Politics

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The success of the Biden presidency

WaPo:

A guide to all the ways the House spending bill would affect America

Climate, taxes, immigration and other major provisions in the spending bill, explained

WHAT TO KNOW

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Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg:

What Disarray? Democrats Are Getting Stuff Done

House approval of the party’s big climate and spending bill shows that the messy public squabbling over its particulars has actually been constructive negotiation.

The finish line is still weeks away; the Senate is expected to make significant changes, after which the bill will return to the House for what should be final passage. Still, the vote amounted to more vindication of the two-bill strategy the Democrats adopted, which has already produced an infrastructure bill signed into law with bipartisan support. It’s unlikely that either the most liberal or more moderate House Democrats would have voted for the bill on Friday without reasonable confidence that all 50 Democratic senators are willing to go along.

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NY Times:

Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections

Led by Senator Ron Johnson, G.O.P. officials want to eliminate a bipartisan elections agency — and maybe send its members to jail.

The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year’s election.

The onslaught picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the G.O.P.-led Legislature, fueling Republican demands for more control of elections.

Then the Trump-aligned sheriff of Racine County, the state’s fifth most populous county, recommended felony charges against five of the six members of the election commission for guidance they had given to municipal clerks early in the pandemic. The Republican majority leader of the State Senate later seemed to give a green light to that proposal, saying that “prosecutors around the state” should determine whether to bring charges.

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Randall Eliason/sidebarblog:

The Steve Bannon Indictment: Charges and Potential Defenses

As I’ve written here before, this crime is rarely prosecuted and the statute has been largely toothless. Most cases have involved officials of an administration controlled by one party invoking executive privilege and declining to provide documents or testify before a congressional committee controlled by the other party. When Congress then votes to find the witness in contempt and refers the matter to the Department of Justice, it is essentially asking the administration to prosecute one of its own for following the president’s instructions. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t happen.

Administrations of both parties have taken the position that, despite the statute’s “duty” language, prosecutors still retain the discretion to decide whether to pursue the case. And the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel has opined that it would violate the separation of powers for an executive branch official to be charged with contempt for refusing to honor a Congressional subpoena based on a claim of executive privilege.

But Bannon’s case is different: he is not an official within the administration that currently controls the executive branch. And at the time of the events under investigation Bannon was a private citizen, not a member of the Trump administration. The separation of powers issues that have resulted in past cases not being pursued are therefore not present in his case. That’s a big reason why he ended up being the first person in decades to be charged with this crime.

Matthew Green/Mischiefs of Faction:

Why the “GOP Thirteen” aren’t likely to be punished

All the heated rhetoric notwithstanding, it is exceedingly unlikely that such punishments will be imposed. As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson learned a couple of years ago (and as I outlined in a previous post), penalizing defectors in a legislature tends to create more problems than it solves. Among other things, it generates news stories about internal party turmoil, creates resentment within the party, and may put the defectors at electoral risk, thereby hurting the party’s ability to win or maintain a majority.

This is why strong sanctions are seldom employed in Congress. In a book chapter I coauthored with Briana Bee, one of my undergraduate students, we identified 27 lawmakers between 1965 and 2015 who had been threatened with, or subject to, open sanctions by their party – including losing their seniority, losing their committee assignments or leadership posts, or being expelled from the party – for non-ethics related reasons. That’s a tiny fraction of the more than 2,000 individuals who have served in the House and Senate during that forty year period.

Furthermore, in most cases, the reasons for threatening or imposing punishment were based on acts of extreme disloyalty, like opposing the party’s presidential nominee or candidate for Speaker. Only two of the 27 lawmakers were punished for voting the wrong way on a single policy-related vote.

Matt Levin/Marketplace:

“What supply chain crisis?” say Target, Walmart and Home Depot

“I wouldn’t expect to see any glaring shortages of product,” said Liz Suzuki, a retail analyst with Bank of America.

She said big-box retailers learned a lesson from Black Friday 2020, when they actually wanted fewer customers in stores and more online.

Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

Of Course Kyle Rittenhouse Was Acquitted

It is one thing to argue that the jury reached a reasonable verdict based on the law, and another entirely to celebrate Rittenhouse’s actions.

In state after state, they have helped elect politicians who, in turn, have created a permissive legal regime for the carry and use of firearms, rules that go far beyond how courts originally understood the concept of self-defense.

These laws have made it difficult to convict any gun owner who knowingly puts themselves in circumstances where they are likely to use their weapon—that is, anyone who goes looking for a fight. It should come as no surprise then, that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges after shooting three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, killing two of them.  Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed; Gaige Grosskreutz was injured but survived to testify against Rittenhouse at his trial.

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