Tuesday, July 20, 2021

URGENT: Vote pending on "invisible" $1.2T infrastructure bill

The clock is ticking on a Senate vote that could start an avalanche of trillion-dollar spending by Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats. American patriots have 24 hours to stop it!
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The clock is ticking on a Senate vote that could start an avalanche of trillion-dollar spending by Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats. Patriots have 24 hours to stop it! Please see our urgent update below. --Grassfire


Just minutes after completing this morning's "Biden's Boondoggles" update, we received an email from the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It confirmed that a procedural vote on the still-unfinished, $1.2-trillion "infrastructure" bill will happen TOMORROW:

"Indeed, last night Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY-14) filed cloture on the MTP [motion to proceed] to H.R.3684, which will serve as the shell to insert the invisible, yet to be seen/completed text of the bipartisan infrastructure framework.

"This vote will occur on Wednesday, and it remains – literally – to be seen what the Senate will actually vote on."

While House legislation can serve as "framework," the Senate has to write their own version -- and the "infrastructure" bill isn't finished yet. Americans don't need more of the Democrat lunacy enshrined in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) infamous 2010 plea to pass ObamaCare: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." 

Republicans remember how poorly that turned out. Fast forward 11 years, and Democrats are still up to their old, dirty tricks. If GOP Senators fall for it again and vote for a bill that "doesn't exist" (see below), they'll have no one to blame but themselves. And the American people will, literally, pay the price -- AGAIN!

Grassfire team members and their fellow patriots only have about 24 hours to demand Senate Republicans "Stop Biden's Boondoggles!" Don't wait! Take action now!

Click here or on the banner below now to fax 50 GOP Senators, as well as moderate Democrats Sen. Jon Tester (MT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), for just $30. Or reach the entire U.S. Senate (100 faxes) for only $50:

It would be unconscionable for ANY Republican to support a $1.2-trillion spending bill that hasn't been completely written. Urge GOP Senators to stand firm, stay united and fight back against "Biden's Boondoggles." Click here to fax now. Thanks, in advance, for taking action.

For life, liberty and limited government,

The Grassfire Team

P.S. If you haven't voted in Grassfire's new "Boondoggle: Yes Or No?" QuickPoll, please see our previous email below. We ask you if GOP Senators should "FIGHT!" or "SUPPORT!" the $1.2 -trillion "infrastructure" bill. We also highlight what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said about Schumer's plan to have the Senate vote on legislation that "doesn't exist." To take immediate action to "Stop Biden's Boondoggles," click here or on the banner below now:

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Tuesday morning:


Republican Senators are putting up a fight against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). They're pushing back against his plans to ram the first of two HUGE spending bills down the collective throats of American taxpayers.

Schumer is calling for a procedural vote THIS WEEK on a $1.2-trillion spending bill that's not even written yet! On FOX News last night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) insisted it was "insane" to vote on legislation that "doesn't exist":

"We're not gonna proceed to a bill that's not written because that makes no sense. So if Joe Biden really wants to do infrastructure -- roads, bridges and ports -- for around a trillion dollars, there are plenty of Republicans that will work with him. Chuck Schumer is trying to blow this effort up."

Other Senate Republicans are blasting Schumer for wanting to vote on $1.2 trillion, "infrastructure" legislation that Democrats are still writing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this week, "We need to see the bill before voting to go to it. I think that's pretty easily understood." Even RINO Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) agrees: "There's no point in having [a vote]."

Schumer needs at least 60 "Yes" votes to move his still-unfinished, $1.2-trillion spending bill forward. Do you want to see GOP Senators stay united and keep fighting back? Or should Republicans in the Upper Chamber support Joe Biden's boondoggle bills?

+ + Vote Now In Grassfire's New "Boondoggle: Yes Or No?" QuickPoll!

We want to know what you think, Robert. Please cast your vote below in Grassfire's new "Boondoggle: Yes Or No?" QuickPoll now.

Click here or on the "FIGHT!" image below if you think Republican Senators need to reject the $1.2-trillion "infrastructure" bill that spends less than half the money on actual infrastructure.

Click here or on the "SUPPORT!" image below if you agree that GOP lawmakers should ask American taxpayers to finance another Democrat wish-list of progressive spending.


Again, Schumer needs 60 votes to pass the first boondoggle bill. That means at least 10 Republicans will have to "break ranks" and vote "Yes" for the legislation to pass the Senate. If the GOP Senators cave, they could put American taxpayers on the hook for $3.5-trillion in additional spending on a Democrat wish-list of "human infrastructure."

After making your voice heard, please forward this message to your friends and family members. We'd like to know what they think, too. Grassfire staff will share the results of our one-question "Boondoggle: Yes Or No?" QuickPoll when it reaches 10,000 votes. Thanks, in advance, for taking action today.

For life, liberty and limited government,

The Grassfire Team

P.S. Our QuickPolls are not scientific, nor are they meant to endorse a specific candidate or position. They're for informational purposes only.

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Grassfire, a division of Grassroots Action, Inc., is a million-strong network of grassroots conservatives dedicated to equipping you with the tools that give you a real impact on the key issues of our day. © 2021 Grassroots Action, Inc.

Grassfire · PO Box 9095, Chesapeake, VA 23321, United States
This email was sent to robert@alexanderofyork.com. To stop receiving emails, click here.


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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Your July 18th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
If all goes well, this Tuesday Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, will fly off into space (insert your own joke here). He will be accompanied by 82-year-old Wally Funk, who trained to be a Mercury astronaut under a ‘60s-era program for women, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemon, substituting for someone who paid $28 million to win an auction to ride but could not go this time because of “scheduling conflicts” … leaving open the question what in this world would be so important that you’d skip your chance for a ten minute out of this world ride?
Meanwhile …
1.) CNBC came out with its rankings of “Top States for Business,” and Virginia ranks number one. Jefferson Institute Senior Fellow Steve Haner notes that “Inclusion” was an added component this year, likely adding enough points to seal the deal (here).   Steve followed up with a post on Bacon’s Rebellion noting that Virginia ranked next to last in the Wall Street-connected Motley Fool rankings (here).
2.) A new report authored by Jefferson Institute Visiting Fellow F. Vincent Vernuccio for the Institute for the American Worker notes that the PRO-Act under consideration in Congress would reduce workers’ incomes and opportunities (here), and offers specific data for Virginia. Vernuccio also wrote a commentary making the point that freedom for Virginia workers hangs on Senator Mark Warner (here).
3.) Two weeks ago Haner called for tax cuts to counter the $2 Billion surplus (here) resulting from the policies of Governor Ralph Northam (now up to $2.6 billion). The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star agrees (here).
4.) While Northam and the General Assembly have approved more than their share of new or higher taxes (here), local governments are now taking advantage of the new opportunities Northam and Company gave them: Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland Counties are considering a regional tobacco tax (here) as is Loudoun (here), and Fairfax County is exploring a tax on plastic bags (here). Unquestionably … more to follow.
5.) Further taxes are no doubt coming, driven in part by rising costs, exacerbated by pent-up pandemic demand but inevitably spurred by inflation created by government policy. Economists are starting to agree that higher inflation is here to stay (here), and the lobster is starting to feel the water getting a tad hot (here). Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Senior Fellow Mark Perry offers what he calls the “Chart of the Century” showing the relative affordability of selected items (here). We cannot help but note that a commonality of less affordable items (health care and college education) is the increased involvement of government in both. A commonality of the more affordable items is technology and trade. Just sayin’.
6.) In plans attracting bipartisan support, Governor Northam has proposed spending $700 million in federal American Rescue Plan (covid) funds (here). The idea is overdue. We’ve long argued that in the 21st century, the lack of broadband is as serious an inhibition to economic and educational opportunity as the lack of electricity was in in the 1930s. Conservatives, however, should ensure these one-time funds are spent without building new or expanded bureaucracies that then must be sustained. Spend it, get it built, and get out of the way.
7.) During a rally before Thursday’s Fairfax County School Board meeting, Fairfax NAACP Vice President Michelle Leete accused her opponents of being against everything from children to education to healthcare, concluding “Let Them Die” (here). Ms. Leete has since said she wanted her opponents’ “ideals” to die, not people. The Virginia PTA, where Ms. Leete is also a Vice President, was quick to disassociate themselves from the remarks (here), and Ms. Leete yesterday resigned her position with the Virginia PTA (here). The Fairfax County PTA, where she was listed as Vice President as recently as Friday now lists that position as “vacant.” (here) The Fairfax County NAACP plans to issue their own statement in the next 24 hours. It is time for all sides in highly charged debates to remember that words have meaning.
8.) The Thomas Jefferson Institute took the lead in opposing the Virginia Clean Economy Act (here and here), and supports its repeal. VCEA requires solar farms 20 times the size of Manhattan (here), and Virginia Business reports storm clouds are gathering over the idea (here).  Dying of its own weight?
9.) When Democrats gained a (slim) majority in the U.S. Senate, those who once supported the filibuster (here) reversed their long-standing position. The Washington Free Beacon has discovered a filibuster the Left can get behind (here).
10.)               Ninety miles off the American shores, thousands are taking their lives in their hands for the hope of freedom. Ben Shapiro notes what foreign dissidents understand about the American Flag (here). Cuban leaders, meanwhile, are finding that their traditional fall guy for their failings, “American Imperialism”, isn’t working (here and here) – except with groups like Black Lives Matter (here), the Young Communist League of New York (here), or the incredible AOC (here). (But we repeat ourselves.)
11.)               “Each year,” said our intern many years ago, “my grandmother sits us down and makes us promise to go back and reclaim our homes when Castro dies. But none of us is interested in that.” Yet, like those who led the way in taking down the Berlin Wall, protests against the Cuban regime are being led by the young, in Cuba (here) and the United States (here and here). We do hope his abuela’s home will still be there for him.
Finally … as so often happens, it starts with the artists.
Happy Sunday, Everyone.
Say a prayer for Homeland and Life.
Chris Braunlich
Support the work of
The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Morning: Democrats, united (mostly)

Plus: the News Quiz

Good morning. Biden's ambitious legislative agenda faces many hurdles. But Democrats appear notably unified for now.

Senator Chuck Schumer and President Biden this week.Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Not in disarray

President Biden and his fellow Democrats face many challenges in trying to pass two ambitious bills — one on infrastructure, the other on social and environmental programs — this summer.

Among them: Republican support looks shaky on the infrastructure plan and nonexistent on the other plan. Democrats have such slim congressional majorities that they can lose almost none of their own members. And some liberal activists have already protested one of the plans outside the White House.

The task is difficult enough that White House staff members sometimes talk about it internally as akin to "trying to land the plane on a very narrow landstrip in the middle of the ocean," Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told me yesterday.

But Biden and the Democratic leaders in Congress do have one big advantage, and it sometimes gets lost amid the noise. So far, both Senate and House Democrats seem notably unified behind the two bills' major goals.

Manchin to Sanders

In the political center, Joe Manchin of West Virginia helped negotiate the infrastructure bill and has spoken positively about a large second bill focused on social programs. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another moderate, has said she is "open to finding a path forward" on both. Mark Warner of Virginia, known as a "business guy," is helping craft large parts of the legislation, as my colleague Jonathan Weisman explains.

On the left, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also seem to be on board, praising the second package even though it's smaller than they favor. "In some cases, it doesn't provide all the funding that I would like," Sanders said this week. But he also called it "probably the most consequential piece of legislation since the 1930s."

This relative consensus is a contrast to the internal Democratic divisions on some other issues, like voting rights and the filibuster. But the politics of economic policy tend to be different — and easier — for the party. It frequently stays unified on economic issues, including taxes and Obamacare.

Why? For one thing, Democrats' economic positions tend to be popular, even in purple and red states. The two big bills Biden is hoping to get through Congress — which together would spend money on roads, broadband internet, pre-K and other programs while raising taxes on the rich — fit the pattern. A large majority of voters support them, polls show.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

'A long way to go'

The bills may still fail, to be clear. They face multiple hurdles.

On the infrastructure bill, the Democrats' plan is to pass it with at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate, enough to overcome a filibuster. Eleven Republican senators signaled support for negotiations over a bill last month, but only five have signed on to the resulting deal. That deal includes an increase in I.R.S. funding, which would help cover the bill's cost by reducing tax evasion — a provision that may not be able to win 10 Republican votes.

If Republican votes don't materialize, the next question will be whether Manchin and other moderate Democrats are willing to pass the bill anyway. Doing so would require using a process known as reconciliation that bypasses the filibuster and lets Democrats pass a bill on party lines.

Then there is Biden's second plan, focused on social programs like pre-K and measures to slow climate change. Republican support for it seems unlikely, which means it would need to pass through reconciliation and keep the support of every Democratic senator. It also could not afford to lose more than a handful of House Democrats.

Manchin has already signaled that he finds the climate provisions too aggressive. Senator Jon Tester of Montana has called the overall $3.5 trillion price tag "a big amount." Some House Democrats have also said they were worried about the debt.

For now, these objections seem more like efforts to shape an eventual bill than block it. Moderate Democrats like Manchin often issue high-profile, if substantively modest, objections, which help maintain their centrist public image.

"Democrats have found ways to bridge these divides so far," Carl Hulse, The Times's chief Washington correspondent, said. "But there is a long way to go."

70 percent — or 40?

During a panel I moderated yesterday, I asked two economists — one progressive leaning and one conservative leaning — how they viewed the bills' chances. Jason Furman, a former top aide to Barack Obama, said they were "vastly higher than I expected" a few months ago. He added that an infrastructure bill seemed on a path to pass and gave the second plan a 70 percent chance of doing so.

Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute agreed that the second bill's odds looked better than a few months ago but thought they were still only "40 to 45 percent."

Sanders — who is more of a dealmaker than his radical reputation suggests — is among those who is more confident. "If you're asking me at the end of the day, do I think we're going to pass this? I do," he told reporters this week. Biden sounds confident, too: "I still have confidence we're going to be able to get what I've proposed and what I've agreed to in the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure," he said yesterday.

For more:

  • Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, plans to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill as early as Wednesday, a test of Republican support.
  • A question about the second package, as The Times's Jim Tankersley notes: Will major provisions last for only a few years, so Democrats can hold down the cost and win moderates' votes?

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The Virus
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, yesterday.Doug Mills/The New York Times
Flooding damage in Schuld, Germany. Western Europe is seeing some of the most severe flooding in decades. Germany is most affected.Sascha Steinbach/EPA, via Shutterstock
Other Big Stories
  • The Capitol Police arrested Representative Joyce Beatty, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, during a voting rights protest.
  • Boston will overhaul admissions to three prestigious public schools to increase the number of Black and Latino students.
  • The gunman who killed five people at The Capital Gazette newspaper in 2018 was criminally responsible, a jury found. He will spend his life in prison.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, told CNN that he had not decided when to retire from the Supreme Court.
  • When the pandemic hit, some tech workers fled San Francisco. They're back — and so are traffic jams.

If climate change threatens your town, consider a managed retreat, Katharine Mach and A.R. Siders write.



A.I. ghosts: Whatever happened to IBM's Watson?

Modern Love: Coming out as a "plushie" lover.

Olympics: How a ban on a swim cap galvanized Black swimmers.

Lives Lived: When Esther Bejarano was 18, she played accordion in the women's orchestra at Auschwitz. "We played with tears in our eyes," she said. Decades later, she formed a band with her children to sing Jewish resistance songs. Bejarano has died at 96.


Emmanuelle Polack at the Louvre's Centre du Dominique-Vivant Denon research facility.Joann Pai for The New York Times

Hunting down looted paintings

Emmanuelle Polack is an art historian and an archival sleuth — a magazine once called her "the Indiana Jones of looted paintings." Last year, the Louvre hired Polack as the public face of its restitution investigations. Her focus: uncovering the origins of works that suspiciously changed hands during the Nazi occupation of France.

France has faced criticism that it lags behind other countries like Germany and the United States in identifying and returning works looted during World War II, as Elaine Sciolino writes in The Times. "For years I cultivated a secret garden about the art market during the Occupation," Polack said. "And finally, it is recognized as a crucial field for investigation."

At the Louvre, her methods include combing through auction catalogs, correspondence and gallery receipts to track how works of art shuffled around over the years. On the backs of paintings, she often finds clues about sales, restorations and framers that might lead back to the rightful owners. Read more about her mystery solving. — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer


What to Cook
Andrew Scrivani for the New York Times

Berries, nectarines, peaches, plums: Any juicy fruit will work in this tender summer buckle.

What to Watch

The "Space Jam" sequel leaves a viewer "feeling like Wile E. Coyote after hitting a mesa wall," Glenn Kenny writes in a review.


Farida Khelfa, one of fashion's early supermodels, wants to challenge the image of Middle Eastern women.

Late Night
Take the News Quiz

See how you do compared with other Times readers on the News Quiz.

Now Time to Play

The pangrams from yesterday's Spelling Bee were clementine and inclement. Here is today's puzzle — or you can play online.

Here's today's Mini Crossword, and a clue: "The Lion King" villain (four letters).

If you're in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you Monday. — David

P.S. Apollo 11 took off for the moon 52 years ago today. The next day, The Times reported it went "without flaw."

"The Daily" is about abuse inside Canada's residential schools. "The Ezra Klein Show" features Ibram X. Kendi.

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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