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McCarthy and Biden’s moment of truth
The two men have spent months publicly posturing as the economy hurtles toward default. Now they'll meet behind closed doors in search of any daylight out of the impasse.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
President Joe Biden this afternoon will host the top four congressional leaders in the Oval Office to discuss if and how they can agree to raise the debt limit and avoid the nation’s first-ever default in a way that makes them both look like winners.
The lead-up to the meeting has been dramatic as reporters like yours truly obsess over every morsel of incremental news. But come closer my friend, I’ve got to tell you: The gathering itself is expected to be anticlimactic because Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have dug themselves into competing positions.
The president is operating based on principle: He believes it’s Congress’s responsibility to increase the US’s borrowing cap to pay for spending that’s already incurred independent of any negotiations on future spending priorities.
McCarthy on the other hand is taking the pragmatic approach. The most conservative members of his conference say they want the debt limit hike linked with deep spending cuts so the speaker has adopted that posture lest he face a revolt from his finicky majority.
The White House on Monday wouldn’t say if Biden will come into the meeting with any expectations for the substance of the meeting or fresh proposals to provide either side an off-ramp. Again, the administration reminds us: The debt limit isn’t to be negotiated.
The other three attendees are playing supporting roles. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is ten toes behind McCarthy and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer are in lockstep with Biden.
And the clock is ticking. The Senate is out the next to last week of May and the House is gone the week we’re set to hit the deadline.
What a mess, y’all.
The cost of the cuts • Instead of arguing the politics of the debt limit, White House officials and congressional Democrats have homed in on the policy impacts of the bill that House Republicans passed last month to raise the ceiling through next year while cutting domestic spending by billions.
“The math is just the math,” White House budget chief Shalanda Young said last week when she pointed to the inevitability that House Republicans would have to cut popular social programs to reduce federal spending without touching Medicare, Social Security or military spending.
This leaves veterans, kids from low-income families, law enforcement, and beneficiaries of President Biden’s student loan debt relief program as casualties.
Everyone agrees the government should spend less money until they learn the program they rely on to make ends meet may be put on the chopping block to do so.
White House officials and Democrats are confident voters will blame Republicans for any change in circumstances that emerge from House conservatives nipping and tucking the federal budget.
Why Medicaid is often marginalized • Biden and company have also railed against the harsher work requirements to receive benefits like Medicaid.
KFF released an analysis last week that estimated 1.7 million Americans could be disenrolled from Medicaid under the House GOP plan, which would save $109 billion over 10 years. States could continue to provide coverage for those enrollees, but they would no longer receive federal matching funds for doing so.
Supercreator last week asked Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania why it seems Medicaid is often less prioritized than Medicare and Social Security.
“I think it's a failure to make the case on a more regular, consistent basis,” he said.
Cassy added that Democrats were at their peak in delivering an effective message and engaging Americans on the value of Medicaid at the height of the failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the summer of 2017.
“But I think sometimes if we're not in the middle of a fight trying to stop a repeal effort, sometimes that messaging begins to to recede,” he said. “And we've got to we've got to continue to make that case of the value of Medicaid how important it is to families and also to communities throughout the country.”
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan told Supercreator that it's also important to understand that Medicaid is the single largest payer of long-term care in this country.
“There are too many families that simply cannot afford it. Families are having to become impoverished — they'd have to sell all of the resources and their homes,” she said. “And until you're dealing with a senior or someone that has disabilities, you don't understand, you're not walking in the shoes of someone who's desperate to take care of somebody that they love.”
The House GOP plan includes exemptions for people who are physically or mentally unfit for employment, pregnant, the parent or caretaker of a dependent child or incapacitated person, complying with a work requirement under a different federal program, along with a few other criteria.
Biden’s post-meeting agenda • Following the meeting with the Big Four, the president will travel to the Hudson Valley area in New York to explain constituents of vulnerable Republicans in districts Biden won in 2020 why the House GOp plan would devastate their communities.
“My constituents agree that we cannot continue to sustain spending at these levels. It’s part of the reason that I won,” Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents Hudson Valley, said on Saturday to NBC News. “I talked about the need to rein in reckless spending and to reverse much of what Joe Biden did.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked if the fact that the Hudson Valley event was scheduled before the meeting an admission that they don't expect much progress to be made this afternoon.
“Well, they still have a budget or a plan connected to the debt limit, right? So they've been very clear and they shared with us how they see spending cuts, and we’re going to call that out,” Jean-Pierre said. “[The president’s] happy to have that debate. But when it comes to the debt ceiling, when it comes to the debt limit, they got to do their job.”
See also:“If I were sitting in the White House, this Is what would scare me about Kevin McCarthy” (Dan Pfieffer / NYT) … “Remember “defund the police”? Well, guess who’s actually proposing doing it.” (Michael Tomasky / TNR)
👋🏾 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 Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
DEMS TO TALK NEXT STEPS ON GUNS: Senate Democrats will hold a special caucus meeting on Thursday to discuss gun reform in the wake of the shooting in Allen, Texas this past weekend.
With the House Republican majority and the 60-vote threshold that would require support from at least nine GOP senators, it’s unlikely Senate Dems will come out of the meeting able to advance any meaningful legislation. But they may push Schumer to schedule floor votes on reforms to force Republicans to go on record against them.
There have been 202 mass shootings in 128 days this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
RELATED: Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida requested House Oversight Chair James Comer and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan to hold a field hearing in Parkland, Florida to “learn about the success of ‘red-flag laws.’” Parkland was home to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.
NEELY’S FAMILY SPEAKS: The family of Jordan Neely, the 30-year-old unhoused New Yorker who was killed on the subway last week by a chokehold by former Marine Daniel Penny, dismissed a press release from Perry’s lawyers.
“It is a character assassination and a clear example of why he believed he was entitled to take Jordan’s life,” the family said in a statement. “In short, his actions on the train, and now his words, show why he needs to be in prison.”
Neely’s death was ruled a homicide by New York City’s chief medical examiner.
“Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” Penny’s lawyers said on Sunday.
No charges have been filed against Penny.
The statement also called on Democratic Mayor Eric Adams of New York City to call Neely’s family.
“The family wants you to know that Jordan matters,” the statement continued. “You seem to think others are more important than him.”
Neely’s death has sparked the latest national discussion on race, class, homelessness, and mental health. The case is also an example of how police accounts of incidents involving marginalized communities can lead to distorted media coverage that spreads across social apps faster than the truth can catch it.
FYI: President Biden did not respond as he was leaving church on Saturday evening when asked by reporters if he had any comment about the killing.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Joe Vogel, a 26-year-old Maryland state lawmaker, announced he will run for the House seat Democratic Rep. David Trone is vacating in his bid to succeed Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who announced his retirement last week.
If Vogel were to win, he would follow Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost of Florida as the second member of Generation Z elected to Congress and the first Latino and openly gay US representative of Maryland.
See also: “Joe Vogel is running to be the second Gen Z member of Congress” (Daniel Marans / HuffPost)
Related: Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, another potential contender for Cardin’s seat, last night gave a lecture at the Library of Congress on democracy, gun violence, and the American social contract.
IT’S OFFICIAL: While the House GOP’s border security bill isn’t expected to make it out of the Senate even if it passes on Thursday, the Biden administration on Monday said President Biden would veto it anyway.
“The bill would cut off nearly all access to humanitarian protections in ways that are inconsistent with our Nation’s values and international obligations,” the White House said. “While we welcome Congress’ engagement on meaningful steps to address immigration and the challenges at the border, this bill would make things worse, not better.”
SOMEONE LIKE SU: It’s still uncertain if Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su will ultimately get the votes she needs to be promoted to the top spot at the Labor Department, but on Monday she received a major boost from a notable coalition.
The chairs of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Democratic Women’s Caucus sent a letter to Senate leadership and the Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee to confirm Su as the next Labor Secretary. The chairs were joined by six senators and more than 60 House members.
“We urge the Senate to confirm her nomination without delay so that businesses, employers, working families, and job seekers across the nation get the full attention and support they need,” Chairs Judy Chu of the CAPAC, Steven Horsford of the CBC, Nanette Barragán of the CHC and Lois Frankel of the DWC said in a joint statement.
HOOP DREAMS: President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on May 26 will welcome the Louisiana State University Lady Tigers women’s basketball team and University of Connecticut Huskies men’s basketball team to the White House to celebrate their NCAA championship seasons in separate ceremonies.
Flashback: Last month Dr. Biden caused a stir when she suggested President Biden invite Iowa, the team Lady Tigers beat in the national championship game the day before, to the White House for an official visit.
As I reported at the time, the suggestion that LSU’s mostly Black team should share space with Iowa’s mostly white team, despite losing teams never being invited to visit the White House, reinforced the racial trope of Black people having to be twice as good to get half of what white people receive simply for existing.
Vanessa Valdivia, press secretary for Dr. Biden, said her suggestion that the Iowa women’s basketball team be invited to the White House despite losing to LSU in the national championship game “were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes.”
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President Biden this morning will receive his daily press briefing and this afternoon meet with Speaker McCarthy and Leaders Jeffries, Schumer, and McConnell on the debt limit.
The vice president is in DC and has no events on her public schedule.
Dr. Biden this afternoon will virtually speak at a writing seminar for Gold Star children and families. This evening, she will speak at the Annual Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies in recognition of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The House is in this morning and with votes three scheduled this evening under suspension of the rules.
The Senate is in this afternoon and will vote to advance the nomination for L. Felice Gorordo to be US Alternate Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
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