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In a reverse gotcha, Republican senator promotes Biden’s most popular infrastructure proposal



New polling of likely voters from Invest in America and Data for Progress shows that 71% of likely voters support the investment and 19% opposes—that’s a 52 point margin. Even 58% of Republicans support investments in the care economy in general. The polling also tested support for individual components that may be included in the second proposal from Biden for infrastructure: “access to affordable child care, access to affordable care for seniors and people with disabilities, ensuring care workers are paid living wages, creating good-paying new jobs for care providers, and ensuring all workers have access to paid family and medical leave.”

This $400 billion for affordable care for seniors and the disabled garnered the strongest support—79% to 14% opposed. That’s a 65-point margin. So, yeah, the Democrats have reason to amplify Blackburn’s tweet touting this investment. It doesn’t stop at care for seniors and disabled, though, because living-wage pay for care providers, paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, and creating new jobs for care providers all gets 71% or better support, more than 50-point margins.

And here’s a really interesting one.

Specifically, we posed to likely voters whether they think caregiving is a responsibility of both individuals and the government or solely the domain of individuals. We find that by a 26-point margin, likely voters agree that caregiving is both an individual and social responsibility that the federal government should be doing more to support. Democrats and Independents both think that caregiving is an individual and social responsibility by a margin of 65-points and 17-points. Republicans are divided: Thirty-eight percent think caregiving is both an individual and social responsibility and 50 percent think it is solely an individual responsibility.

Caregiving is seen, by a healthy majority of the voting population, as the domain for both the government and individuals and that the public isn’t particularly hung up on what the definition of “infrastructure” is. They don’t seem to have any problem at all lumping the care economy in with the transportation economy—if it all means jobs and a better life, that’s good enough.

This is a partisan poll, to be sure. But that doesn’t make it an outlier. A Morning Consult poll also released this week gives 76% support to the caregiving provision, vying with the 77% approval for the $115 billion for highways, roads, and streets. Notably, the provision that gets the strongest support in the Morning Consult poll is the $18 billion for modernizing veterans’ hospitals. It gets 80% approval. American society wants to take care of each other. Even voting Republicans, though the people they elect don’t seem to get that message.

If the past year has demonstrated anything, it has showed the edge that so many families have been living on for years, without child care or eldercare support, without paid family and medical leave, and without a robust care economy to back us all up. That has been especially true for women who have been disproportionately forced out of jobs in order to care for family members, including homeschooling their kids. It’s not a leap for people to see that infrastructure investment is part and parcel of an anti-recessionary strategy that’s meant to create jobs and address public needs. An investment in supporting human capital—by creating a well-paid caregiving force—does both. It helps create a professional and skilled caregiving workforce with living wages and the support that they need to do the most necessary work. They, in turn, allow the rest of the workforce—especially women—to return to their jobs, earning income and participating in the economy.

On a personal level, so many families have been put in the gut-wrenching position of having to seek care for parents and grandparents—even pre-pandemic. Finding a care home that has adequate staffing, that is responsive to families, that just seems clean and safe and somewhere that can be trusted with loved ones has always been a challenge. What Biden wants to do with this proposal is give families a viable option to help care for the disabled and elderly at home—to allow them even to stay in their own homes. It could mean everything from personal attendants to help with bathing and medications, or shopping and cleaning and meal preparation. It could mean helping people with intellectual or developmental impairments find jobs and live successfully on their own.

The pandemic has so horrifically heightened awareness of our broken long-term care systems. Biden recognizes that the care economy—like the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and water systems—has been neglected for too long. He’s also making a bet that the American public agrees. So far, that’s working probably because the pandemic exposed and deepened the fractured care economy.

The public is primed to accept an infusion of government cash and government help because of the American Rescue Plan—Biden’s COVID-19 response. Finally having a government that gives a damn and did something to, yes, rescue us, has shown Americans that it can and should have a much larger role in their lives for the good stuff. Like vaccines. Like a Postal Service that works the way it is supposed to and always has.

So, yes, Marsha Blackburn, that’s what Biden wants to fix. So thanks for helping to promote his plans!


Oath Keepers ‘lifetime member’ agrees to cooperate with prosecutors in Jan. 6 insurrection case



Schaffer’s guilty plea to two charges—obstructing an official proceeding and illegally entering the Capitol grounds—makes him the first participant in the insurrection to agree to provide evidence against his fellow rioters. Schaffer, who originally faced six felony charges, will enter the government’s witness protection program as part of the deal.

According to an earlier filing, which was mistakenly made public, Schaffer in March began engaging in “debrief interviews.” As The Washington Post notes, the plea bargain marks a critical step forward in the prosecution of the cases, as other defendants face similar choices in terms of providing evidence for prosecutors, particularly when it comes to the activities of the two key paramilitary organizations involved in the insurrection, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

“Whenever you have a large group of people arrested,” criminal defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN, it’s common for prosecutors to pressure defendants to flip on each other. “They’re going to start talking. They’re going to start sharing information.”

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was present in Washington on Jan. 6 but did not enter the Capitol, is one of the key figures being drawn into the net prosecutors are creating with conspiracy charges involving other members of his group. Though federal indictments handed down against his Oath Keepers and Proud Boys cohorts have not named him personally, he is referenced in several of them as “Person 1,” a central player in what prosecutors are describing as a conspiracy to “stop, delay, or hinder Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote.”

“I may go to jail soon,” Rhodes recently told a right-wing rally in Texas. “Not for anything I actually did, but for made-up crimes. There are some Oath Keepers right now along with Proud Boys and other patriots who are in D.C. who are sitting in jail denied bail despite the supposed right to a jury trial before you’re found guilty and presumption of innocence, were denied bail because the powers that be don’t like their political views.”

Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola’s attorney wrote in court filings that he believed a so-called “cooperating witness” was sharing information about the Proud Boys. An earlier filing by prosecutors had revealed that this witness heard Proud Boys members claim that “anyone they got their hands on they would have killed,” including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that they would have also killed then-Vice President Mike Pence “if given the chance.” The men—who all had firearms or access to them—also talked about returning to Washington for Inauguration Day, and that “they plan to kill every single ‘m-fer’ they can.” That witness, prosecutors noted, has not been charged with a crime.

Most of the defendants, as a New York Times piece recently explored, are facing substantial evidence of their crimes culled from videos and photos both in mainstream media and on social media. Indeed, a large portion of that evidence was provided by the insurrectionists themselves.

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Republicans can’t agree with themselves on how tiny an infrastructure package to demand



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An estimated $41.8 billion is needed to repair structurally deficient bridges alone—never mind getting ahead of the bridges that will become structurally deficient in the coming years. Or talking about roads, rail, broadband, schools, veterans’ hospitals, ports, airports, replacing lead pipes for drinking water, caring for our elders while boosting some of the fastest-growing occupations, and supporting medical manufacturing.

As absurd a low-ball as Capito’s $600 to $800 billion was, though, at least she said something that she would be willing to talk about. More Republicans are just saying “No! Smaller!” and counting on voters to recoil from a corporate tax increase.

Voters, however, support raising corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure—in one poll, telling people that infrastructure would be paid for by a corporate tax hike actually increases support for the plan. Another new poll, from Navigator Research, finds narrow majority support for the infrastructure plan that grows to 70% support when people learn what’s in it, with large majorities of independent voters supporting many of the specific components of the American Jobs Plan, including the senior care proposal that congressional Republicans are so intent on disqualifying as “not really infrastructure.”

Even a majority of Republicans polled support that proposal, along with eliminating lead pipes, investing to protect against future pandemics, investing in rail systems, upgrading and building new schools and child care facilities, and more. Things like clean energy and investing in communities of color don’t get Republican majorities, but they do get independent majorities and strong Democratic support. If these proposals would get support from just half the proportion of Republican lawmakers as Republican voters, they would be seen as strongly bipartisan. But instead, congressional Republicans ignore the polling and yell about how Biden is steamrolling them because his willingness to compromise doesn’t extend to being steamrolled himself. These people are not operating in good faith. Doing so would be in violation of their deepest principles and would probably get them kicked out of their party. And they should be dealt with—and reported on—accordingly.

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McConnell flat-out tells Republicans to use Manchin and Sinema to obstruct Biden, Democrats



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While that was happening, McConnell was telling Republicans to make nice to Manchin and Sinema to co-opt them to his agenda by boosting their already healthy egos. In an interview with Politico, McConnell demonstrated the tactic. “What they’ve been very forthright about is protecting the institution against pressures from their own party. I know what that’s like,” McConnell said, recalling Trump’s constant pressure to make him nuke the filibuster. “Every time I said no. And it’s nice that there are Democrats left who respect the institution and don’t want to destroy the very essence of the Senate.”

Of course, McConnell didn’t get rid of the filibuster on legislation because he cared about the Senate, which he had already laid to waste. He kept it because it kept the truly bonkers stuff the Republican House and Trump were coming up with in the first two years of Trump’s term from being viable in the Senate. McConnell didn’t want to have to preserve the Republican majority on that record. The second reason was that all he really wanted coming out of the Trump years was a stranglehold on the judiciary, which he achieved by—nuking the filibuster on Supreme Court appointees. Oh, and tax cuts. Which he achieved by the same non-filibusterable budget reconciliation he’s condemning now. So much for his vaunted love for the institution.

Nonetheless, his team is going forward on his command to co-opt the two tools of the Democrats. “For me right now, they’re almost guardians of democracy because they’re trying to protect us from the loss of the legislative filibuster and everything that would come with that. They’re good people,” John Thune, McConnell’s number two, told Politico—which is always willing to help spread GOP gospel. “They want to do the right thing.” If by “democracy” you mean minority rule, which Thune clearly does. Because that’s what Sinema and Manchin are protecting here.

Manchin told Politico “I just hope [Republicans] help me a little bit in bipartisanship. […] That’s all.” Good luck with that, Joe. “He said he believes Republicans aren’t all talk and no give, that ‘they really want to work.'” Sure. Because here’s what’s really happening, and Republicans are happy to admit it: “When they can’t drive compromise directly through legislation that’s passed through budget reconciliation, GOP senators can influence the process by keeping close ties to Sinema and Manchin.”

For example, Manchin’s last-minute intervention that nearly blew up the American Rescue Plan—the critical COVID-19 relief bill passed last month—was so much string-pulling by his Republican “friend” Rob Portman of Ohio, to cut back unemployment benefits by $100 a week and to cut the federal boost in payments off in early September, instead of at the end of October.

Politico baldly lays out the machinations here: “No Republicans supported that legislation, but they were able to make their mark through Manchin.” In other words, he’s being used.

Manchin and Sinema’s influence has “been very helpful,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “Now, I don’t want to overstate that. I don’t think either one of them have fundamentally changed the direction of important Democratic legislation just yet. But they’ve certainly slowed down a lot of the more radical ideas.”

Like the radical notion of voting rights. Or the radical idea that $7.25 an hour is not enough to live on in almost every part of the country.

One of the “moderates” in the Democratic conference, the Maine Independent Angus King, basically endorsed Schumer’s approach. He said that he wants to see just how many Republicans are willing to cross over to help out before reforming the filibuster, but he is definitely putting the onus on them. “It’s up to them,” he told The Hill, citing a Washington Post op-ed he wrote last month: “What happens to the filibuster depends on how Republicans play their hand.”

Whether Manchin got that message isn’t entirely clear. “Chuck Schumer spoke more about bipartisan today than I’ve ever heard him speak about,” Manchin told reporters. “He wants—’Everything we’re doing, we’ll try to do bipartisan. Let’s work on bipartisan, reach out to your friends,'” is how Manchin interpreted it. It was probably more grammatically correct in the original.

Schumer’s deploying the only strategy that makes sense at this point, with Manchin and Sinema digging in their heels—put the onus on them to find Republicans to help. It would be satisfying if he took that a bit further and made Manchin, in particular, prove his assertion that there are 10 Republicans willing to work with him by getting public statements from them. But this will do for now.

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