President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Friday to meet with lawmakers on their home ground as Democrats strained to rescue a scaled-back version of his $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill after days of frantic negotiations resulted in no deal.
Biden was greeted by party leaders and headed straight into a private meeting with House Democrats. The White House said he also would be visiting other cities next week to make his case that his historic measures would help the American people.
“We’ve made some progress,” said press secretary Jen Psaki. “Compromise requires everybody giving a little. That’s the stage we’re in.”
However, action had ground to a halt in Congress despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence there would be a “vote today” on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but has become snared in the debate over Biden’s broader measure. Voting on Friday appeared increasingly unlikely, throwing the president’s big domestic agenda into doubt as negotiations dragged.
Holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia had sunk hopes for a swift compromise, despite hours of shuttle diplomacy late Thursday with White House aides on Capitol Hill, when he refused to budge on his demands for a smaller overall package, around $1.5 trillion. That’s too meager for progressive lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the public works measure without a commitment to Biden’s broader framework on the bigger bill.
Talks swirled over a compromise in the $2 trillion range. But with Manchin dug in, a quick deal seemed increasingly out of reach for the present. Still, Biden’s visit was welcomed by Democrats who have complained about not hearing enough from the president about a path forward.
“It’s his time to stand up,” said Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota.
Because of the ongoing negotiations, Biden opted to remain in Washington on Friday instead of traveling to his Delaware home as he often does on weekends. His public approval rating has dropped, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center.
The president and his party are facing a potentially embarrassing setback — and perhaps a politically devastating collapse of the whole enterprise — if they cannot resolve the standoff.
Biden’s bigger proposal is a years-in-the-making collection of Democratic priorities, a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax and spending policies that would essentially raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and plow that money back into government health care, education and other programs, touching the lives of countless Americans.
Biden says the ultimate price tag is zero, because the tax revenue would cover the spending costs — higher rates on businesses earning more than $5 million a year, and individuals earning more than $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for couples.
“We understand that we’re going to have to get everybody on board in order to be able to close this deal,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We’re waiting for that.”
Frustrated and with their trust frayed, centrist Democrats watched the promised vote slip on the first piece of Biden’s proposal, the slimmer $1 trillion public works bill, a roads-and-bridges package, as progressives flexed their leverage.
During a private caucus meeting earlier Friday, Pelosi asked lawmakers to stand if they supported the infrastructure package, and most did, according to those in the room. But Pelosi has few votes to spare and appeared inclined not to risk failure.
Instead, the House and Senate were poised to swiftly approve a 30-day extension of surface transportation programs that are expiring with the fiscal yearend, halting furloughing of more than 3,500 federal transportation workers. That also creates a new deadline to act on the stalled $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
The White House and Democratic leaders are intently focused on Manchin and to some extent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two centrist Democrats who helped steer the public works bill to Senate passage but have concerns that Biden’s overall bill is too big. The two senators have infuriated colleagues with their close-to-the vest negotiations that could tank Biden’s effort — and their own campaign promises.
“I’m willing to sit down and work on the $1.5,” Manchin told reporters Thursday, as protesters seeking a bigger package and Biden’s priorities chanted behind him outside the Capitol.
After hours of negotiations that stretched near midnight Thursday, Manchin said he could not yet compromise. “I don’t see a deal tonight. I really don’t,” Manchin told reporters as he left.
The political stakes could hardly be higher. Biden and his party are reaching for a giant legislative accomplishment — promising to deliver vision, dental and hearing care for seniors, free kindergarten for youngsters, strategies to tackle climate change and more — with a slim majority in Congress.
Pushing the package is testing not just Biden, but Pelosi and some of the leading figures in the Democratic Party whose legacies will be shaped by weather they succeed or fail.
“We’ve been fighting for transformative legislation as all of you know; these discussions have gone on for month after month after month,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the chairman of the Budget Committee and a leading progressive lawmaker. “This is not a baseball game. This is the most significant piece of legislation in 70 years.”
With Republicans all opposed to the president’s big plan, deriding it as slide to socialist-style spending, Biden is reaching for a deal with members of his own party for a signature policy achievement.
It’s not just Manchin’s demands to reduce the overall size, but the conditions he is insisting on that are riling his more liberal colleagues. For example, he wants to ensure the aid goes only to lower-income people, rather than broader swaths of Americans. And he’s resisting some of the bolder efforts to tackle climate change.
Tensions spiked late Wednesday when Manchin sent out a fiery statement, decrying the broad spending as “fiscal insanity.”
Democrats’ campaign promises on the line, progressive lawmakers were fuming, sparks flying at the holdout senators.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., another progressive leader, pointing her criticism clear at Manchin’s remarks.
“Trying to kill your party’s agenda is insanity,” she said.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Kevin Freking, Brian Slodysko and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.
Religious liberty is one of America’s most important freedoms
Religious liberty, the freedom to practice one’s faith, is a vital component of American society. Our founding fathers ensured generations to come that our great nation will always respect every individual’s right to adhere to a certain belief.
“Although no one in America is forced to go to church, we have had more churchgoers in our history than any nation in the world. Religious liberty – meaning we can chose any faith or none – was a wild concept when the Founders decided to try it 250 years ago,” Eric Metaxas, author of the new book, “Is Atheism Dead?” wrote in his recent opinion piece.
“So it was America’s founders who uniquely understood that religious liberty was the key to all other liberties. Liberty – or self-government – required a virtuous people, which was usually the result of freely held faith. Those who answered to a “higher power” didn’t need government to coerce them into doing the right thing. They did it on their own,” Metaxas added.
We are said to be more fortunate than those who are living under extreme Sharia Law in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where other faiths are totally outlawed. One would be hard pressed to find a single catholic church in the city of Riyadh as the only accepted religion there is Islam. Even though the prophet Muhammad taught cultural and religious tolerance, some of his followers have become too austere in their interpretation of the Holy Quran and mandates that only one religion be allowed in their respective domains.
The United States constitution however is vastly different from the authoritarian laws and principles of other countries as it grants total freedom to exercise one’s belief, as long as it corresponds with the basic tenets of morality.
On the other hand, Muslims and Buddhists in China are suffering under the repressive atheist communist regime, as the people continue to face the assault on their religious liberties. Non-believers should understand that embracing atheism or agnosticism is in itself, a personal freedom that can only thrive under a legitimate democracy.
“And while a free nation cannot and should not try to coerce atheists toward belief, people of faith, while we still have a voice, have an urgent duty to alert our fellow citizens that, although religious freedom protects atheists, atheism itself nonetheless has an inherent and – alas – well-established tendency to work not only against religious freedom, but against all freedoms,” Metaxas said.
Rep. Drew Ferguson blasts the Dems for bank account surveillance plan
In a recent press conference held by House Republicans, Georgia congressman and chief deputy whip Drew Ferguson lambasted the Biden administration for their ineffective economic and financial policies.
Ferguson, who is a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, put a spotlight on the government’s proposal to grant the IRS unlimited power to conduct surveillance on bank accounts with at least $600 worth of annual deposits.
“Probably the most egregious provision in the Democrats tax and spend plan, the largest in American history, is a provision that would allow the IRS to spy on your bank accounts. To put that in perspective, if you spent $28 a day, you would get caught up in the IRS drag net. $28 a day, and this is wrong,” Ferguson stated.
“Americans do not want the IRS looking in their bank account and the federal government has no business looking at your private bank accounts and your money,” Ferguson stressed.
The draconian proposal sparked widespread outrage among the public as the topic went viral on social media and various community forum boards. Republican politicians strongly resisted and swiftly introduced the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act in an attempt to block the repressive agenda that is being put in motion by the Biden administration.
“So we introduced a bill to prevent this treasury secretary from implementing rules that would allow the IRS to tap local banks, credit unions, and other entities to spy on your bank accounts,” Ferguson said.
“I can’t imagine a single American, Republican, Democrat, independent, rich, poor that wants the IRS looking into their bank account and for good reason. If you look at the recent history of the organization, they have failed to gain the trust of the American people,” he added.
The Democratic Party’s plan to violate the people’s privacies, clearly resembles the laws that are being enforced by some of the world’s most oppressive totalitarian governments. There is no logical explanation behind their proposal, save for the glaring fact that liberals are simply hungry for more power.
“The Democrats want control. They want control of your life. They want control of your finances. They want control of everything. And we’re here to stand up against that, to push back, and we’re going to continue to raise awareness about this. It is wrong, we think it’s unconstitutional,” Ferguson said.
“It is your private business. It is not the business of the IRS. So with that, we stand committed to blocking this horrible provision and to make sure that we maintain freedom in America’s lives,” he reiterated.
Rand Paul thinks crypto could become the reserve currency of the world
When one of the most severe global economic meltdowns hit the world more than a decade ago, the United States was at the forefront of the uphill struggle. The 2007-2008 financial crisis was often compared by experts to the Great Depression in terms of the magnitude of damage.
The catastrophe subsequently put world governments – including America – on the hot seat. Financial experts and the entire populace started to question the capability of our leaders to handle the fate of our economies. After all, we are the ones who put these public servants in power, giving us every right to demand what’s best for the future of our families.
Fuelled by the frustrating financial system, Bitcoin was developed in 2008 by a certain Satoshi Nakamoto, as a solution for the problems created by unreliable governments and untrustworthy central banks. “Satoshi Nakamoto” is an alias used by a person or possibly a group of people involved in the creation of the world’s first cryptocurrency. The secretive nature of Bitcoin’s origins is a reflection of the decentralized financial system that it wants to promulgate.
Today, America is at the cusp of autocracy as Biden and his cohorts continue to propose harsh policies that mirror the ones that Xi Jinping and the communist party has put in place in China. While the Democratic Party constantly attempts to utilize the “tax the rich” card, the Federal Reserve just keeps on printing cash like there’s no tomorrow. Soon we will all be caught in a tough financial predicament with the continued devaluation of our hard-earned cash. For some, a hedge such as a digital asset, is the only viable option to protect one’s wealth from further depreciation.
Recently, GOP Sen. Rand Paul expressed his bewilderment towards the vigorous growth of cryptocurrencies. The Kentucky senator believes that virtual coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum can become global reserve currencies.
“I’ve started to question now whether or not cryptocurrency could actually become the reserve currency of the world as more and more people lose confidence in government,” Paul said in a recent interview on HBO.
“I’ve been amazed at the growth of it and I’ve always been, you know, more a person who believed that our currency should be backed by something of real value like gold or silver or commodities, and always was wondering well crypto is not backed by anything either,” Paul continued.
“But here’s what I’ve started to believe now is that the government currencies are so unreliable, they’re also fiat currencies, they’re not backed by anything. The dollar has been more stable than most other countries and so it is the reserve currency,” he added.
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