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Why New Dems think they’re the difference
Plus: The White House convenes a discussion on junk fees and the Senate moves one step closer to turning the page on the Forever Wars.
👋🏾 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 Wednesday, March 22, aka World Water Day. For all who celebrate, have a blessed Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr ahead.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: I reported in yesterday’s newsletter on the White House’s back-and-forth with the House Freedom Caucus over next year’s federal budget and the debt limit, which will have to be raised sometime this summer to avoid a default for the first time in US history.
In my analysis, I wrote:
To be clear, the stakes will increase this summer as we approach the deadline to raise the debt limit and government funding expires at the end of September. But for now, much of this is pure politics. Democrats control the Senate and the White House and will reject the most extreme proposals from the far-right. And House Republicans, with their slim majority, will push back against Democrats’ most progressive policies. That means these issues will be resolved closer to the center no matter how loud the bluster is at the margins.
This political reality provides an opportunity to influence the outcome of these legislative quagmires for groups like the New Democrat Coalition that seeks to bridge the gap between left and right and the Problem Solvers Caucus, an evenly divided organization of moderate House Democrats and Republicans.
“The path forward here is working together with members on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we avoid this economic catastrophe,” a Democratic aide on Tuesday said to Supercreator in an interview. “And we’re going to have to have both parties to do that because it’s pretty clear that the House Republicans won’t be able to get the 218 votes that the need to address the debt ceiling.” (On the flip side, given the slim House GOP majority, President Joe Biden won’t have the Democratic votes to approve many of the social programs that were left behind even when Democrats controlled both chambers during the first two years of his administration — welcome to divided government, friends.)
The aide said that New Dems believe they’re working from a place of strength.
As I reported from House Democratic Caucus’s retreat earlier this month, New Dems said they protected 22 frontline members in swing districts, elect 17 new members and flip five seats from red to blue in 2022.
“A lot of that was a result of then-candidates, now-members [who] ran on willing to work with Republicans to deliver common-sense solutions for Americans,” the aide added.
A spokesperson for the Problems Solvers Caucus did not respond to a request for comment from Supercreator.
Meanwhile, as the White House continues to hammer House Republicans on the broader conference’s lack of an official budget proposal and the ideas put forward by the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, HFC members are scheduled to join Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, one of President Biden’s favorite foils, for a press conference on the debt this afternoon. In contrast, Team Biden will spend the day calling out the same group for proposing cuts to incentives for manufacturing investments.
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IN OTHER NEWS: The White House on Tuesday hosted a bipartisan discussion on junk fees — the hidden and unexpected charges that aren’t included in the initial price of a transaction like bank overdraft fees, airline service charges of hotel resort fees — to examine the economic benefits of regulating these fees.
President Biden has made junk fees the focal point of his economic agenda and the administration feels as though his position on the issue are both policy and political winners because it’s easy for most people to understand and consumers can receive immediately relief when companies waive these charges instead of waiting years for a piece of major legislation to kick in.
“Regulating junk fees by leveling up the playing field has a strong foundation in decades of economic scholarship,” White House National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard said at the top of the discussion. “Junk fees weaken competition, penalize honest businesses that want to be up front about the all-in price and lead to a race to the bottom.”
The president devoted almost 300 words against junk fees in his State of the Union address in February as he called on Congress to pass legislation to crack down on the charges.
“Look, junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most other folks in homes like the one I grew up in, like many of you did,” Biden said during the speech. “They add up to hundreds of dollars a month. They make it harder for you to pay your bills or afford that family trip. I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it. Not anymore.”
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries told Supercreator earlier this month that his members would embrace a bill regulating junk fees.
“We continue to be committed to finding common ground whenever and wherever possible with the other side of the aisle to make progress for the American people. We've repeatedly done that over the last few congresses and we remain committed to that principle,” he said. “And to the extent that some common ground can be found with great leadership from President Biden to address these junk fees that affect all Americans — not just Democrats, not just Republicans, all Americans — then I think that is something that we would embrace.
Jeffries added that the legislation would have to go through regular order — committee hearings, bill markups, and possibly amendments — to give it the best chance of passing the House.
A spokesperson for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer did not respond to a request for comment on if he would support a similar approach in the Senate of if Schumer would bring a bill to the floor if it passed the House.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: The Senate on Tuesday evening voted 67-28 to advance a bill that would repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq, another strong procedural vote that indicates the legislation has a strong chance of clearing the chamber by the end of the week.
Ahead of the vote, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office released a memo arguing that repealing one of the AUMFs would curtail future counterterrorism operations in the region. (McConnell is still out as he recovers from a concussion and minor rib fracture he suffered after a fall earlier this month.)
But the fact that Tuesday’s vote didn’t lose any support from last week despite the top Senate Republican voicing his opposition demonstrats how high a priority passing this legislation for many members of Congress. They see it as an opportunity to reclaim war powers from the executive branch and one of the last steps to turning the page on the wars in the region.
“Every year they remain in place is another year a future administration can abuse them to ensnare us in another conflict in the Middle East,” Schumer said.
The White House indicated last week that it supported the effort.
Senate leaders from both parties today will continue negotiations on a deal to allow amendments and expedite the votes to break a filibuster and for final passage. Leader Schumer said there would be a “reasonable amendment process” while adding that there’s “no reason to drag this out” though.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday indicated that the legislation can clear the committee process and pass the full chamber once it receives final Senate approval.
WEDNESDAY HAPPENINGS: President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing. He and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden this evening will host a Women’s History Month reception at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also speak at the event.
The House is in and this evening will take votes on several bills including legislation that would authorize the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for a ceremony as part of the commemoration of the days of remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.
The Senate is in and will vote this afternoon to confirm a district judge and resume consideration of a bill to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I have so much reading to catch up on this week, but for now here’s an excellent piece by Hanna Rosin for The Cut on how people have rebranded narcissism from a personality defect to a “positive illusion”:
Ever since Trump perfected the template (grandiose, manipulative, easily wounded, unable to tolerate even minor scenarios in which he isn’t deemed central or special), the label has been steadily spreading to celebrities, shitty boyfriends, and sometimes mothers. #narctokadvice is flooded with pictures of terrible exes whose faces are rubbed out and replaced with Johnny Depp’s. Infinite listicles describe life with a narcissist as a psychological war zone and explain how to spot the signs and fight back: “How to Argue With a Narcissist” or “5 Ways to Weaken a Narcissist” or “The 7 Lies We Learn From Our Narcissistic Parents.” On #narctok, the final stage of enlightenment is “no contact,” meaning forever cutting the narcissist out of your life.
Elon Musk is a “narcissist” or sometimes a “narcissistic sociopath” or a “toddler.” Ben Affleck is both a philosopher of narcissism and a narcissist, according to this five-part YouTube series on the subject, though the comments devolve into a debate about whether J.Lo is also a narcissist and possibly Jennifer Garner and — Who knows? — maybe all of their little nepo babies, too.
What’s confusing about the insult is how many of the behaviors we define as narcissistic in celebrities we routinely indulge in ourselves: narrating and documenting our own lives, behaving as if we always have an audience. When sociologist Jean Twenge wrote in The Narcissism Epidemic about the epidemic of misery among post-millenials, she mostly blamed cell phones, social media, and the “culture of selfies” for the shift. Fifteen years later, the teens are still drowning in hopelessness. But calling them narcissists is about as helpful as calling them obese. What can they do with that diagnosis except hate themselves even more? One good answer comes from a long-dead Austrian psychoanalyst who called himself “Mr. Z”: Take back the word.