Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Two new polls show that a large majority of likely voters support the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure investment plan. The same surveys showed even more enthusiasm for the Democrats' budget reconciliation plan, which would invest more money on a broader range of priorities.
Both surveys were done over the past week by Data for Progress, a nonprofit progressive think tank, and asked about the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure framework (now known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) and elements of the Democrats' proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.
One survey, done for the pro-infrastructure group Invest in America, asked 1,254 likely voters whether they support or oppose the bipartisan infrastructure package "to invest $550 billion in transit and rail networks, roads and bridges, and environmental resiliency." A total of 65 percent said they did — including a 45 percent plurality of Republicans — and 25 percent said they did not. The main individual provisions of the legislation also each enjoyed majority or supermajority support.
They were also surveyed about whether Democrats should use the budget reconciliation process to pass a $3.5 trillion investment plan — funding long-term care, Medicare expansion, universal pre-kindergarten, and an expanded child tax credit and lowering the cost of prescription drugs — with just a simple majority. A total of 66 percent said yes, compared to 26 percent saying no. Even among Republicans, the plan enjoyed 47 percent support, versus 44 percent opposition.
That package — being put together by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders, and the Budget Committee's other Democratic members — would combine elements of President Joe Biden's American Families Plan and items from his American Jobs Plan that were not included in the bipartisan agreement.
A second poll of 1,194 likely voters, done for the pro-environment group Climate Power, asked about the bipartisan deal to "repair roads and bridges, modernize and expand transportation infrastructure, replace lead drinking water pipes, and upgrade our power infrastructure."
With that wording, 71 percent said they support the framework and 19 percent said they oppose it. Among GOP voters, the plan enjoyed 57 percent -- 31 percent backing.
Next, they were told that while the infrastructure agreement "makes investments in physical infrastructure," many lawmakers wanted "additional investments to address climate change and extreme weather, create jobs in clean energy, and reduce pollution," referencing priorities that would be part of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
A total of 75 percent indicated that those additional investments were important, including 55 percent of Republicans.
The strong support for the increased spending has been evident in other recent polling. A Politico/Morning Consult survey taken in the past week found that registered voters back every one of the main six investments in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by at least 61 percent. Each was supported by a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
But not a single Republican has backed the Democrats' $3.5 trillion proposal. And last Wednesday, just 17 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate voted to even begin debate of the bipartisan infrastructure plan.
After that vote, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, blasted those 17 GOP colleagues for "helping the Democrats" pass "reckless spending."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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Reprinted with permission from Press Run
As Covid rages on in Florida, turning the Sunshine State not only into a virus epicenter of the United States but of the entire world, news organizations aren't being honest about the public health crisis under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. They're not being transparent about how months ago they embraced GOP spin and portrayed the derelict governor as a pandemic star, regurgitating conservative rhetoric about how liberal critics had been proven wrong about DeSantis' wrong-headed policy decisions, which have since propelled Florida into a grave health crisis.
The state recently broke its one-day record for new Covid cases, topping out at 21,000which is as many new cases as the entire country of France tabulates each day. Florida now has more than 12,000 (unvaccinated) people occupying hospital beds battling Covid, another grim benchmark under DeSantis. It's unthinkable that the state has been plunged into public health chaos when a safe vaccine is readily available to all Floridians over the age of 12.
At a time when states are supposed to be emerging from the year-and-a-half pandemic, Florida is shifting into reverse – it recently recorded more coronavirus cases this week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. This all comes 15 months after DeSantis famously, and loudly, declared victory over the pandemic, back when the state was tallying 500 cases a day.
This debacle, and the media's refusal to be transparent about how badly it managed the DeSantis story, says as much about the state of the Beltway media as it does about this burgeoning Covid chapter.
For an industry that demands transparency and accountability from public officials, the political press is terrible at conceding its mistakes, especially when those blunders are documented by liberals. Programmed to fear charges of liberal media bias, the Beltway press often scrambles to correct supposed failures highlighted by conservatives. Hyper-sensitive to bad-faith, right-wing critiques and eager to make nice with those accusers, journalists uniformly look away when confronted by the left with irrefutable evidence of failure. And boy, did they screw up the DeSantis story.
This spring, journalists eagerly touted DeSantis' supposed virus leadership— it was Politico that announced, "How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic." This, after 30,000 Floridians had already died from the virus and after the governor foolishly placed one million orders of hydroxychloroquine in tribute to Trump.
"After a year of criticism by health experts, mockery from comedians and blistering critiques from political rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing unabashedly tall among the nation's governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight," CNN cheered, adding that DeSantis remained "defiant and combative." CNN suggested he deserved a star turn because "Florida lands nearly in the middle of all states on a variety of coronavirus metrics" — talk about a low bar.
"Vindication for Ron DeSantis," the Wall Street Journal announced. The New York Times cheered, "In a country just coming out of the morose grip of coronavirus lockdowns, Florida feels unmistakably hot."
Not one of those news outlets, that I've seen or heard, has addressed its glowing DeSantis coverage, or explained to news consumers how and why newsrooms rushed in to paint the Republican as a Covid savior, only to watch the state now grapple with a man-made crisis.
Incredibly, DeSantis is still getting the media's benefit of doubt.
The New York Times on Tuesday published a column from Alex Azar, who served as secretary of health and human services under Trump, praising DeSantis for helping spread a pro-vaccine message to voters. That's an absurd thing to be saying in August 2021. The truth is, DeSantis went AWOL for most of this year on the topic of vaccines.
Watching the Republican Party and Fox News embrace dangerous, anti-vaccine rhetoric, DeSantis didn't want to be out of step as he eyes a possible presidential run in 2024. Instead of acting as the steward of a vulnerable local population, DeSantis abdicated his responsibilities for partisan reasons. Yet today, he receives praise in the pages of the Times.
And when the governor recently took the extraordinary irresponsible move of forbidding local school districts from mandating masks for students if needed to battle local virus surges, CNN ran a pro-GOP chyron while reporting the story: "DeSantis signs executive order giving parents power to choose whether to mask kids at school."
The news outlet most in need of some DeSantis self-reflection is Politico, which essentially doubled as the governor's communications shop last winter and spring, churning out three separate cheerleading pieces for the Florida Republican:
That last piece clocked in at 8,000 words (!!), and read like it had been ghost-written by DeSantis' spokesperson. "He was right," read the first sentence, and the glowing profile continued from there, detailing how DeSantis had foiled his critics by producing some sort of miraculous Covid oasis in the Sunshine State. "He is basking in a moment of reassessment of what and how he has done—and also of what it might mean, not just for his and his state's political future but that of the nation."
Everybody makes mistakes. And holding DeSantis up as Republican Covid hero was a doozy. Now the press needs to address that failure.
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