Poisoning The Well

We are now down to the crunch time on the Biden agenda. And we don’t know how it will turn out. But there are two aspects of the story which have been quite damaging for the Democrats. They’re worth discussing.

The first is one we’ve discussed before but in a different context. It’s largely a press failure. But it’s one Democrats could do more to fix. For months we’ve had this intra-party debate presented as one between “progressives” and “moderates.” Often that gets personalized as AOC and Bernie versus Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. This is demonstrably false. The overall package is supported overwhelmingly by Democrats in both chambers and pretty much across all factions. There are some quibbles about SALT taxes and the scope of the climate package. Some more middle-of-the-road Dems resist making some of the social programs permanent. Those are real and potentially consequential differences. But they’re all negotiable. The important point is that this package is the consensus position, supported by virtually everyone. It is after all the President’s agenda. Literally. And, as much as these labels confound more than they clarify, President Biden isn’t from AOC’s wing of the party.

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A Democrat Only Republicans Can Love

I saw a few people questioning the Data for Progress poll I which I used as the basis for yesterday’s post about Kyrsten Sinema cratering at home among Democrats. So I decided to dig into some other polling data. Data for Progress is a progressive-aligned organization, as the name suggests. And some skepticism is always warranted when the pollster is in some way an interested party. But Data for Progress is a respected outfit. And my review of data from other pollsters over the last year bears that out. Their numbers are consistent with what other pollsters have found. But there were some more details that helped fill out the picture.

Back in March (March 8th-12th) an Arizona Public Opinion Pulse (AZPOP) poll found a similar picture to what we discussed yesterday. Sinema had very anemic support among Democrats – just 50% favorability – and she wasn’t doing well with independents either. Just 36% of independents viewed her favorably. This came just after Sinema had declared her support for the filibuster and helped tank a minimum wage increase. (Favorability is different from approval. This poll only had the former. But for these purposes it’s a close enough approximation.)

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Where Things Stand: But What If There Was No Debt Ceiling?
Prime Membership Required

Mitch McConnell’s dangerous game with the debt ceiling seems to be playing out more or less as intended.

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Big Tent Wrangling

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the debt ceiling, impending government shutdown and fate of the two-track infrastructure plan.

Watch below and email us your questions for next week’s episode.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Another View from Arizona, Annals of Sinema

TPM Reader XX gives us another view on how Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is doing back in Arizona.

I am a longtime TPM subscriber who has known Krysten Sinema since she was running for Phoenix City Council as a Green party candidate. I think your analyses, and that of fellow reader GT, of her behavior are largely on target, though the revelation this morning that the big mail and digital push on her behalf is coming directly from Big Pharma suggests that this, again, is short-term positioning rather than some long-term plan.

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A Few Notes on the State of Play

Last night, with a lead-in from our friend Ed Kilgore, I sketched out what I think must happen for the Democrats to make good on the work of the 2018 and 2020 election cycles and avoid electoral and policy catastrophe. Let me share a few notes on what it appears is happening.

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BFD and STFU – It’s All Down to Biden

Our friend Ed Kilgore has a piece in New York Magazine that’s worth your time to read. The gist is that the Democratic party and its tenuous control of the federal government is at a critical moment of decision. There’s now a very real chance that the President’s whole agenda could go down in flames. Remember 1994 and 2010 and then multiply one times the other. The consequences for the country and the Democratic party will be vast and hard to calculate. This isn’t just about saving Biden’s presidency. That actually gets things backwards. It’s the ability to pass legislation like this that was the point of all the effort that went into the 2018 and 2020 cycles in the first place.

I have a quibble on exactly what Ed says should happen next. But I think it’s largely a tactical one. Big picture we totally agree.

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Where Things Stand: Loudmouthed Former Guv Gets Surprising Endorsement For Comeback Bid
Prime Membership Required

Susan Collins refused to endorse Trump in 2016, and she voted to remove him during his 2020 impeachment trial.

But in 2022, she will be supporting the self-declared proto-Trump Paul LePage. (“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” the former two-term governor of Maine once opined.)

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Yep. Sinema’s Cratering Back Home

Let me share a few more thoughts on the post from yesterday on Kyrsten Sinema from TPM Reader GT. And here I am not talking about the substantive impact of her stance. I’m talking purely about her own political future, self-aggrandizement, etc.

It makes perfect sense for someone like Sinema to carve out a centrist niche in the Senate. Arizona is purple but just barely, at least for now. It just voted for Biden and now has two Democratic Senators. But Sinema, who was only elected in 2018, is the state’s first Democratic Senator since Dennis DeConcini. He retired in 1994 but he was first elected all the way back in 1976, almost 45 years ago. Arizona may be trending blue but it’s just at the beginning of the trend.

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Policy vs Positioning Has Dems in a Stalemate

On Capitol Hill – among the Democrats alone since the Republicans have absented themselves from the process – we’re seeing one of those legislative stand-offs that seem insoluble and which, for the Democrats, raises the real risk of disaster. These crises tend to resolve themselves, eventually. Because both sides eventually see that they’re courting disaster and draw back from the brink.

But there’s something a bit different this time. And it’s worth teasing out what that is.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday reiterated her criticism of Republicans’ brinksmanship on the debt ceiling amid their refusal to help their Democratic colleagues with suspending it, despite having voted to raise the debt ceiling throughout the Trump administration.

| News

As a consequence of Republicans’ highly irresponsible game of chicken with the debt ceiling, it’s looking increasingly like Democrats will have to raise the debt limit on their own through reconciliation. 

| Muckraker

The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has issued its first batch of subpoenas, homing in on further unearthing the White House’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

The panel released the witness subpoenas last night, demanding documents from and interviews with Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, and Dan Scavino.

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The TPM Reading List
| Cafe

We're asking our fellow TPMers to share their own personal reading recommendations: books they love or that have shaped their lives.

| Muckraker

Imagine for a moment if it had come out during the 2016 campaign or in the first year of the Trump presidency that GOP political operatives were accused of illegally funneling Russian money into the Trump campaign.

Now, some five years later, that’s precisely the accusation federal prosecutors are making in a new case in DC.

What took so long?

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| News

As legislative efforts to expand voting rights hit the brick wall of the filibuster in the Senate, and as conservative courts across the country side with state Republicans’ novel restrictions on the franchise, the third branch of government is preparing to fill in the gaps where it can. And for members of Joe Biden’s Cabinet, homework is due.

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| News

As Democratic moderates stake out ultimatums, party leadership tries to keep the agenda in one piece and the White House attempts to polish the messy optics of legislative sausage-making, staffers continue to plug away at crafting the actual reconciliation package behind the scenes. 

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| News

In May, a federal judge dismissed a Trumpy lawsuit over the 2020 election results in Antrim County, Michigan, where a clerk’s error had briefly resulted in a miscount of the vote. “Expert” witnesses in the suit had seized on the discrepancy, which they claimed was the result of Dominion voting machine technology “purposefully designed” to tamper with vote totals.

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