and 13 U.S. service members. (Video: The Washington Post)

Why Trump cut the deal

When Trump came into office, he was pretty transparent — he just wanted out of Afghanistan. “Trump had no real sense of what was at stake in the war or why to stay,” writes Georgetown professor Paul Miller in a digestible history of the 20-year war.

So Trump took a swing at something his predecessors hadn’t: a full-bore effort to strike a deal with the Taliban. It took nine rounds of talks over 18 months. At one point, Trump secretly invited the Taliban to the presidential retreat at Camp David on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But he shut that down — and on Twitter threatened to shut down all talks — after an American service member was killed and there was bipartisan backlash over the invitation.

An image of Trump’s 2019 tweets on the Taliban deal. (Factba.se)

Talks continued in Doha, and in February 2020, Trump announced that there was a deal. The basic contours: The United States was to get out of Afghanistan in 14 months and, in exchange, the Taliban agreed not to let Afghanistan become a haven for terrorists and to stop attacking U.S. service members.

The Taliban also agreed to start peace talks with the Afghan government and consider a cease-fire with the government. (The Taliban had been killing Afghan forces throughout this, attempting to use the violence as leverage in negotiations, U.S. intelligence officials believed.)

The deal laid out an explicit timetable for the United States and NATO to pull out their forces: In the first 100 days or so, they would reduce troops from 14,000 to 8,600 and leave five military bases. Over the next nine months, they would vacate all the rest. “The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will complete withdrawal of all remaining forces from Afghanistan within the remaining nine and a half (9.5) months,” the deal reads. “The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will withdraw all their forces from remaining bases.”

The United States would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners; the Taliban would release 1,000 of its prisoners.

The Taliban’s end of the deal asked a lot from the group — too much to be realistic, critics said. In addition to making sure nowhere in the country harbored a terrorist cell, the Taliban agreed to be responsible for any individual who might want to attack the United States from Afghanistan, including new immigrants to the country.

The Taliban “will send a clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan,” the deal read. And the Taliban agreed to “prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, and will prevent them from recruiting, training, and fundraising and will not host them in accordance with the commitments in this agreement.”

This deal required taking the Taliban’s promises on faith.

“I really believe the Taliban wants to do something to show that we’re not all wasting time,” Trump said as he announced the agreement. He added as an aside: “If bad things happen, we’ll go back with a force like no one’s ever seen.”

The deal was a sweet one for the Taliban, critics say

Members of the Taliban delegation in Doha in February 2020 for peace talks with the United States. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

One gaping problem, say scholars (including some from the Trump administration): The peace agreement came with no enforcement mechanism for the Taliban to keep its word.

The Taliban basically had to sign a pledge saying it wouldn’t harbor terrorists. Nowhere did the Taliban have to — nor did it choose to — denounce al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that launched the 9/11 attacks from Afghanistan, Miller writes.

The biggest tangible commitment from the Taliban looked like this: For seven days before the deal was signed, its leaders significantly reduced their attacks on Afghan forces to show they were capable of controlling the group across the country. But the deal didn’t require that the Taliban stop its attacks against Afghan security forces.

Overall, it was a pretty good deal for the Taliban, critics said. “Trump all but assured the future course of events would reflect the Taliban’s interests far more than the United States,” Miller writes. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s second national security adviser, has recently called it “a surrender agreement with the Taliban.” Another member of Trump’s National Security Council said it was “a very weak agreement.”

As The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes, former Trump officials are suddenly and conspicuously scrambling to distance themselves from that deal.

Cracks in the deal emerge almost immediately

A few months after the agreement was signed, there was plenty of evidence that the Taliban wasn’t as sincere as it appeared about peace. The United Nations said it had evidence that the Taliban and al-Qaeda still had ties. U.S. intelligence warned that al-Qaeda was “integrated” into the Taliban. The Taliban launched dozens of attacks in Afghanistan, ramping up its violence.

“The Taliban views the negotiations as a necessary step to ensure the removal of U.S. and other foreign troops under the U.S.-Taliban agreement, but the Taliban likely does not perceive that it has any obligation to make substantive concessions or compromises,” a U.S. inspector general report read.

It was all enough that when Biden came into office, U.S. officials questioned whether the Taliban was breaking its side of the deal.

But Trump chose to continue taking U.S. troops home

And he had bipartisan support for it.

It’s important to remember that by the time Trump came into office, the public debate about whether to stay in Afghanistan was largely over. Most Americans were done with the war. Even the military realized it couldn’t effect much more change on the current course. “The only way forward was going to be a political agreement,” Mark T. Esper, Trump’s former defense secretary, said recently. “Not a military solution.”

To a number of those who were paying attention, the whole deal felt like a naked attempt to just get out of Afghanistan. It was a campaign promise of Trump’s to be the president who finally ended America’s longest war. It would be something no other president had been able to accomplish.

Before the peace talks really got going, Trump had already started withdrawing thousands of troops, and he fired his defense secretary, Esper, after he wrote a memo disagreeing. (Esper later said that Trump’s withdrawing too many troops too soon contributed to what we see now in Afghanistan.)

Biden criticizes the deal but hews to it

When Biden took over, there were just 3,500 U.S. troops left in the country (from a high of 100,000 during the Obama years). He pushed back the date of the planned withdrawal from May 1 to four months later, but he kept the deal intact. U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s time to end America’s longest war,” he said.

The Taliban didn’t even wait for the Americans to completely leave before it took over the country in a matter of days. As the world watched Kabul fall, Biden has defended his decision not to stay and fight by saying Trump’s deal required him to either maintain the withdrawal or escalate fighting.

“When I became president, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict,” he said in a statement.

On Thursday, he credited the deal for the fact that the Taliban hadn’t attacked Americans during the withdrawal. “The commitment was made by President Trump: I will be out May 1st. In the meantime, you agree not to attack any Americans. That is the deal. That’s why no American was attacked.”

Critics have contended that’s a false choice, noting how many other international agreements of Trump’s that Biden has eschewed or rewritten. But given that Biden shared the goal to withdraw, it left him little leverage to renegotiate with the Taliban.

For both presidents, the peace deal with the Taliban presented a good opportunity to pursue their own agendas with regard to America’s longest war. And neither has seemed particularly regretful about doing so.

“Leaving having proposed a peace effort and then blaming the Afghans for not reaching peace is as good a cover for leaving as any,” said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


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