The Black Caucus rallies around Val Demings
The Florida congresswoman will get a boost this weekend in her challenge for Marco Rubio’s seat. Plus: A breakdown of the latest economic report and details on tomorrow’s National Drug Take Back Day.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome back to Supercreator, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how creative professionals work and live in the new economy.
In today’s post, intel on the Black Caucus’s weekend sweep across Florida to rally voters for Senate candidate Val Demings, analysis of the latest economic report, and everything you need to know about this weekend’s National Drug Take Back Day.
But first, it’s official: Elon Musk owns Twitter. And once the $44 billion deal closed, he wasted no time last night starting what’s sure to be a brutal house-cleaning phase for the tech company’s workforce. Gone are Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, Head of Legal Policy, Trust and Safety Vijaya Gadde and General Counsel Sean Edgett and more cuts to the company’s rank and file are expected. It’s unclear how Musk, who also owns auto company Tesla and spacecraft company SpaceX, will transform the app but critics (and advertisers) are already antsy at the prospect of former President Donald Trump being welcomed back ahead of his anticipated announcement that he plans to run for president again. We shall see.
I’m also geeked that Rihanna is back with new music — “Lift Me Up,” the lead single from the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie soundtrack and her first solo release since ANTI, the artist’s eighth studio album in 2016.
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Beatty joins Demings on the Florida campaign trail
We’re 11 days away from the election and while all eyes are on the Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania races, Joyce Beatty, the chairwoman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, will be in Florida this weekend stumping for Val Demings, the Florida congresswoman challenging Republican Marco Rubio for his Senate seat.
I’m told that Beatty hopes to galvanize people to vote and encourage people about the importance of the election and remind voters that they have one of two chances to elect the first Black woman to the Senate since Kamala Harris was elected as vice president in 2020. (Cheri Beasley, former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is the Democratic nominee for the Senate in the Tar Heel State, and would be the state’s first Black senator if elected.)
Beatty will also focus on issues, including voting rights, funding for HBCUs, jobs, public safety and the continuation of what Democrats can and will do if they hold the House and the Senate. There are also abortion rights and student loan relief, two other issues Black Democrats plan to rally around ahead of Election Day, which Republicans are trying to block.
“There’s a slew of issues that are galvanizing people to vote in a way that we’ve never seen before and so we just have to ss what the people of America will say,” a CBC spokesperson said on Thursday afternoon. “And I’m confident that they’re going to continue to say that we need to elect more people who understand the needs of everyday Americans.”
The chairwoman this weekend will attend Florida A&M University’s homecoming as well and be by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson, who currently represents the Historically Black College & University in Congress.
The CBC represents more than 80 million Americans and more than 18 million Black Americans so Beatty sees the FAMU visit as an opportunity to demonstrate the Democratic Party’s commitment to meeting people where they are and ensuring that its big tent that spans political ideology, age and generations are supported.
“We want to give a voice to everyone,” the spokesperson said.
I’m also told that the FAMU visit is also an acknowledgment of how critical young voters are to any winning coalition. Beatty hopes that by being on the ground and having students and everyday people see their elected officials coming to them is crucial to folks understanding that their votes matter and that no one can afford to stay home this election.
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What to make of the Q3 GDP report
According to data released on Thursday from the Commerce Department, the economy grew by 2.6 percent in the third quarter, ending back-to-back quarters of contraction. And President Biden had a literal pep in his step as he jogged toward reporters to talk up the news ahead of a trip to Syracuse, New York.
“Great economic report, GDP report,” the president said to reporters. “Things are looking good.”
Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, told me on Thursday afternoon that the report represents a significant improvement over the first half of the year, where the economy saw basically zero to slightly negative GDP growth, and suggests that the economy remains resilient and continues to grow even as the Federal Reserve is attempting to bring down inflation. Rouse also pointed to Wednesday’s report on unemployment insurance claims, which remain low.
“So we continue to have a lot of economic activity, which is not consistent with recession and consensus suggests that our economy really is resilient and continues to power through.”
But House Republicans panned the Q3 numbers as a “ghost report” and called the positive growth “superficial” as experts anticipate negative growth for the next three of four quarters due to a weaker housing market and declining consumer spending. (Mortgage rates rose again this week, topping 7 percent for the first time in 20 years and more than twice the rate from a year ago.)
Rouse said housing is one of the sectors most affected by the Fed’s actions to tame inflation. The increase in the cost of borrowing has led to a slowdown in investment and made homeownership more expensive. Housing costs are also high, according to the White House, due to the pandemic and as a result of the lack of housing supply dating back to the 2010 financial crisis.
President Biden’s latest budget request proposes deep investments to increase the supply of affordable housing.
“He has also been focused on administrative actions, working with his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development [Marcia Fudge], and others,” Rouse said. “So it’s a focus of the president because we understand that we need to have more affordable housing in order to ensure that more Americans can have what is for many families the most important asset in their wealth portfolio.”
The price of the pump is also a barometer Americans refer to measure how far their dollars will stretch. And although gas prices are down $1.26 since their summer peak, Rouse said she couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be another spike given the uncertainty with the war in Ukraine and historic profit-hoarding from Big Oil companies because the price of oil is set on a global on the global market.
The administration is consulting with international partners on how to stabilize the price of oil in a responsible way, encouraging OPEC, an association of twelve major oil-producing countries, to increase their production and calling on US oil companies to reinvest some of their record profits to increase production.
The Fed will meet again next week where it is likely to raise interest rates again to lower inflation, a move some members of Congress warn could have the opposite effect.
Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado asked in a letter to the Fed for it to pause future hikes, writing in part, “high inflation necessitates a response. But the concern is the Fed is doing too much, too quickly.”
Rouse declined to comment on what the Fed should or shouldn’t do.
“We understand that the Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, which is price stability and maximum employment and they’re doing their level best to achieve both of those goals.”
Much of the future of the president’s economic agenda will be determined once he knows which party will control Congress. But the administration will look to work with lawmakers on meaningful investments in education, childcare and universal pre-K and the national transition to clean energy. Rouse said Biden would also look for additional actions he can take with his executive authority.
Aside from Wednesday’s GDP report, the October jobs report, scheduled to drop next Friday, will be one of the last pieces of economic data voters will receive ahead of Election Day on November 8.
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DEA to host nationwide drug take-back day
The Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday will host its 23rd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The event, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., gives people a chance to anonymously get rid of unneeded medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations nationwide.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nearly half of the 9.3 million people who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year obtained them from family and friends without their knowledge or consent. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 107,622 people died in the US as the result of a drug poisoning last year. This means that someone in the United States dies of drug poisoning every five minutes.
Lauren Lawson-Zilai, a spokesperson for Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming addiction treatment, ending stigma, and supporting communities, told me that the substance use disorder crisis is always evolving so take-back days are one of an array of initiatives to the illicit drug supply and substance use disorder.
Lawson-Zilai added that participating in drug take-back initiatives not only help reduce the likelihood of inappropriate access in the home but can also help protect the environment. Many people dispose of medications by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them down drains, a method that contaminates oceans, lakes, and sources of drinking water, harming both communities and wildlife. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration endorse drug take-back programs as one of the most effective and sustainable ways to dispose of unused drugs.
During the DEA’s Take-Back Day, the agency and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other forms of prescription drugs. Collection sites won’t accept syringes, sharps, and illicit drugs though. Liquid products, such as cough syrup, should remain sealed in their original container and the cap must be tightly sealed to prevent leakage. The event will also continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges as long as lithium batteries are removed.
Today in politics
President Biden this evening will travel from Wilmington, Delaware to Philadelphia to speak at a reception for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. He will then return to Wilmington, where he will remain over the weekend. (President Biden on Saturday will vote early in Wilmington with his granddaughter Natalie, a first-time voter.)
Vice President Harris this afternoon will travel from Washington, DC to Philadelphia where she will participate in a moderated conversation on reproductive rights with Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon and actress Sophia Bush. This evening, the vice president will speak at the Pennsylvania Democratic Party reception before returning to Washington, DC.
The House and Senate are out.
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