The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: biden economic agenda

Remember When Trump Jacked Up Oil Prices? Neither Does The Media

Only last week we learned that one Donald J. Trump was, in effect, the Typhoid Mary of the Covid epidemic during the 2020 campaign. What’s more, unlike the original, an Irish-born cook who unknowingly infected whole families in early 20th century New York, Trump had tested positive for Covid, but didn’t bother to warn any of the scores of individuals he came into close contact with before himself being hospitalized.

So was Trump deliberately trying to infect Joe Biden when he arrived at their first presidential debate visibly Ill? Nobody knows. Only that the entire Trump family showed up unmasked in defiance of agreed-upon rules. Five of the six persons who helped Trump rehearse came down with Covid, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who almost died, and who blames Trump for infecting him.

Elsewhere, a 38-page Power Point presentation detailing a crackpot scheme to steal the 2020 presidential election was inadvertently turned over to the House Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who subsequently developed an acute case of “Executive Privilege” lockjaw. The idea was that Trump would declare a National Emergency and seize voting machines on the grounds that Chinese hackers had corrupted them—for which there’s not a particle of evidence.

And what was the big political news story of the week according to our esteemed Washington press corps? Why the rising cost of milk and gasoline, of course. Last week’s announcement of a 6.8 percent increase in inflation over the past year provoked semi-hysterical coverage reinforcing the media narrative that terrible economic conditions had the Biden White House reeling. On her nightly broadcast, CNN’s Erin Burnett was practically feral—talking over guests and treating their explanations with scorn. How could anybody deny that runaway inflation was crushing American families?

On his invaluable PressRun Substack, media critic Eric Boehlert details what he characterizes as a Washington press corps “married to a Biden Doomsday storyline.” Dan Kennedy at Media Nation faults what he calls “the media’s primordial need for balance — for treating Democrats and Republicans as if they are both legitimate actors even though the Democrats, for all their flaws, continue to act as a normal political party while the Republicans have descended into authoritarianism.”

We have seen this movie before; an allegedly even-handed establishment press succumbing to feverish gang coverage of stories that never add up. Remember Hillary’s e-mails? The great “Whitewater” scandal of legend and song? The 2000 “War on Gore?” Selling Saddam Hussein’s non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as a pretext for invading Iraq would also qualify.

CNN recently found a family it portrayed as driven to near penury by rising milk prices. Supposedly, the cost of a gallon had risen from $1.99 to $2.79 where they live. That’s a forty percent increase. According to the Consumer Price Index, milk has risen four percent over the past year—noticeable, but ten percent of what CNN reported.

This too: The family reported buying 12 gallons a week—enough to bottle-feed several calves. (Granted, it was a large family.) Even so, MarketWatch documented that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, milk hasn’t cost less than $2.00 a gallon since the turn of the century.

CNN’s story had no basis in reality.

Not to be outdone, the New York Times profiled a man in Toms River, N.J. whining about the rising cost of gasoline for—get this—his Cadillac Escalade: “Aldo McCoy, who owns an auto repair shop in Toms River…recalled recently filling his 2003 Cadillac Escalade and seeing the price go above $100, where it used to be $45.”

For the record, a Cadillac Escalade comes advertised as a “full-sized luxury SUV.” Slightly smaller than a school bus, an Escalade retails for around $80,000. So I suspect that McCoy may be laying it on a bit thick when he reports working 15 hours overtime every week to gas up the behemoth.

It’s also true, as The Tines reports, that the notoriously volatile price of gasoline “is $3.41, which is $1.29 more than it was a year ago, according to AAA.” Also that it’s dropping fast as oil-producing nations ramp up production. Me, I paid $2.79 the other day. Your mileage may differ.

So here’s another New York Times story dated April 12, 2020, ancient history, detailing an “unprecedented” agreement between the Trump administration and its pals in Saudi Arabia and Russia, for “the largest [oil] production cut ever negotiated” for the express purpose of driving up prices and increasing energy industry profits.

“Oil prices spike by a record 25% as Trump talks up huge production cuts,” was how CNN headlined the story. Like most Trump schemes, it failed due to the pandemic. Today, however, OPEC is sharply increasing production. Prices are dropping.

But until they do, it’s all Joe Biden’s fault.

Despite Dismal Polls, Biden Economic Program Is 'A Smashing Success,

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to Gallup, President Joe Biden's approval rating among independents went from 61 percent earlier this year to only 37 percent in September — and late October polls aren't very encouraging either, with the president's overall approval at 42 percent (Rasmussen), 43 percent (YouGov) or 46 percent (Morning Consult).
Read Now Show less

'Failure Is Not An Option': Congress Debates Biden's Historic Agenda

Washington (AFP) - Joe Biden faces the most important test of his presidency this week as Democrats in the US Congress launch a highwire bid to implement his sweeping economic agenda while keeping the government's lights on.

The House and Senate are moving toward votes on legislation dealing with infrastructure and social programs worth almost $5 trillion while also averting a government shutdown on Friday and a looming debt default.

Failure on any front would be catastrophic for a president looking to cement his legacy, while Democrats would see their chances diminished for hanging onto the House of Representatives and Senate in next year's midterm elections.

"You know me: I'm born optimistic. I think things are going to go well. I think we're going to get it done," an upbeat Biden told reporters at the White House.

At stake is the fate of Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social welfare package that only Democrats support, and a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to improve transport networks and broadband coverage that has already passed the Senate with cross-party support.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues that there would be a vote on infrastructure on Thursday -- the same day Congress needs to strike a funding deal to avoid a government shutdown.

'Intensity'

Progressive Democrats in the House have repeatedly threatened to tank infrastructure without a significant commitment from their moderate colleagues on Build Back Better.

But moderates nervous about freewheeling spending have said they may not vote for the bigger bill without infrastructure crossing the line first -- and have talked about scaling back the $3.5 trillion ticket price in any case.

"The next few days will be a time of intensity," Pelosi wrote to House Democrats, who have a three-vote margin in the House, plus the anticipated support of at least 10 Republicans for infrastructure.

Biden says the two bills would save the average family $15,000 a year through expanded care and education programs and reduced drug pricing, while transforming public transport, highways, bridges and broadband internet access would make life easier and greener.

The president told reporters Monday that agreement on Build Back Better may not be completed before the infrastructure vote and shutdown deadline, although he added: "I hope it's by the end of the week."

'Week from hell'

Adding to the drama, lawmakers have until midnight going into Friday to green-light a package to fund the government ahead of federal agencies running out of money.

Failure would shut down the government, which typically leads to hundreds of thousands of workers being sent home as public services are closed.

The House passed a "continuing resolution" last week to keep the government open until December 3 -- but the evenly-divided 100-member Senate rejected the package on Monday, with Democrats failing to secure the 60 votes necessary to begin debate.

Republicans are opposed to a 14-month debt ceiling hike that was included in the wording following warnings that the Treasury Department will be unable to obtain new loans sometime in October.

They say Biden's spending plans are out of control, and that the Democrats -- who control both chambers of Congress -- should avoid the disastrous looming credit default by lifting the borrowing cap on their own.

In reality, the debt limit suspension would cover spending backed by Republicans under Donald Trump, as well as other spending already authorized by the government.

Biden, who discussed the bills via phone earlier Monday with Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, slammed what he called Republican "actions that show a lack of concern about our economic recovery," according to a White House statement.

The upper chamber is now likely to send a "clean" continuing resolution back to the House to pass without the debt-limit provision, averting the shutdown for two months.

That would leave the debt-limit problem unresolved, however -- a worrying outcome that will make the markets increasingly jumpy as the mid-to-late October deadline draws closer.

"You want me to be honest? It's going to be a week from hell," Rep. Debbie Dingell told CNN on Sunday.

"But failure is not an option. There is too much at stake."