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Incrementalism on gun safety is probably the best case scenario
Although it’s still unlikely, TBH. Plus: Top takeaways from Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “60 Minutes” interview and why the Progressive Caucus is optimistic about its new executive action agenda.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Monday, April 3.
As former Donald Trump’s impending arraignment in New York City tomorrow consumes the news cycle and attention of my reporter-friends in the corporate press, it’s worth remembering that the Nashville school shooting was just a week ago. And Congress left Washington on Thursday for a two-week recess without taking any meaningful action on gun violence prevention.
Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas on Sunday proposed the well-worn idea of posting up at least two armed guards at every school, an undertaking that by this former FBI agent’s estimation would cost the tens of billions dollars in taxpayer dollars that conservatives don’t want to spend on more popular measures like universal background checks and stronger red-flag laws.
I’m reporting a deeper dive on the gun violence debate in Congress (become a paid subscriber to support the work that goes into my long-lead journalism, if you haven’t already), but as I listened to Crenshaw’s comments, they made me think of conversation I had last week with Elissa Slotkin, a Democratic congresswoman from Michigan and US Senate candidate, on why congressional Republicans are opposed to any proposals that don’t include more guns in communities.
Slotkin told me that she thinks the country has gotten to this point because Republicans are refusing to even come to the table and acknowledge we have a problem out of fear for their voter base and the gun lobby. (FWIW, I’ve found in my reporting that conservative lawmakers see gun violence as a problem that’s exacerbated by a mental health crisis attacks on law-abiding gun owners, not the firearms themselves.)
Here’s more from Slotkin, who introduced a bill last week that would invest federal resources in gun violence research:
This is what happens when a party stops listening to actual normal human beings and they only care about their own reelection.
And I think the truth is the folks here who are refusing to talk about gun violence are the last ones to get the memo that the country is changing.
I know because I come from the state of Michigan where we all grew up shooting guns. It’s a very big Second Amendment state. I grew up shooting guns myself and at a certain point, there will be so many communities that are personally affected by gun violence and those people will forced to actually consider legislation.
But right now, all they care about is losing their jobs and looking like they’re not conservative enough for their community. And they’re missing that the conversation has shifted, even in some of their own districts, and particularly among moms.
So it will change and it’s just really sad that they’re willing to sacrifice our young people in order to keep their jobs.
Another reality I’m finding as I talk to congressional Democrats: They concede that the political environment is way too polarized to even think an assault weapons ban, which President Joe Biden is pushing for, can pass in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House and at least nine Republicans would have to join Democrats in the Senate.
So instead of starting there, folks like Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan that the US should pay closer attention to transactions involving assault weapons and require more training before purchasing a gun.
This is the sort of incrementalism that frustrates voters and policymakers who want big, immediate change and still may be too much for some on the right to swallow. But if it can save one life, then people like Slotkin and Murphy see it is their duty to at least try.
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That MTG interview was a choice
Politics Twitter went berserk on Friday after CBS’s 60 Minutes teased a profile with Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia in what critics viewed as an ethical misstep to offer someone who traffics in conspiracy theories, defends the January 6th insurrectionists and attacks the LGBTQ community a mainstream platform.
I watched the interview last night between Greene and Leslie Stahl, a #seriousjournalist who tried — some will say not hard enough — to have a thoughtful back-and-forth with congresswoman. Below are a few takeaways from my notes:
Greene, who apparently has been described as “Donald Trump in high heels” said that she didn’t intentionally set out to style herself after the twice-impeached former president. But she weirdly pointed to the fact that they both their backgrounds as construction business owners to explain their personalities.
On why she’s always in attack mode: “[The government doesn’t] deserve to be respected.”
Greene says she won’t agree to raise taxes in the next federal budget in exchange for her vote to lift the debt ceiling because the US has a spending problem, not a revenue problem in her eyes. “Both sides need to cut spending,” she said.
She stands by her comments that “Democrats are the party of pedophiles.”
Greene ran for Congress when she failed to see the Republican establishment pass Trump’s agenda while calling out former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mitt Romney of Utah by name. As for why Trump gets off without accountability: “The president doesn’t control everything.”
In a bizarre exchange, Greene declined to apologize for promoting a death threat against former Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media post in 2021, which in part led to Greene losing her committee assignments last Congress. “I think where you’re going down is the same attacks that people have attacked me with over and over and over,” Greene told Stahl.
It’s unclear why 60 Minutes aired the interview and I understand if the people who were disappointed on Friday when the program announced it were after the fact as well.
Greene didn’t make any news (Stahl said the interview was conducted prior to Trump’s indictment). And she didn’t express a new position on the debt ceiling or change her mind on any of her other controversial positions.
I’ve had conversations with Greene on Capitol Hill. And while she’s been respectful towards me, I came away from the interview confused about why she was offered the privilege to be humanized in a way the people her harmful rhetoric, policy positions and growing institutional power are hardly ever afforded.
She’s also a product of congressional math: Similar to how Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona held the keys to the Senate Democrats’ agenda last Congress, the House GOP’s four-seat majority has warped Greene’s national profile.
I’m curious to see how the GOP establishment treats her when House Republicans are back in the minority or they’re not attempting to govern with margins so slim that everyone in the conference has outsized influence. And one has to assume that there will come a Republican leader who unlike Speaker Kevin McCarthy is unwilling to legitimize Greene’s worst instincts in exchange for her support.
This interview was a choice as are all editorial decisions. And while CBS may enjoy the sugar rush of high ratings, they’re unlikely to have turned Greene’s base into appointment viewers going forward. Now all that’s left to wonder is if they alienated the ones they already had in the process and if it was worth it.
Why House progressives are undeterred by the divided Congress
The Congressional Progressive Caucus released their executive action agenda last Thursday, a document that outlines the steps the 100-member-plus group of the most left-leaning Democrats want to see President Biden take this year with his presidential authority.
I wrote at length about the agenda for paid subscribers, but I wanted to share a couple of interesting insights that stood out from my reporting.
The first is that House Progressives see themselves as operating from a position of strength. As I reported in my story, the 2023 agenda follows a two-year record that House progressives say proved the notion that they’re unable to govern to be a myth. And the CPC argues that legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act wouldn’t have been possible without the ambitious proposals put forward in what was once known as Build Back Better and the CHIPS and Science Act featured guardrails against corporate greed that weren’t included in previous versions of the bill.
The CPC also points to executive orders President Biden signed last year to expand health care, promote humane border enforcement, help reduce the use of force by police officers, and, of course, cancel student loan as more evidence of how their ambitions can influence White House policy. (With that said, remember the next Republican president can undo these executive orders with the same authority Biden signed them with.)
The other fascinating tidbit worth noting is how the CPC characterizes its relationship with the White House, which has undergone some significant turnover in recent months and feels more focused on promoting the wins of the last Congress and playing offense against House Republicans in the federal budget debate.
CPC Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal expressed confidence to Supercreator that progressives would still have a prominent seat at the table even as Biden faces accusations of moving from the left to the center ahead of an expected re-election campaign.
“It has really been remarkable in terms of the progressive accomplishments and our role in being respected by the White House,” Jayapal told me last week.
She also estimated that the White House shares the CPC’s urgency and desire to make progress on 90 percent of what’s in the executive action agenda.
“We try to laud whatever we get done collectively together and celebrate the president’s leadership,” Jayapal said. “And as I said, we are always working both privately and sometimes publicly to take strides on areas where we think the White House needs to be stronger.”
Read my full report on the agenda:
Here’s what else you need to know today:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Russia to immediately release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another wrongfully detained American. The demand was made during a call on Sunday with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, one of the few direct conversations Blinken has had with Russia’s top diplomat since the war in Ukraine started last year.
Related: Brittney Griner said that that America “must do everything in our power to bring” Gershkovich and all wrongfully detained Americans home. Griner was released in December in a prisoner swap after 10 months of wrongful detention in Russia.
The Biden administration appealed the Texas ruling that struck down provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires most private insurers cover cancer screenings, mental health checks, colonoscopies, PrEP, and much more. The appeal will be heard by the Fifth Circuit, which is comprised of a majority of judges who were appointed by Republican presidents.
More than twice as many Americans support the US government TikTok oppose it, per Laura Silver and Laura Clancy at Pew Research Center. 28 percent are not sure. 60 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents support a ban versus 43 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners. ICYMI: “TikTok’s CEO did himself no favors”
Related: Democratic Rep. Cori Bush became the latest House progressive to oppose a TikTok ban.
President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on Saturday afternoon visited their granddaughter Maisy’s senior art show at the University of Pennsylvania where she is a fine arts major. The president and first lady enjoyed brunch afterward with their family at Parc, a French restaurant in Philadelphia.
Dr. Biden on Sunday attended the NCAA Women’s National Championship game in Dallas between Iowa and LSU, who won 102-85 to win the first basketball title in the university’s history. This is an Angel Reese stan newsletter, btw.
All times Eastern:
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9 a.m.) before traveling from Delaware (11 a.m.) to Minneapolis (1:40 p.m) to tour an engine and alternative power manufacturer (3:05 p.m.) and speak about his economic agenda (3:35 p.m.). The president will depart Minnesota (5:40 p.m.) to travel back to the White House (8:10 p.m.).
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will meet with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to discuss their ongoing work.
Thursday: President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Camp David for Easter weekend.
Vice President Kamala Harris is back in DC from her week-long three-country Africa tour and has no public events on her schedule.
Dr. Biden is in Denver and will meet with Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado at the state capitol to speak about community colleges and workforce training programs (11:30 a.m.). The first lady will arrive in Bay County, Michigan (3:45 p.m.) and visit Delta College’s main campus to highlight its workforce training programs.
The House and Senate are out.
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