Laura Clawson

Sinema is getting a boost from multi-level marketing companies — and they want something in return: report

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has emerged as the favored candidate of multilevel marketing companies, and it's not because of her statement handbags and dresses, as easy as it would be to imagine her recruiting a group of coworkers or friendquaintances to aggressively pitch said handbags and dresses over a few glasses of red wine. It's because multilevel marketing companies, many of which come about as close as possible to being full-on pyramid schemes while remaining within the law, are worried about Democrats passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and see Sinema as a key ally in defeating it, Politico reports.

The PRO Act would, among other things, make it more difficult for companies to misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Independent contractors don't have many protections and rights that employees have—little things like the minimum wage, overtime pay, Social Security contributions, and protections against discrimination. Multilevel marketing companies want to keep it that way because their entire business model is built around people working for them for very little—in some cases, even losing money.

Sinema is one of three Democratic senators who hasn't signed on to the bill, with her fellow Arizona senator, Mark Kelly, who has said he wants changes to the independent contractor provisions, and Sen. Mark Warner, who has signaled support despite not having formally co-sponsored it. Even Sen. Joe Manchin is theoretically on board.

Multilevel marketing companies are not traditionally big political givers, and especially not to Democrats. The DeVos family got its wealth through Amway, one of the early big names in the industry, and they are obviously huge Republicans. But the PAC for Alticor, Amway's parent company, gave Sinema $2,500 in June. The bat signal definitely went out in June, because, Politico reports, three other multilevel marketers gave Sinema $2,500 apiece that month. She got other chunks of $2,500 from industry players in April and July. Aside from the DeVos family, several of these firms make few political contributions: two of the PACs that donated to Sinema haven't given to any other federal lawmakers this year, and a third has otherwise only given to lawmakers in its home state of Utah.

In addition to her opposition to strengthening worker protections, Sinema has been a supporter of multilevel marketing, joining a virtual town hall put on by the Direct Selling Association and Isagenix in May 2020, and saying she would help them "succeed through these difficult circumstances." The Direct Selling Association has described her as "One of the few Democratic Senators who supports direct selling."

Come to think of it, if Sinema gets primaried out in the future, she could have a future as a real rock star MLM seller and recruiter.

Joe Manchin’s current hostages: Universal pre-K and affordable elder care

After months of negotiation, and a massive amount of compromise by President Joe Biden and congressional progressives trying to come up with a Build Back Better bill that would get the votes of conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the White House last week released a revised policy framework. It sharply reduced the agenda Biden had previously laid out … and Manchin is holding it hostage. Again.

It's easy to focus on the negotiations—the constant up and down of Manchin reentering negotiations and better Democrats than him seeming to believe they're getting somewhere on a deal with him, only to have Manchin come out and blow it up again with his signature blend of self-righteousness, dishonesty, and sheer dopiness—and it's essential to do that, to know where there might be leverage or opportunities for truly transformative legislation. But we also need to talk about what it is that Manchin's holding hostage here because this affects many people and families with caregiving responsibilities in particular.

When the White House released its framework, The New York Times' invaluable Claire Cain Miller gave a rundown of what it would do for families should it be passed into law. More people need to know about this.

Build Back Better would include universal pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds. That in itself is huge, providing two years of early childhood education for families that currently have to pay for child care until their children turn five and go to kindergarten. (Some states and cities do already have universal pre-K.) Teachers would get pay equivalent to what elementary teachers with the same credentials get. There would be a phased-in requirement for lead pre-K teachers to have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, both moves that would potentially raise the standard of care.

But the draft legislation would benefit families with younger children, too, by subsidizing child care. Many families would get free child care, while families earning up to 250% of their states' median incomes would pay no more than 7% of their income.

Both of those programs would be funded for six years. The expanded child tax credit, by contrast, would get only one more year of funding. That tax credit, which was included in the American Rescue Plan, lets all but the wealthiest families with children get a child tax credit maximum increased from $2,000 to $3,600, and get it monthly rather than in a lump sum after filing their taxes. It also became fully refundable so that even families with very low incomes could get the full credit. According to Columbia University's Center on Poverty and Social Policy, 3.5 million children were lifted from poverty with the first two payments alone. This program should be permanent, but extending it for one year is … well, it's more than nothing. According to the draft legislation, though, the child tax credit would remain fully refundable so low-income families could at least continue getting something.

The Biden Build Back Better framework also expands affordable care for elders and people with disabilities and improves working conditions for the home care workers they rely on. What would be big for working-age adults who are trying to care for their aging parents, often at the same time as they raise children.

There is so much that is not here anymore thanks to Manchin and Sinema and—let's never, ever forget—every single Republican. Paid family and medical leave should be here, but instead, conservatives are committed to keeping the United States as one of just six countries in the world not to offer it. The child tax credit expansion should be permanent. Free community college should be here.

The vast majority of Democrats are trying to do the right thing for U.S. families, provide needed care for young children and seniors alike, help parents struggling to hold jobs and raise children and care for their aging parents, and expand education to young children and young adults. A couple of Democrats are joining every Republican in blocking that right now. But don't lose sight of what should be possible here.

GOP rep shows he prioritizes being a good Republican over being a good doctor with latest ivermectin claims

Republican Rep. Andy Harris is a doctor, too, but it's pretty clear that if he had to choose which of those identities is more important to him, he'd go with Republican. The Maryland congressman once again offered Very Bad medical advice about dealing with COVID-19—and not just bad advice. Harris said on a radio show that he has been prescribing ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.

"I wrote a prescription for ivermectin—I guess it's now three weeks ago, four weeks ago—and yeah, couldn't find a pharmacy to fill it," Harris said on a call-in show in September, The Washington Post reports. "It's gotten bad. [...] The pharmacists are just refusing to fill it."

Go, pharmacists!

Studies have repeatedly shown that ivermectin does not work as a COVID-19 treatment. The most-cited study suggesting it might has been revealed as seriously flawed, if not a complete fabrication. There are formulations of ivermectin that are safe and widely used to treat parasites in humans, but that doesn't make it a good idea to take the drug in place of things that can actually prevent COVID-19 deaths—vaccines—let alone to take veterinary formulations of the drug in massive quantities, as too many people have done. The American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists have warned against taking ivermectin to combat COVID-19.

But as far as Dr. Andy Harris, a member of the United States House of Representatives, is concerned? Those national organizations that say people shouldn't take an anti-parasitic veterinary drug to treat a human virus are being "ridiculous." This isn't a first for Harris. He previously touted the supposed benefits of hydroxychloroquine, which not only didn't work to treat COVID-19, it had deadly side effects. And Harris wasn't promoting the drug before the facts were in—he was doing so after the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization.

Harris is an anesthesiologist. He's not a primary care doctor, an infectious disease doctor, a critical care doctor, a heart or lung doctor, an obstetrician. Anesthesiologists play a very important role in COVID-19 care, though: They're the doctors who intubate people going on ventilators. But that critical role, if Harris has filled it in his continuing part-time anesthesiology work or has even talked with his fellow anesthesiologists who have done so, should show him the stakes when it comes to prescribing and publicly recommending drugs that do not work to treat this virus.

The hospital where Harris practices (as part of an independent physician group, not as a direct employee), said in a statement, "Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19 and has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications."

If Harris is not acting as a responsible doctor, though, he is acting very much as a Republican politician. At one point he promoted vaccines, only to turn around and oppose vaccination for children in addition to opposing mandates requiring both vaccines and masks. In that he's being a typical Republican, joining Rep. Jim Jordan and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others in howling about vaccine mandates despite all the evidence that they work.

"The only thing I'm worried about is because of the media push and all of the hype about covid is that the majority of Americans actually agree with these mandates," Harris said on the radio show where he promoted ivermectin. "What are we, a bunch of lemmings?" He said, encouraging people to engage in stereotypical lemming behavior by taking drugs shown not to work by multiple studies and advised against by the major medical associations rather than taking a thoroughly documented, effective vaccine.

The thing is, Republicans know they need some kind of answers to COVID-19 beyond "eh, it's just like the flu." No matter how much they trot out that lie, it doesn't convince enough people. But Republicans are opposed to the things that actually work to fight the pandemic, like vaccination and masking, so they keep coming up with these other answers, which may not work and may even be dangerous, but make it look like they're offering solutions. They don't give a damn about the reality of the pandemic, so they're treating it as a political problem that can be addressed with lies.

Bannon is defying Jan. 6 committee subpoena — but other former Trump aides are cooperating

There's a lot of activity from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but continuing questions about how much it's going to shake loose from key players in Team Trump. A new subpoena to former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark went out on Wednesday, but cooperation from the people who have already gotten subpoenas remains scant.

Former Trump administration official Kash Patel and former Trump campaign manager and adviser Steve Bannon are scheduled for depositions on Thursday … but neither is going to show up. Bannon is flatly refusing, citing executive privilege he has no claim to, while Patel continues to "engage" with the committee, the question being when the committee will conclude that "engage" is a synonym for "string along." Members of the committee have threatened criminal referrals against anyone who defies its subpoenas, and will reportedly begin the process within hours of Bannon missing his Thursday deadline.

One of the reasons Bannon's claim to executive privilege is so thin is that Donald Trump's claim to executive privilege is itself extremely thin. Executive privilege resides in the office of the executive, and Trump was booted out of there by the will of the people. The White House is moving forward on releasing a set of documents from the National Archives to the select committee. The other reason Bannon's claim is so thin is that Bannon hadn't even been a White House aide since 2017.

The new subpoena to Clark calls on him to produce documents and testify at a deposition on Oct. 29. Though not—so far as we know, yet—directly involved in the planning for the Jan. 6 rallies that turned into a violent insurrection, Clark was deeply involved in Trump's efforts to overturn the election, with his role climaxing in a Jan. 3 meeting at which Trump threatened to fire Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, and replace him with Clark so that Clark could proceed with using the power of the Justice Department to get key states to choose new electors, reversing the results of their elections.

"The select committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, said in a statement. "We need to understand Mr. Clark's role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration."

The committee is getting cooperation on some of its subpoenas already, though. The Associated Press reports that three of the 11 people involved in organizing the Jan. 6 rallies have turned over documents or plan to do so.

Lyndon Brentnall, whose firm provided security that day, told the AP, "All the documents and communications requested by the subpoena were handed in." He has distanced himself from the subject matter of the rallies, saying: "As far as we're concerned, we ran security at a legally permitted event run in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and the Park Police."

Interestingly, the other people who have turned over documents or plan to do so are former Trump campaign and White House staffers. Megan Powers and Hannah Salem appear on the Jan. 6 rally permit as "operations manager for scheduling and guidance" and "operations manager for logistics and communications." Later in January, Rolling Stone reported that Powers' "LinkedIn lists her as working as director of operations for the Trump campaign into January of this year." She had been with Trump since 2015. Salem was a special assistant to the president and director of press advance at the White House.

Hopefully the committee is getting useful information from them and others. But it must move quickly to hold Bannon to account—criminal account—and it cannot let Patel delay without showing serious intention of turning over documents or sitting for a deposition. If Trump loyalists believe they'll get away with defying they committee, they will do it.

Jim Jordan​ humiliated on Twitter over anti-vax tweet

Republicans are increasingly making opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates a requirement for membership in their club, but sometimes, as Rep. Jim Jordan found out Tuesday night, that sets you up for a takedown.

Ouch. But hey, a man who spent his early career ignoring sexual abuse against the college students he was responsible for and then goes on to have a highly public career as a loudmouth attack dog is going to have to learn to handle that kind of reminder.

For the record, Ohio has had more than 1.47 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 23,000 deaths from the disease.

Ohio also currently has a fairly standard list of required immunizations for children to attend public school: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella, and meningococcal. Does Jordan want to bring back polio, tetanus, and measles? See if he can boost those numbers up to compete with coronavirus numbers for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths?

Throughout the pandemic, Republicans have fought one kind of public health measure after another, insisting on their absolute right to spread disease in whatever way they want. The new hotness is opposition to vaccine mandates—mandates that wouldn't have been necessary if high-profile Republicans hadn't made vaccination a partisan issue to begin with. Republican lawmakers in many states, including Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Tennessee, and more are pushing for bans on vaccine requirements. Florida has already fined one county for putting a vaccine mandate into place. This trend is dangerous in itself as it exists right now. But it could become much more dangerous because today's Republicans are so happy to climb on any slippery slope and then throw lubricant in front of themselves.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly made clear that he didn't start out wanting to impose mandates. But they became necessary because a lot of people—including a disproportionate number of Republicans—refused to get vaccinated, and COVID-19 rates were skyrocketing. And mandates work. A lot of people are vaccinated who would not otherwise be, and that is saving lives and, ultimately, slowing the spread of the virus. But Republicans, ever in search of 1) something to be angry about and 2) ways to ensure that the government in general and Democratic leadership in particular fail, are making the righteous fight against a life-saving vaccine their big cause. Even, as in Texas, when it leads them to turn their backs on previously held positions like "private companies should get to do whatever they want."

Jim Jordan is an angry clown, but these days, he's one of the official faces of the Republican Party, the guy House Republicans put on every high-profile committee and want the media to go to for a quote on every hot issue. And at this rate—considering the recent record of the Republican Party in moving ever toward the fringe—we can't be surprised if Republicans do move from opposing COVID-19 vaccination mandates to opposing all vaccination mandates, even the ones that are uncontroversially the law in their own states. When a Florida state legislator floated exactly that idea a few weeks ago, he ended up walking it back. But it would be foolish to bet that the idea is dead.

Raskin floats inherent contempt as former Trump aides defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

The House select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol issued three more subpoenas on Thursday, seeking information about the set of rallies planned on Jan. 6. The new subpoenas went to Nathan Martin, Ali Abdul Akbar (also known as Ali Alexander), and Stop the Steal LLC. But on the same day, deadlines expired for four former Trump aides to comply with committee subpoenas, with Donald Trump explicitly telling them not to cooperate and one, former campaign manager Steve Bannon, announcing he'd follow Trump's instructions and refuse to cooperate.

While the instruction from Trump's lawyers to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, aide Dan Scavino, administration official and diehard loyalist Kash Patel, and Bannon cited "the executive and other privileges, including among others the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges," claims that wouldn't apply to Martin, Alexander or Stop the Steal, it's a likely sign of the level of cooperation coming from those targets as well. We are talking about people who fomented an insurrection to try to block the peaceful transition of power.

As for Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon, the White House has already said that President Joe Biden—the person who actually has executive privilege these days—has "concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege," and members of the Jan. 6 committee have made clear that they are not taking no for an answer.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, said it was up to Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, but "I believe this is a matter of the utmost seriousness and we need to consider the full panoply of enforcement sanctions available to us, and that means criminal contempt citations, civil contempt citations and the use of Congress's own inherent contempt powers."

Yes. Inherent contempt, please! Send the sergeant-at-arms after them.

Alexander and Martin attempted to organize a "One Nation Under God" rally against "the election fraud in the swing states."

According to the subpoena, "Mr. Alexander explained it was the intention of Stop the Steal to direct earlier attendees of a rally on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. oh Jan. 6 held by Women for America First and 'sponsored' by Stop the Steal to march at the conclusion of that rally to Lot 8 on the U.S. Capitol Grounds, which is the location for which the [U.S. Capitol Police] granted the permit for the 'One Nation Under God,' rally."

So you can see why the committee would be interested in hearing from the organizers of the event planned to occur on the Capitol grounds after the earlier rally. Also, the committee's letter to Alexander notes, "According to press reports, in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, you made repeated reference during Stop the Steal-sponsored events to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization's goals and claimed to have been in communication with the White House and members of Congress regarding events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 election results."

First and foremost, though, the committee must move aggressively after Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon. We know that just days earlier Trump was personally trying to get the Justice Department to overturn the election. It's not like there's some big disconnect between Jan. 3, when Trump really wanted to fire the acting attorney general and replace him with a toady eager to instruct state legislatures to set aside their states' election results but just concluded it wouldn't work, and Jan. 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the election. These are all part of one series of events, and the reason for that is that Donald Trump could not accept that he lost an election and was looking for every bit of leverage he could muster to overturn that election. We need the whole story, and the whole story hinges on Trump and his aides.

These 4 Trump loyalists are on the brink of criminal referrals in Jan. 6 investigation

Four top members of Team Trump have an October 7 deadline to turn documents over to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. It's not looking like they're going to comply, a possibility Chair Bennie Thompson anticipated when he said the committee was prepared to make criminal referrals. Rep. Jamie Raskin reinforced that point on Tuesday, tweeting that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, aide Dan Scavino, Trump loyalist Kash Patel, and former campaign manager Steve Bannon "have two days left to comply with the @January6thCmte's subpoenas. Each of these men should be ready and willing to protect their country against violent insurrection, but as a reminder: noncompliance with Congress invites criminal sanctions."

The committee hasn't even been able to physically serve Scavino with his subpoena, CNN reports, about which "One source familiar with the situation joked that the committee should just tweet the subpoena to the former Trump aide since he's been actively trolling the panel there in recent days."

It's not a surprise that a source tells The Guardian's Hugo Lowell that all four—Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon—are planning to defy the subpoenas in whole or in part. That is reportedly at the instruction of Donald Trump or his lawyers, not that any of the four probably needed encouragement. Trump has claimed that executive privilege covers White House communications relating to the effort to overturn the election and the attack on the Capitol. Still, President Biden gets to make that call—after all, Trump is not the executive—and he's said no dice.

These are just the first four people to get subpoenas from the January 6 committee. Eleven more people got subpoenas at the end of September, including leaders of "Women for America First," the group that formally staged the rally that turned into a march on and attack of the Capitol, as well as former Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.

The committee isn't stuck waiting for the subpoenas to succeed, though. Speaking of the four men expected to refuse to turn over documents this week, and the committee's progress in general, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the Republicans on the committee, told CNN, "The problem is when you start seeing people resist, and people obfuscate, you have to look at that and go why are they doing that if they have nothing to hide? We have a lot of people coming and talking to us voluntarily. We'll get to the bottom of it. We want to do it quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly."

Thursday, we'll see how the committee responds when Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon blow off its subpoenas. The correct answer for how, by the way, is swiftly and harshly.

The Supreme Court is gunning to cement itself as a fully partisan Republican institution

The Supreme Court is teeing up its next round of far-right decisions, after which the far-right justices making those decisions will doubtless trot out for another round of claiming that the court is not partisan. Following its shadow docket decision effectively overturning Roe v. Wade in Texas, the court is setting up the next step by hearing arguments on a Mississippi abortion ban that could be the official, nationwide end of Roe. But that's not all.

Before it gets to the Mississippi abortion ban, the Supreme Court will consider a major gun case, its first in a decade. That case centers on a New York law requiring people to show "proper cause" as to why they need to carry guns outside their homes in order to get a permit to do so. What's particularly disturbing about the court's attention to that law is that this is not a new law coming under review—it's been around for a long time, so this is unmistakably a case where what changed is not the law but the composition of the court.

A week after it hears the Mississippi case, the court will turn its attention to the question of whether Maine can exclude religious schools providing a religious education from public tuition dollars. The creeping-theocracy implications of that should be clear.

As well, the Supreme Court will look at the death sentence of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which was thrown out by an appeals court; a Texas death row inmate's request to have his pastor be allowed to touch him and pray out loud with him in the death chamber (possibly providing an interesting religious freedom comparison with the Maine case); and a government effort to keep Guantánamo detainee Abu Zubaydah, the first victim of horrific CIA torture after 9/11, from getting information from two of his torturers.

All in all, it's a slate of chances for the Trump Supreme Court to tighten the Republican Party's anti-democratic grip on U.S. law.

The Mississippi abortion case will draw—already is drawing—the most attention. And it should be an attention-grabber as an explicit effort to overturn decades of settled precedent. Mississippi Republicans aren't really trying to keep it secret, either. Up until the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they pretended the goal was something other than overturning Roe. Once Donald Trump and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had rammed Amy Coney Barrett onto the court at the highest speed possible, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch came out with the real goal: "Roe and Casey are unprincipled decisions that have damaged the democratic process, poisoned our national discourse, plagued the law—and, in doing so, harmed this Court," so they should be overturned.

All of this comes against the backdrop of the Supreme Court's intensifying partisanship, which people are starting to notice. A series of polls shows the public's faith in the Supreme Court dropping and an understanding of the court's partisanship rising. The furthest-right, most partisan justices are hearing that criticism, but their response has been a series of gaslighting speeches.

Barrett claimed to be "concerned" about the public's view of the court as partisan. She said this in a speech at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center, founded by McConnell, after being introduced by … McConnell. You know, the guy who held one Supreme Court seat open for nearly a year because there was an election coming and it would be wrong to let a president fill a Supreme Court seat in the last year of his term, then turned around and got Barrett onto the court in the matter of weeks between Ginsburg's death and the election.

Samuel Alito, basically a Republican operative in the guise of a justice, recently whined about "unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution," aka observations that the court has been packed with far-right justices by Republicans who lost the popular vote for the presidency, and has consistently acted to bolster Republican electoral chances to solidify that control. How dare Democrats notice that Republicans have waged a decades-long campaign to take over the courts, just as Republicans succeeded at taking over the courts!

Clarence Thomas also chimed in, talking about people "destroying our institutions because they don't give us what we want, when we want it." Again, after decades of Republicans undermining the reputation of the court for partisan purposes—Bush v. Gore, anyone?

And now the cycle begins anew: A likely series of devastating far-right decisions by the court will be followed by the partisan Republicans who made those decisions coming out to rail against anyone who dares suggest that the court has a legitimacy problem.

Florida Republicans look to take advantage of the Supreme Court's abortion ban green light

Once the Supreme Court allowed the Texas abortion bounty hunter law to go into effect, you knew it was just a matter of time before another state moved to copy it. And here comes Florida to do exactly that, days after the first Texas doctor was sued for violating the law.

State Rep. Webster Barnaby has filed a bill that would, as in the Texas law, allow anyone to pursue any person who "knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion" for $10,000. As in Texas, the bill would ban abortions after six weeks, which is before many women know they are pregnant and which, even for those who do know it, requires a speedy decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy.

Unlike in Texas, Barnaby's bill includes exemptions for rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking, or a threat to the woman's health. But it requires documentation to get an exemption, and for many women in those circumstances, getting that documentation would pose its own threat. Additionally, a woman should not have to have been the victim of a crime to make decisions about her own health care.

The Texas law faces ongoing lawsuits, which would be guaranteed in Florida if this bill passes. The Supreme Court, though, may make it all irrelevant by officially overturning Roe v. Wade when it hears a case involving a Mississippi abortion ban.

A spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released a noncommittal statement saying, "Governor DeSantis is pro-life. The governor's office is aware that the bill was filed today and like all legislation, we will be monitoring it as it moves through the legislative process in the coming months."

DeSantis will no doubt be monitoring not just the bill but the polls. The Texas abortion ban and the Supreme Court's decision to allow it are not popular, and DeSantis has presidential ambitions. Does he need to cater more aggressively to Republican primary voters or to a general electorate not enthused about setting bounty hunters on women's family and friends and doctors? How many companies would steer clear of Florida if such a law passed? Likely those questions are very much on his mind as he monitors the Florida bill as it moves through the legislative process.

'No one would be spared' from economic disaster if Republicans block debt ceiling increase

Congress has one week to prevent a government shutdown, and Republicans are basically sitting back and saying, "Bring on the shutdown."

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to extend federal funding into December and suspend the debt limit until December 2022, but Senate Republicans plan to filibuster that, not because they oppose those things—Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times under Donald Trump and know it needs to happen again—but because they want to force Democrats to unilaterally suspend the debt limit. Why do Republicans want Democrats to unilaterally suspend the debt limit? So Republicans can whine about how mean and autocratic Democrats are.

Got that? Republicans will shut down the government to avoid doing a thing that they want someone else to do. They're not trying to prevent the debt limit from being raised, they're just trying to control how it happens.

This is partly just Republicans being obstructionist asshats, as per usual—Republicans have repeatedly forced government shutdowns since the 1990s (and it has usually cost them public support) and taken the government hostage in ways just like this. But it's also a ploy to put pressure on the major budget reconciliation bill Democrats are negotiating. That can pass the Senate with a simple majority vote, meaning Republicans can't filibuster it, so Republicans are saying Democrats should just put the debt limit suspension in the reconciliation bill and proceed without Republican votes.

"They have the House, the Senate and the presidency. It's their obligation to govern," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said, which is an interesting explanation of his intention to try to block Democrats from governing wherever and whenever possible. If he wants to contribute votes to abolishing the filibuster so that Democrats can pass anything in the Senate without Republican votes, then I'm sure Democrats would be happy to govern!

With Republicans planning a filibuster on the debt ceiling, "I assume Democrats go to the drawing board," Sen. John Thune told The Hill.

The drawing board Republicans want Democrats to go to is that reconciliation bill, but there's no guarantee Democrats can have it ready in time to avoid the U.S. bumping up against the debt ceiling and defaulting on its obligations.

That would be a disaster.

"Failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences," according to the Treasury Department, while the White House pointed out a long list of programs that could be cut off, including disaster relief, Medicaid, infrastructure funding, education, public health, child nutrition, and more.

"No one would be spared," Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told CNN. "It would be such a self-imposed disaster that we wouldn't recover from, all at a time when our role in the world is already being questioned."

This needs to get done. Democrats—thanks in large part to Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—aren't close enough to having a reconciliation bill ready to stick the debt limit in there and pass it before the U.S. defaults on its obligations. But Democrats also think, on principle, that Republicans should be part of what has been a bipartisan process literally dozens of times, and is now needed overwhelmingly because of government spending passed under Trump and with a Republican-controlled Senate.

"Are we hostage to Republicans who are threatening to blow up a part of the economic system because they want to do that for politics?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "That's just not where we should be as a nation."

It's not. The question is how to get the hostage out of Republican control.


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