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We have the misfortune of witnessing the decline of Democracy under the guise of saving America. The GOP since the days of Ronald Reagan and newt Gingrich have increasingly pushed the idea that less Government was better. Unfortunately, this touted theory has caused too many of us to rail against government programs that benefit us. It is true that government should be limited in the daily lives of Americans however a blanket ban on Government actions is at once ludicrous and dangerous. There are areas where Government can do a better job than State and local entities or at least assist them in some functions and activities. The Political class has always made (it seems) a concerted effort to divide Americans along Racial, ethnic and financial lines to maintain their power status. This power status benefits the industrial sector in tax breaks (taxes is how government is funded, no matter how much we dislike paying them) and allows unlimited spending in keeping “friendly ” politicians in office. This longevity does not benefit the taxpayers unless you earn millions. It may be difficult to understand how this happens, but it really is not. One reason for this disfunction is our collective ignorance of history and the warnings we have received at various times along with the daily rationing of mis and disinformation allowed through our open society’s media coverage. Media coverage has become as biased as the actions of our Congress and we have allowed it through our acceptance of “entertainment” reporting and the use of fabricated “government abuse” to rile us up. We (voters) must remember that the same people in government we at once rail against and support are often the same people who offer the fabrications while reaping the rewards of those fabrications. The United States has had and still has opportunities to make a correction in the promised path to better government, but we have squandered it due to “shiny objects” and promised reforms that never come to fruition. History will repeat if we do not look at what has occurred before we accede to what is “promised”. The future is never ahead but always now!

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December 5, 2021Heather Cox Richardson
Dec 6
Speaking in Athens, Greece, yesterday, Pope Francis warned Americans, “We cannot avoid noting with concern how today, and not only in Europe, we are witnessing a retreat from democracy.” He warned against politicians with “an obsessive quest for popularity, in a thirst for visibility, in a flurry of unrealistic promises,” and called for people around the world to turn away from authoritarianism, individualism, and indifference. Instead, they must rededicate themselves to the common good and strengthen democracy. The pope’s public recognition of the rise of authoritarianism mirrored the increasing awareness here in the U.S. that our democracy is in crisis. That dawning awareness seems to have been sparked by the December 1 oral arguments about abortion rights before the Supreme Court, when a majority of the current justices made it clear that the constitutional right to abortion many people believed was sacrosanct is likely to be taken away. “They lied,” the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman wrote about the testimony of the Republican-appointed justices in their confirmation hearings. In those hearings, they indicated that they saw the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting the right to abortion as settled law, no matter what their own personal preferences might be. “They lied to Congress and to the country…. It was all a lie, a scam, a con,” Waldman wrote, “the assurances that they were blank slates committed to ‘originalism’ and ‘textualism,’ that they wouldn’t ‘legislate from the bench,’ that they have no agenda but merely a ‘judicial philosophy.’”Also in the Washington Post, Dr. Melissa Murray, a New York University law professor who clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, noted that Sotomayor recognized that her colleagues were “embracing a cataclysmic reordering of the reproductive rights landscape.” Seeing what her colleagues were going to do, Sotomayor turned to “the American people themselves…suggesting that the court need not have the last word on abortion.” She was, Murray said, “alerting the people to the imminent threat to abortion rights in the hopes that, hearing her alarm, we might mobilize. Not with a Jan. 6–style insurrection but with the sort of grass-roots energy that once fueled the civil rights movement and other progressive social causes.” “The court will not save our rights,” Murray wrote, “But maybe we can save them ourselves.” In fact, the reactionaries in the current-day Republican Party are a minority of the country. As David Atkins points out in the Washington Monthly, Republicans are operating from a position of weakness. In the United States, Democratic counties produce more than 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product (the total market value of goods and services produced). Democratic states fund the Republican-dominated states that complain about “socialism.” Eighty-three percent of Americans now live in cities, which tend to vote Democratic, and young people are overwhelmingly progressive. The problem is this: “Democrats…need to win every single election from here to prevent the destruction of democracy, while Republicans only need to win one. And the American system is set up so that Republicans will win sooner or later, whether fairly or by cheating.” Atkins urges the American people to “start thinking about and planning for what ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here. Conservatives are guaranteed to make every attempt to turn America into the next Russia or Hungary. It will take coordinated, overlapping solidarity among both regular people and elites across various institutions to stop it.”Laura Thornton, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, lays out what American authoritarianism looks like and shows that it is already here. Focusing on Wisconsin, she deplores the statements of Senator Ron Johnson and Republican lawmakers who are openly demanding control over election management in the state. “I spent more than two decades living and working overseas to advance democracy and credible elections—giving me plenty of opportunity to see the lengths to which autocrats will go to gain power,” Thornton writes. “Even so, the proposed Wisconsin power grab is shocking in its brazenness. If this occurred in any of the countries where the United States provides aid, it would immediately be called out as a threat to democracy. U.S. diplomats would be writing furious cables, and decision makers would be threatening to cut off the flow of assistance.” How can we stop the march of authoritarianism? Thornton says that “it is up to us, the people. No party or leader will save us here. No foreign savior will shake us out of our stupor. Americans need to start caring about democracy enough to act on it…. Apathy is how democracies die. I’ve seen it.”What does minority rule look like? It looks like individual liberty and violence to make others do what those in power want. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) grabbed attention today with a family Christmas picture in which seven people are brandishing guns, ostensibly to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His tweeted caption read: “Merry Christmas! Ps. Santa, please bring ammo.” This can only be taken as a message: on Tuesday, a 15-year-old killed four classmates and wounded several others with a gun he received as a Christmas gift. Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a move to proceed on a law expanding background checks for gun purchases, a bill the House passed in March. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said the measure was “hostile toward lawful gun owners and lawful firearms transactions,” and he blocked it. Last night, in Washington, D.C., about 100 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front marched to “reclaim America.” Patriot Front was known as Vanguard America until a man affiliated with it killed Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Such people want to remake our nation as a white supremacist haven and know that this is their last chance. But while the white supremacists who joined together in Charlottesville marched openly, with their faces uncovered, those people joining the Patriot Front last night wore masks. This is important. When the Ku Klux Klan terrorized people after the Civil War, they hid their faces with white hoods designed to look like the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers, knowing that if the federal government knew who they were, it would prosecute them. By the end of the nineteenth century, Euro-Americans did not hide their faces at public lynchings, knowing they represented the will of the moment. That the rioters from Charlottesville now cover their faces suggests that the white supremacy welcome among some circles in 2017 now needs to hide.With the call of so many observers to defend American democracy from those who would replace it with authoritarianism, many are reaching backward to remember what things were like in the past, when politicians of different parties worked together for the nation. In the Philadelphia Inquirer today, Will Bunch reminded readers that before politicians fetishized guns and individualism, we used to rally around something called “the public good.”

—Notes:Mark Jacob @MarkJacob16This is Thomas Massie, a U.S. congressman from Kentucky, reminding us that violent rhetoric is the sound track of the Republican Party. December 4th 20211,086 Retweets3,142 Likeshttps://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pope-francis-arrives-greece-highlight-migrants-plight-2021-12-04/https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-lifestyle-greece-migration-athens-de0968a59fb782eafc412712c5b9ff43https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/03/supreme-court-conservatives-lied/https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/abortion-sotomayor-dobbs-oral-arguments/2021/12/03/ba6fc4b8-53d5-11ec-8927-c396fa861a71_story.htmlhttps://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/11/09/biden-voting-counties-equal-70-of-americas-economy-what-does-this-mean-for-the-nations-political-economic-divide/https://washingtonmonthly.com/2021/12/04/saving-democracy-will-require-institutional-and-civil-resistance-at-all-levels/https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/05/us/michigan-oxford-high-school-shooting-sunday/index.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/04/why-international-election-observers-would-give-wisconsin-failing-grade/https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/584065-gop-blocks-bill-to-expand-gun-background-checks-after-michigan-schoolhttps://www.cnn.com/2021/12/05/us/michigan-oxford-high-school-shooting-sunday/index.htmlhttps://www.thedailybeast.com/patriot-front-white-nationalists-stage-bizarro-rally-in-downtown-dc-find-themselves-strandedhttps://www.businessinsider.com/far-right-patriot-front-rally-in-washington-dc-to-reclaim-america-2021-12https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/america-public-good-student-debt-vaccine-refusal-20211205.html
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The former President is still inserting himself into the everyday politics of the country in the same negative way that he did for 4 years. Since this is America, he is not restricted except for the messaging sites that have banned him due to inaccurate and false information. His ability to reach masses is greatly diminished yet he still manages to be seen and heard. His messaging has not changed and it is still about him and not about the country as it should be now and should have been during his tenure. TOTUS had many opportunities to be “mediocre” and he squandered those by self-aggrandizing executive orders and ongoing “campaign” speeches. Being President is exceedingly hard job along with being on duty 24/7 but TOTUS chose to delegate his duties to underlings who spoon fed him ideas and topics that he deemed prudent but were uninformed in relation to the needs of the country (that means ALL American voters). The Presidency is not a person but an institution that is guided by a person (hopefully someone with the “right stuff”). Essentially, we had 4 years of mediocracy instead of potential greatness and a show of American ability. The Presidency is about leading a country forward and being aware of the flaws and making some attempts to improve. Totus’s failures created a year of deaths due to poor reaction to a national health crisis which resulted in an initial loss of hundreds of thousand lives until someone gave him a buzzword that excited him (operation “warp speed”) which resulted in an acceleration of vaccine invention and production (a bit late but needed none the less). For 4 years the worst elements of government held sway behind the “curtain of TOTUS’ rhetoric and feckless leadership.

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November 22, 2021Heather Cox Richardson

Nov 23Today, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm, Sweden, released its 2021 report on “The Global State of Democracy.” “Democracy is at risk,” the report’s introduction begins. “Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism.” “The world is becoming more authoritarian as nondemocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression and many democratic governments suffer from backsliding by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law. ”The report identifies the United States as one of the democracies that is “backsliding,” meaning that it has “experienced gradual but significant weakening of Checks on Government and Civil Liberties, such as Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly, over time.”​​“The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,” the report says. That fall continues to be pushed by malign foreign actors. An investigation by Jordan Liles of Snopes.com shows that foreign social media accounts are magnifying right-wing voices. In the wake of the Rittenhouse acquittal, for example, foreign accounts posing as Americans appeared to celebrate the jury’s decision. Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, tweeted that of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets from November 19–20, 29,609 had disabled geolocation. Of them, 17,701 were listed as “foreign,” and most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. Plenty of Americans are along for the authoritarian ride, too. A story by David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Shayna Jacobs in the Washington Post today reveals that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is using party funds to pay some of former president Donald Trump’s legal bills. Allies of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel note that since Trump is the biggest draw the party has for fundraising, it is important to cultivate his goodwill. This dumps the RNC into the January 6 insurrection mess by aligning the party’s central organization with Trump.That mess is deepening. Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued five new subpoenas to people involved in planning the rallies in Washington, D.C., on January 6 and the subsequent march to the Capitol. The subpoenas went to Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, who organized the “Women for America First” rally, and Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich, who called for a social media blitz. Another subpoena went to Roger Stone, who pushed the rally and raised money for it, and who hired members of the right-wing Oath Keepers, several of whom were at the riot, as personal bodyguards. Right-wing newscaster Alex Jones got one, too; he helped to organize the rallies, spoke at the one held January 5, and claimed to have provided 80% of the funding for the January 6 rally. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress. ”Two days ago, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who sits on the committee, told CNN that many of the people they’ve interviewed so far—more than 200—have been Trump officials who testified voluntarily and wanted to be subpoenaed for “cover. ”In Washington, D.C., today, at a hearing for one of those charged in the riot at the Capitol that day, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sought to define what it means to interfere with an official federal government proceeding. About a third of those charged in the attack on the Capitol have been charged with this crime, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Nichols asked a prosecutor today whether calling “Vice President Pence to seek to have him adjudge the certification in a particular way” would be obstruction. That’s a key question. Trump’s influence took some hits today. Sean Parnell, the Trump-backed candidate for Pennsylvania senator, suspended his campaign after losing a custody battle with his ex-wife. She accused him of physical and emotional abuse of her and their children. Today, conservative columnist Max Boot called out Republican lawmakers for “fomenting violent extremism” and noted that “they have also become hostage to the extremists in their ranks” because they fear for their safety should they stand up to the Trump loyalists. Right-wing extremists have threatened the lives of the 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Two long-standing Fox News Channel contributors, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, quit the enterprise today over Tucker Carlson’s three-part series Patriot Purge. That series, they wrote, “is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. ” They say they could no longer work at the Fox News Channel because “we sincerely believe that all people of good will and good judgment—regardless of their ideological or partisan commitments—can agree that a cavalier and even contemptuous attitude toward facts, truth-seeking, and truth-telling, lies at the heart of so much that plagues our country. ” And Kyle Rittenhouse, whom a jury acquitted Friday of all charges connected with the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, is fighting with the “Fightback Foundation” organized by “Stop the Steal” lawyer Lin Wood over the $2 million bail posted for Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse’s lawyers say the money was raised for their client and thus should be his; Wood contends that he raised the money (although apparently not all of it) and thus it should go to his organization.A number of Republican governors are facing primary challengers backed by Trump, and according to the Wall Street Journal, former vice president Mike Pence told the Republican Governors’ Association this week that he would be supporting incumbent Republican governors rather than Trump-backed challengers. Trump spokesperson Budowich—now under subpoena—responded, “Just like in cycles previous, successful Republican candidates must earn the support of President Donald J. Trump.”As the Republican Party falls to autocracy, President Joe Biden is focused on making Americans believe in democracy again by making the economy work for regular people. His policies are working.Today the CEO of Walmart, Doug McMillon, explicitly praised the Biden administration for its actions to reduce pandemic-related supply chain shortages, which are easing. “I would like to give the administration credit for helping do things like help get the ports open 24 hours a day, to open up some of the trucking lines…—there’s been a lot of work to do that—and then all the way through the supply chain there’s been a lot of innovation, and…week after week, in the third quarter in particular, sequentially, each month of the quarter got stronger, the number of containers that we were moving through the ports has grown significantly….”—Notes:https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-kyle-rittenhouse-trial-bail-money-20211122-icplcpeygzdahhwqmwzs43paju-story.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-rnc-legal-bills-ny-investigation-vance-james/2021/11/22/ef447f38-4bda-11ec-b73b-a00d6e559a6e_story.htmlhttps://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/22/capitol-riot-trump-523211https://www.idea.int/gsod/sites/default/files/2021-11/the-global-state-of-democracy-2021_0.pdfhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/22/republicans-are-fomenting-violent-extremism-are-also-hostage-extremists/https://www.snopes.com/news/2021/11/19/foreign-facebook-rittenhouse/https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/select-committee-subpoenas-individuals-involved-planning-and-organizing-rallies​​https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/20/politics/zoe-lofgren-jan-6-committee-interviews/index.htmlhttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/22/1058140148/trump-backed-pa-senate-candidate-suspends-his-campaign-after-losing-custody-battFrank Figliuzzi @FrankFigliuzzi1Divide & conquer: A sample of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets, Nov 19-20, showed 29,609 with disabled geolocation. Of those, 17,701 were listed as “foreign”, but a deep scrub revealed most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. @Tara_Writer @TAPSTRIMEDIA #RittenhouseNovember 21st 2021

Alexander Hendrie  6/24/2021LikeComments|4

The IRS has a history of corruption and incompetence


President Joe Biden has proposed drastically expanding the IRS.a man standing in front of a brick building© Provided by Washington Examiner

Biden’s plan calls for hiring over 87,000 agents, more than doubling the agency’s workforce. It also allocates $80 billion in new funding over the next decade, a 67% annual increase compared to 2021 funding levels. This plan will give the IRS new “specialized enforcement staff” and force banks and payment apps like Venmo to report the inflows and outflows of businesses and people.https://products.gobankingrates.com/pub/84d1cf40-924a-11eb-a8c2-0e0b1012e14d

This proposal is a terrible idea, given that the IRS has repeatedly proven that it cannot do its job.

Last week, ProPublica disclosed that it had received the tax returns of thousands of taxpayers covering 15 years, including those belonging to Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Bloomberg. If this information is true, it was either obtained through someone hacking the IRS database or through an IRS employee illegally disclosing the information, a felony punishable by up to five years in jail time.

While this leak is concerning, it should not be surprising. The IRS has a long history of ineptitude, incompetence, and corruption. In 1997 and 1998, congressional hearings documented numerous examples of an out-of-control IRS.

A 1998 article by the New York Times described “military style raids” by IRS agents against taxpayers who were accused of nonviolent behavior. Another 1998 article, this time from the Washington Post, noted testimony from several small-business owners across the country. They described dozens of armed IRS officials raiding their offices, seizing business documents, and harassing clients and employees. In each case, the agency found no evidence of wrongdoing.

After these revelations, important reforms were passed by Congress to protect taxpayers. However, IRS malfeasance has continued in the years since.

During the Obama administration, the IRS targeted conservative groups applying for nonprofit status ahead of the 2012 election. Under the lead of IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, the agency ensured just one conservative nonprofit organization received tax-exempt status over a three-year period. No IRS employee was disciplined for this scandal. The Obama Department of Justice closed its investigation with no charges, and Lerner was permitted to retire with a pension and a bonus.

Around this time, an IRS employee illegally leaked the sensitive donor information of a conservative group, the National Organization for Marriage. The IRS claimed the information was released “inadvertently” and paid a modest $50,000 settlement.

In addition to a record of targeting taxpayers, the IRS also routinely fails to perform basic tasks.

The IRS has failed to complete legally mandated annual tax complexity reports since 2002. When asked in 2015 why it wasn’t doing the report, the IRS noted that it would take two full-time employees to do so. A 2021 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report found that 40% of printers in tax processing centers were not working, but the only problem with many of the printers was that no employee had replaced the ink or emptied the waste cartridge container.

A 2016 report found that the IRS failed to document the return of laptops containing sensitive taxpayer data. The report estimated that the IRS did not properly document over 1,000 computers used by contract employees. A 2017 report found that the agency rehired more than 200 employees who were previously employed by the agency but fired for previous conduct or performance issues.

The IRS failed to hire 5,000 new employees between 2017 and 2019. The agency had been allocated funding for this staff, so these hiring woes are due to bureaucratic problems, including the fact that the IRS has not updated its workforce plan in 15 years. Further, the IRS has a union contract that requires it to consider internal applicants before hiring externally, a process that TIGTA says leads to a “waste of time and resources” and often results in the agency “shuffling existing employees around.”

In 2013, IRS employees spent over 520,000 hours on union activities, costing taxpayers $23.5 million in salary and benefits.

Biden’s plan to give the IRS $80 billion is reckless at best. Even Obama-era IRS Chief John Koskinen, a longtime advocate of increasing IRS funding, believes Biden’s IRS expansion is excessive. In an interview with the New York Times, Koskinen said the IRS could not properly use the $80 billion, saying, “I’m not sure you’d be able to efficiently use that much money.”

The IRS needs reform to ensure that it properly does its job and does not unfairly target particular taxpayers. In contrast, Biden’s plan would only throw more money at a broken agency.

Alexander Hendrie is the director of tax policy at Americans for Tax Reform.

Tags: OpinionBeltway ConfidentialBlog ContributorsTax

Original Author: Alexander Hendrie

Original Location: The IRS has a history of corruption and incompetence

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November 16, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson4 hr ago23960

Today, President Joe Biden hit the road to sell the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law yesterday. In Woodstock, New Hampshire, today, standing at a bridge deemed structurally unsafe—one of the 215 unsafe bridges in New Hampshire—Biden said “Clean water, access to the internet, rebuilding bridges—everything in this bill matters to the individual lives of real people. This is not something abstract.”

The popularity of the new law was evident today when Republicans began to tout its benefits for their districts, despite their votes against it. Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL), for example, told his constituents: “Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities.” He added, “Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities.” Completion of the road will create more than $2 billion in 10 years, he noted, and could create 14,000 jobs.

And yet, Palmer voted against the bill. When it passed, he tweeted: “The Democrats’ recklessly expensive infrastructure bill finally passed tonight after weeks of disarray among their caucus.”

Since Biden took office, the Democrats have used the government to help ordinary Americans. In the wake of the 2008 crash, the government badly underinvested in the economy, leaving consumers unable to recharge it. After a terribly slow recovery, the economy stabilized and then, once again, crashed during the pandemic. In spring 2020, millions of people lost their jobs, incomes plummeted, and spending fell off a cliff.

Worried we would make the same mistake twice, leaving the country to limp along, lawmakers pushed money into the economy. In spring 2020, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act, then in December 2020, the $900 billion bipartisan aid package. Then, in March 2021, the Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

These put more than $3 trillion into the economy, raising incomes and enabling individuals to put money into savings. Yesterday, the government sent out its fifth monthly payment to the families of around 61 million eligible children under the child tax credit that Democrats expanded under the American Rescue Plan. Yesterday’s payments were around $15 billion. So far, the program has delivered about $77 billion to families across the country which, in turn, enables them to buy household goods that pump money into the economy.

By protecting individuals’ incomes, the government also protected income tax revenues, enabling state and local governments to continue to function, while the money in people’s pockets has also meant they continued to buy goods, keeping sales taxes producing money. Far from collapsing, as it looked like they might in the early days of the pandemic, state and local governments are currently strong financially.

Other economic news is also good. Today, news broke that the government has badly underestimated job growth. Between June and September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics underestimated job growth by 626,000 jobs. The pandemic meant that businesses were slow to fill out paperwork, and this, in turn, meant numbers were underreported.

Goldman Sachs says that by the end of 2022, the nation’s unemployment rate will be at a 50-year low. Unemployment is currently at 4.6% and is expected to be at 3.5% by the end of the year, a rate that will match that of 2019, which was the lowest in 50 years.

Retail sales are also higher than expected. They are 16% higher now than they were a year ago, during the height of the pandemic. They jumped 1.7% in October, with Americans spending about $638.2 billion in that month. The National Retail Federation expects strong holiday retail sales. J.P. Morgan has upgraded its growth expectations for gross domestic product in the fourth quarter from 4% to 5%.

Products are also refilling shelves. Walmart today reported that it will have full shelves for the holiday season.

On all of this news, the stock market rose again.

All of these indicators are excellent, and they reflect the government’s protection of the demand side of the economy to prevent a situation in which the economy can’t recover from a recession because not enough people have enough money to get things moving again.

But now we are looking at a very different problem. The pandemic crashed supply chains across the world, creating a supply shortage (someone described this as the parking lot after a concert, when everyone is trying to leave at once, and as someone who once spent 4.5 hours trying to get out of a parking lot after a U2 concert, I love this comparison). Prices are rising as people who have money, thanks to lawmakers’ efforts to guarantee that we didn’t prolong a recession because of a demand problem, are trying to get scarce goods.

This has created 6.2% inflation in consumer prices, 4 points above the 2% inflation for which government officials aim, and a 30-year high. (Interestingly, gasoline prices, to which people look as a sign of inflation and which have risen about $1.50 a gallon from their low during the pandemic when no one was buying gas, are a reflection of global oil prices and have little to do with U.S. policies.)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says that the smoothing out of supply chains and the end of the pandemic—if we can finally manage the pandemic—will bring prices back to expected levels, and Biden’s work with ports and shippers to expand their operations in order to clear bottlenecks appears to be having an effect. Bloomberg reports that the number of containers sitting on docks at the port of Los Angeles had declined 29% from its high. Still, the Federal Reserve has begun to scale back its support for the economy to try to cool the market.

Mike Pyle, chief economic adviser to the vice president, told Catherine Lucey and Alex Leary of the Wall Street Journal, “We continue to bet that as the economy recovers, as the pandemic abates, as a lot of the work that we’re doing to unclog supply chains and make them higher velocity and more fluid, as those things happen these pressures are going to abate.”

But concerns about inflation are affecting the Democrats’ plans for the larger Build Back Better infrastructure plan. Republicans insist that more investment will raise prices further, and conservative Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV) has expressed his own concerns. Administration officials counter that the Build Back Better plan will lower key costs for families, especially childcare and medical expenses, and that since it is a long-term investment to be disbursed over ten years it will not have any immediate inflationary tendencies, while it will build long-term wealth for ordinary people.

With the economy so strong, so far only about 5% of Americans say that inflation is the most important issue facing the country. But painful memories of the crippling stagflation of the 1970s, when rising prices, rising energy costs, and the end of price controls instituted under President Richard Nixon sent inflation briefly over 12%, linger.

Republicans are hammering on this fear. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm of the Senate Republicans, said recently: “You can see what’s going to happen next. We’re going to continue to have inflation, and then interest rates will go up…. This is a gold mine for us.”

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/11/16/government-underestimated-job-growth/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/15/economy/unemployment-rate-goldman-sachs/index.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/16/statement-by-director-of-the-national-economic-council-brian-deese-on-increasing-retail-sales/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/11/16/retail-sales-october/Carl Quintanilla @carlquintanilla(Bloomberg) – The number of containers sitting on docks at the port of Los Angeles has declined 29%, CEO Gene Seroka says. (via @business @conorsen) November 16th 2021969 Retweets2,869 Likes

https://www.wsj.com/articles/us-economy-october-2021-retail-sales-11637009365?mod=hp_lead_pos1

https://www.npr.org/2021/11/16/1056268965/biden-picks-a-rickety-new-hampshire-bridge-as-a-scene-to-sell-his-infrastructure

https://palmer.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/palmer-new-funding-birminghams-northern-beltline

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0482

​​https://www.nber.org/system/files/chapters/c11462/c11462.pdf

https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/fed-officials-say-high-inflation-weighing-consumers-needs-be-controlled-2021-11-16/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-inflation-economy-spending-11636845241

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-biden-isnt-benefiting-from-a-strong-economy-11636548983

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November 14, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson

 November 14, 2021

Comment: The GOP (in all of its iterations) which has done nothing for the people since the 1800’s. It has continuingly lied about everything to keep power and enable its big money donors. The GOP did not want social security to become law (where would a lot of us be without it?) Right now, they are backing the insurrectionists and Trumpian lies to gain and maintain power. With the upcoming midterm elections, they are obstructing any initiatives that will gain votes and make the current administration look bad. We should all remember that what they do affects all of for better (if you make 500 thousand annually or more) or worse if you earn $150 thousand and less annually. MA

Last night, Trump’s disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn spoke at the “Reawaken America” conference in San Antonio, Texas, designed to whip up supporters to believe the 2020 election was stolen and that coronavirus vaccines are an infringement on their liberty. Flynn told the audience: “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God.”This statement flies in the face of our Constitution, whose First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” James Madison of Virginia, the key thinker behind the Constitution, had quite a lot to say about why it was fundamentally important to make sure the government kept away from religion.

In 1772, when he was 21, Madison watched as Virginia arrested itinerant preachers for attacking the established church in the state. He was no foe of religion, but by the next year, he had begun to question whether established religion, which was common in the colonies, was good for society. By 1776, many of his broad-thinking neighbors had come to believe that society should “tolerate” different religious practices; he had moved past tolerance to the belief that men had a right of conscience.

In that year, he was instrumental in putting Section 16 into the Virginia Declaration of Rights on which our own Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—would be based. It reads, “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

In 1785, in a “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments,” he explained that what was at stake was not just religion, but also representative government itself. The establishment of one religion over others attacked a fundamental human right—an unalienable right—of conscience. If lawmakers could destroy the right of freedom of conscience, they could destroy all other unalienable rights. Those in charge of government could throw representative government out the window and make themselves tyrants.

Madison believed that a variety of religious sects would balance each other out, keeping the new nation free of the religious violence of Europe. He drew on that vision explicitly when he envisioned a new political system, expecting that a variety of political expressions would protect the new government. In Federalist #51, he said: “In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects.”

Right on cue, Flynn’s call for one religion runs parallel to modern Republican lawmakers’ determination to make their party supreme.

The 13 Republicans in the House who were willing to vote yes and give Democratic president Joe Biden a win with the popular bipartisan infrastructure bill are now facing increasing harassment, including death threats from Trump supporters. Although he talked about passing his own infrastructure bill, former president Trump opposed the measure on Biden’s watch, and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called those voting for it “traitor Republicans.”

Meanwhile, Republicans remain silent about the video released by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), showing a cartoon version of himself killing a Democratic congresswoman. Sixty Democratic representatives are sponsoring a bill to censure Gosar; not even the Republican Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has condemned the video.

It turns out the plot to overturn the election of a Democratic president was wider than we knew. New information from a forthcoming book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl reveals that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows was deeply involved. On New Year’s Eve, Meadows emailed to then–vice president Mike Pence’s top aide a memo outlining how Pence could steal the election for Trump.

On Friday, Meadows refused to testify before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, ignoring a subpoena. His lawyer, George Terwilliger III, said that Trump had told him not to testify on the grounds of executive privilege, but as far as I can tell, Trump has not actually made that claim over Meadows’s testimony.

That did not stop Meadows’s lawyer from taking to the pages of the Washington Post to try to defend his client. His op-ed was quite misleading both about precedent and about the limits of executive privilege: as the committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said, “there’s nothing extraordinary about the Select Committee seeking the cooperation of a former senior administration official. Throughout U.S. history, the White House has provided Congress with testimony and information when it has been in the public interest. There couldn’t be a more compelling public interest than getting answers about an attack on our democracy.”

But Terwilliger insisted the committee was out of bounds in demanding that Meadows testify. He indicated that the only reasonable compromise between the committee and Meadows was for the former chief of staff to answer written questions.

Terwilliger seems concerned that Meadows will get caught in lies if he testifies. The select committee says that “Meadows has failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6th, and where his text messages from that day are.” That sure makes it sound like they have information on his actions that day, leaving him open to getting caught if he tries to lie. Written answers are much safer.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee and member of the select committee, said today the committee would move forward quickly to refer Meadows to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress.

As Madison foresaw, the Republicans’ attempt to cement their power endangers the country. On Friday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released transcripts of interviews with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledging that Trump administration officials stopped them from talking to the public and altered their scientific guidance about the coronavirus, accusing them of trying “to harm our commander in chief, the President.” More than 750,000 Americans have now died from COVID.

Their power play hurts us abroad, as well. Tensions surrounding Russia remain high. Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked to Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau to reaffirm U.S. support for Poland—a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—as Belarus’s leader Alexander Lukashenko tries to destabilize Europe by forcing migrants over the Polish border. The State Department noted that the turmoil on the Polish border “seeks to threaten security, sow division, and distract from Russia’s activities on the border with Ukraine,” where Russian president Vladimir Putin has recently pushed a large military buildup.

But, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out this morning, “Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation of our NATO and EU Ambassadors so as to deliberately hamper global security…because they believe global instability will hurt Biden, and hurting Biden is all that matters.”

Notes:

[I corrected the spelling of “practice” in Madison’s quotation.]

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/memo-trump-attorney-outlined-pence-overturn-election-book/story?id=81134003

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/03/trump-loyalists-doctors-ministers-reawaken-america-tour

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/12/trump-white-house-chief-of-staff-mark-meadows-ducks-jan-6-riot-panel-.html

https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/thompson-cheney-statement-mark-meadows-0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/13/abandoning-executive-privilege-biden-rejects-200-years-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/politics/house-committee-cdc-covid-trump-administration-response/index.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-death-threat-andrew-garbarino-arrest-gop-pressure-2021-11

Twitter avatar for @ianbassin

Ian Bassin

@ianbassin

New documents show Trump Admin silenced CDC at start of pandemic, tried to alter expert scientific reports, and then tried to delete evidence they were doing so. We were the most prepared nation in the world but now more than 750,000 Americans have died.

House committee releases new evidence from investigation into Trump administration interference with CDC during Covid-19 pandemic

Dr. Jonathan Reiner reacts to President Donald Trump telling the Wall Street Journal that he “probably won’t” get a Covid-19 vaccine booster.

cnn.com

November 13th 2021

18,529 Retweets37,358 Likes

Twitter avatar for @hugolowell

Hugo Lowell

@hugolowell

New: Lawyer for Trump WH chief of staff Mark Meadows says in WaPo Op-Ed that one solution to standoff with Jan. 6 committee is written questions — appearing to suggest Meadows is afraid of perjuring himself

November 14th 2021

2,879 Retweets11,964 Likes

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-01-02-0027

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/virginia-declaration-of-rights

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-08-02-0163#JSMN-01-08-02-0163-fn-0014-ptr

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November 8, 2021Heather Cox Richardson Nov 9

The big news of the day is the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to combat international terrorism and lawlessness through cybersecurity and international cooperation. Today the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Treasury Department together announced indictments against two foreign actors for cyberattacks on U.S. companies last August. They announced sanctions against the men, one of whom has been arrested in Poland; they seized $6.1 million in assets from the other. The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information about other cybercriminals associated with the attack. Treasury noted that ransomware attacks cost the U.S. almost $600 million in the first six months of 2021, and disrupt business and public safety.  The U.S. has also sent Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman to Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya to urge an end to the deadly civil war in Ethiopia, where rebel forces are close to toppling the government. A horrific humanitarian crisis is in the making there. The U.S. is interested in stopping the fighting not only because of that, but also because the Ethiopian government has lately tended to stabilize the fragile Somali government. Without that stabilization, Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, and terrorists could extort the global shipping industry.  Meanwhile, it appears that Biden’s big win on Friday, marshaling a bipartisan infrastructure bill through Congress, has made Republicans almost frantic to win back the national narrative. The National Republican Congressional Committee has released an early ad for the 2022 midterm elections titled “Chaos,” which features images of the protests from Trump’s term and falsely suggests they are scenes from Biden’s America. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican leaders today attacked the popular Sesame Street character Big Bird today for backing vaccinations—Big Bird has publicly supported vaccines since 1972—they revealed how fully they have become the party of Trump.Excerpts from a new book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl say that Trump was so mad that the party did not fight harder to keep him in office that on January 20, just after he boarded Air Force One to leave Washington, he took a phone call from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, and told her that he was quitting the Republicans to start his own political party.McDaniel told him that if he did that, the Republicans “would lose forever.” Trump responded: “Exactly.” A witness said he wanted to punish the officials for their refusal to fight harder to overturn the election.Four days later, Trump relented after the RNC made it clear it would stop paying his legal bills and would stop letting him rent out the email list of his 40 million supporters, a list officials believed was worth about $100 million.Instead of leaving the party, he is rebuilding it in his own image. In Florida, Trump loyalist Roger Stone is threatening to run against Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 to siphon votes from his reelection bid unless DeSantis promises he won’t challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 202Washington Post by Michael Kranish today explored how, over the course of his career, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has singlemindedly pursued power, switching his stated principles to their opposites whenever it helped his climb to the top of the Senate. Eventually, in the hope of keeping power, he embraced Trump, even acquitting him for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection. The former president is endorsing primary candidates to oust Republicans he thinks were insufficiently loyal. In Georgia, he has backed Herschel Walker, whose ex-wife got a protective order against him after he allegedly threatened to shoot her. In Pennsylvania, Trump has endorsed Sean Parnell, whose wife testified that he choked her and abused their children physically and emotionally. Although such picks could hurt the Republicans in a general election with the women they desperately need to attract (hence the focus on schools), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL), did not feel comfortable today bucking Trump to comment on whether Parnell was the right candidate to back. Scott said he would focus on whoever won the primary. The cost of the party’s link to Trumpism is not just potential 2022 voters. In the New York Times today, David Leonhardt outlined how deaths from the novel coronavirus did not reflect politics until after the Republicans made the vaccines political. A death gap between Democrats and Republicans emerged quickly as Republicans shunned the vaccine.Now, only about 10% of Democrats eligible for the vaccine have refused it, while almost 40% of Republicans have. In October, while about 7.8 people per 100,000 died in counties that voted strongly for Biden, 25 out of every 100,000 died in counties that went the other way. Leonhardt held out hope that both numbers would drop as more people develop immunities and as new antiviral drugs lower death rates everywhere. And yet, Republicans continue to insist they are attacking the dangerous Democrats. Quite literally. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has ties to white supremacists and who has been implicated in the January 6 attack, yesterday posted an anime video in which his face was photoshopped onto a character that killed another character bearing the face of New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Gosar character also swung swords at a Biden character and fought alongside Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO). In response to the outcry about the video, Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, said: “Everyone needs to relax.” The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is not relaxing. Today it issued six new subpoenas. The subpoenas went to people associated with the “war room” in the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to the events of January 6. The subpoenas went to William Stepien, the manager of Trump’s 2020 campaign which, as an entity, asked states not to certify the results of the election; Trump advisor Jason Miller, who talked of a stolen election even before the election itself; Angela McCallum, an executive assistant to Trump’s 2020 campaign, who apparently left a voicemail for a Michigan state representative pressuring the representative to appoint an alternative slate of electors because of “election fraud”; and Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, who paid for the hotel rooms in which the plotting occurred.Another subpoena went to Michael Flynn, who called for Trump to declare martial law and “rerun” the election, and who attended a December 18, 2020, meeting in the Oval Office “during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the false message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud.” The sixth subpoena went to John Eastman, author of the Eastman memo saying that then–vice president Mike Pence could reject the certified electors from certain states, thus throwing the election to Trump. Eastman was apparently at the Willard Hotel for a key meeting on January 5, and he spoke at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6. None of these people are covered by executive privilege, even if Trump tries to exercise it. The 2022 midterm elections, scheduled for November 8, 2022, are exactly a year away.—

Notes:https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/select-committee-subpoenas-additional-witnesses-tied-efforts-overturn-electionhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/08/briefing/covid-death-toll-red-america.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/08/mitch-mcconnell-trump-impeachment-insurrection-senate/https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-told-rnc-chair-leaving-gop-create-party/story?id=80979889https://www.npr.org/2021/11/08/1053548074/big-bird-covid-19-vaccine-conservative-backlash-ted-cruzhttps://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/nrsc-chair-scott-condemn-parnell-domestic-abusehttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/07/1051940127/rebels-are-closing-in-on-ethiopias-capital-its-collapse-could-bring-regional-chahttps://www.state.gov/visit-of-special-envoy-for-the-horn-of-africa-feltman-to-ethiopia-and-kenya/https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/08/politics/fact-check-house-republican-ad-trump-images-2020/index.htmlhttps://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/ukrainian-arrested-and-charged-ransomware-attack-kaseyahttps://www.state.gov/reward-offers-for-information-to-bring-sodinokibi-revil-ransomware-variant-co-conspirators-to-justice/https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0471https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/580351-senate-gop-worries-trump-could-derail-bid-for-majorityhttps://www.businessinsider.com/roger-stone-run-governor-desantis-pledges-not-to-run-president-2021-11https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2021/01/10/reps-andy-biggs-paul-gosar-implicated-capitol-insurrection/6614177002/https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-gosar-trump-ocasio-cortez/2021/11/08/ead37b36-40ca-11ec-9ea7-3eb2406a2e24_story.html
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November 6, 2021Heather Cox Richardson

As soon as the Democrats in the House of Representatives, marshaled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a bipartisan vote of 228–206 last night, Republicans began to say that the Democrats were ushering in “socialism.”When Republicans warn of socialism, they are not talking about actual socialism, which is an economic system in which the means of production, that is, the factories and industries, are owned by the people. In practical terms, that means they are owned by the government.True socialism has never been popular in America, and virtually no one is talking about it here today. The best it has ever done in a national election was in 1912, when labor organizer Eugene V. Debs, running for president as a Socialist, won a whopping 6% of the vote, coming in behind Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. True socialism isn’t a real threat in America.What politicians mean when they cry “socialism” in America today is something entirely different. It is a product of the years immediately after the Civil War, when Black men first got the right to vote.Eager to join the free labor system from which they had previously been excluded, these men joined poor white men to vote for leaders who promised to rebuild the South, provide schools and hospitals (as well as desperately needed prosthetics for veterans), and develop the economy with railroads to provide an equal opportunity for all men to work hard and rise.Former Confederates loathed the idea of Black men voting. But their opposition to Black voting on racial grounds ran headlong into the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which, after it was ratified in 1870, gave the U.S. government the power to make sure that no state denied any man the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When white former Confederates nonetheless tried to force their Black neighbors from the polls, Congress in 1870 created the Department of Justice, which began to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan members who had been terrorizing the South.With racial discrimination now prohibited by the federal government, elite white southerners changed their approach. They insisted that they objected to Black voting not on racial grounds, but because Black men were voting for programs that redistributed wealth from hardworking white people to Black people, since hospitals and roads would cost tax dollars and white people were the only ones with taxable property in the Reconstruction South. Poor Black voters were instituting, one popular magazine wrote, “Socialism in South Carolina.”This idea that it was dangerous for poor working men to have a say in the government caught on in the North as immigrants moved into growing cities to work in the new factories. Like their counterparts in the South, they voted for roads and schools, and northern men of wealth too insisted these programs meant a redistribution of wealth through tax dollars.They got more concerned still when a majority of Americans began to call for regulation to keep businessmen from gouging consumers, polluting the environment, and poisoning the food supply (milk was preserved with formaldehyde, and candy was often painted with lead paint). Wealthy men argued that any attempt to regulate business would impinge on a man’s liberty, while an army of bureaucrats to enforce regulations would cost tax dollars and thus would mean a redistribution of wealth from men of means to the poor who would benefit from the regulations.Long before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia brought the fears of a workers’ government to life, Americans who opposed regulation insisted that their economy was under siege by socialists. That conviction did indeed lead to a redistribution of wealth, but as regular Americans were kept from voting, it went dramatically upward, not down.Regulation of business and promotion of infrastructure is not, in fact, the international socialism today’s Republicans claim. According to Abraham Lincoln, who first articulated the principles of the Republican Party, and under whom the party invented the American income tax, the “legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities.” Those things included, he wrote, “public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.”

Notes:Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on Government, [July 1, 1854?], in Roy P. Basler, ed., Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), volume 2, p. 220.
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Heather Cox RichardsonNov 6

In February 2021, the month after President Joe Biden took office, unemployment was 6.3%, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that it would take until the end of 2023 for the nation to reach 4.6% unemployment.

In March 2021, Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to stimulate the economy, which had withered during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan extended unemployment benefits and provided stimulus payments to individuals. It increased food stamp benefits and significantly expanded the Child Tax Credit, putting money in parents’ pockets. It provided grants to small business and local, state, and tribal governments. It provided money for schools, housing, and healthcare.

Not a single Republican voted for the measure.

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its October monthly jobs report, and the news was good. The country added 531,000 new jobs, and numbers for previous months were revised to take more complete data into account. They show that there were 235,000 more jobs created in August and September than had previously been counted. Today’s news says that the U.S. economy has reached 4.6% unemployment two years ahead of schedule.

Since Biden took office, the U.S. has added more than 5.6 million jobs. This reflects the rebound from the lows of the pandemic, and it means that Biden added more jobs in the first 9 months of his presidency than the last three Republican administrations, covering 16 years, combined. The news created a rally on the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite, all ways of measuring the stock market, all closed at record highs, a powerful sign in light of the fact that right-wing politicians have insisted that Biden’s policies would hurt the economy.

“Bold fiscal policy works,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote on Twitter. “A rebound like this was never a foregone conclusion. When our administration took office back in January, there was a real risk that our economy was going to slip into a prolonged recession. Now our recovery is outpacing other wealthy nations’.” She credited the American Rescue Plan and Biden’s immunization campaign, which has vaccinated 193 million Americans against the novel coronavirus, for the recovery.

Turning the obscene right-wing rallying cry “Let’s go, Brandon” on its head, Biden supporters today got #ThankYouBrandon trending on Twitter throughout the day.

The new numbers also show that women are still not reentering the workforce in numbers that reflect the pre-pandemic era. Experts think that the lack of safe childcare and concerns about schools are keeping women out of the workforce. The administration’s Build Back Better infrastructure bill would address these concerns, and after months of complicated negotiations, Biden has put a huge push today to get the House to advance the measure.

The Build Back Better bill is paired with the smaller bipartisan infrastructure measure, and this morning Republicans tried to adjourn Congress rather than allow the Democrats to bring them up. Their efforts failed, and House Democrats negotiated all day as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to hammer down the last details while President Biden put pressure on lawmakers to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better measure.

As they worked, there was a little more fallout from Tuesday’s election. In New Jersey, where Democratic governor Phil Murphy won, Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli has refused to concede. While Ciattarelli has said he only wants to make sure all legal votes are counted, Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the former president, shared Ciattarelli’s video asking people to wait before accepting Murphy’s victory and added: “Nothing to see here folks, just a blatant crime being committed!”

In Virginia, governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s 17-year-old son tried twice to vote despite being too young. This was unfortunate because his father had emphasized “election integrity” in his campaign, announcing that he would create an “Election Integrity Task Force” that would work “to ensure free and fair elections in Virginia.”

Also on the Hill today, Jeffrey Clark, the Department of Justice attorney who championed then-president Trump’s efforts to get the 2020 election overturned, cut short his deposition before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

After about 90 minutes, Clark handed the committee a 12-page letter saying he would not answer questions because while he held office, former president Trump was entitled “to the confidential advice of lawyers like” him. That meant that Clark “is subject to a sacred trust—one that is particularly vital to the constitutional separation of powers.” This vague and odd declaration is seemingly intended simply to buy time. Clark clearly doesn’t want to talk, but he also doesn’t appear to want to plead the Fifth Amendment, which would cement the idea that he has committed crimes. Trump has not asserted executive privilege over his conversations with Clark and indeed couldn’t, for a number of reasons.

Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said that Clark “has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully.”

After being at it all day, tonight, President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi, the progressive Democrats, and centrist and conservative Democrats hammered out an agreement on the infrastructure measures. Centrists promised in writing to support the Build Back Better Act the progressives want as soon as they get confirmation from the Congressional Budget Office that it will cost what the White House says it will (ironically, the CBO says the bipartisan measure they like will cost $256 billion) and to work to come to a new compromise if it doesn’t. With that assurance, Pelosi had enough progressive votes to pass the first of the two infrastructure bills.

At about 11:30 p.m., the House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 228–206. Biden promised to pass a bipartisan measure and after nine months of hard work, he did it: thirteen Republicans voted in favor of the bill; six progressive Democrats voted against it. The measure had already passed the Senate, so now it goes to his desk for a signature.

This bill is a huge investment in infrastructure. Axios lists just how huge: over the next 8 years, it will provide $110 billion for fixing roads and bridges, $73 billion for the electrical grid, $66 billion for railroads, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $47 billion for coastal adjustments to climate change, $39 billion for public transportation, and so on.

The Guardian’s congressional reporter, Hugo Lowell, noted: “Regardless of the politics, the passage of a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill is a towering legislative achievement for Biden—and one that Trump never came close to matching.”

Notes:Bharat Ramamurti @BharatRamamurtiFeb. 2021: Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects we will get to 4.6% unemployment by the end of 2023 Mar. 2021: Democrats pass the American Rescue Plan Oct. 2021: Economy reaches 4.6% unemployment two years ahead of scheduleNovember 5th 20212,700 Retweets8,701 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/05/things-about-to-get-better/

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/us-economy-added-531000-jobs-last-month-rcna4646Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiffWe’re on the verge of passing bills that will benefit every single person in this country. So naturally, Republicans are trying to adjourn Congress before that happens. If they want to sit this out, so be it. But Democrats showed up to work today. And we’re getting this done.November 5th 20212,992 Retweets14,489 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/glenn-youngkin-son-vote-election/2021/11/05/f5eb7ce0-3e62-11ec-8ee9-4f14a26749d1_story.html

​​https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ciattarelli-refuses-to-concede-nj-governors-race-but-says-result-will-be-legal-and-fair/2021/11/05/0088741e-3e36-11ec-a493-51b0252dea0c_story.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/05/jobs-report-november-2021.htmlSecretary Janet Yellen @SecYellenThis morning we received a very welcome jobs report – 531k jobs added – and in my view, there are two key takeaways:November 5th 2021216 Retweets984 Likes

https://www.barrons.com/articles/stock-market-today-51636101544

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/05/jeffrey-clark-doj-hill-deposition-519703David Rothkopf @djrothkopfMore jobs added under Biden in 9 months than in the 16 years of the last three GOP administrations combined. (h/t @SimonWDC). Shout it from the rooftops. The American Independent @AmerIndependentEconomy adds more than 5.5 million jobs in 9 months under Biden by @jeisrael https://t.co/teNa2gRRoDNovember 5th 2021423 Retweets965 LikesWajahat Ali @WajahatAliDemocrats pass the biggest investment in infrastructure since the Depression. Impressive, and I hope they message the hell out of it.November 6th 2021469 Retweets2,768 LikesRep Josh Gottheimer @RepJoshGToday, Representatives Ed Case (HI-1), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Kurt Schrader (OR-5) released the following statement: November 6th 202144 Retweets147 Likes

https://www.axios.com/house-approves-infrastructure-bill-36cc16f0-480e-402a-a260-ff17976184f7.html

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