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Biden's America #2

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2022 09:04 pm
Robert Reich
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Last Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve chairperson Jerome Powell said the Fed must continue to raise interest rates, even though it will “bring some pain to households and businesses”.
This – with all due respect – is bonkers.
True, inflation is near a four-decade high. But the Fed’s aggressive effort to tame it through steep interest rate hikes – the fastest series of rate hikes since the early 1980s – raises the risk of recession. Powell’s remarks signal that the Fed will probably increase rates again in September by another three-quarter of a percent, raising the risk still further.
The pain is already being felt across the land. Wage gains haven’t kept up with inflation. This means most Americans continue to lose economic ground.
Powell is in effect telling them they’ll lose even more ground. Higher interest rates, he admits, will slow economic growth and result in “softer” labor market conditions – a euphemism for lower wage increases and fewer jobs. But “these are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation”.
Meanwhile, though, corporate profits continue to soar. Profit margins are at their highest since 1950, according to Commerce Department figures published last week.
Stop for a moment and let your mind dwell on this: the prices businesses are charging their customers are outpacing whatever increased costs businesses are facing for materials and labor.
In other words, wages aren’t pushing up inflation. The costs of production aren’t pushing up inflation.
Corporations are pushing up inflation. The biggest single unique source of inflation in the United States is the pricing power of corporations.
So why is the Fed raising interest rates? Because that’s what the Fed does when prices are rising. That’s the only tool in the Fed’s toolkit. To quote the old saying, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – or, in this case, an interest rate to hike.
The problem: this mostly burdens working people and the low-income with fighting inflation. They’re the first to lose pay and jobs as the economy slows. They’re already getting hammered. If the Fed continues to raise rates to slow inflation, they’ll get hammered even more.
This might be justifiable if corporations were investing their windfall profits in more productive capacity – adding factories, materials, warehouses, and jobs – which would expand their ability to meet future demand and thereby better guarding against inflation.
But they aren’t. They’re using their profits to buy back their shares of stock so that their share values won’t sag too much further after already sagging due to the anticipated Fed-induced slowdown.
At the beginning of the year, Goldman Sachs estimated that 2022 would see a record-breaking $1tn in buybacks. That’s unlikely to happen, but buybacks are continuing at a strong pace. In the second quarter, buybacks were up by about 7% over the year before.
Some economists argue that there’s no reason to think corporations would now exert more pricing power than they’ve had all along. Why would they wait for the costs of materials and labor to rise before increasing their profit margins?
The answer is simple. Inflation gives them cover. They can say – as many now do – that they have no choice but to raise prices in light of the rising costs of materials and labor. They’re just not advertising the fact that their profits are rising as they do so.
Which brings us to the central policy question: why can’t the burden of fighting inflation be placed where it belongs – on big corporations continuing to raise their prices in pursuit of larger profit margins and higher share prices?
The simple answer is big corporations have so much political clout that they’d never allow the sorts of policies that would have that effect – say, a windfall profits tax, price controls, higher taxes on themselves and the wealthy, and bolder and more effective antitrust enforcement.
Although the Democrats did pass a 1% percent tax on stock buybacks in the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, they weren’t able to take these other steps. Not even a Democratic president and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress could overcome vested corporate interests.
So it’s all on Jerome Powell and the Fed. Which means, it’s all on working people.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  0  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2022 06:33 am
Umair Haque wrote:
(...)

Here’s what Biden said the other day.

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

What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.


Those words are already famous, ringing like a bell heard across the world. Why? Because that’s the first time that an American President — anyone in American leadership, really — openly called out Trumpism for what it is.

Now, journalists are referring to this as a “ramped up rhetorical strategy.” And while it might be that, it’s much more than that, too. It’s also leadership. In what way? Well, in the very same newspaper — the Washington Post — finally, finally, there was a column entitled “Biden just used the F-word, and he’s correct.” See that? What just happened? The President came out forcefully, and told the truth — And now, at last, pundits and columnists are now finally telling it, too. It’s been years of Americans being told to “debate” “whether” “this” is “really” fascism or not. But now? It’s beginning to be different.

That matters, a very, very great deal. That’s what leadership is. When journalists and columnists who’ve been on the fence — because they’re afraid, confused, ignorant, baffled, or merely indifferent — suddenly line up and change their stance and also, the very next day, say, wait, yeah, this is fascism…that’s literal leadership. The President, in this case, changing, suddenly, radically, the arid, backwards terms of American discourse, culture, its norms and values.

That’s a big deal, because what’s really enabled the bad guys for so long is this hopeless faux debate. Is it “really” fascism? Hey, wait, maybe it’s just boys being boys, or a few bad apples! Meanwhile, the rest of us who are thoughtful and sane and acquainted with history have slowly been going insane having to hear this surreal denialism.

Let me make that first example crystal clear. Biden just drew a line in the sand. When the President calls it fascism, then the Establishment falls into line. And denial is no longer an option. Big Change. Big Deal.

That would’ve been enough by itself to make folks like me and you happy probably, but it didn’t stop there. Then, the White House began…to…make fun…of the lunatics and fanatics on Twitter. Look at the pic above. The Republicans who are calling cancelling student debt “unfair”? The White House pointed out that they’ve had six-figure loans forgiven.

The response? A massive, enormous roar of approval.

“Hey, WH staff, just so you know, if you’re going to continue to drag these hypocrites with clear and hard-hitting messaging, you run a serious risk of surging enthusiasm, electoral success, and continued improvements to the lives of millions of Americans,” Scott Lynch wrote.

“I am so here for these @WhiteHouse tweets,” wrote Monica Lewinsky.

“You don’t have to agree with student-loan forgiveness to agree this is a pretty impressive response from The White House,” said Miles Taylor, who used to be a Trump official.

I could go on.

Why does that matter? Is this just…marketing? Not at all. This is politics. And for the last…well, as long as anyone can remember…the Democrats have been ham-fisted and cack-handed at it. They’re just not very good at electrifying people. Making them feel that thrill of delight that someone’s on your side. That this party represents you. That it cares about you, feels what you do, is going to be there for you — not just in the anodyne terms of policy, but to fight social and cultural fights, too. Those matter intensely. Because they are how norms and values are set.

What happened when the Democrats shied away from this fight? Well, the fanatics and lunatics gained ground, incredibly fast — they overran society and culture, to shocking, alarming degrees. Being screamed at by lunatics for not wearing a mask or the wrong kind of T-shirt of what have you became normal. Supremacists and militants marching down the streets, grinning smugly, became normal. So too did the constant stream of abuse and invective from their political side. And it culminated in an America where death threats and intimidation and open calls to violence now pervade the right.

The way to change that is exactly like this. To de-normalize being a fanatic, lunatic, militant, fool. That doesn’t just happen when nerds like me say it’s wrong. It happens when those in positions of very real power say it is. When a President does it, it sets in motion a chain reaction. We’ve seen how journalists and pundits quickly fall into line, saying the words they’ve been afraid to say for what, practically a decade now. And alongside that is electrifying a nation, providing people the license they need to say “this is not OK. It’s not OK to abuse and hurt and harm people. We are going to stand against these lunatics and fools, at the most fundamental level of how we engage with one another as people.”

All of that has a crucial effect — or at least it can. It can alter how politics happens, boosting turnout, restoring passion and confidence, replacing apathy and disillusionment with fire in the belly and tingling in the tummy. Electrifying a whole political side isn’t just about marketing or spin — it’s about changing a society, bringing a sense of normalcy and confidence back to it, letting the bad guys know that there are still limits and boundaries, giving ordinary people, long frustrated, a long-needed surge of power. That’s rarely mattered more, because in America, the next midterm and then Presidential election are it. Democracy’s greatest test — and it’s final one, too, if it fails, it fails for good. So all this matters, and it matters intensely.

This is how societies change. How they develop oppositions — real ones — to fascist-authoritarian movements. Leaders need to use their power. They need to use it policy-wise — but they also need to lead. To use their power socioculturally, to change and alter norms and values, so that better ones trickle down from the heights of power, to making the average person feel like they can turn their society around. Do all that — and by electrifying the sane and thoughtful part of a society — it’s possible to turn the ship around. Because the fanatics and extremists are usually a small number, and that secret gets out.

Through this kind of bonding, this kind of solidarity, this sudden electric current of togetherness and boldness, people come to understand the most crucial thing of all. The sane and thoughtful ones, who want a modern democracy, outnumber the fanatics and lunatics, by a very long way. Only because the fanatics and lunatics have been louder, more aggressive, violent, scary, the impression is that they hold all the cards. People have forgotten that the sane among them number — and this is almost always true — around 70%, and the fanatics, lunatics, militants, theocrats, fascists — just 30% or so.

Suddenly, a new current races through society. Hey — those guys are just a minority. A small one. A fringe. Maybe we can take our society back. Hey, look at that? See all those people who also liked this tweet, this speech, agreed with calling this fascism? Wow, I didn’t know there were so many of us. I feel better now. I’m going to fight for my society harder now, because there’s a leader standing up, at last, not just for me, but for all the people like me, who are a far larger number than I thought.

See how all that works? This is how to save a society from collapse. Biden’s last few weeks really have been electrifying. Policy-wise, from passing the climate bill (yes, it’s not enough), to cancelling student debt (yes, it’s not enough). And now, from taking on the normative, sociocultural fight to reclaim society from the lunatics — which is, history says, the more important one, the most crucial one of all, because that is when the chain reaction of confidence and a newfound power and self-belief begin to finally pervade the sane, moderate, democratic part of a society again, going from one person to the next, from pundits and journalists and power figures to average people.

(...)

medium
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2022 06:04 pm
I am making a deal with the devil. This year and in 2024 I will vote for the Democratic nominees. If Democrats gain in the Senate and hold the House and Presidency and still don't accomplish things I hold as important I will never vote Democratic again.
edgarblythe
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 1 Sep, 2022 08:17 am

WITH EXPECTATIONS OF a revived Iran nuclear deal growing, Iran hawks in Congress are positioning themselves to make U.S. reentry into the agreement a painful political ordeal, according to a draft letter circulating on Capitol Hill.

With President Joe Biden reportedly coming close to reviving the agreement, the letter telegraphs the opposition he could face from Congress. Such efforts would be a reprisal of the fight in 2015, when President Barack Obama worked to push through the original Iran nuclear deal and faced right-leaning pro-Israel forces in Congress — including Democrats — that tried to block it.

Led by conservative New Jersey Democrat and perennial obstructionist Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the letter lays out a policy on the nuclear deal that, rather than reviving Obama’s deal, would follow in the footsteps of President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the deal despite an international consensus that it was working to restrain Iran’s nuclear program.


“We are deeply concerned about multiple provisions that reportedly may be contained in the final language of any agreement with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the pro-Israel Democrats wrote in the draft of the letter, which was obtained by The Intercept. “Concerningly, news accounts suggest that the agreement may suspend terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, the National Development Fund and the National Iranian Oil Company, designated by the previous administration for supporting terrorism.”

For some defenders of the Iran deal on Capitol Hill, the letter makes specious arguments and stands as an affront to Democratic voters who made their views on the agreement clear. “The bottom line is Joe Biden was elected on an explicit commitment to rejoining the deal,” Matt Duss, a foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told The Intercept. “Biden himself has made the best available case for rejoining the Iran deal — one that has conclusively addressed most of the continuing complaints.”

“The bottom line is Joe Biden was elected on an explicit commitment to rejoining the deal.”
The letter — with nearly 30 Democratic signatories, according to Jewish Insider, which first reported its existence — lays out the arguments Iran hawks are poised to leverage against any forthcoming revival of the deal in the coming weeks. The draft, published below in full, airs complaints about how the U.S., under a new agreement, would treat sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its central bank as well as Russia’s role in facilitating the deal.

The 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers limited the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment and stockpiles as well as created the most robust monitoring mechanisms in the history of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In exchange, Iran got sanctions relief that was intended to begin its reintegration into the world financial system. In 2018, Trump withdrew from the agreement, reimposed sanctions, and took even harsher steps against Iran.

While Iran hawks in Washington and abroad cheered the withdrawal, security officials, nuclear experts, and U.S. allies warned that it would free Iran to ramp up its nuclear program. Eventually, with meaningful sanctions relief off the table and its economy squeezed to the breaking point, Iran did just that.

THEIR OPPOSITION TO the revived deal aligns the conservative Democratic members of Congress with a constellation of foreign governments that hold sway in Washington, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and hard-liners in Israel.

Pro-Israel groups in Washington are likely to lend full-throated support to Gottheimer’s effort. The letter’s language closely mirrors the talking points that have been put forward by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the flagship Israel lobby group in D.C. AIPAC, which has been publicly lambasting the contours of an expected deal in recent weeks, tweeted its support for Gottheimer’s effort Wednesday morning.

Many of the letter’s expected Democratic signatories have received significant political boosts from AIPAC and its network of pro-Israel PACs this year. Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar narrowly fended off primary challenger Jessica Cisneros in May after receiving nearly $2 million from the lobby. And Rep. Haley Stevens, who received over $4 million from the group’s super PAC, United Democracy Project, ousted liberal Jewish Rep. Andy Levin, an Iran deal supporter, in a rare primary between sitting members in Michigan earlier this month. (Spokespeople for Cuellar and Stevens did not immediately reply to a request for comment.)

The political expediency of siding with Israel lobby groups on Iran diplomacy, though, is not clear-cut. Members of Congress who have championed the deal have also found political success. Last week, New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler ousted fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney in another member-on-member primary. The divide on Iran featured prominently in the race: Nadler was the only Jewish member of the House to support the original deal, while Maloney, who has a history of Islamophobic actions, voted in opposition.

While the deal’s skeptics may undermine the perceived political benefit of a new deal, there is little indication that they have the numbers necessary to prevent the administration from reentering the agreement.

While Biden can reenter the deal without congressional approval, the Gottheimer letter requested that Biden submit to congressional approval of any renegotiated agreement — something Republicans, like Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have been clamoring for.

Many of the reported U.S. concessions on the table now would not affect congressionally controlled aspects of the U.S.-Iran relationship nor increase U.S. business with Iran. Instead, they would ease enforcement of certain sanctions against non-U.S. parties that do business with Iran.

The steps became necessary when Trump, in a naked attempt to block future diplomacy with Iran, designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization in 2019. American negotiators have insisted that disputes over that designation are separate from the issues being negotiated in the nuclear deal, while Iranian representatives have insisted that the unprecedented designation remain part of discussions. Because of the IRGC’s deep involvement in the Iranian economy, terror sanctions against the group could block virtually all business with the country.

Gottheimer is no stranger to marshaling dissent against the popular priorities of Democratic presidents. Last year, Gottheimer led a successful effort to derail Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. As negotiations over the pared-back Inflation Reduction Act ended, Gottheimer also attempted to undermine that process over provisions addressing a tax deduction used by the extremely wealthy. In that case, he ultimately failed to muster the votes necessary to obstruct the legislation.

Read the full text of the draft letter:

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to respectfully request that Administration [sic] provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including any side agreements, and consult with Congress prior to reentering the agreement.

We are deeply concerned about multiple provisions that reportedly may be contained in the final language of any agreement with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

For example, the new agreement reportedly states that, “Non-U.S. persons doing business with Iranian persons that are not on the [U.S. sanctions list] will not be exposed to sanctions merely as a result of those Iranian persons engage in separate transactions involving Iranian persons on the [U.S. sanctions list] (including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its officials, or its subsidiaries or affiliates).”

While we commend you for refusing to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) — one of our most powerful tools used to compel state sponsors of terror to change — this move creates a troubling precedent. We are concerned that it could significantly dilute the effectiveness terrorism-related sanctions on the IRGC, Iran’s paramilitary terror arm. It provides that organization a pathway for sanctions evasion.

If the regime in Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, has proven anything, it’s that it can’t be trusted. The IRGC has directly, or through its proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah (Houthis), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and scores of Shiite militias in Iraq killed hundreds of Americans, and attacked our bases and our allies in the region.

Strengthened with an estimated one trillion dollars in sanctions relief over a decade, Iran and the IRGC would be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to our allies. Additionally, it has been reported that under this proposed deal, Russia would be the de facto judge of compliance and the keeper of Iran’s enriched uranium, without any oversight mechanisms by the United States or our European partners.

Additionally, we strongly urge you [sic] Administration not to permit Russia to be the recipient of Iran’s enriched uranium nor to have the right to conduct nuclear work with the Islamic Republic, including a $10 billion contract to expand Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. We should not let war criminal Vladmir Putin be the guarantor of the deal or the keeper of massive amounts of Iran’s enriched uranium. Iran supports the illegal war in Ukraine and has been supplying Russia with drones used to kill Ukrainians. Iran has also offered to help Russia evade sanctions through its manifold channels of illicit finance around the globe. Iran, Russia, and China have increased their cooperation on diplomatic, economic, and defense fronts, including high-level meetings and joint naval drills earlier this year.

Amid Iran-sponsored terror plots to assassinate former U.S. officials and iranian-American dissidents on American soil, this is no time to remove, suspend, or dilute U.S. terrorism sanctions on Iran or the IRGC. As Secretary Blinken said in his confirmation hearing, America should do “everything possible, including the toughest possible sanctions, to deal with Iranian support for terrorism.” Asked specifically if it is in the U.S. interest to maintain terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company, Blinken answered in the affirmative. Concerningly, news accounts suggest that the agreement may suspend terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, the National Development Fund and the National Iranian Oil Company, designated by the previous administration for supporting terrorism.

Therefore, we urge you not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to the Congress, and providing us with an in-depth briefing on the matter, and consulting with all key stakeholders. We must address the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, stand strong against terrorists, and protect American values and our allies.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 3 Sep, 2022 10:26 am
Abolish the CIA
@smokecigswhynot
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Sep 2
The university of California had no tuition until 1970... When Ronald Reagan was governor and decided that was unacceptable
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  0  
Reply Sat 3 Sep, 2022 11:29 am
Even With a Razor-Thin Majority, President Biden Has Delivered More Consequential Economic Legislation in Two Years Than Trump Did in Four
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2022 10:00 am
Orwell
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Fb-dY9NaQAEhJ7E?format=jpg&name=large
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2022 11:06 pm
Shireen Abu Akleh: How Biden team redefined ‘accountability’
Abu Akleh’s niece says Washington’s push to turn the page on the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist is ’embarrassing’

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/6/shireen-abu-akleh-how-biden-team-redefined-accountability?fbclid=IwAR2qQrrmzCrJFD33VBwJV-lZG6XfvWzf8UDKV_RBrQQTUzg-ugx7Vhy3fb8
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2022 11:18 pm
@edgarblythe,
I have a very high regard for Orwell. I will mention that Blatham once suggested reading his essay 'Politics and the English Language'. I tracked it down, bought it, and started to read it. About one paragraph into page 2, he sent me to the dictionary once too often.

I'll stick to his fiction.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Sep, 2022 06:38 am
https://scontent-hou1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/305739586_641713090652849_5918934640964316030_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=kAm9YHNTlioAX9cW9xb&_nc_ht=scontent-hou1-1.xx&oh=00_AT8rueQqOZPnV4jEo1sVS4XQmMA5N47HOncjdDb9BbHN0w&oe=631D16D1
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2022 08:29 pm
Biden’s Speech Was a Lie: Democrats are Funding Pro-Trump Republicans in Primaries
by Keaton Weiss

In his recent “Soul of the Nation” address, President Biden spoke for 25 minutes about the threat to democracy posed by the Trump movement. Making a point to differentiate MAGA Republicans from the more “mainstream” ones, he explained:

Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.

Now, I want to be very clear — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.

I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.

But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.

Conservative media reacted with predictable horror, calling it an attack on the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump in the 2020 election. Ben Shapiro called it “the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech [he’s] ever seen from an American president.” Tucker Carlson warned that Biden’s speech sought to delegitimize and even criminalize the GOP as an organization. Mark Levin called Biden an “extremely dangerous demagogue.” Sean Hannity denounced the speech as “hate-filled.”

All of this of course is quite rich coming from those who supported Donald Trump even after he smeared Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, barred Muslims from entering the country, and suggested ten-year prison sentences for Black Lives Matter protestors who defaced statues of our Founding Fathers.

Right-wing pseudo-indignation aside, however, there is an important critique of Biden’s speech that no one of prominence has yet leveled: it was, at its core, a complete lie.

Biden’s rhetorical olive branch to “mainstream” Republicans with whom he’s collaborated in the past is laughable, given that the Democratic Party has worked tirelessly this election cycle to undermine moderate Republicans and elevate the very “MAGA forces” he says pose such an existential threat to the republic. In numerous primaries throughout the country, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Democratic PACs have spent huge amounts of money boosting MAGA Republicans against their more centrist opponents, thinking they will make for weaker general election adversaries.

Take for instance Michigan’s 3rd Congressional district. Incumbent Congressman Peter Meijer was one of only 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th riot – a decision which should have earned him the respect of Democrats looking to enlist sensible Republicans in the larger effort protect democracy from Trump’s “semi-fascist” movement. Instead, the DCCC spent $400,000 on ads bolstering Meijer’s Trump-backed primary opponent John Gibbs, a 2020 election denier and proponent of a conspiracy theory which claims Democratic leaders participate in satanic “spirit cooking” rituals. With Democrats’ help, Gibbs defeated Meijer and is the current GOP nominee to represent MI-3.

In California, another pro-impeachment Republican Congressman, David Valadao, faced a primary challenge from the Trump-aligned Chris Mathys. In this case, Valadao prevailed in the end, despite The Democratic political action committee House Majority PAC creating multiple ads casting Mathys in a positive light as a “pro-Trump Republican” and disparaging Valadao as a RINO (see below).


In Illinois’ governor’s race, incumbent billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) spent an astounding $35 million to boost the Trump-endorsed Darren Bailey in his Republican primary against moderate Richard C. Irvin. In what is already the most expensive non-presidential race in United States history, Bailey is now on the ballot in November as the Republican nominee.

Perhaps most egregiously, in the Pennsylvania Governor’s race, Democrats strengthened longshot candidate and Trump loyalist Doug Mastriano. Mastriano not only supported Trump’s election denial, he himself attended the January 6th riot and helped break into the Capitol. This gubernatorial election is of particular importance, seeing as Pennsylvania is a pivotal swing state that could potentially determine the outcome of the 2024 Presidential race. It’s also a state where the Governor himself appoints the Secretary of State, whose job it is to certify election results. Therefore, it’s far from implausible that a Mastriano victory in November could put the state – and with it, perhaps, the Presidency – at risk of being stolen by Republicans. Nonetheless, his own Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro spent $840,000 on ads propelling Mastriano to victory in the GOP primary. Despite Democrats’ theory that Mastriano would be easy to beat in November, current polling indicates a very close race, with Shapiro leading by a mere 3 points.

These are just a few of many examples, and Democrats haven’t been shy about their role in promoting the candidacies of the very Republicans they denounce so strongly. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney admitted and defended such tactics in a recent Meet The Press interview. When Chuck Todd suggested he put “party over country” by elevating the most divisive and extreme Republican candidates across numerous races, Maloney responded:

Absolutely not did we put party over country. The moral imperative right now, Mr. Todd, is to keep the dangerous MAGA Republicans who voted to overturn our election out of power.

Maloney’s answer is shamelessly dishonest, seeing as all of these “MAGA Republicans” he feels so strongly about keeping “out of power” were running in primaries against non-MAGA Republicans who in many cases spoke out forcefully against Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. If Democrats’ first priority was actually to defend our democracy from the existential danger posed by Trump-aligned extremists, surely they would want to nip such threats in the bud by doing everything in their power to defeat them as early and as handily as possible. Instead, they’re doing the opposite and embracing Hillary Clinton’s “pied piper” strategy of 2016: boosting the most radical right-wing candidates in the hopes that they’ll be easier to defeat in the Fall (we all remember the results of that experiment, do we not?).

So as Biden insists that the “MAGA forces” within the Republican party represent a fringe minority, his own Democrats spend tens of millions of dollars aiding that very faction of the GOP in its efforts against the “mainstream” conservatives he misses so badly.

Outspoken anti-Trump Republican Adam Kinzinger put it best when asked on CNN about Democrats’ support for the aforementioned MAGA candidate John Gibbs, answering:

Don’t keep coming to me, asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors’ money and spend half a million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that’s out there.

In reality, Democrats care nothing for unity, decency, or democracy. Their only concern is that of most politicians and political parties: power. Biden’s appeals to the better angels of Republicans’ nature, given Democrats’ subversion of the very anti-MAGA Republicans they pretend to hold in such high regard, are Orwellian enough to complement the speech’s widely panned stage production of blood-red floodlights and shadowy Marines looking directly into the crowd. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and apparently, partisanship is patriotism – so long as the public isn’t equipped to spot the difference.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Sep, 2022 07:22 am


Will Anyone Stop Manchin’s Climate Bomb?

BY THE LEVER – 09 SEP 2022 –
While raking in fossil fuel industry cash amid the climate crisis, Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer are about to try to help their donors expedite more oil and gas pipelines. Scientists and climate activists are sounding the alarm — but as today’s Lever story shows, most Democratic lawmakers are still refusing to commit to stopping the bill.

Also:

Democratic officials just blocked a vote on that resolution to ban dark money in Democratic primaries. How “democratic.”
See Sen. Elizabeth Warren citing The Lever’s coverage to press the Biden administration to stop crushing student debtors.
Today’s fun link: Someone turned the film Rocky IV into a hilarious musical.
Rock the boat,

Sirota

Most Dems Mum On Blocking Manchin’s Pipeline Deal
Many lawmakers are criticizing the Schumer-Manchin climate bomb — but only a few have pledged to do what may be necessary to stop it.


Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

As vast swaths of the country are being battered by climate-intensified droughts and heatwaves, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.) just threw a wrench into Democrats’ reported plans to fast track approval of oil and gas pipelines as part of an unrelated spending bill: On Thursday, he pledged to vote against the proposal, even if it is included in legislation required to avert a partial government shutdown.

The open question now is whether enough other Democrats will use their power to block — rather than merely complain about — a pipeline deal that environmental groups say could detonate a climate bomb amid the intensifying ecological crisis.

Soon after Sanders’ announcement, one Democrat — Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) — told The Lever that he would similarly vote no on a spending bill if it includes the pipeline measure.

However, House progressives have not committed to providing a bloc of no votes in the lower chamber.

The pipeline deal was originally negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who are respectively Congress’ top recipients of fossil fuel and utilities industry campaign cash. One utility and pipeline company that could benefit from the deal has funneled more than $400,000 to Democrats’ Senate and House campaign committees.

Schumer said Wednesday he intends to attach the permitting deal to a so-called continuing resolution needed to keep the government running. Presuming that Republicans will vote against any Democratic spending bill, it would only take five Democratic no votes to block the legislation in the narrowly divided House.

A Fossil Fuel Gift In An Unrelated Bill
Congressional leaders periodically attach unpopular corporate-backed provisions to ongoing spending bills as a way to force lawmakers to vote for those unpopular items, under threat of being blamed for shutting down the government.

In this case, though, Sanders appears to be putting his foot down. On Thursday, he delivered a Senate floor speech promising to “not vote for any bill that makes it easier for Big Oil to destroy the planet.”

As of Thursday, at least 59 House Democrats had signed a new letter slamming the pipeline deal and urging Democratic leaders “to ensure that these provisions are kept out of a continuing resolution or any other must-pass legislation this year” that is necessary to avert a government shutdown.

However, even as more than 650 groups are warning that the pipeline bill would be an environmental disaster, the House letter avoids going as far as Sanders: The signatories are not expressly pledging to vote down the spending bill if it includes that language.

A spokesperson for House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who organized the letter, did not respond to questions from The Lever about whether he will vote against a continuing resolution that includes the permitting measure.

“In the face of the existential threats like climate change and MAGA extremism, House and Senate leadership has a greater responsibility than ever to avoid risking a government shutdown by jamming divisive policy riders into a must-pass continuing resolution,” Grijalva said in a statement.

A Deal For Big Donors
The pipeline legislation — the text of which has not yet been released — was an outgrowth of a reported deal between Schumer and Manchin as a condition for the West Virginia coal magnate’s vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes other gifts to Manchin’s fossil fuel industry donors.

Leaked legislative language on an early version of the proposal contained a watermark from the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful oil and gas lobby. The American Petroleum Institute reportedly spoke with Manchin staffers about the proposal.

Manchin, who is Congress’ top recipient of oil and gas industry contributions, is specifically aiming to speed up approval of a West Virginia gas pipeline that critics say would release greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 26 coal power plants, or 19 million new cars on the road.

That pipeline project is being led by NextEra, whose executives are among Manchin’s major donors. NextEra donors are also collectively Schumer’s second largest campaign contributor. The company has given more than $200,000 to both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In all, Schumer is Congress’ top recipient of donations from electric utilities. One of Schumer’s former aides has been lobbying for utility companies on pipeline and permitting issues.

Some Democrats argue that permitting reforms could hasten approval of clean energy projects and transmission lines, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed out Wednesday.

However, if those lawmakers wanted to expedite permitting just for renewables, they could just do that — rather than also expanding fossil fuel infrastructure that is fueling the climate crisis.

A Familiar Story Of Polite Requests Without Concrete Pledges
If Democratic leaders remain committed to using an unrelated spending bill to pass the pipeline provisions, the only chance to stop it could be for enough House and Senate Democrats to vote against the so-called continuing resolution, risking a temporary government shutdown just weeks before the midterm elections.

Even then, Republicans could still provide yes votes to help their own fossil fuel donors, but fewer Democratic votes would raise the hurdle to passage.

If this all feels familiar, that’s because it has happened before. This time last year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus was whipping votes to hold House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to her promise that the bipartisan infrastructure bill and climate and social spending bill would pass at the same time.

That pledge was necessary to keep the climate and Democrats’ social spending bill — known as Build Back Better — paired, because progressives knew they needed to use the Chamber of Commerce-approved infrastructure bill as leverage to force Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to vote for Build Back Better.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus had enough votes to block the infrastructure bill if needed. But when Pelosi broke her promise of keeping the bills together and brought the infrastructure bill for a vote, Congressional Progressive Caucus leader chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) caved, and most of the caucus voted for the infrastructure bill.

Manchin then refused to vote for Build Back Better, before ultimately agreeing to a substantially smaller version of the legislation now known as the Inflation Reduction Act. The new legislation included some energy tax credits, climate spending, drug pricing provisions, and health insurance subsidies, but it excluded many of the more progressive elements of the original bill.

Now, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is in a similar position — in this case, it could exercise its power to stop a carbon bomb. But so far, the caucus has stopped short of pledging to vote against the pipeline deal at all costs.

Jayapal did not respond to The Lever’s query about whether the caucus is urging its members to vote no on a continuing resolution if it includes the pipeline bill.

Congressional Progressive Caucus whip Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) office said that the congresswoman is “unavailable this week,” when asked whether Omar was whipping votes against the continuing resolution if the pipeline bill is included.

In addition to Sanders and Khanna, a handful of Congressional Progressive Caucus members have made harsh statements against the prospect of a pipeline bill.

“Handshake deals made by others in closed rooms do not dictate how I vote, and we sure as hell don’t owe Joe Manchin anything now,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told The American Prospect last month. “He and his fossil fuel donors already got far too much in the IRA. I support Chair Grijalva’s call for a standalone vote, and we will vote this dirty deal down, one way or another.”

“I am not going to be steamrolled into a bunch of fossil fuel give-aways just because Manchin cut a deal in a closed room with Chuck Schumer,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said last month. “He doesn’t get to run the show on something like this, and many of us will have a say on what that deal looks like if it
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  0  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2022 10:00 pm
bout 13,600,000 results
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0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 14 Sep, 2022 10:28 pm
https://scontent-hou1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/306552047_625402995619818_4180506300769030388_n.jpg?stp=cp6_dst-jpg&_nc_cat=102&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=0BxgpFGycDcAX98vIyU&_nc_ht=scontent-hou1-1.xx&oh=00_AT-9HQooZ1NcbBD17kzNZm6YnCig3-QqQla--neuvrh1TQ&oe=63275CBC
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  0  
Reply Thu 15 Sep, 2022 02:37 pm
This was a good move. Still a binding solution is up to rail workers in the near future.

Amtrak Joe Averts a Lockout (and a Huge Political Headache)
Now, railroad employees won’t be docked when they see a doctor—though they won’t be paid, either.
The term "robber baron" was coined to describe America’s first railroad owners, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould in particular. From the end of the Civil War through the first decades of the 20th century, the men who owned the railroads had a relatively free hand to soak the goods producers (chiefly, farmers) who depended on the rails to take their goods to market, and to exploit the workers who built and ran the tracks and trains. As the rails, in those pre-auto, pre-aircraft years, were the only way to move people and things across the country, their business practices were a matter of huge public concern. Their abuse of farmers gave rise to the populist movements of the 1880s and ’90s, while their abuse of their employees gave rise to the first nationwide strikes.

As the nation’s first, and for a long time, only interstate, and in some instances nationwide, businesses, their conduct also was a concern for the federal government. The first two federal interventions in rail matters consisted of sending in the Army to break the nearly nationwide strikes of desperate and underpaid rail workers in 1877 and 1894. Since then, the federal response has been more nuanced. In the most recent instance of a strike and lockout, in 1992, Congress voted to ban both and ordered mandatory arbitration to settle matters. A smattering of pro-labor senators and representatives opposed the measure, saying it was unfair to the rail workers. Among those dissenters was "Amtrak Joe" Biden, who wanted the government to take a more pro-worker stance.

Amtrak Joe was in a position to craft his own solution this week, with the assistance of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, onetime leader of Boston’s building trades. Facing a strike deadline of tomorrow, and cutbacks in services that the rail corporations had already begun, all in the midst of historic supply chain glitches that could boost prices and with a midterm election looming, the administration was determined to reach a settlement between the companies and the engineers’ and conductors’ unions.

In recent years, the rail corporations’ emphasis on maximizing shareholder payouts has created a neo­–robber baron ethos in their employment practices. The original robber barons, like Gould, were Wall Street guys whose business model was to extract as much profit from the railroads as they could, farmers and workers be damned. Today, the rail companies are owned by investment conglomerates like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, where shareholder returns clearly trump other considerations. In consequence, the railroads have been busy reducing the number of employees working for them to a bare minimum, requiring those workers to be ever on call and to work crazy hours. They instituted policies penalizing workers who take days off, even for medical reasons.

The most serious attempt to cut labor costs—and it’s been underreported—has been the companies’ efforts to reduce the number of engineers driving a train from two to one—despite what would happen if the engineer of a mile-long freight train keeled over and there was no one to take his or her place. This is not a concern that has entered public consciousness, but imagine the public reaction if the airlines eliminated the position of copilot, who is basically there to forestall the possibility of a pilot-less plane. Fortunately, keeping two workers in the cab was an issue that the rail unions prevailed on before the Biden administration stepped in to resolve the others.

The resolution that Biden announced this morning does enable workers to visit a doctor without being penalized by the companies, though this isn’t paid medical leave: Their time spent receiving a medical procedure won’t be compensated. I suspect that means there’s no guarantee that the rail workers will vote, over the next several weeks, to approve the settlement, in this age of worker militancy. Still, by the admittedly not-very-high standards of every previous administration, the Biden effort stands out as the most pro-worker government-mediated rail settlement we’ve seen. In a better world, key modes of transportation wouldn’t be subjected to the tyranny of shareholder value, but that would require a more fundamental reshaping of American capitalism than is currently on the table. We’re not in that better world, of course, and within those limitations, Amtrak Joe, doing his bit to help the workers, chugs along.
~ HAROLD MEYERSON
Follow Harold Meyerson on Twitter
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Sep, 2022 09:45 pm
"The blame for a government shutdown is not going to be on anyone voting no" - Rep. Ro Khanna. We deserve a clean Continuing Resolution that doesn't include Manchin's fossil fuel carveouts!
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  0  
Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 08:33 am
What Joe Biden Knows That No One Expected Him To

Quote:
We need better technologies to enable a better politics. But we need better politics to create better technologies. Maybe, just maybe, we’re on the verge of getting both.

On Monday, President Biden announced that Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, a biotech executive who previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as Darpa, would be the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health, ARPA-H. The alphabet soup here obscures the ambition. Darpa is the defense research agency that was critical in creating the internet, stealth technology, GPS navigation, drones and mRNA vaccines, to name but a few. The record is remarkable, and it’s built on the agency’s ability to do something unusual in Washington: Make big, risky bets.

Shortly after winning the presidency, Biden persuaded Congress to fund an analogue focused on medical technology: ARPA-H. Why do we need an ARPA-H when the National Institutes of Health already exists? Because the N.I.H., for all its rigor and marvels, is widely considered too cautious. ARPA-H will — in a move some lament — be housed at the Institutes, but its explicit mandate is to take the kind of gambles that Darpa takes, and the N.I.H. sometimes lets go. Wegrzyn, Biden promised, is “going to bring the legendary Darpa attitude and culture and boldness and risk-taking to ARPA-H to fill a critical need.”

Here, two facets of the Biden administration reveal themselves, one of which I don’t think gets enough credit, the other which I worry doesn’t receive enough critique. The first is that the Biden administration has put technological advance at the very center of its agenda. Every big bill Biden has passed has carried a theory of how better policy could lead to better technologies that could lead to a better world. The second is that the Biden administration’s technological optimism is paired with an institutional conservatism: Too many Washington agencies proved too cautious during the pandemic, and little has been done to make them more daring.

Let’s start with Biden’s ambition. Four major bills have passed during his presidency: The American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Every one of them, at a core level, is about creating or deploying new technologies to solve ongoing problems.

The American Rescue Plan deployed vaccines and widespread testing and genomic surveillance to stifle the pandemic; the infrastructure bill is thick with ideas to make broadband access universal and develop next-generation energy and transportation technologies; CHIPS is an effort to break our reliance on Taiwanese and South Korean semiconductor manufacturing and keep ahead of China in fields of the future like artificial intelligence and quantum computing; and the Inflation Reduction Act uses tax breaks and loan guarantees to supercharge the wind and solar industries, build up advanced battery manufacturing, develop cost-effective carbon capture systems, and give the auto and home-heating industries reasons to go entirely electric.

Much attention, in recent years, has revolved around how technology can coarsen politics and denude communities. Look no further than the disinformation enabled by social media or the factories closed and towns wrecked by the communication and shipping advances that supercharged globalization. But new technologies can also create new possibilities. The politics of climate change would be impossible if solar panel costs hadn’t fallen by 89 percent and onshore wind costs by 70 percent in 10 years. California’s decision to ban the sale of cars running on internal combustion engines after 2035 would be unthinkable without the rapid advances in battery technology. Vaccination can curb the threat of disease in ways that social distancing can’t, as vaccinations can be sustained, but lockdowns become economically, politically and educationally ruinous.

And we are far from either the political or technological frontier. Take Covid, where the miracles and calamities coexist. The Biden administration’s vaccination effort started strong and then foundered on the shoals of political polarization, widespread misinformation and terrible messaging about booster shots. The money to upgrade school ventilation proved hard to spend. The F.D.A. dragged its feet on allowing rapid tests, which left us without anything near the tools we needed when the Omicron wave began.

Some problems persist: I have spoken to some of the researchers working on universal coronavirus vaccines and I’m stunned by how little help they’re getting. One described months of delay trying to find the monkeys needed for trials. You might think the U.S. government, with all its power and might, would name a point person that the teams working on these vaccines could call if they needed something, anything. Instead, many of our most brilliant virologists spend their work days trying to find lab animals and figure out how to conduct due diligence of manufacturing facilities.

And I have been puzzled by the Biden administration’s disinterest in building on the Trump administration’s central success: The Operation Warp Speed program that sped the vaccines into development. We could have Warp Speeds for so much more (and we are far from done with vaccines). I’ve asked this question of top Biden staffers, and I cannot say the answers I’ve heard have made much sense. I suspect the problem here relates more to crediting the Trump administration than with the possibilities of the Warp Speed program. Trump wasn’t exactly eager to build on Obama administration successes, either. But that doesn’t explain why Biden hasn’t launched Warp Speed-like policies under a new brand. Call them Moonshots. Call them Biden Bets. It doesn’t matter.

But what we have not done should not distract from what we have done. Vaccines, treatments like Paxlovid, improvements in hospitalization protocols and rapid testing — along, of course, with post-infection immunity — have uncoupled caseloads from death rates. The pandemic still exerts a terrible toll — hundreds still die each day from the disease — but it is far less than what it would be otherwise, and it could be far better were boosters more widely taken and therapeutics more widely used. Something like normalcy is possible for many people today, and pharmaceutical innovation and deployment is a driving cause.

What is true for Covid is true for many diseases that don’t receive as much daily coverage. Cost dominates Washington’s debates over health care. What we actually get for all that spending is a much more distant concern. It’s cliché, at this point, for politicians to brandish charts showing the stunning rise in projected health spending over the next 40 or 75 years. But those charts have always bugged me. Doesn’t what we get for that spending matter? You tell me if we’re living healthy lives until age 175, and then I’ll tell you whether spending a hefty share of G.D.P. on medical care is a scandal or a bargain.

The Inflation Reduction Act allows Medicare to negotiate down certain drug prices. Every other rich country lets the government negotiate drug prices, and for good reason. Pharmaceuticals are not a normal kind of market good. If you can’t afford the flat screen TV you want, you leave the store. If you can’t afford the last-ditch cancer treatment that might give your spouse 10 more years of life, you sell anything, you mortgage everything, to get it. Drug companies can charge whatever they want, and so they do. The median price of a year’s supply of a drug launched in 2021 was an eye-popping $180,000. Only governments have the negotiating power to curb those cost increases. Other governments do. Citizens of countries like Canada and Britain pay far less for drugs that were developed here, oftentimes built on publicly funded research.

The counterargument to this is that the high drug costs borne by Americans is subsidizing pharmaceutical innovation for the entire world — and as frustrating as it is, it’s worth it. I’ve never found this convincing. Should we then pay 50 percent more for drugs to wring even more innovation out of the system?

But the underlying idea — pharmaceutical innovation matters, and we should move heaven and earth to encourage it — is right. The way we treated the Covid vaccines should be a model. We made their development a national priority and we ensured that the profits of those who developed them were guaranteed. But we also made sure the vaccines would be available and affordable to all Americans — we did not allow pharmaceutical companies to charge whatever they thought the market would bear, or insurance companies to pile on the co-pays. Equity and innovation are often pitted against each other in our politics. The success of Warp Speed shows what can happen when they are paired.

Democrats should braid policies to make drugs cheaper with policies to make drug innovation easier and, in some cases, more profitable. I spent some time this week talking to Heidi Williams, an economist at Stanford who studies drug development, and the point she made is so obvious it’s a wonder we haven’t done more about it. We spend a lot on the beginning of drug development — basic science and research — and even more on the products that ultimately get developed. But we neglect the middle: All the unglamorous, difficult infrastructure needed to turn a promising molecule into a miraculous treatment.

One example: Much of the difficulty and risk of drug development comes in running clinical trials. One reason clinical trials are hard to run — as we saw during Covid — is that it’s hard to find the patients needed to run trials that will generate good data, fast. Years ago, we created a national registry for cancer patients that made it much easier to run cancer studies in the United States — and now, compared with drugs for other diseases, far more cancer trials are run in the United States. We could, and should, scale that model.

Bernie Sanders used to promote an idea for creating a system of prizes to run parallel to the patents we normally use to make drug development profitable. The government could identify, say, 12 conditions that it wants to see a drug developed for. The first group to develop and prove out such a drug would get a princely sum — $100 million, or $500 million, or a billion dollars, depending on the condition and the efficacy. In return, that drug would be immediately off-patent, available for any generic drug producer to manufacture for a pittance (and available for other countries, particularly poor countries, to produce immediately).

More money might be good — particularly spent in new ways, like for prizes or ARPA-H — but Washington spends tens of billions of dollars now on medical research, and it’s worth asking if that is all well spent. A thoughtful report from New Science backs up a complaint I’ve heard privately for years: The N.I.H. is a remarkable institution beset by a deep internal conservatism. ARPA-H is an admission of this problem, even as it is located within the N.I.H.: If the N.I.H. were making the kinds of bets ARPA-H is designed to make, there’d be no reason for ARPA-H at all. But that raises the obvious question of whether the N.I.H. should be more daring at its core.

There are, to be fair, good reasons for caution, and they are political, not just scientific or economic. The same Republicans who lambaste government for being too conventionally minded and slow-moving weaponize failed grants and odd gambles as wastes of taxpayer money, creating the incentives for the precise bureaucratic caution they then condemn.

But the pandemic should leave no one convinced of the infallibility of our health agencies. The N.I.H. proved unable to shift focus quickly when the pandemic hit — only 2 percent of its 2020 budget went to Covid research, one study found. The F.D.A. was excruciatingly slow to approve the same rapid tests that Europe was using long before us. The C.D.C. was, flatly, a mess. Yet none of the failures we witnessed in real time led to major reforms of these agencies. That can’t be right.

These are institutions full of brilliant, hard-working people who are doing their best within the strictures placed around them. Those strictures should, fairly often, be revisited, or at least reviewed. But in Washington, the need to defend treasured institutions like the N.I.H. from budget cuts and political interference leads to believers in the organization becoming defenders rather than improvers. That’s how you get an odd situation like ARPA-H, which is clearly meant to operate radically differently than the N.I.H., being made part of the N.I.H., over the objections of many of its early proponents.

Last week, I wrote about how much of Biden’s agenda relied on building, and what it would take to make that much building possible, at the speed it needs to happen. But Biden’s agenda is just as reliant on inventing — and just as much needs to be done to make the government a dearer friend to invention.

Still, this is an unexpectedly thrilling side of Biden’s presidency. A liberalism that is as ambitious about solving problems through invention as it is through redistribution would be powerful indeed.

nyt/klein
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2022 03:02 pm
New polls suggest a Texas route of Democrats by Republicans is imminent. So, progressives can feel free to vote their conscience because nothing will change anyway. That is what I would like to do. But I made myself a pledge to vote for Democrats this cycle and in 2024. So I will continue to honor the pledge. After 2024, we will see.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Sep, 2022 06:09 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

New polls suggest a Texas route of Democrats by Republicans is imminent. So, progressives can feel free to vote their conscience because nothing will change anyway. That is what I would like to do. But I made myself a pledge to vote for Democrats this cycle and in 2024. So I will continue to honor the pledge. After 2024, we will see.

The Texas GOP gains seem tied entirely to the busing of emigrants out of state. One would expect that decent citizens would be moved against Abbott and his cohorts. One would be wrong. I have read time and again that we elect the government we deserve. I always have fought against it, but I suppose it's so. Feeling like a turd in a swirling toilet.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Sep, 2022 06:43 pm
Bernie Sanders
1h
·
I want to congratulate everyone who helped defeat the Big Oil side deal.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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