Supercreator AM: Biden’s speech, McDonald’s benefits, America’s deadly climate cycle

Plus: How Democrats plan to pass their infrastructure priorities without Republican support.

Good morning and welcome to Supercreator AM. It’s TuesdayJuly 13. I’m Michael, writing to you from New York City. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day:

  • Most fully vaccinated people who get Delta are asymptomatic ⇢ Rich Mendez at NBC News: The World Health Organization said that people who are fully vaccinated can still be infected with the Delta variant but that the shots have protected most people from getting severely sick or dying. Health officials said over 99 percent of people who died due to the virus in June were unvaccinated.

  • Related: Rich countries should donate their vaccine surplus ⇢ Maria Cheng at AP News: Since there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed, WHO recommends wealthy nations should share doses with poor countries instead of using them as booster shots.

  • President Biden to give a speech on voting rights in Philly ⇢ Jonathan Lemire at AP News: As voting rights legislation has stalled at the federal level and anti-voter bills are passing at the state level, the president will make the “moral case” for securing and expanding the right to vote at the National Constitution Center later today. “He will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

  • Texas Democrats flee the state in protestThe Texas House Democratic Caucus: Yesterday, Texas House Democrats left the state to keep Republicans from the minimum number of members they need to pass an anti-voter bill. (The bill was blocked last month too.) Gov. Greg Abbott said they’ll be arrested when they return to the state; meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris praised their “courage and committment.”

  • The west coast is caught in a cycle of “heat, drought and fire” ⇢ Maanvi Singh at The Guardian: The extreme heatwaves we’ve seen over the past few weeks are drying up the water reserves in places like Southern California, Nevada and Oregon, which leads to the destructive wildfires that have become all too common in recent years. “For our most vulnerable, disadvantaged communities, this also creates compounding health effects,” Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the nonprofit advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, said. “First there’s the heat. Then for many families their water supplies are affected. And then it’s also the same heat and drought that are exacerbating wildfires and leading to smoky, unhealthy air quality.”

  • Police officers dehumanize Black male drivers ⇢ Olafimihan Oshin at The Hill: A new study found that officers show the Black men they pull over “less warmth, respect and ease” during traffic stops. You don’t say? 🙄

  • McDonald’s adds new perks to attract empowered workers ⇢ Heather Haddon at WSJ: Mickey D’s is offering higher wages, paid time off and tuition payments to rehab its image and make the fast-food chain somewhere people want to work. According to an internal presentation, the new employee initiatives aim to “fundamentally change what it means to work at a McDonald’s restaurant.”

◆◇ ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN ◆◇

The two words that will make or break Biden’s agenda ⇢ In yesterday’s newsletter, I mentioned the Senate is at the start of a three-week sprint to pass trillions of dollars investments to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, expand our social safety net and confront the climate crisis.

Democrats are taking a two-track approach that includes a bipartisan framework that senators hope can attract Republican support on one course while advancing several progressive priorities on the other.

Today, I want to spend a few moments on a term you’ll be hearing a lot of through the fall: budget reconciliation. But first, let’s discuss a word you’ve likely already heard but may be unsure what it actually is — the filibuster.

For most of the Senate’s existence (and technically still today), a simple majority is all that’s required to pass a bill. But if a senator wants to, they can raise the number of votes it takes from a simple majority to a higher threshold — today, it’s sixty — to keep a bill they don’t support from advancing. What’s bonkers is the senator doesn’t have to explain their decision in public or private if they don’t want to. They can just throw this stonewall up and stop legislation in its tracks.

Right now, progressives hate the filibuster and want to abolish it because they view it as a relic to preserve Jim Crow laws (back in the day, civil rights reforms were the only measures that were filibustered by racist senators) and an impediment to passing their legislative priorities. (Most recently, this happened during a vote to advance the For The People voter expansion bill.) Conservatives (and two moderate Democrats ... and President Biden) love the filibuster because they say it preserves the rights of the minority and compels both sides to compromise.

There’s one kind of legislation that’s exempt from the filibuster and that’s any kind that can be passed through budget reconciliation, which enables the Senate to take on spending, revenues and the debt limit in a single or multiple bills. The process starts with a budget resolution that includes “reconciliation directives” for specified committees. Both the House and the Senate have to agree on this resolution. (Right now, Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is leading the work of crafting the resolution that will set the guidelines for reconciliation.)

Budget reconciliation was created in the ‘70s as a way to reclaim power from the executive branch on setting the budget and spending priorities after Nixon and Watergate. The Senate parliamentarian unilaterally decides if a bill can be passed via reconciliation and what policies can be included. (Democrats wanted to increase the federal minimum wage earlier this year using this method but the parliamentarian wasn’t having it.)

This process has been used several times since then in the past four decades to reduce deficits, reform the safety net and pass Bush and Trump’s tax cuts. Republicans attempted — and failed — to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation twice. Years earlier, reconciliation was used to amend the health care law and tweak the federal student loan program. Most recently, Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package in March via reconciliation without any Republican support. And the GOP is unlikely to support passing any of the provisions on the aforementioned climate change, health care and the care economy. So if Biden and Democrats get any more major wins before next year’s midterms, budget reconciliation will be a large reason why.

◆◇ IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ◆◇

President Biden meets with leaders and activists on gun violence ⇢ The White House convened a meeting yesterday with President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, elected officials and law enforcement leaders to discuss how to tamp the crime and gun violence surging across the country. Eric Adams, the recent winner of New York City’s Democratic primary for mayor and the meeting’s headline guest, called for a citywide “joint gang and guns” task force for a holistic approach to ridding underserved communities of guns. And I wrote about the similarities between the two politicians and why the meeting was good politics for Biden in yesterday’s Supercreator PM:

From a pure optics perspective, this is good politics for the president. The majority of Americans are concerned about rising crime. Polling in May found that more Americans now say violent crime is a “very big problem” than say the same about the coronavirus. (In another poll, only one in five say police treat people equally even as worries about crime surge.) Biden earns pretty low marks on his handling of the issue with the approval of just 38 percent of adults overall, while 48 percent disapprove. (FWIW: 36 percent of adults trust Republicans more to handle crime, 36 percent prefer Democrats and 20 percent said they don’t trust either party.) So it’s important for Americans to feel as though crime in general and gun violence, in particular, are priorities for the president. Also important: That Black leaders have a seat at the table during discussions of policing and public safety. I’m sure the administration believes Biden’s meeting ticks both boxes.

Read the rest of the column: “Biden and NYC’s presumptive next mayor talk crime”

◆◇ THE MORNING READ ◆◇

“Why is it so hard to forgive?” ⇢ Elizabeth Bruenig in conversation with Sean Illing at Vox: “Forgiveness gets confused with so many things. It gets confused with mitigation or exoneration or with this idea that we have to pretend that what took place wasn’t all that bad, which is just wrong in my view. But more critically, forgiveness is a very difficult moral practice. And so when you get in a situation where you’re asking someone to forgive, the response often comes from a place of, ‘Look, I was victimized, I did nothing wrong, I was minding my business and someone hurt me and I’ll never get that back. Now you’re telling me I have to do this extra work? I have to add a layer of emotional labor and the person who caused this harm is off the hook?’ And fuck, that’s not an unreasonable feeling to have there. I get it.”


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