Supercreator Daily: The roots of Biden’s “ultra-MAGA” messaging
The White House has doubled down on branding the GOP as too extreme to hold power. Plus: What’s in the new $40B Ukrainian aid package and the House votes to enable its workers to collectively bargain.
FYI: The Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would codify the right to seek abortion care under Roe v. Wade, around 3 PM ET. The legislation is expected to fail to secure the 60 votes required to advance. I’ll have some reporting this afternoon from my conversation with the leader of the largest feminist organization on why a vote is worth taking anyway.
April’s inflation report will be announced this morning before the stock markets open. The White House didn’t share a prediction on what the administration is expecting but said it would have a response once it comes out.
ICYMI: During a speech Tuesday afternoon on inflation, President Biden acknowledged that things are bad. But he sounded the alarm that life would be worse if Republicans reclaimed majorities after the November midterms. Read my recap
The House on Tuesday passed a bill providing $40 billion in additional assistance to Ukraine in a 368 to 57 vote.
“The House took a critical step today in sending a clear, bipartisan message to Ukraine, to Russia, and to the world that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy against Russian aggression.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “As the President said yesterday, we cannot afford any delay in this vital effort. We look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership to get this bill to the President’s desk quickly and keep assistance flowing to Ukraine without interruption.”
The package includes:
$6 billion for security assistance like training and weapons
$8.7 billion to replenish US stocks of equipment sent to Ukraine
$3.9 billion for mission and intelligence support
$2 million for technical and regulatory support to Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency
$5 billion to address food insecurity in the region
$900 million for refugee resettlement
The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber would take up the legislation ASAP.
Related: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the six-member congressional delegation she led to Poland and Ukraine last month met with President Biden Tuesday evening in the Situation Room to discuss the commitments on security, sanctions, humanitarian and diplomatic assistance they made to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine.
The House on Tuesday night also passed a resolution to extend union protections to congressional staff to collectively bargain over their working conditions without fear of retaliation. The vote was 217 to 202.
What they’re saying:
“To our fellow congressional workers: tonight belongs to us. Tomorrow we continue the fight— solidarity forever and onwards!” —Congressional Workers Union Read the full statement
“Today, the House took historic action paving the way for Congressional staffers to choose to join together in a union. By empowering staffers to advocate for themselves and each other, we take an important step to ensure the House is best able to serve the American people. ... The Congress has long been strengthened by the skill, dedication and patriotism of our hard-working staffers, who enable us to fulfill our legislative and constituent responsibilities. The Democratic House is committed to honoring their service, while ensuring the Congress is well-positioned to compete for outstanding and diverse staff.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Read the full statement
“Staff on Capitol Hill make all of our work possible — they shouldn’t have to live in poverty in order to do it. As we build an economy that works for everyday families and workers, we can't leave anyone behind.” —Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark Read the full statement
“Congress would not work without our staff, who are essential both to the functioning of the legislative branch and to ensuring that Congress well represents the communities we serve. But for too long, House rules have stood in the way of their right to organize and collectively bargain. Today, they can now begin the process that every worker should have access to, and that thousands have found power in during recent years: they can form a union.” — Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Read the full statement
“Workers everywhere must have the free & fair opportunity to join together & form a union if they so choose — congressional staff included. The @AFLCIO applauds the work of the @Congress_Union staffers who have brought longstanding & emerging workplace issues to light.” —Liz Shuler, president of AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US Read the tweet
In February, the Congressional Workers Union announced its intention to unionize the offices and committees of the United States Congress after a survey released during the previous month found that 91 percent of staffers want stronger workplace protections.
Speaker Pelosi last Friday announced the House will for the first time ever set the minimum annual pay for staff at $45,000. (There is no minimum for staffers’ salaries under current policy, with some making as little as $30,000 a year.) The deadline for members’ offices to implement the raise is September 1. The House will raise the maximum annual pay rate to $203,700 to match the Senate’s increase.
The CWU’s movement has also been bolstered by @dear_white_staffers — a viral Instagram account posting their unvarnished experiences as congressional staffers of color to publicize the lack of diversity, low pay and inadequate leadership on Capitol Hill.
House Republicans are opposed to the effort because they say each of the 435 offices operates as an individual entity.
President Biden doubled down on his attempt to brand congressional Republicans as the “ultra-MAGA” crowd to tie them to the radical and increasingly anti-democratic positions of former President Donald Trump’s fiercest supporters.
“Now, what’s the congressional Republican plan? They don’t want to solve inflation by lowering your costs. They want to solve it by raising your taxes and lowering your income,” he said on Tuesday of Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s proposed agenda if Senate Republicans reclaim the majority this November. “I happen to think it’s a good thing when American families have a little more money in their pockets at the end of the month. But Republicans in Congress don’t seem to think so.”
But where did this messaging come from?
“It is the president’s phrase,” Psaki said. “And I think what has struck him is how extreme some of the policies and proposals are that a certain wing of the Republican Party — that is taking up too much of the Republican Party — are for and are advocating for.”
As I reported on Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said Sen. Scott’s plan isn’t the party’s platform and few, if any, other GOP lawmakers have endorsed it, which raises questions on why the White House has made a linchpin of its recent messaging.
But on Tuesday, Psaki brought receipts in the form of quotes from several high-ranking Republicans including the GOP party chair Ronna McDaniel, Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“And it’s also the obsession with culture wars and wars against Mickey Mouse and banning books. The President thinks that’s extreme. That is not what the American people care about or what they want,” she said. “And so, to him, adding a little “ultra” to it, give it a little extra pop.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Supercreator Daily, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how digital creators work and live in the new economy.
Here’s what’s happening today in politics:
— President Biden this morning will travel to Chicago to visit a family farm and announce new actions to make food more affordable and lower costs for farmers. Then, he will speak at the 40th International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International Convention and a fundraising reception for the Democratic National Committee before returning to the White House tonight.
— Vice President Harris will be in DC and has no public events scheduled.
— The House is in and will consider several bills including legislation on compensation for radiation exposure and a measure that provides federal workers’ compensation to firefighters who contract certain illnesses as a result of their service.
— The Senate is in and will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act.
In the Know
— Gun deaths surged by 35 percent in 2020 — the first year of the pandemic — setting a US record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 45,000 Americans died in gun-related incidents, a grim figure that represents the largest one-year increase in modern history.
— The Senate confirmed Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve, making her the first Black woman to serve in the position. Vice President Harris was the tie-breaker for the party-line vote (it’s the 18th time she’s broken a tie in the 50-50 Senate). (@SenatePress / Twitter)
— President Biden will welcome King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan to the White House on Friday. King Abdullah’s visit will be the second of the Biden administration.
— The Biden administration announced three new hires for its Office of the National Cyber Director, an agency established in 2021 to protect Americans in cyberspace. Kemba Walden, a former Microsoft lawyer, will serve as the first Principal Deputy National Cyber Director, while former CIA veteran Neal Higgins and Rob Knake, a cybersecurity policy expert, will serve as Deputy National Cyber Directors.
— The Food and Drug Administration provided an update on the nine steps its taken to improve the supply of infant formula amid a critical shortage. The agency in February warned consumers not to use certain powdered infant formula products from a Michigan facility and initiated a voluntary recall of certain products.
— The Department of Health and Human Services awarded $16.3 million in grant funding to expand the capacity of Title X family planning clinics to provide telehealth services and increase community access. Title X is the only federal program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services in communities across the US.
— Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Wisconsin and Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Bobby Scott introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act to crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees. The bill would give workers the right to receive full compensation for the work they perform and receive regular paystubs and paychecks in a timely manner.
— Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey announced $100,000 in funding for Sister2Sister, a community nonprofit dedicated to supporting minority and underserved breast cancer survivors, during a recent site visit. “By catering specifically to the needs of breast cancer survivors in disadvantaged communities — especially Black women — Sister2Sister, Inc. is tackling racial health disparities head-on,” Watson Coleman said. “As a cancer survivor myself, their mission is personal to me. It is an honor and a privilege to lift up organizations like theirs.”
— Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan announced that the University of Michigan will receive an almost $2.3 million research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to help the US combat the opioid crisis. “These next five years will be particularly important for understanding trends in substance use as we continue to experience the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, battle the opioid crisis, and monitor recent increases in marijuana use and vaping,” Dr. Megan Patrick, a research professor at the Institute for Social Research, said. “The need to understand substance use among young, middle, and older adults and related consequences on health and well-being has never been greater.”
— Netflix could introduce a lower-priced ad-supported tier by the end of the year. Co-CEO Reed Hastings told investors that the company would do so “over the next year or two,” indicating the streaming app has accelerated its timeline. (John Koblin and Nicole Sperling / NYT)
— TikTok rolled out a new Friends tab that replaces the Discover tab in the bottom menu of the app. The new tab is a way for the company to prioritize personal content discovery over simply highlighting viral and popular videos. (Aisha Malik / TechCrunch)
— YouTube is launching a gifted memberships beta product that will enable viewers to show financial support for creators and get access to certain perks. It’s similar to Twitch’s popular subscription feature and currently available to a small group of creators. (Jay Peters)
— Elon Musk said Twitter would reverse its ban of former President Donald Trump if his purchase of the social media company goes through. “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” the Tesla CEO said during a virtual speech at an auto conference. (Matt O’Brien, Kelvin Chan, and Tom Krisher / AP News)
Read All About It
Li Zhou on the fight for a union in Congress:
Because Congress is effectively hundreds of self-contained workplaces, unionizing would happen at the office and committee level, with each office acting as its own bargaining unit. On a committee, the majority’s staff would be its own unit, for example, while the minority’s staff would be its own unit.
It’s possible that different offices could establish joint priorities, and pool their resources. Congressional offices could work as a collective to hire an advocate for annual budget negotiations, for example.
If the House passes the resolution, staffers may begin organizing 60 days after the required regulations are put in place. If 30 percent of an office was interested in unionizing, they’d be able to file a petition with the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to do so. The OCWR would then oversee an election in that office, which would require the majority of people eligible for the bargaining unit to vote in favor of unionizing. Once they did, OCWR would recognize the union and the unit could begin trying to iron out a contract with management.
Tim Alberta on how politics poisoned the evangelical church:
How did this happen? For generations, white evangelicals have cultivated a narrative pitting courageous, God-fearing Christians against a wicked society that wants to expunge the Almighty from public life. Having convinced so many evangelicals that the next election could trigger the nation’s demise, Christian leaders effectively turned thousands of churches into unwitting cells in a loosely organized, hazily defined, existentially urgent movement—the types of places where paranoia and falsehoods flourish and people turn on one another.
For much of my lifetime, however, American Christians have done the opposite. Beginning in the 1980s, white evangelicals imposed themselves to an unprecedented degree on the government and the country’s core institutions. Once left to cry jeremiads about civilizational decline—having lost fights over sex and sexuality, drugs, abortion, pornography, standards in media and education, prayer in public schools—conservative Christians organized their churches, marshaled their resources, and leveraged their numbers, regaining the high ground, for a time, in some of these culture wars.
Short-lived victories, however, came at a long-term cost. Evangelical leaders set something in motion decades ago that pastors today can no longer control. Not only were Christians conditioned to understand their struggle as one against flesh and blood, fixated on earthly concerns, a fight for a kingdom of this world—all of which runs directly counter to the commands of scripture—they were indoctrinated with a belief that because the stakes were getting so high, any means was justified.
So, yes—it is possible menstrual app data could be used to prosecute people. But just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it will become common. For one, it might be cumbersome for law enforcement to obtain that data. In a statement to Slate, popular app Clue said it is “obligated under European Law (the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR) to apply special protections to our users’ reproductive health data. We will not disclose it.” While the GDPR’s Article 9 does prohibit processing of personal or health data “concerning a natural person’s sex life,” there’s also an exemption made for cases where “processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or [defense] of legal claims or whenever courts are acting in their judicial capacity.” If U.S. authorities subpoenaed a European app like Clue for a user’s data, it’s unclear if it would have to comply—and at the very least, Clue’s statement makes it sound like it’d be willing to put up a fight.
Plus, there are easier ways of gathering evidence. “The types of digital data that have been used in court thus far suggest it’s going to be much more simple digital info used against us,” says Cynthia Conti-Cook, a civil rights attorney and technology fellow at the Ford Foundation. “It’s going to be info from [our] own devices, often words we have typed into the screen, info we ourselves have been involved with co-creating.”
Google searches, texts, and your web history would likely paint a fuller picture of your life than the date of your last period. If prosecutors are trying to charge people for having abortions, or behaving in ways that would have led to a miscarriage, they would need to establish intent (e.g., Googling “abortion clinic near me”) or evidence of your behavior, which they might find in texts or photos.
Let’s not overcomplicate this. George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests rocked the NBA, a league that is 74 percent Black (compared with the NFL at 58 percent and MLB at 7.7 percent). These leagues are all exactly 0 percent female. While abortion rights are not solely a women’s-rights issue — as Rebecca Traister wrote, **this new post-Roe world would affect everyone — getting men to understand that isn’t likely to be easy. While one can be a little surprised that the WNBA didn’t make more noise about Roe v. Wade its opening weekend, that league at least said something. These other leagues, almost all run by men, have said zilch.
All over sports, there is an undeniable sense of gratitude that the pandemic is over (at least in the eyes of the people who run and play sports) and that “normal” seasons are back. Increasingly, 2020 is seen as an anomaly in all senses. For all the activism of that year, decades of powerful inertia is still pushing sports to focus solely on the games themselves. Also: How much does ** it feel as though the 2020 sports protests changed things? Yes, Trump is no longer president, and that’s a relief. But do things feel overwhelmingly improved? Athletes and leagues went out of their comfort zones to try to make change in 2020. Two years later, well, the world’s still on fire. It might be a shame — for all of us — that they’re returning to those comfort zones. But it’s not difficult to understand why.
Jaya Saxena on food brands and astrology:
These stunts follow food brands getting into metaphysical practices in other ways, from a new tequila that is “nourished by the good energy that seeps from the sun and stars to infuse cocktails with bright bursts of citrus,” to water bottles that infuse your drinks with crystals, to a cookbook that uses the tarot to help you figure out dinner.
And while some of these creators are sincere, there’s no doubt that McDonald’s does not actually care about the planets or the belief systems that follow them. It’s cynical and obvious, a way for an exploitative, destructive corporation to align themselves with what some people think is cool, and use a TikTok star to launder their image, and that’s it. Sorry to be a bitch about it, but I am a Scorpio.
Rob Harvilla on rapper Jack Harlow:
The fact that Jack (sober) and Drake (not sober) nonetheless had a splendid time at the Kentucky Derby this weekend suggests that Harlow’s got the charisma to break the get-famous-rapping-about-fame cycle, eventually. The fact that there’s also video of two bodyguards carrying him around so his shoes didn’t get dirty suggests that he’s not unsusceptible to clueless-white-rapper pitfalls. The fact that Come Home the Kids Miss You is about to be a pretty big deal means that Jack Harlow is, de facto, about to be a pretty big deal. The fact that it’s a half-decent mainstream rap album at best means he’s either another sign of the apocalypse or a young star with room for improvement, depending on your mood. The fact that the nicest thing he can think of to say to a lady is, “You the type of girl I wanna bring to Thanksgiving” is truly very sweet. The fact that I’m probably only going to remember the donut line two weeks from now is my problem, OK, sure. But this guy’s about to be everyone’s.
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