Over the weekend, ANITA DUNN, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, sent a memo to reporters with the subject line, “Momentum Builds for American Jobs Plan.”
While we reporters turn up our noses at press releases, we love memos. They seem so official!
Dunn pointed to the positive reception the Biden infrastructure plan has received in the media and among some business, labor and environmental leaders, and pointed to a trio of polls, including a recent one from POLITICO/Morning Consult, showing support for various aspects of the AJP.
Dunn then turned her attention to how Republicans who oppose the plan have tried to attack it, and the news there was encouraging to the White House as well. “In the face of massive support from the public, it’s no surprise that Republicans have struggled to articulate a reason to oppose the President’s plan,” she wrote.
She dinged the GOP for expressing support for infrastructure spending under DONALD TRUMP but withholding it — so far at least — under President JOE BIDEN. Dunn suggested their opposition to the corporate tax hikes Biden has proposed shows that “Republican lawmakers have been quick to come to the defense of multinational companies.”
There are a couple of notable things about the White House memo’s celebration of the plan’s rollout.
One is that the White House has already settled on a message similar to the one that accompanied the Covid relief-plus bill — that the public (including many Republicans) likes Biden’s policies, even if partisan GOP legislators in Washington don’t. And it’s true. There is a big gap between public support for Biden’s economic policies and how that support translates in Washington. Depending on the poll, as many as half of Republican voters supported the Covid relief bill but zero Republican legislators voted for it.
But Dunn’s memo is probably not the document you send out if your goal is to win over GOP legislators. Biden is going to invite Republicans to the White House, but so far we don’t see a coordinated messaging and outreach campaign to win GOP votes. All signs continue to point to a second reconciliation bill and a White House strategy aimed at keeping the Squad and Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) in the tent rather than trying to attract 10 Republican senators to the effort.
One big question in American politics right now is how much room Democrats have to go big on spending and taxes. Has the year of Covid stimulus checks and government intervention permanently altered how many Americans view the role of government? Or will things snap back as Biden pushes for more government spending in areas well outside of the immediate health and economic crises?
We have been watching the GOP opposition to the Biden plan closely, and so far it has coalesced around two areas: 1) a traditional case against higher taxes and more government spending and 2) an effort to redefine the Biden plan around cultural hot-button issues. Last week a chyron on Fox during a segment about the American Jobs Plan said, “Green New Reparations Bill.”
A third area — one that was often the Achilles’ heel of ambitious legislation in the Obama era — has started bubbling up in conversations with Republicans on the Hill. A bill like this will inevitably require deals to secure Democratic votes, and those efforts could give the sausage-making such a putrid stench that the public will turn away in disgust at the allegedly corrupt process. (Remember the Cornhusker Kickback?)
If we had to guess, Nos. 2 and 3 are more likely to gain traction than No. 1. Culture and corruption are more visceral to voters right now than arguments about bloated government and tax hikes (especially tax hikes on the wealthy). But so far one of the biggest stories of this new president is that his policies have not created the kind of fierce organized backlash that his two Democratic predecessors felt by this point.
It could still happen. But for now, Dunn had reason to crow.
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2022 WARNING SIGN FOR MURKOWSKI? — A new poll commissioned by Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI’S primary opponent, KELLY TSHIBAKA, shows the challenger leading in the all-party, open primary by 15 points over the three-term incumbent. Tshibaka — a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner who recently hired Trump’s 2022 campaign manager BILL STEPIEN and deputy campaign manager JUSTIN CLARK to run her campaign — leads 34% to 19%, while AL GROSS, who ran as an independent last year, pulls 18%. Tshibaka has 61% favorability among both Trump voters and Republican voters.
By contrast, Murkowski is deep underwater at 33-63 favorable/unfavorable overall and 10/87 among Republicans, according to the survey conducted by the GOP polling firm Cygnal. Though Trump has not endorsed Tshibaka, he has vowed to campaign against Murkowski for voting to impeach him. Trump won 53% of the vote in Alaska last year, but we wouldn’t be so quick to bet against Murkowski, especially under Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system. Candidates of all parties compete in an open primary in August 2022, with the top four candidates advancing to the general election. In 2010, Murkowski waged a successful write-in campaign after losing the Republican nomination to Tea Party-backed candidate JOE MILLER. The polling memo
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BIDEN’S MONDAY — The president will arrive at the White House at 11:30 a.m. and receive the President’s Daily Brief at noon. He’ll deliver remarks about “the tradition of Easter at the White House” at 1 p.m.
— VP KAMALA HARRIS will travel to Oakland, Calif., at 8:40 a.m. Pacific time from Los Angeles. She’ll tour a facility to highlight the infrastructure bill’s investments in clean drinking water infrastructure. She’ll then hold a listening session with California leaders and a small business owner who got help from Community Development Financial Institutions. She’ll leave Oakland at 2:25 p.m. Pacific time for Los Angeles, where she’ll remain overnight.
— The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1:30 p.m.
THE HOUSE will meet at noon and THE SENATE at 2 p.m. in pro forma sessions.
THE WEEK AHEAD — Biden will visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Va., and deliver remarks about the vaccine effort Tuesday. He’ll deliver remarks about his infrastructure/jobs bill proposal Wednesday.
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A woman raising her fist at a gathering is pictured. | Getty Images
PHOTO OF THE DAY: A woman raises her fist during a gathering in Minneapolis, Minn. amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Sunday, April 4. | Brandon Bell/Getty Images
MONDAY LISTEN — The latest episode of POLITICO’s “Dispatch” podcast features an exclusive interview with ANTHONY FAUCI. Among his comments: He says vaccine passports are “not going to be mandated from the federal government.” And he says if all goes well, he expects Americans could go to a packed movie theater with no mask by late fall/early winter. Listen and subscribe
THE TAX HIKES — “Some Democrats Cool to Biden’s Plan to Boost Corporate Tax Rate,” WSJ: “President Biden’s proposed tax increases on corporations as part of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan have drawn a skeptical reaction from some Democrats, who instead favor borrowing money to pay for the investments or raising other levies, like the gasoline tax, to do so. …
“Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he didn’t think paying for the full cost of the plan through tax increases was necessary.”
BIDEN’S BIPARTISAN BOOGIE — “Biden’s next big bill could revive — or bury — his bipartisan brand,” by Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine: “[Maine GOP Sen. Susan] Collins said she has spoken one-on-one recently with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, describing the administration’s overall outreach as ‘significant.’ But she said that for Republicans, ‘the question is: is the administration so wedded to the details of its plan, including its exorbitant top line, that these are just courtesy briefings as opposed to the beginning of a true dialogue?’
“What happens in the next few weeks to Biden’s $2 trillion-plus spending plan could determine the course of his first two years in office. If he takes a partisan approach again to enact tax increases and new spending, it would almost certainly chill the already difficult gun safety and immigration reform talks taking place in a closely divided Congress.”
BEHIND THE SCENES — “Inside the White House plan to sell its massive infrastructure proposal,” by Natasha Korecki and Megan Cassella: “The massive outreach campaign, detailed to POLITICO by several senior White House officials, comes as the Biden administration attempts to move a behemoth spending package across the goal line, just weeks after winning approval from Congress for its $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. …
“As one person close to the White House put it, in their mind, Republicans will be viewed as ‘profoundly out of touch’ if they don’t get on board with backing the next round of spending. … Part of the sales pitch to Americans will be an appeal to suburban women, who have been particularly battered by the pandemic, leaving the workforce in droves and often carrying the burden of caretaking amid schools and childcare center closures.”
STILL STANDING — “Cheney snags victories ahead of her next battle with Trumpworld,” by Melanie Zanona: “Rep. Liz Cheney took on the Trump wing of her party and survived its attempt to politically kneecap her. But it’s only the beginning of what looks like a years-long fight for her place in the GOP. … Cheney has racked up a string of wins that put her on more solid footing in the party — starting with her easy victory over a conservative-led effort to oust her as House GOP conference chair. …
“She still has to lock down her party’s endorsement in the deep red state of Wyoming next August, leaving plenty of time for pro-Trump forces to mobilize against her — though she’s likely to benefit from multiple pro-Trump candidates competing for the same lane. If Cheney can hang on to her House seat, however, her ability to climb the Republican leadership ranks may still be hamstrung by her vote against a former president who’s said to be obsessed with taking down the Republicans who helped impeach him.”
BIG PROFILE — “Introducing Todd Young, the most important senator you’ve never heard of,” Insider: “If President Biden is going to score legislative compromises in this age of disunity, especially on foreign policy, he’ll need the help of a below-the-radar, rock-ribbed Republican senator from Indiana to do it. Meet Todd Young, who’s scored a rare GOP invite to the Biden White House, retweets from the Democratic president’s national security advisor, and private meetings with the ‘shadow’ secretary of State, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. In hours of exclusive interviews with Insider’s Adam Wren, including playing pickup soccer in the Indianapolis suburbs, Young dishes about his White House meeting with Biden, his unlikely partnership with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump, and the future of the GOP.”
GAETZ-GATE — MELANIE ZANONA (@MZanona): “Matt Gaetz’s office says a former staffer will hold a media availability [today at noon] regarding ‘recent encounter with the FBI.’” Details
YIKES — “Rep. Murphy facing criticism over deleted tweet in response to Muslim congresswoman,” WITN: “Following Friday’s Capitol grounds attack that saw a police officer killed, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted her condolences but also feelings about how the attack could have been worse.
“‘Heartbroken to learn another CP was killed while protecting the Capitol. My thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family and the entire Capitol Police force. The death toll would have been worse if the assailant had an AR-15 instead of a knife,’ the tweet reads. In a now-deleted tweet, Congressman Greg Murphy responded on Saturday, ‘Would have been worse @Ilhan if they had been flying planes into the buildings also.’”
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FROM 30,000 FEET — “Culture wars strain once unshakeable bond between Republicans, corporate America,” NBC: “The shift is the product of a Republican Party increasingly driven by ‘culture war’ issues that animate a base invigorated by Trump and corporate powerhouses that are under more pressure than ever to align themselves with the left on voting rights, LGBTQ rights and anti-racist efforts.
“The result is a fraying in relations between a GOP that has for years advocated for the kinds of libertarian economic policies that have widely benefited these businesses and companies that are using their might to help advance racial and social justice causes.”
RACIAL RECKONING — “Amid Awakening, Asian-Americans Are Still Taking Shape as a Political Force,” NYT: “As relatively new voters, many Asian-Americans find themselves uniquely interested in both major parties, drawn to Democrats for their stances on guns and health care, and to Republicans for their support for small business and emphasis on self-reliance. But they do not fit into neat categories. The Democratic position on immigration attracts some and repels others. The Republican anti-Communist language is compelling to some. Others are indifferent.”
HISTORY LESSON — “Bernice King maintains father’s assassination was government ‘conspiracy,’” TheGrio: “In a recent interview with theGrio, Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s daughter, Bernice King, spoke on the harrowing details of her father’s autopsy pictures. The graphic images, she recalled, showed that Dr. King’s whole jaw had been shot off. King also maintains a stance taken by the King family that his death was a multi-governmental conspiracy. …
“Former New York Congressman Ed Towns … told theGrio that ‘there was not enough time and energy’ given to the original probe of King’s assassination. Bernice King strongly contends there is still a search for answers as the assassination of her father was a culminated effort involving ‘federal, state and local governments,’ including the ‘Memphis Police Department.’ More than half a century after his assassination, Bernice King told theGrio that James Earl Ray, the man convicted in Dr. King’s murder, ‘was used as a diversion with the gun that he had.’”
SEARCH FOR SUPPLIER — “U.S. searches for new AstraZeneca vaccine producer after Emergent mix-up,” by Sarah Owermohle: “U.S. health officials are helping AstraZeneca find a new manufacturing partner for millions of its coronavirus shots after the contractor Emergent BioSolutions mixed up ingredients for two Covid-19 vaccines it’s simultaneously producing, a senior health official told POLITICO.
“The Biden administration already told Johnson & Johnson to directly take over vaccine manufacturing at Emergent’s Maryland plant after reports that the manufacturer had contaminated 15 million Johnson & Johnson doses with ingredients for AstraZeneca’s shot. But now, officials are telling AstraZeneca to cut ties with Emergent entirely, worried about the prospect for more mishaps that could erode public confidence in Covid vaccines, the official said. They added that the administration has identified two potential partners for AstraZeneca to work with on future production.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
‘60 MINUTES’ INVESTIGATION — “How the wealthy cut the line during Florida’s frenzied vaccine rollout,” CBS: “For three months, we’ve been reporting around Palm Beach County, the third-largest in the state. It’s home to old-monied millionaires but also some of the poorest day laborers and farm workers in America. During those months, we watched Florida’s vaccine rollout deteriorate into a virtual free for all and watched as some wealthy and well-connected residents cut the line, leaving other Floridians without a fair shot. …
“You have to catch two buses to get to the nearest Publix from the Glades. It’s 34 stops. More than two hours round trip. A daunting task in the middle of a pandemic, especially if you’re elderly. So why did the governor choose Publix? Campaign finance reports obtained by 60 Minutes show that weeks before the governor’s announcement, Publix donated $100,000 to his political action committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.” Denials of impropriety from Publix and DeSantis
THOUGHTFUL INTERVIEW from TINA NGUYEN: “Andrew Yang’s Asian American Superpower”: “Yang finally opened up over lunch, the two of us chatting fluently to each other in the shorthand of Asian immigrant kids — me, the Vietnamese American smartass from Boston’s South Shore, and him, the sunny child of Taiwanese academics who settled in Westchester County. We talked about Asian American bloggers, John Cho, classic anime and Korean martial arts; we griped over people automatically assuming we were from California.
“[His] inclination is to downplay how this upbringing shaped him. … But if you get Yang by himself next to a pile of duck meat and hoisin sauce, with his white aides tactfully getting fried rice at a table further away, and give him an hour to talk about second-gen Asian kid angst, it quickly rises to the surface — as if it had never disappeared, but no one had ever asked him about it (in the media, at least).”
BIG FOR THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY — “Rival Group Makes Fully Financed, Roughly $680 Million Bid for Tribune,” WSJ: “A Maryland hotel magnate and a Swiss billionaire have made a bid for Tribune Publishing Co. that the newspaper chain is expected to favor over a takeover deal it already struck with hedge fund Alden Global Capital LLC. … The decision came after the two men indicated they plan to personally contribute more than $600 million combined, up from a previous total of $200 million …
“If Alden loses the deal, it would mark a stunning, 11th-hour turnaround for the New York hedge fund, and a major victory for critics who say its model of aggressive cost-cutting has hurt the local news industry.”
BEN SMITH COLUMN: “The Lawyer Behind the Throne at Fox,” NYT: “Last month, Lachlan Murdoch moved his family to Sydney, Australia, an unlikely base for a company whose main assets are American. The move has intensified the perception — heightened when he stood by as Fox News hosts misinformed their audience about Covid-19 last year — that Mr. Murdoch does not have a tight grip on the reins. The company takes pains to rebut that perception …
“But [Viet] Dinh, 53, was ready to step in, and indeed has been seen internally as the company’s power center since before Mr. Murdoch headed across the globe. … [He] is a surprising figure to play a central role overseeing the most powerful megaphone of the Trump movement. He’s part of the tight, elite group of conservative lawyers who largely disliked Donald J. Trump’s bombast and disdain for the law — he is said to regularly deride the former president in private — though they appreciated his judicial appointments and some other policies. And Mr. Dinh isn’t just a member of that group, but a true star of it.”
STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: It actually is infrastructure week … and it will be for a while. What is the administration’s plan to get its top legislative priority through Congress? Add Transition Playbook to your daily reads for details you won’t find anywhere else about the state of play of the administration’s top priorities and biggest challenges. Track the people, policies and power centers of the Biden administration. Subscribe today.
MEDIAWATCH — Kelly Laco is now news/politics editor at Fox News. She previously was comms director for the Republican Attorneys General Association and a DOJ spokesperson.
TRANSITIONS — Joan Kirchner Carr is starting Joan K. Carr Consulting after 20 years in the Senate. She is former chief of staff to three senators from Georgia: Republicans Kelly Loeffler and Johnny Isakson, and Democrat Zell Miller. … Danny Kazin is joining American Bridge 21st Century as VP of campaigns to oversee the paid media program. He most recently ran the DCCC’s independent expenditure last cycle. … Joe Hack is joining the Daschle Group as a VP, making the firm bipartisan as its first Republican. He previously was chief of staff for Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). …
… Aaron Bennett is now deputy speechwriter for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He previously was press and digital assistant for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). … Christina Lotspike is now senior manager of federal affairs at Instacart. She previously was VP of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. … Bernard Fulton is joining the Housing Policy Council as VP of government relations. He most recently was a senior policy advisor for financial services at the National Association of Realtors, and is a Zero to Three and HUD alum.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, has named its new class of international strategy fellows, including Alex Loehr, Camille Stewart, Corey Jacobson, Daniel Lippman, Elizabeth Ralph, Kate Kizer, Katie Bruce, Ken Sofer, Sofia Gross and Tess deBlanc-Knowles.