What’s In/Out?

Kate Riga with the latest state of play on reconciliation.

Where Things Stand: RonJohn Takes DC US Attorney’s Office Hostage Over Jan 6 Prosecutions
Prime Membership Required

It’s a tale as old as time for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

The Republican senator is reportedly using his leverage as a senator to, at least temporarily, block the confirmation of Matt Graves, whom President Biden named as his pick to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. Since January of this year that office has overseen more than 600 prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. So far, more than 100 insurrectionists have pleaded guilty to charges related to the attack.

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The Deal Starts to Come Together

Everything I’ve seen over the 24 hours since I wrote the post below tells me that yesterday was the best day Democrats have had in months. As I said yesterday, the headlines are about things that are being dropped. But the real story is the concreteness and specificity of these reports and the authority of the people sending the message. Those all tell us that the real negotiation is now underway. Kate Riga and I discussed this in the new episode of the podcast which should be out this afternoon.

A few points.

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It’s a Good Sign

There’s a bunch of news out of today’s Democratic caucus meetings about specific programs being dropped from the reconciliation bill altogether or cut by this or that fairly dramatic amount. Unsurprisingly this is generating a lot of anger and gnashing of teeth. Tuition free community college is out, for instance, according to reports of what President Biden told House and Senate progressives. I have a different take on it. This is actually some of the most promising news I’ve heard in some time: Because these details are clearly coming from a real negotiation.

I’m not saying these programs don’t matter. Far from it. It’s more that I’ve already discounted or accepted the fact that a lot of these things are going to be cut dramatically. The bigger danger I see is that the whole thing falls apart and nothing happens at all. So actual negotiations happen is a big deal.

Where Things Stand: Cohen Gets Coffee With Kanye Who Is Wearing A Creepy Mask For Some Reason
Prime Membership Required

Let me just preface this by saying, I don’t have a lot of answers. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying: I reached out to Michael Cohen this afternoon for some clarification on WTF is going on and got crickets, so I will update you if I hear back.


Michael Cohen and rapper and (one-time?) MAGA fan Kanye West (who recently legally changed his name to his rapper pseudonym “Ye”) were spotted getting coffee together today in New York City’s Upper East Side, according to Page Six. The rapper was wearing some bizarre prosthetic mask, apparently similar to ones he’s worn before. It’s a white mask. It’s really spooky looking. I don’t know enough about West’s aesthetic or marketing campaigns to give you a clear answer on why or how this originated, but check out the picture below.

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More on BIF Envy and Dem Culs-De-Sac #3

TPM Reader JB strikes back!

I noted a couple of your correspondents at TPM objected to the idea that Democrats in the House and Senate drive themselves into a legislative cul-de-sac with respect to the infrastructure bill, either because they doubt the reality of the cul-de-sac or because they didn’t think Democrats had a choice.

They did have a choice, and it centered around process.  Use of the reconciliation procedure for the bulk of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda was a given, with all Republicans in the House and Senate united in opposition to action on anything except building more roads and a few other elements of physical infrastructure and most Republicans opposed even to these.  This did not mean that Democrats had to use an entirely closed process, with hardly any public hearings or committee votes on legislative language or amendments.

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Not Complicated

The story here is not complicated, at least in broad strokes. Mid-summer Delta, economic knock-on effects of Delta and finally Afghanistan started sapping Biden’s popularity. Manchin saw that ebbing power and started pumping the brakes on the President’s agenda. This was of a piece with DC insider culture, which Manchin is the ultimate creature of, turning hard on the President. The big reporters changing their view of him and the lobbies sensing weakness.

All political power is unitary and it’s played out over the last two or three months in a very damaging way.

Grumbles about BIF, Bills, Biden and the Unfolding Debacle of Irresolution

I confess that I have completely given up on making sense of what is going on on Capitol Hill right now. Is there going to be a reconciliation bill? Is the BIF going to pass? I have no idea on either. I also have no clue about the continuing appearance of a lack of urgency. A few days ago Rep. Jayapal said there’s nothing set in stone about the October 31st deadline. And just yesterday Joe Manchin said it didn’t seem at all realistic that anything would be done by then. That is, to put it mildly, deeply unfortunate because the public is drifting away from the President and his party in significant part because they cannot seem to act on the agenda they say is so important. They are also sowing a creeping disillusionment and demoralization among their own partisans. This is fundamentally the fault of Democratic voters who missed the chance to elect two to four more senators last November. But the problem is Joe Biden’s to solve.

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More on BIF Envy and Dem Culs-De-Sac #2

More of the conversation from TPM Reader MM

I agree with PT that the Dems didn’t “drive themselves into a cul-de-sac”, because they had no real choice.

But I disagree with much of the rest of his analysis. First, and most obviously, it is manifestly untrue that Manchin and Sinema haven’t learned the lessons of the past 30 years: they learned those lessons quite well. Their goals are simply at variance with, or at best skew to, many or most of goals of the rest of the Democratic caucus. Should they be Democrats? Nothing could matter less. It says ‘D’ after their names, and without them we wouldn’t even have these issues to worry about and argue over.

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Matt Gaetz’s buddy is not just cooperating with the feds, he’s making allegations that “take us to some places we did not anticipate,” a prosecutor told a judge yesterday.  

| News

People of color made up the vast majority of Texas’ decade-long growth spurt, especially Latinos, a group that accounted for fully half of the state’s growth.

But Republicans control the state’s legislature. And the new political maps they’ve approved in recent days as part of the redistricting process dilute Latinos’ voting power, according to the first lawsuit over the maps.

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| Muckraker

It was Jan. 3, and Jeffrey Bossert Clark had finally said yes.

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