In case you missed it, Joe Biden asked for a whopping $715 billion budget for America’s military on Friday, and progressives are already, well, up in arms.
Meanwhile, informal talks between the U.S. and Iran may be in jeopardy after so-called sabotage wiped out power to Iran’s main nuclear enrichment site.
And lastly, a key policy delay has as-yet rendered all of Biden’s promises to refugees empty, as a new report shows his administration is currently on pace to accept fewer refugees than any administration before him, including Trump.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW
We’ve got a new military budget, the first one under Joe Biden’s new peace-loving Democratic administration. Unfortunately, yep, it looks a whole lot like the old military budgets.
Biden asked congress for a massive $715 billion for the Pentagon on Friday, as the main chunk of a total $753 billion in military spending. To compare, Trump’s biggest Pentagon budget was $704 billion.
That change is slight when you account for inflation. And while Biden is crucially asking for the military to use that money in different ways from Trump, it still represents a massive prioritization of the nation’s death-dealing apparatus over domestic investments.
One thing Biden got right, though: he’s eliminating the Overseas Contingency Operations accounts, which the military basically used as a slush fund for war for years.
Progressives in the House like Pramilla Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Ilhan Omar and Ro Khanna were quick to point out both the good and the bad in Biden’s budget, but came back to the same point: it’s absurd that this country spends so much on war -- and however it’s earmarked, that’s over 700 billion taxpayer dollars that can’t go to other things.
Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan summed it up, saying, "Increased spending on the Pentagon on fraud, waste, and zero accountability is still just that, and takes away from funding that could be spent on other people-centric policies like healthcare, education, and housing."
An explosion in Iran rocked the country at a pretty dicey time for its talks with U.S. leadership as the two countries seek a way back into the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal that pleases all parties involved.
But in the middle of these early notifications, a planned explosion that Iran called sabotage knocked out power to its main nuclear enrichment site, which has been a repeat target of attacks in the past.
Iran blamed Israel immediately, and Israel denied -- the same old dance. The New York Times reported that American and Israeli intelligence officials said anonymously that the Israelis played a role in it. So you can see where that goes.
But what it means for the future of Iran’s tenuous negotiations with the U.S. is still unclear. The hope is that Biden’s state department can massively decrease Trump-era tensions with Iran, coming to a new nuclear deal that lets both countries save face.
The Times reports that sabotage at Iran’s nuclear plant decreases its leverage in talks for the U.S., but it’s unclear how much knowledge U.S. officials had of the strike, particularly as Israeli officials have made it clear that they don’t like the idea of going back to the original Iran deal.
It’s silly that this kind of brinksmanship is what determines the fate of thousands of Iranians suffering under U.S. sanctions, but that’s where we are.
The heavy gears of bureaucracy are once again throwing lives into chaos.
Since taking office, Joe Biden has claimed that he will be a much kinder and gentler president toward refugees seeking shelter in the United States. But a new report shows that he’s dragging his feet on a key policy step that can make that talk a reality.
In his first weeks in office, Biden signed executive orders to rebuild and enhance federal programs to resettle refugees, increase the harsh caps on the number of refugees the U.S. would take in, and lift bans on refugees from certain countries. These were some of Trump’s most brutal policies, and it’s imperative that Biden fixes them. But so far, despite the orders, he hasn’t.
According to the Washington Post, Biden has yet to sign what’s called a presidential determination. Without that, Trump’s policies remain in effect.
The Post reports that presidential determinations are usually signed immediately after a policy announcement, but as yet, it’s been nearly 8 weeks without a peep from the Administration, which didn’t respond to the Posts requests for comment.
According to a report released Friday by the International Rescue Committee, without that determination the Biden administration is on track to let in fewer refugees than any modern administration before him, including Trump. Thus far he’s let in only 2,050 to date in the current fiscal year. Nazanin Ash, the IRC’s vice president for global policy and advocacy, said,
“I don’t know the specific reason why [Biden] hasn’t signed, and it’s really unusual that he hasn’t signed. It is typically a standard, automatic last step in the process.”
This seems like a massive oversight, and one that the Biden Administration needs to step up and correct, soon.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The Times reports that Biden’s big infrastructure push has had the predictable result: hordes of lobbyists are already swarming to get their piece of the pie. And members of Congress are joining in, trying to cram their pet projects and district-pleasing contracts into any prospective bills. It’s almost like our system of government doesn’t work so well!
State Coronavirus vaccine efforts are about to hit a major speedbump as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine’s supply is taking a nosedive. Deliveries are set to fall 86 percent until a Baltimore plant producing the vax gets key federal approval.
Detroit-based anti-war activists weathered their 14th day of hunger strikes in protest of the U.S.’s ongoing support of the Saudi war in Yemen. The activists are calling for the Biden Administration to end all support for the Saudi’s blockade of the country, which is stopping food, medicine and other key supplies from entering war torn areas.
Donald Trump tried to summon some of that old school bile on Saturday night, calling Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a quote “dumb son of a bitch” during a speech to Republicans, again repeating his lies that he won the 2020 election. He’s wrong about that, and unfortunately for all of us, he’s wrong about McConnell being dumb. Alas.
APRIL 12, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn