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Elizabeth Warren sounds another alarm for Democrats
“We have got less than 200 days until the election and American families are hurting,” the progressive senator from Massachusetts said as she called on her party to do more ahead of the midterms.
Democrats are expected to perform terribly during the November midterms because these elections usually punish the president’s party.
What’s worse is that President Joe Biden is deeply unpopular and limited in what he can do to turn around soaring inflation and the historically high costs of goods. And White House officials will tell you that the unpredictability of the war in Ukraine requires some of the attention Biden would otherwise prefer to invest in lobbying for his legislative agenda.
With no major legislative victories in sight, President Biden told donors during a west-coast swing late last week that he would continue to travel the country to make the case for what his administration and congressional Democrats have done.
But prominent lawmakers like Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are wary that simply touting accomplishments won’t make for a winning strategy this fall.
“I am very glad to talk about what we have done, obviously. And I think the president deserves real credit, but it's not enough,” Warren said to Dana Bash during a Sunday morning interview on CNN’s State of the Union. “We have got less than 200 days until the election and American families are hurting. Our job while we are here in the majority is to deliver on behalf of those families. And that means making government work for them. And there is so much that we can do and so much, frankly, that is popular across the country among Democrats, Republicans and independents.”
Warren isn’t alone in her thinking either.
“If we want to have a shot at an upset win in the midterms, then our message needs to be a [constant] contrast,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said in a Twitter thread on Sunday. “Republicans’ mean, bullying, tax-cuts-for-the-rich corporatism [versus] Democrats’ inclusive, positive economic populism.”
Warren listed a series of proposals in an opinion essay in The New York Times that are popular with voters, including clean energy, affordable child care and universal pre-K that would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy.
As I wrote last week, she also said the country could root out corruption by banning members of Congress and their spouses from owning individual stocks. On inflation, Warren calls on Democrats to empower regulators so they can end price-gouging, break up monopolies and implement a windfall profits tax. And whatever congressional Democrats can’t get done through the legislative process, Warren said Biden should authorize through executive action.
More sobering to Sam Adler-Bell of Intelligencer is the gaping enthusiasm gap between the two parties wrought by the current landscape:
There appears almost no grassroots energy or urgency of any kind on the Democratic side. After four years of fever-pitched marching and movement-building by anti-Trump resistors, antifacists, Democratic Socialists and Black Lives Matter militants, the sudden quite from the country’s left flank has been deafening. Where, I find myself asking, is the movement?
The contrast is obvious on the other side though. Adler-Bell continues:
By contrast, the conservative grassroots are ablaze. The parents, the pundits, the propagandists behind the “critical race theory” crackdown, and now, the moral panic over LGBTQ educators have been startlingly successful — not only at creating media spectacles, but at recruiting activists, electing school board members, and passing laws. Anti-abortion measures, meanwhile, sweep the country in anticipation of a possible repeal of Roe v. Wade. And, all along, one-term president Trump has defied political gravity, attracting crowds to his rallies and playing de facto party boss from his spray-tan Tammany Hall in Palm Beach.
In other words: “The right is on the march. The left is nonexistent.”
While Republican Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are attracting national attention for their attacks on education, LGBTQ rights and reproductive health, expect Democrats to center on Sen. Rick Scott of Florida as the reason they deserve two more years in power.
In case you missed it, Scott in February released an 11-point proposal outlining the GOP’s policy priorities if they retake the majority.
If Republicans reclaim the majority, Scott says they will eliminate racial politics in America, sunset all federal laws within five years of their passage and require low-income Americans to pay higher income taxes.
As I wrote at the time, the plan is notable because Senate Republican leaders did not plan to release a policy agenda ahead of the midterms based on the belief they wouldn’t need one to win. But Scott’s rank within the Senate GOP makes him an effective boogeyman.
“Rick Scott is not just some random Republican Senator. He is the person chosen by [Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to head up the Senate Republican’s campaign arm,” Dan Pfieffer, former communications director in the Obama White House wrote in his newsletter Message Box on Sunday. “This role makes him a de facto part of Senate leadership and a major fundraiser.”
Pfieffer says every local, state and national Democrat should push the idea that with Republicans in power, Americans will pay higher taxes to fund Donald Trump’s border wall. He adds:
The message has to be in ads, hammered on social media, and delivered on the stump. We must brush off the annoying reporters tsk-tsking us to push an agenda that Mitch McConnell won’t publicly support. The political press holds Democrats to different sets of rules, but that doesn’t mean we have to play by them.
Warren is doing her part to sound the alarm.
“There is so much we can do. And if we do it over the next 200 days, we're going to be in fine shape. This is what democracy is about,” she said to Bash. “There are things that the American people elected us to do, and we still need to get out there and do them.”
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning will return to the White House from Delaware and receive his daily intelligence briefing. This afternoon, he will then welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League to the White House to celebrate their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup championships.
Biden’s week ahead:
Wednesday: President Biden and Vice President Harris will attend the funeral of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Washington National Cathedral and host the Council of Chief State School Officers’ 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year at the White House.
Saturday: President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner where the president will speak.
The House is out.
The Senate is in and will consider a nomination for vice chair of the Federal Reserve.
IN THE KNOW
— Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. They are the highest-ranking U.S. government officials known to have visited Ukraine since Russia invaded. (Josh Lederman and Abigail Williams / NBC News)
— The US will provide Ukraine with $322 million in new aid. Some US diplomats will also return to the western region of the country this week. (Conor Finnegan / ABC News)
— Austin said the US’s intention is to make sure that Russia would be unable to rebuild its military capacity. “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” he said. (Marc Santora and John Ismay / NYT)
— President Biden accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Naftali Bennet of Israel to visit the country in the coming months. The two leaders spoke by phone on Sunday.
— Vice President Kamala Harris next month will deliver the 2022 commencement address at Tennessee State University, a historically Black university. Harris is the first HBCU graduate to serve in her role. (Tim Perry / CBS News)
— The Department of Homeland Security announced the conclusion of its first bug bounty program, an initiative that invites cybersecurity researchers and ethical hackers to identify potential cyber vulnerabilities in select DHS systems. 450 researchers identified 122 vulnerabilities, of which 27 were determined to be critical and were awarded a total of $125,600 for their work.
— The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its support for a solar energy program to ensure that residents of HUD-assisted properties in Washington, DC are able to access it without facing higher housing costs. The department says solar is an important component of its climate action plan.
— Guns were the leading cause of death for children in 2020 for the first time. More than 4,300 died of firearm-related injuries that year — a 29 percent increase from 2019 — while the number of car-related deaths, the former leading cause of death among children and teens, has dropped dramatically in the US over the last 20 years. (Aria Bendix / NBC News)
— Related: COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in 2021. Heart disease was first followed by cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— The New York City Fire Department will for the first time send an all-women rescue paramedic team to compete against other first responders at a conference in Indiana where they will run through three realistic, high-pressure scenarios to see if they can assess injuries and provide care quickly and accurately. The FDNY is also sending a separate team of all-male paramedics to the competition. (Thomas Tracy / The New York Daily News)
— Dozens of professional journalism organizations, nonprofits and labor unions signed an open letter to the Pulitzer Prizes to add language requiring newsrooms to participate in an annual diversity survey to be considered for their journalism awards. The organizers plan to release a second version of the letter this week with a list of individual journalists and news leaders who have given their support. (Sarah Scire / Neiman Lab)
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Matt Richtel on the mental-health crisis among US teens:
American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and smoking. These have since fallen sharply, replaced by a new public health concern: soaring rates of mental health disorders.
The decline in mental health among teenagers was intensified by the Covid pandemic but predated it, spanning racial and ethnic groups, urban and rural areas and the socioeconomic divide. In December, in a rare public advisory, the U.S. surgeon general warned of a “devastating” mental health crisis among adolescents. Numerous hospital and doctor groups have called it a national emergency, citing rising levels of mental illness, a severe shortage of therapists and treatment options, and insufficient research to explain the trend.
“Young people are more educated; less likely to get pregnant, use drugs; less likely to die of accident or injury,” said Candice Odgers, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. “By many markers, kids are doing fantastic and thriving. But there are these really important trends in anxiety, depression and suicide that stop us in our tracks.”
Justin Kirkland on male body image:
As one of those guys who has waffled between average and big, Big Guy encapsulates everything I feel about being on the larger side of life. Being a Big Guy comes with the expectation that you’re going to stay quiet about it. I don’t ever remember being pulled into conversations about body positivity or body dysmorphia. I was taught that talking about your body size or showing any kind of discomfort about it was a sign of weakness. If you don’t like your body or the names people come up with for you, change it! Lift weights! Eat less! It never occurred to anyone that maybe there was something wrong with the rest of the world. That perhaps, instead of me working on not being sensitive, there are people in the world who need to work on thinking twice before they speak. That disguising overt insults as chummy banter might be as big of an ailment as reacting sensitively.
I get spicy about it because, listen: Basically, you’re calling me fat. To my face. In front of other people. And then you justify it by coating it in chocolate (wait, let me try this one: “Like you need that, right?) and pretending I’m the one with the problem. If that all seems over the top, let me tell you a quick story about my favorite bar: As we were talking with the bartender, this drunk regular who always talks about gambling walked up and asked me and my friend if we were dating. She told him no and joked, “He’s not my type.” He said, “I don’t know why. He’s a good lookin’ guy. The Big Guy just needs to" and then he put his hand on my stomach and (I’m not making this up) jiggled the contents around with his hand “just lose a little bit of this gut.”
Andrew Lanham on the making of the surveillance state:
As many scholars have argued, of course, there is a much longer history of state surveillance of African Americans, dating from slave patrols and the Black Codes in the antebellum era to policing under Jim Crow. In the sociologist Simone Browne’s frank assessment, “[S]urveillance is nothing new to black folks.” But the passage of Title III in 1968 marked a new phase in the official deployment of electronic eavesdropping to control the population.
The racial politics of law and order only deepened in the following decades, as the U.S. launched the War on Drugs. Title III wiretapping remained rare in the 1970s, when it was used mainly against gambling. But in 1982, the year Ronald Reagan declared that the government was “running up a battle flag” in a “new campaign against drug abuse,” federal telephone taps increased by 23 percent. They jumped another 40 percent in 1984, and Police Magazine crowed that electronic surveillance was making a “comeback” as a tool to fight narcotics. Hochman thus contends that “[a]s soon as white America came to see inner-city Black communities as ground zero for the nation’s drug problem, wiretapping resurfaced as an acceptable tactic.”
Sarah A. Seo on the deep roots of sexual policing in America:
The history that Fischer traces in her book is revelatory for several reasons. Most accounts of crime and punishment focus on men, particularly Black men, not women. Sex work itself wasn’t widely criminalized until the early 20th century, when moral crusaders, alarmed by unfounded fears that white women were being forced into prostitution, banded together to abolish what they called “white slavery.” As the term suggests, officials at the time were not concerned with the degradation of Black women, who were arrested for prostitution at far lower rates than their white counterparts. Moreover, many police leaders maintained that vice wasn’t a real crime, and didn’t prioritize morals enforcement. The Streets Belong to Us shows how dramatically attitudes toward vice and crime changed over the course of the past century.
Certainly, police targeted Black men too. But, Fischer argues, municipal authorities zeroed in on eliminating sex work in order to lure investment and tourism back to cities, which by the 1970s were suffering from deindustrialization and suburbanization. Political leaders and private developers alike believed that commercial sex caused street crimes by attracting muggers and robbers. They would not have challenged a New York police captain’s unsubstantiated claim that “if it weren’t for the street girls, the crime rate would hardly exist.”
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