The Democrats have done it: managed to introduce a stimulus package that doesn’t capitulate to Republican demands. But will it fall apart due to an unforeseen procedural snag? We’ll see!
Meanwhile, a whistleblower alleges that a top Trump administration official entered into a sketchy, secret agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s union leaders that could cripple Biden’s attempts to change Trump’s barbaric immigration policies.
And lastly, the New York Times reports that a string of high-ranking public health officials have resigned in hard-hit New York State since the summer, all citing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s chaotic rollout of vaccines and handling of the pandemic.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Yesterday, we talked about the big worry of the next few weeks: that Democrats would capitulate to the Republican minority and weaken their own stimulus bill.
Well, today we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is the Democrats don’t appear to be doing that. On Monday evening, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer introduced a budget bill that included a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, indicating that they appear to want to use a process known as “reconciliation” to get an aid package through without Republican support.
This is good, and represents the best shot we’ve got right now of getting an even halfway decent stimulus bill out to the American people quickly.
But here’s the bad news. NBC news reports that the reconciliation process could have an unintended side-effect: automatically triggering a cut to medicare. The how and why of this is also a massive own-goal.
The cuts would be triggered by the PAYGO act of 2010, which Democrats introduced and pushed for. PAYGO, in short, means that any time you pass a bill raising the national debt, you have to automatically cut federal funds elsewhere -- so bye bye to Medicare, farm subsidies, that sort of thing.
The kicker is that avoiding the automatic cuts requires 60 votes in the Senate, which basically puts the Democrats right where they started.
And the other fear, of course, is that Biden will still succumb to his Republican-loving side. The Republicans who we mentioned yesterday met with Biden today to plead for a smaller bill, and said the discussion was excellent, according to the New York Times. But the official word from the Biden administration is still that they plan to push the $1.9 trillion bill, so we just have to keep hoping they stick to their guns.
REPORT: Trump Using ICE to Sabotage Biden
The Trump administration is done, but we’re only now discovering the amount of damage they did on the way out.
BuzzFeed News reported on a government whistleblower who alleges that former DHS second-in-command Ken Cuccinelli signed a set of agreements with the union that represents ICE. These guys endorsed Trump in 2016, so don’t be fooled into thinking they’re a nonpartisan force.
The Government Accountability Office is representing the whistleblower, and said in a letter: “The agreements grant [the union] extraordinary power and benefits — far more than what DHS agreed upon with its other employee unions which did not endorse President Trump. The agreements confer on the union the ability to indefinitely delay changes to immigration enforcement policies and practices as well.”
What this means in practice is that ICE’s union, which is apparently still loyal to Trump, can stonewall the Biden administration’s attempts to roll back the former president’s barbaric policies against immigrants, and stop him from enacting things like a deportation moratorium.
According to the GAO, the whistleblower, “possesses information concerning significant acts of misconduct committed” by Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli denies abusing his power, of course -- we’d expect no less from a former Trump stooge.
Cuomo's Public Health Execs Keep Quitting
There’s a lot to say about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, which hit his state harder than most others.
Cuomo has racked up accolades and book deals for his appearance of leadership during the crisis, but continued reporting suggests that he may have done more harm than good. According to the New York Times, nine of Cuomo’s top public health officials have resigned during the pandemic, citing Cuomo’s unrestrained war with his own scientific experts.
Look at what they’ve had to deal with: Cuomo has micro-managed and over-controlled nearly every step of the process. Take the vaccine rollout for instance: The Times reports that Cuomo threw out his own Department of Health’s carefully constructed plan that worked with local health authorities in favor of one that relied far more on big hospitals. New York’s rollout has, of
course, been a huge mess, and officials said that Cuomo often changes health policy abruptly at his emmy-winning press conferences, without asking or notifying them first.
And Cuomo’s not even hiding the fact that he thinks he knows better than every doctor in the State. At a news conference last Friday, he said,
“When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts. Because I don’t. Because I don’t.”
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
In a livestream about the Capitol attacks, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez revealed that she was a survivor of sexual assault. She compared the GOP’s relentless insistence that she just get over the attempted insurrection during which her life was threatened to the similar language that abusers often use toward their victims.
The leadership of Myanmar was deposed by a military coup on Monday, as the country’s armed forces detained its elected president Aung San Suu Kyi and set up blockades throughout the nation’s capitol city.
The New York Daily News reports that the warden at NYC’s Rikers Island jail who presided over a dramatic drop in assaults, fights, and officer use of force incidents has been removed from his post after clashing with a powerful cop union over a mentorship program he set up for young inmates. One step forward, two steps back, always.
And finally, the Biden Administration plans to quickly release $1.3 billion in federal funding meant for Hurricane Maria relief to Puerto Rico, and remove restrictions on another $4.9 billion. It’s far too late, but at least does something to rectify some of the Trump administration’s cruelty
FEB 2, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn