Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The consequences of inaction and obstruction

Ezra Klein/NY Times:

Biden Is the Anti-Trump, and It’s Working

If you can dial down the conflict, you can dial up the policy.

But the relative quiet is deceptive: Policy is moving at a breakneck pace. The first weeks of the Biden administration were consumed by a flurry of far-reaching executive orders that reopened America to refugees, rejoined the Paris climate accords and killed the Keystone XL oil pipeline, to name just a few. Now the House has passed, and the Senate is considering, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a truly sweeping piece of legislation that includes more than a half-dozen policies — like a child tax credit expansion that could cut child poverty by 50 percent — that would be presidency-defining accomplishments on their own.

NEW: With 50+ mil vaccinated, the the urgent question on many minds is: When can I throw away my mask? In private with other vaccinated people? Right now. In public spaces? Depends on disease rates and the percentage of vaccinated people.

— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) March 3, 2021


Public Wants Stimulus Checks More Than GOP Support for Plan

Just over 6 in 10 (62%) Americans support the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package currently making its way through Congress, while 34% oppose it. Strong support registers at 35% of the public while strong opposition stands at 23%. Overall support for the plan comes from 92% of Democrats and 56% of independents, but just 33% of Republicans.

Most Americans are satisfied with one key component of the package – the $1,400 per person payments to individuals and families who meet certain income levels. A majority (53%) say this amount is about right. Another 28% would like to see larger payments and just 14% want smaller payments.

From a Madison, WI woman’s obituary: “In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Ron Johnson’s opponent in 2022.”

— Reid Wilson (@PoliticsReid) March 3, 2021

Trip Gabriel/NY Times:

Republicans Won Blue-Collar Votes. They’re Not Offering Much in Return.

Party leaders want to capitalize on Donald Trump’s appeal to the white working class. But in recent weeks, they’ve offered very little to advance working people’s economic interests.

Inside and outside the party, critics see a familiar pattern: Republican officials, following Mr. Trump’s own example, are exploiting the cultural anger and racial resentment of a sizable segment of the white working class, but have not made a concerted effort to help these Americans economically.

“This is the identity conundrum that Republicans have,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former congressman from Florida, pointing to the universal opposition by House Republicans to the stimulus drawn up by President Biden and congressional Democrats. “This is a package that Donald Trump would have very likely supported as president.”

New Yorkers to #AndrewCuomo: don’t resign, but don’t run again; Cuomo loses pandemic hero status with mediocre job approval

— Quinnipiac University Poll (@QuinnipiacPoll) March 4, 2021

Annie Lowrey/Atlantic:

Stockton’s Basic-Income Experiment Pays Off

A new study of the city’s program that sent cash to struggling individuals finds dramatic changes.

Two years ago, the city of Stockton, California, did something remarkable: It brought back welfare.

Using donated funds, the industrial city on the edge of the Bay Area tech economy launched a small demonstration program, sending payments of $500 a month to 125 randomly selected individuals living in neighborhoods with average incomes lower than the city median of $46,000 a year. The recipients were allowed to spend the money however they saw fit, and they were not obligated to complete any drug tests, interviews, means or asset tests, or work requirements. They just got the money, no strings attached.  …

Most adults without children have no program to help them keep gas in the car and a roof over their head, no matter how poor they are. Most families with kids don’t have one either. In the United States, poverty is used as a cudgel to get people to work. We got rid of welfare for poor families’ and poor individuals’ own good, the argument goes. Give people money, and they stop working. They become dependent on welfare. They never sort out the problems in their life. The best route out of poverty is a hand up, not a handout.  

Stockton has now proved this false. An exclusive new analysis of data from the demonstration project shows that a lack of resources is its own miserable trap. The best way to get people out of poverty is just to get them out of poverty; the best way to offer families more resources is just to offer them more resources.

Wow. The Capitol Police want a huge budget increase — 20% — to a new level that further undermines Congress’s legislative functions. In the last 25 years, 1/3 of all new funds have gone to them. With current management, this doesn’t seem wise.

— Daniel Schuman (@danielschuman) March 3, 2021

Norm Ornstein/WaPo:

Democrats can’t kill the filibuster. But they can gut it.

Three reforms Manchin and Sinema might consider

Progressives’ anger at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his caucus, who use the filibuster to block every initiative they can, is nearly matched by their frustration with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), whose opposition to getting rid of the filibuster means Democrats are stuck with it, since they’d need all 50 votes in their caucus, plus Vice President Harris as a tiebreaker, to do it. Last month, the progressive No Excuses PAC, whose leaders helped elect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) in 2018, said Manchin and Sinema “stand in the way of progress” by abetting Republican efforts “to shrink their own party’s pandemic relief, climate, and economic investment plans.” The political action committee has talked up primary challenges to both of them to show “‘how angry Democratic primary voters are going to be’ if they continue to support the filibuster.”

Manchin hasn’t budged, though. Monday, when asked if he’d reconsider his stance on eliminating the filibuster, he shot back: “Jesus Christ, what don’t you understand about ‘never’?”

But Democrats should proceed with caution: In 2001, I warned that if Republicans harangued Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) over his apostasy on their party’s policy priorities, they would regret it. He would switch parties and, in a 50-50 Senate, shift the Senate majority. The next month, it happened. The same concern now applies to Democrats with Manchin. Push too far, and the result could be Majority Leader McConnell, foreclosing Democrats’ avenue to pursue infrastructure, tax reform and health reform legislation.

So, what can Democrats do?

GOP Corruption Update (Just Tonight) FL Governor Ron DeSantis GOP Secretary Chao (& McConnell) Top GOP Member on Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan Frmer GOP President Donald J. Trump

— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) March 4, 2021

Greg Bluestein/AJC:

Georgia’s center of political gravity shifting toward Atlanta

The Southside Atlanta district of state Rep. David Dreyer splays out like a wobbly chair as it straddles both sides of the Downtown Connector. And somewhere among the tens of thousands of constituents the Democrat represents, two stand out: newly elected U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

The area has long been home to diverse working-class neighborhoods suffering from a lack of investment. Until a few years ago, some of them didn’t have easy access to a grocery store. And to Dreyer, the fact that Georgia’s two Jan. 5 runoff victors live in his district speaks loudly about the state of Georgia politics.

“Power no longer lies in homogeneous gated communities like Sea Island,” he said. “Power in Georgia now lies in diverse communities.”

As Georgia transforms from a Republican stronghold to the nation’s premier battleground state, a seismic geographic shift is underway.

@OSHA_DOL will issue a mandatory standard later this month that will likely conflict with actions by @GovAbbott and some other governors to end virus exposure prevention efforts in businesses. Allow me to explain 2/

— David Michaels (@drdavidmichaels) March 3, 2021

Neil MacFarquhar/NY Times:

Far-Right Groups Are Splintering in Wake of the Capitol Riot

The breakdown of larger organizations sets the stage for small groups or lone offenders, who are more difficult to track.

“This group needs new leadership and a new direction,” the St. Louis branch of the Proud Boys announced recently on the encrypted messaging service Telegram, echoing denunciations by at least six other chapters also rupturing with the national organization. “The fame we’ve attained hasn’t been worth it.”

Similar rifts have emerged in the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary group that recruits veterans, and the Groyper Army, a white nationalist organization focused on college campuses and a vocal proponent of the false claim that Donald J. Trump won the 2020 presidential election.

The shake-up is driven in part by the large number of arrests in the aftermath of the Capitol riot and the subsequent crackdown on some groups by law enforcement. As some members of the far right exit more established groups and strike out on their own, it may become even more difficult to track extremists who have become more emboldened to carry out violent attacks.

2/ that Joe Biden came into office proposing a relief bill that surprised almost everyone with its scale and is moving rapidly to pass that bill almost wholly intact – which I guarantee exceeded the White House’s own fondest expectations. That is the big story.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 3, 2021

Read more at Daily Kos.