How Joe Biden can rescue the economy in the face of Republican obstruction

“Reconciliation is weird. First, Congress needs to adopt a budget resolution (which it doesn’t always do) laying out tax and spending priorities for the future. These resolutions are not laws, the president doesn’t have to sign them, and they pass by simple majority vote. Then with a budget in place you get to write one — but only one — bill that aims to “reconcile” national tax and spending priorities with the framework laid out in the budget. This reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered. It also cannot change Social Security, or otherwise make big legislative changes that are not directly focused on the budget.

At Vox, we have often focused on the limits the reconciliation process places on what can be achieved on climate policy or aspirations for Medicare-for-all. A reconciliation bill also can’t increase the budget deficit over the long run.

But while these limits are very real, they also do open up some fairly large horizons.”

“a reconciliation bill can do the following:
Increase the generosity of the social safety net
Raise taxes on the rich
Impose the tax increases after the safety net increases, generating short-term stimulus”

“Consider the following ideas Biden has embraced:
Creating a new universal child allowance to help parents and slash child poverty.
Creating a fully funded rental housing voucher program to ensure that every family that needs help gets it.
Expanding the Affordable Care Act to cover millions more and make coverage more generous for those who get it.
A climate plan that centers investments in clean energy, rather than taxes on dirty energy.
A huge increase in funding to low-income school districts.
Biden does not need to treat these ideas as separate from the short-term need to stimulate the economy. He can simply do all five of them, and throw in a short-term boost to unemployment insurance and state/local budgets and some cash for specific public health interventions. Then the long-term increases in spending can be offset by enacting his proposed tax increases on the rich. That will ensure the deficit falls over the long run. But since the short-term deficit is not a problem and the whole idea is to stimulate the economy, the tax cuts can be delayed until 2023.”

“To get it done, Biden needs to convince members of Congress that it’s in their collective interest for him to have a successful presidency with a roaring economy and real accomplishments. And if they don’t want to curb the filibuster, they need to get the job done with a massive reconciliation bill.”

“if Biden thinks that his personal charm can bring back the low-polarization Senate he remembers from his service there in the 1970s and ’80s he’s mistaken. And if he genuinely tries to do that, he’s setting himself up for catastrophic failure. Times have changed, the media has changed, institutions have changed, and incentives have changed. The good old days aren’t coming back.

Still, Biden can break the toxic allure of obstruction by refusing to be obstructed.”

The Supreme Court just dealt a huge blow to Congress’s power to investigate Trump

“Trump v. Vance, largely maintains the status quo. As Chief Justice John Roberts states in the first line of that opinion, “in our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence,’” and “since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.” Trump does not enjoy absolute immunity from a state prosecutor’s criminal investigation.”

“The upshot of Trump v. Mazars is that House investigators almost certainly will not see potentially damning records concerning Trump’s finances until after the November election. Mazars was also written by Roberts.
Though Mazars does not preclude the House from seeing those records eventually, by the time those records become available Trump will almost certainly either be an ex-president, or he will be firmly entrenched in his second term.

On the surface, it is easy to see Mazars as a defeat for Trump. The decision was 7-2, with all four of the Court’s liberals joining the majority. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both wrote dissents, where they complain that the majority didn’t do enough to protect Trump from investigation.

But make no mistake, Mazars is a victory for Trump because it holds that the president enjoys special immunity from congressional investigation enjoyed by no other citizen — and because it likely shields Trump’s records from the public eye until after the election.”

“Eastland held that Congress is entitled to gather information — and to use compulsory subpoenas to gather such information — whenever that subpoena is “intended to gather information about a subject on which legislation may be had.” So long as the congressional subpoenas sought information on a topic that could plausibly be subject to an act of Congress, those subpoenas were lawful.
The new rule announced in Mazars, however, can be boiled down into four words: “the president is special.”

According to Roberts, “congressional subpoenas for the President’s information unavoidably pit the political branches against one another.” He adds that “without limits on its subpoena powers, Congress could ‘exert an imperious controul’ [sic] over the Executive Branch and aggrandize itself at the President’s expense, just as the Framers feared.”

So Mazars invents new limits on congressional subpoenas targeting the president, and sends the case back down to a lower court to apply this new rule.”

Dems sink GOP police bill, leaving Senate deadlocked as country reckons with racism

“The GOP bill requires additional disclosures about the use of force, codifies reporting requirements on the use of “no knock warrants,” provides incentives for chokehold bans and makes lynching a federal crime.

The Democratic proposal, led in the Senate by Booker and Harris, would ban chokeholds and no knock warrants in federal drug cases. It would also limit qualified immunity for police officers to make it easier to sue police — something Democrats argue is key to holding police officers accountable for misconduct, but which most Republicans won’t consider.”

Getting unemployment has been a nightmare for millions of people across the country

“There’s consensus in Congress that another relief bill is needed, and Democrats have been talking about either extending the extra $600 a week in federal aid or adding more weeks before an individual would be kicked off regular UI benefits (without the extra $600 per week), according to a senior Democratic aide.
But the problems that currently exist have led unemployment experts like Stettner and Evermore to say that Congress also needs to fund the system itself, by helping states add more employees and get better technology to help connect people to the benefits they so badly need.”

Congress Quietly Repeals More of Obamacare

“At the end of 2019, Congress repealed three significant tax components of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Each of them had been included in the initial legislation to raise the revenue required to pay for the new spending the law called for.”

“What’s the problem with the repeal of a bunch of taxes no one ever really liked? That’s probably what the lawmakers who voted to end the taxes were thinking too. The main effect will be to increase the deficit by a little more than $373 billion over the next decade—and, in the process, to further weaken a central argument made by supporters of the legislation.

Obamacare was passed on a promise that it would be deficit-neutral or even reduce the deficit slightly. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the law would reduce the deficit during its first decade, provided that all of its provisions were enacted as the statute called for. As The New York Times noted last summer, the Cadillac tax “was expected to be a key cost-containment provision in President Barack Obama’s signature health law and one of the main ways it was supposed to pay for itself.”

There are obvious lessons here about what we might expect from various plans to “pay for” Medicare for All now being touted by various Democratic presidential hopefuls. If nothing else, this episode is a reminder of how Washington works: First, Congress passes a law setting up an expensive new program along with (if we’re lucky) a system to pay for it. Years later, amid a bipartisan spending binge, those taxes are repealed while the rest of the program remains on the books. The public barely notices, and the lawmakers involved shrug and move on.”