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Fri Mar 10, 2023, 08:55 PM

Friday Talking Points -- Biden Takes The Fight To The MAGA Republicans

We have to warn everyone up front here that this week's Friday Talking Points column is not going to follow the normal format. Most of it is actually going to review the speech that President Joe Biden gave yesterday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Biden went to Philly to introduce his annual budget proposal, which was publicly released just before he spoke.

Rather than do what many Democratic presidents do when faced with an unruly house of Congress run by the opposition -- which is to go into a defensive crouch and try to compromise on just how much the federal budget needs to be slashed -- Biden instead took the fight to the Republicans by showing America that if we would just tax the ultra-wealthy enough to pay their fair share, this country could accomplish all kinds of good things and reduce the deficit at the same time. That is surprisingly refreshing to see from a Democratic White House, we have to say!

But as we said, we've devoted much of the rest of this column to excerpting Biden's speech, so we'll just very briefly run down a few other things that happened in the political world first (in extremely abbreviated fashion, since the other parts are so lengthy).

The biggest story this week in the political/media world was the proof that Fox "News" is nothing more than lies and propaganda. It is entertainment that is solely focused on their bottom line. The sheer hypocrisy of both the people who run the company and their most popular entertainers is just staggering.

We simply aren't going to take the time to delve into everything that has been revealed by the lawsuit progressing against Fox by the Dominion voting-machine company, but we have to include a few choice moments from the week, starting with the most-quoted thing Tucker Carlson was caught texting in the period after the 2020 election: "We are very, very close to being able to ignore [Donald] Trump most nights. I truly can't wait. I hate him passionately." Also: "What [Trump is] good at is destroying things. He's the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong."

Of course, Tucker never got his wish, as Fox "News" continues to this day to spew lies just to please Donald Trump. Carlson spent all week trying to pull the wool over the entire country's eyes about how January 6th was nothing more than a tour group at the Capitol who got lost -- which is gaslighting on what can only be called a Trumpian level.

Also amusingly revealed this week was a bit of a self-own. Twenty years ago Carlson wrote a book where he said the following (to show his disdain for the ruling king of cable news at the time):

Like everyone in TV, [Bill O'Reilly] has a schtick. O'Reilly is Everyman -- the faithful but slightly lapsed Catholic son of the working class who knows slick, eastern Establishment BS when he sees it. A guy who tells the truth and demands that others do the same. A man who won't be pushed around or take maybe for an answer.


As many have pointed out, he could now write something awfully similar to describe himself. To promote his book, Carlson went on C-SPAN and went even further:

Bill O'Reilly is really talented, he's more talented than I am, he's got a lot more viewers, he's a better communicator than I am, but I think there is a deep phoniness at the center of his schtick, and again as I say the schtick is built on the perception that he is the character he plays.


As if this weren't enough, this week Carlson actually opined on the subject of liars on his show -- once again without the slightest realization of what a self-own it truly was:

Liars behave differently. Liars are touchy, sometimes to the point of hysteria. They're hiding something. That's the whole point of lying. And they're worried you're gonna find out what it is. Liars are fragile because over time, lying makes you weak and afraid.


Takes one to know one, Tucker.

Anyway, for those of you who have somehow missed the whole fracas, here is a baker's dozen of links to articles detailing the woes over at Fox this week: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13].

In other news from the right side of the aisle, we have two examples which show precisely how much Republicans "stand up for children" -- in Missouri, the governor just signed a bill to loosen child labor laws, and in West Virginia Republicans voted down a bill which would have banned underage children from getting married. Nothing like those good old-fashioned "family values," eh folks?

Speaking of which, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fell down and got a concussion this week. Both Democrats and Republicans wished him well. But a lawyer for Donald Trump decided cruel mockery was what was appropriate instead.

Speaking of Trump, we have two items for our regular check-in on Donald Trump's developing legal woes: a judge just ruled Peter Navarro will now have to turn over the emails he's been trying to hide, and Trump has now been "invited to testify" before a criminal grand jury in New York which has been investigating his hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels. Legal experts are predicting that this is the final step before charges are actually brought against Trump, so we might have that to look forward to in the next few weeks or so.

And to wrap up with some good news, the Internal Revenue Service has bounced back in a rather amazing fashion from the enormous backlog of a few years ago (during the COVID times).

The Internal Revenue Service's massive -- and controversial -- funding boost has begun to reach the front lines of tax season, and it's vaulted the agency from more than a decade of disarray, tax experts say, to a once-unimaginable position: a functioning tax service.

The IRS is answering 90 percent of its phone calls, has squashed its backlog of overdue returns, introduced new online taxpayer tools to keep pace with private software companies and processed 99.7 percent of returns filed this tax season, according to agency reports.


This, of course, is the money that the Republicans want to stop flowing to the agency. Because they just hate it when Democrats actually make government work well.





There were a few Democrats who earned Honorable Mention awards this week, before we get to the main award.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is taking the fight to Walgreens by cancelling a contract worth $54 million the state had with the company to provide medications to prisoners. This is in reaction to Walgreens buckling to pressure from Republican attorneys general over dispensing abortion medication, which has led to general calls to boycott the company. Other blue states may follow in Newsom's footsteps in the coming weeks, but once again Newsom is out front of the Democratic pack on a big issue.

Representative Jamie Raskin gave a heartfelt speech on how the Republicans' Big Lie now encompasses what happened on January 6th, and it is definitely worth watching (it's only two-and-a-half minutes long). Raskin tears into Republicans for refusing to state the difference between truth and lies. So an Honorable Mention goes out to both Raskin and Newsom this week.

When it became apparent that Joe Biden was going to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, we have to say we weren't exactly thrilled about it. We supported Bernie Sanders, personally, because we really wanted to see a party leader with a truly progressive agenda.

But we have to now admit, Joe Biden has proven to be one heck of a lot more progressive than we ever expected. And his newly-unveiled budget proposal just confirms that opinion.

Biden travelled to Pennsylvania to give a speech introducing his budget to the American people. And parts of the speech almost seemed like Bernie had ghost-written them for Biden to deliver. Here is Biden on the high cost of prescription drugs:

We pay more for prescription drugs in America than any other advanced nation on Earth. Let me say that again. In the United States of America, for whatever prescription drug you're buying, you're paying more than any other nation on Earth that's an advanced nation.


Biden pointed out that Republicans not only didn't vote for this plan, now they want to repeal it -- even though it would add billions to the deficit if they did.

Because of a law that I worked on and -- for decades -- and that I just signed last year, we took Big Pharma on and we won. For the first time, we won.

The other team didn't think that's a good idea. None of them voted for it. They think Big Pharma should be able to make extraordinary profits -- exorbitant profits at the expense of the American people. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact.

Medicare finally has the power now to negotiate for lower drug prices. And, by the way, you know, they've been able to do that for the -- at the VA. At the VA, they're able to say, "We're only going to pay X amount of dollars for this particular drug that, in fact, the veterans need." The only place that was exempt was Medicare. They couldn't do it for Medicare, but now they can. And it's going to lower prices for seniors....


Biden then told of hearing from a mother who shamefully admitted that she can't afford the insulin her two daughters need and that she has to "split it sometimes." Biden used this to highlight his budget proposal that would extend the $35-a-month cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs from just seniors on Medicare to everybody. And he put it in very personal terms:

Can you imagine looking at your son or daughter, and knowing you don't have the money to pay for the insulin to keep them alive and healthy? Not a joke. Talk about being deprived of your dignity....

[Extending the $35-a-month cap is] going to save a lot of lives. But, also, it's going to give parents back the dignity that... they've been deprived [of], because they can't take care of their kid for something that is so basic and so important.

But again, the MAGA Republicans want to take away the law. They -- one of the things they've announced: They want to do away with the Inflation Reduction Act.

Okay. Well, we have a difference in budget ideas, man.


Biden's budget expands affordable child care, preschool, Pell Grants, paid family leave, paid medical leave, elder care and home care. Democrats don't just proclaim they are for families, they back it up with actual policies to help families. Which Republicans are against. That's a pretty basic contrast to make. Biden hammers this point home again and again:

My budget also restores the Child Tax Credit. You know, when that was in place during the pandemic, guess what? Child poverty was cut in half, to the lowest level in all of American history. And guess what? Because moms were able to go to work. Moms were able to go out there and make a living.

Folks, we can reduce child poverty and increase child opportunity.

Again, it's going to help millions of parents go to work, knowing their children are being taken care of. And yet, only a few of my Republican friends support it.


One part of his speech was a masterful redefinition of what the entire "defund the police" movement was actually about (as opposed to what its detractors claimed).

My budget invests in public safety. It includes funding for more training, more support for law enforcement at a time when they're expected to... play many roles. We expect our cops to be social workers. We expect them to be psychologists, mental health counselors. You know more cops are killed responding to domestic violence calls than anything else. Did you know that?

Well, folks, I don't want to defund them. They need more help. We don't expect a cop to be a -- everything from a psychologist to a counselor. These departments need more investment in this kind of help. And we're going to fund proven strategies for accountable and effective community policing so cops and -- know the communities they serve and the communities know them. We got to get cops back on the street -- back on the street in the communities they know -- where they know the people, where they stop in and they know the guy who owns the liquor store; they know the preacher who runs the local school -- the local ministry; they know the person who runs the local grocery store.

Cops need help.... We're going to provide 100,000 more community policing officers nationwide and invest in tens of thousands more school nurses and school counselors and mental health help. And we're going to save communities billions of dollars over time. Every community needs -- especially in the wake of this pandemic.


And finally, one last excerpt that also could have been written by Bernie Sanders:

And let's get something else straight. My budget cuts wasteful spending by getting rid of special tax breaks for Big Oil companies, who made $200 billion in profits last year in the midst of a worldwide recession. Two hundred billion dollars.


President Joe Biden's budget proposal is a roadmap to his re-election campaign, quite obviously. He has tossed his budget down as a political challenge to the Republicans: "This is what I'm for -- what are you for?"

As we'll explore more in the Talking Points segment, Biden has the possibility of pulling off an impressive political feat: defining the Republicans for the 2024 election before they can get their act together to define themselves.

So for his very progressive budget, for a rather impressive speech, and for taking the fight to the Republicans early, Joe Biden is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Congratulate President Joe Biden on his official contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]





No Democrat of national stature truly disappointed us this week, so we're going to retire the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award back to the shelf until next week. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments, in case there's someone we missed, as always.




Volume 698 (3/10/23)

As mentioned, this is really "Part 2" of reviewing President Biden's recent speech. Because Biden was not just introducing his budget plans, he was rolling out the main themes of the 2024 election -- and not just for him, but for all Democrats. So we thought it was important enough for such a deep dive.

President Biden has a golden opportunity here, and he seems to know it. In fact, he's trying to exploit it for all it is worth. It's a basic tactic in politics -- define your opponents early, before they have a chance to define themselves.

Biden now has a budget which shows his whole agenda, with concrete numbers he can point to. The Republicans do not. And they're not going to have one any time soon, it seems. Because they cannot decide what they stand for and what they really want, at least outside of: "We want to annoy liberals." There are many competing factions (each with their own particular degree of extremism) within the House Republican caucus. They're going to have a tough time putting forth any budget proposal that all of them will actually vote for.

Which gives Biden a clear field to paint them with the broadest brush possible -- which he is already doing. So we thought instead of our normal talking points format we'd just run the best excerpts from his Philadelphia speech this week, to show how up until the GOP actually gets its act together, how easy it is to define them in the public's mind before they even get a chance to.

Biden begins by almost taunting Kevin McCarthy over the squabbling he's experiencing within his own ranks. A shorter version of this might be: "I've shown you my budget.... where's yours?" Here's how Biden actually put it:

I want to be clear -- and I'll be clear to the press as well. The fact is that the Speaker of the House has been -- he's a very conservative guy, and he has an even more conservative group with him. But he and I met early on, and he said, "What are we going to do about the budget?" And I said, "Well, let's make a deal. Let's meet." I said, "I'm going to introduce my budget on the ninth of March. You introduce yours. And we'll sit down, and we'll go line by line. And we'll go through it. We'll see what we can agree on and what we disagree on, and then fight it out in the Congress."

So, I want to make it clear. I'm ready to meet with the Speaker anytime -- tomorrow, if he has his budget. Lay it down. Tell me what you want to do. I'll show you what I want to do. See what we can agree on.


While most of it is polite, that "tomorrow, if he has his budget" is indeed a bit of a taunt. Biden then moved on to the box he has so successfully put Republicans into on Social Security and Medicare. The Republican Party has -- for decades -- wanted to either cut or just eliminate both social safety net programs. Which Biden points out:

I guarantee you I will protect Social Security and Medicare without any change. Guaranteed. I won't allow it to be gutted or eliminated, as MAGA Republicans have threatened to do.

MAGA Republicans' proposal is not an answer on Social Security. And my budget will not cut benefits. And it will -- definitely won't sunset programs, like some of my MAGA Republican friends want to do.

It will secure Medicare through 2050 and beyond, ensuring that the vital program keeps going strong for a generation without cutting a single penny in benefits.


Biden only went halfway in his budget (to be fair), by proposing a fix to Medicare but failing to do so on Social Security. Nonetheless, his fix would work to make the program solvent -- something the Republicans are quite likely to utterly fail at doing.

Biden then returns to taunting mode:

And, by the way, did you all happen to see any of the State of the Union Address? Well, yeah, when those folks were standing up saying, "Liar! Liar! Biden's a liar!"... I said, "Well, let me ask you: How many of you out there commit you won't cut Medicare or Social Security?" And they all stood up and raised their hand and said, "We won't do it!"

Well, guess what? They're all on camera. I'm counting on them keeping their word. But in -- just in case they don't, I'm around.


Biden then moves on to how he's going to pay for his budget, which is actually a quite popular thing to propose:

MAGA Republicans also refuse to raise a single penny in new taxes on the wealthiest people. So, now let me ask you for -- I mean this sincerely. You don't have to if you feel self-conscious about it, but raise your hand -- anybody who thinks our present federal tax system is fair, raise your hand.

No, I'm not joking. People making $400,000 a year don't think it's fair.

You know, we found that in the year 2020, when I got elected, 55 major corporations in the Fortune 500 companies paid zero in federal income tax on $40 billion in profit. So I insisted on a horrible thing to burden on them. I introduced legislation making sure that they had to pay a minimum of 15 percent -- 15 percent to corporations. Just 15 percent. That's less than any of you pay.

Well, guess what? We did those things to grow the economy, create jobs, and give working-class folks a fighting chance. That paid for everything and still allowed me to reduce the deficit. Just begin to pay your fair share.

That's why I'm fighting for another proposal. When I got elected, there were roughly -- don't hold me to the exact number because it varies -- around 650 billionaires in America. Now there's over a thousand. You know what the average tax they pay -- federal tax? Three percent. T-H-R-E-E. Three percent. No billionaire should be paying a lower tax than somebody working as a schoolteacher or a firefighter or... any of you in this room.

So, my plan is to make sure that corporations begin to pay their fair share. And it used to be 35 percent. We cut it down to 21 percent. I think we should be paying 28 percent. There's going to be a real fight on that, but we should be paying more than 21 percent.

Let me be clear. Under my plan -- and I made this commitment when I ran, and I haven't broken it yet and I never will -- no one making less than $400,000 will see a penny in federal taxes go up. Not a single penny.... I did it to make the case that I'm not going after anything remotely -- any- -- ordinary folks, because they're paying their share.


Biden then once again defines his opponents before the fight even begins. He makes an excellent point -- he's fully willing to hold budget negotiations with the House Republicans, but he insists that this discussion happen without threatening the entire economy:

I met with the new Speaker, as I said, of the House on how we should proceed to settle our differences without jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

We have never reneged on that debt. Now they're telling me if I don't do what they want -- cut Social Security, whatever they propose -- then they're going to renege on the debt.

Every single major economic institution, conservative or liberal, says that will cause a massive recession -- a massive recession -- and put us in the hole for a long, long time.

Well, folks, here's what I said: Instead of making threats about default, which would be catastrophic, let's take that off the table. Let's -- as I said at the beginning, let's have a conversation about how to grow the economy, lower costs, and reduce the deficit.

I just laid out the bulk of my budget; Republicans in Congress should do the same thing. Then we can sit down and see where we disagree.


And finally, to drive it all home at the end, Biden taunts them directly. He's now made his budget public. Everyone can see what he wants to do. Until the Republicans do the same, any Democrat can define the Republican agenda in any way they wish. Until they admit to the American people what they actually want to do, we should all assume the absolute worst:

And if they say they want to cut the deficit but their plans would explode the deficit, how are they going to make the math work? What are they going to cut?

As I said at the State of the Union -- you may have seen the back-and-forth with the MAGA Republicans and me. Through their shouting and unruliness, they seemed to say they're not going to cut Social Security or Medicare.

Well, like I said -- well, what about Medicaid? What about the Affordable Care Act? What about veterans' benefits? What about law enforcement? What about aid to rural communities? What about support for our military?

What will they make -- how will they make these numbers add up?


Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Reply Friday Talking Points -- Biden Takes The Fight To The MAGA Republicans (Original post)
ChrisWeigant Mar 10 OP
flying rabbit Mar 10 #1

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Mar 10, 2023, 10:13 PM

1. Every day

President Biden impresses me more.

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