Monday, December 13, 2021

Last Call For The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

With Christmas coming up and Congress about to go on break for several weeks, President Manchin is about to make his final move to kill the Biden Build Back Better move.

Sen. Joe Manchin, the most pivotal swing vote in the Senate, indicated on Monday that a significant amount of work remains to be done to earn his support for President Joe Biden's sweeping social safety net expansion, potentially delivering a fatal blow to Democratic leaders' hopes of getting the bill passed in the Senate before Christmas. 
In a critical moment for the party's agenda, Manchin is set to speak with Biden on Monday afternoon as the President tries to secure his support for the plan. But the senator, whose vote is essential to its passage, is raising serious concerns, citing issues with the proposal's reliance on temporary programs and renewing long-standing concerns over inflation that only intensified after a report last week showed a key inflation measure surging to a 39-year high. 
Manchin's comments suggest he needs to see wholesale changes to the bill, a process that could take weeks or even potentially months if he holds firm. But Democratic leaders have been racing to get the long-awaited bill done before Christmas even though the final proposal is still being written and vetted by the Senate parliamentarian.
The West Virginia Democrat, who has already accused his party of using "budget gimmicks" in drafting the plan, is now objecting to the way that Democrats are structuring the legislation, which he argues hides the true cost by relying on temporary spending that will likely become permanent. 
In a key warning sign, Manchin told CNN the bill should not rely on temporary spending that lawmakers will face pressure to extend. "I don't think that's a fair evaluation of saying we are going to spend X amount of dollars but then we are going to have to depend on coming back and finding more money ... I'm concerned about paying down debt too," he said. 
Manchin said the bill should be "within the limits of what we can afford" — and argued that lawmakers should evaluate how much it would cost to extend temporary programs in the bill for 10 years to be "transparent" about the actual price tag of the bill. Extending the programs would drive up price tag.
So expect even more cuts to the BBB bill, probably enough so that progressives tell Manchin to go Manchin himself, which ends the bill.

Which was the plan all along.

It's Still Nancy's World, You're Just In It

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may stay on after 2022 elections after all, in what should be a surprise to nobody, as she's been the most effective House Speaker (of either party) and House Democratic leader in general for decades.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will stay until at least after the midterm elections, extending her nearly 20-year run as the House's top Democrat after she turns 82 and, perhaps, beyond. 
She is planning to file and run for reelection in her San Francisco district next year -- at least for now -- in keeping with her pattern of deciding about staying in Congress after the elections, when she likely will have won an 18th full term. 
And sources familiar with Pelosi's thinking say she isn't ruling out the possibility of trying to stay in leadership after 2022, despite her original vow to leave as the top House Democrat. She'll devote much of next year to raising money for Democrats as they try to hold their narrow majority, those sources tell CNN, adding to the nearly $1 billion her office calculates she has already raised for Democrats in her time as leader. 
The months of tortuous negotiations over President Joe Biden's legislative initiatives are inspiring a contradictory mix of emotions. Many House Democrats are more eager than ever to see the California Democrat go and give way to younger leadership. But even many of those same lawmakers are terrified that, without her, they will be consumed by squabbling instead of fighting back against House Republicans at a moment when the fundamentals of American democracy appear to be on the line
"Where do we go from here?" one member said, expressing the stress. "I don't know." 
In a series of interviews with key aides and more than two dozen House Democratic members -- across age, ideology and geography, and including Pelosi supporters and critics alike -- a portrait emerges of a leader who still commands respect, and no small measure of fear, within her caucus. (Many of those members requested anonymity to speak frankly with CNN and did not want to anger Pelosi or be seen feeding a narrative about Democratic infighting.) She shepherded Biden's Covid-19 rescue plan last spring and his massive infrastructure plan this fall, and then delivered the most transformative social spending program in generations through her chamber. Each one could be a capstone to an already historic career

For all the critics, I have to say, who do you think should replace her right now, or in 2023?  Steny Hoyer, maybe, but that's about it. Those who have tried have failed to make the case to the caucus that she should go.

Pelosi is still the best at her job, and I don't understand the hate.

Ukraine On The Membrane, Con't

Bemoaning the loss of the Soviet Empire, Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the collapse the "disintegration" of Russian history, and is almost certainly a warning to the G7 nations and Ukraine that Russia will have that empire back one way or another.
President Vladimir Putin has lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago as the demise of what he called "historical Russia" and said the economic crisis that followed was so bad he was forced to moonlight as a taxi driver.

Putin's comments, released by state TV on Sunday, are likely to further fuel speculation about his foreign policy intentions among critics, who accuse him of planning to recreate the Soviet Union and of contemplating an attack on Ukraine, a notion the Kremlin has dismissed as fear-mongering.

"It was a disintegration of historical Russia under the name of the Soviet Union," Putin said of the 1991 breakup, in comments aired on Sunday as part of a documentary film called "Russia. New History", the RIA state news agency reported.

"We turned into a completely different country. And what had been built up over 1,000 years was largely lost," said Putin, saying 25 million Russian people in newly independent countries suddenly found themselves cut off from Russia, part of what he called "a major humanitarian tragedy".

Putin also described for the first time how he was affected personally by the tough economic times that followed the Soviet collapse, when Russia suffered double-digit inflation.

"Sometimes (I) had to moonlight and drive a taxi. It is unpleasant to talk about this but, unfortunately, this also took place," the president said.

Putin, who served in the Soviet-era KGB, has previously called the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was ruled from Moscow, as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century, but his new comments show how he viewed it specifically as a setback for Russian power.

Ukraine was one of 15 Soviet republics and Putin used a lengthy article published on the Kremlin website this year to set out why he believed Russia's southern neighbour and its people were an integral part of Russian history and culture. This view is rejected by Kyiv as a politically motivated and over-simplified version of history.
Putin pining for the old days of the Soviet empire, when he has thousands of troops and vehicles on the Ukraine border, and Ukraine's president is accusing Russia of a coup, is no accident.  It's preparing the country for recreating that empire, starting with Kyiv.

Whatever the G7 said to Putin over the weekend, he certainly doesn't seem to care.


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