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Republicans Just Barely Pass Their Radical and Useless Debt Bill

Congrats to Kevin McCarthy for selling his soul for this bill.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans have passed their debt bill that in fact does nothing fiscally responsible and, more immediately, will probably not pass the Senate and definitely will not pass Biden’s desk.

On Wednesday, after much ado and push-and-pull, the bill just barely passed at 217–215, with four Republicans voting against.

Last week, Republicans introduced their “plan,” that, at its core, would further indebt America and millions of people within.

The bill’s main priorities include instating work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, reducing funding for the Internal Revenue Service, repealing green energy programs, and blocking Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

Republicans have filed a provision to make Medicaid recipients fulfill certain income and work requirements; if they don’t, Republicans want to kick them off their health insurance plans.

They also inserted a provision for work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Adults without children would have to fulfill work requirements up to the age of 56, overturning current law that has the threshold at age 49.

Republicans also voted to cut funding from the IRS after Biden buttressed it. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the IRS program would reduce the deficit by $120 billion over the next decade (ergo, if Republicans got their way, they would add to the deficit).

Finally, the Republican proposal aims to repeal an array of already-passed Inflation Reduction Act provisions, like tax credits for electric vehicles, and block Biden’s plan to relieve 43 million people from crippling student debt.

And since the bill was first introduced last week, it has somehow gotten worse.

After last-minute negotiations with fellow Republicans, McCarthy and leadership agreed to more restrictive changes. The final bill tightens rules for social welfare programs even further and repeals more elements of the IRA (on energy-efficient construction codes, loans for energy infrastructure projects, neighborhood transportation access, climate pollution, and the status of our National Parks).

What is remarkable is that Republicans are looking to screw over Americans either way. If, somehow, this bill passed, millions of Americans would have the boot of the government on their necks in the form of Social Service austerity and bloated student debt. It would also make America even more susceptible to climate disaster by virtue of prolonging our already delayed energy transition.

And if the bill doesn’t advance any further, as it probably will not, Republicans increase the risk that America will default, which would lead to catastrophic consequences, including interrupting federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and even federal salaries. The default would also upend global financial stability.

“We are focused on painting for the American people what is going to happen if they default,” House Minority Whip Katherine Clark told TNR. “The costs are going to be borne by everyday Americans in skyrocketing costs.”

Pablo Manríquez contributed reporting to this story.

Montana Republicans Punish Transgender Lawmaker for Having the Nerve to Call Them Out

Zooey Zephyr has become a target after criticizing Republicans’ anti-trans legislation.


In Montana, Republicans are continuing their vicious quest to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

On Wednesday, the Montana House voted 68–32, on a party-line vote, to censure Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first and only transgender legislator.

For the rest of the 2023 session, Zephyr will be barred from entering the House floor or even gallery. She will instead be forced to participate remotely. She will be able to vote on bills but will not be able to speak about them.

This cannot be overemphasized: Zephyr is being removed for the simple act of advocating for her life, and for the lives of many other trans Montanans.

“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you are doing is using decorum as a tool for oppression,” Zephyr said on the floor of a House filled with members seeking to dehumanize her and so many others.

Indeed, the practice echoes what just happened in Tennessee, as Republicans expelled two Black Democratic members for breaching “decorum” after they stood in solidarity with thousands of parents, teachers, and students protesting gun violence in the wake of a school shooting that left three children and three adults dead.

Republicans have actively silenced Zephyr since last week, after she spoke out against a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Among her remarks was a warning that such a bill would increase the risk of suicide among trans and nonbinary kids.

“I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” she said.

Instead of even remotely heeding such a warning—about the risk of more kids dying—Republicans voted unanimously to silence the messenger. To repeat: Instead of even feigning concern about children taking their own lives, Republicans are silencing the person warning them about what will happen because of their actions.

While Republicans carry on their callous censorial campaign, Montana residents have come out in full force to support Zephyr, rallying behind her and demanding she be allowed to speak just as everyone else is.

Even Nikki Haley Is Dunking on Ron DeSantis for His Feud With Disney

The Florida governor is not having a good week.

M. Scott Brauer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Even Nikki Haley thinks that Ron DeSantis’s rapidly escalating feud with Disney is ridiculous.

Disney sued DeSantis Wednesday, alleging that he and his administration carried out a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” in retaliation for the company opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“If Disney would like to move their hundreds of thousands of jobs to South Carolina and bring the billions of dollars with them, I’ll let them know I’ll be happy to meet them in South Carolina and introduce them to the governor and the legislature that would welcome it,” Haley said on Fox News after the news broke.

The official Twitter account for her presidential campaign also posted about DeSantis’s weird feud, a sign that Haley could be poised to make this a major issue.

Haley has not been a main contender for the Republican 2024 nomination. That was actually supposed to be DeSantis, but his campaign seems to be flopping before it has even been officially announced.

Disney Tells Ron DeSantis: Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes

A new Disney lawsuit goes after DeSantis for all his attacks on the company.

Ron DeSantis
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. Ron DeSantis is learning this the hard way in his feud with Disney, which escalated Wednesday when the company sued him for “government retaliation.”

The Florida governor has been in the weirdest back-and-forth with Disney World since 2022, after the company’s then chairman condemned DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. DeSantis retaliated by stripping the park of its autonomous governing powers and installing a leadership board of allies.

Disney sued DeSantis Wednesday, alleging that he and his administration carried out a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the company’s free speech rights—and they have the receipts. Court documents cite extensively from DeSantis’s own memoir, which he is currently promoting ahead of his widely anticipated presidential run.

The legal filings also include myriad quotes from DeSantis allies blatantly stating that the bill dissolving Disney’s autonomous district was in direct response to the company opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The lawsuit came just minutes after the DeSantis-appointed board voted to nullify two agreements that gave Disney control over its Florida resort complex.

It’s clear why DeSantis has waged war on Disney: Regardless of whether he runs for president, he is trying to establish himself as an “anti-woke” champion. But in doing so, he’s ignoring what his constituents actually want and need. All this for a presidential run that’s barely taking off.

Republican Senator Says Climate Change Only Sucks If You’re in Africa

This is not clickbait.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ron Johnson believes the globe heating up is actually good, well, unless you’re in Africa.

“You’re concerned if you’re in the really hot region of Africa, but in terms of the United States, and most of Europe, we’re in pretty good shape,” the Wisconsin senator said.

Johnson’s broader point was supposedly about excess death mitigation. During his questioning, Johnson cited a Lancet study that found about 4.6 million worldwide cold-related excess deaths, and 500,000 heat-related ones—so a rapidly warming globe must be good for us.

(Well, good for some of us; he seemed pretty flippant about the notion of more Africans dying.)

Regardless, Johnson’s formulation sounds novel—if one were also a goldfish. There’s quite a few reasons why the logic underneath the notion doesn’t hold, and quite a few reasons why Johnson’s conclusion is ludicrous.

The amount of time people are in extreme cold versus extreme warmth during the calendar year differs. The levels of how much extreme cold or how much extreme warmth is needed to cause death are not equivalent. And the study Johnson cited could not account for other modifiers, including influenzas—which are often much more active and deadly during the winter.

Beyond the structural limitations of the study Johnson is studying, his broader point is illogical.

For one, the goal should be to minimize death in all cases—whether heat or cold-related. And his open-faced admission that places like Africa could be less suited for heat increases than the United States or Europe gets to a deeper issue: Climate change will not affect us equally. Sure, some high-income places may be more equipped to minimize heat-related harm in the short term, but many places will not be—and this says nothing of the long term. Even the study Johnson cited concedes that “in the long run, climate change is expected to increase mortality burden.”

Finally, Johnson’s notion is just as elementary in conceptualizing how the world works. He, as the general conservative mindset operates, has no engagement with broader conditions or systems. Science has exhibited again and again how climate warming will harm habitats, debilitate food systems, and dry out water infrastructure. That all is a recipe for mass death of humans, animals, and plants at an unimaginable scale. And the more that nature is harmed, the quicker those harms get even worse. It’s a snowball effect that transcends simple arithmetic of “temperature go up, death go down.”

All this is to say, if you’re looking for any guidance for how we should consider the risks of climate change, Ron Johnson is not your go-to source.

Montana Republicans Threaten to Expel the Only Trans Legislator

Republicans are holding a vote on “disciplinary consequences” for state Representative Zooey Zephyr.

Trans flag

The Montana House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on “disciplinary measures” against the state’s only transgender lawmaker, whom Republicans have silenced after she slammed their anti-trans legislation. That could mean censuring her or expelling her entirely.

Republicans have not allowed Zephyr to speak on the House floor since last week, when she spoke out against a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. She warned that taking away health care would increase suicide among trans and nonbinary kids. “I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” she said at the time.

Montana residents have rallied around Zephyr, demanding she be allowed to speak. Things came to a head on Monday, when a protest broke out in the gallery after Zephyr was silenced once more. Chants of “Let her speak!” rang out as security escorted people out, arresting seven protesters. Zephyr held her microphone up to amplify the chants.

Republican House leadership set a vote for Wednesday to either censure or expel Zephyr over her “conduct.” She will be allowed to speak for the first time in nearly a week.

The House GOP has tried to cast Zephyr’s actions as disruptive. They called her initial comments inappropriate and disrespectful, misgendering her in the process, and accused her of trying to start an insurrection on Monday. They also held a press conference Tuesday, during which they insisted Zephyr was not being silenced, and then canceled House proceedings for the day.

Democratic lawmakers have come to Zephyr’s support, with House Minority Leader  Kim Abbott slamming Republicans for “doubling down on their agenda of running roughshod over Montanans’ rights—to free expression, to peaceful protest, to equal justice under the law.” But Republicans have a supermajority in the chamber, and there isn’t much Democrats can do to stop them forging ahead with their agenda.

Zephyr’s situation is painfully reminiscent of Tennessee, where two Black Democratic lawmakers were expelled for joining protesters demanding gun control. Republicans there also compared the protests to the January 6 insurrection. Both lawmakers were ultimately reinstated.

“What you’re watching here, is you’re watching people who do not want to see democracy in action,” Zephyr said Monday after the protest.

Reader Poll: How Likely Is a Trump-DeSantis Unity Ticket?

A new report in a Murdoch-owned paper is hinting at the possibility.

Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump sit at a table with a banner reading "We're in this together" behind them.

Reports in The New York Post’s Page Six, a Rupert Murdoch-owned paper, suggest that “Trumpworld insiders” are pressing twice-impeached former President Donald Trump to make Ron DeSantis his running mate … and apparently Trump is “listening” (which, for Trump, is indeed a lot!).

The reports come after earlier indications that neither of the extremists would want to run with each other.

“I think that would be a very unlikely alliance,” Trump said in March. DeSantis, for his part, said he’s “more of an executive guy.”

But a month later, as Trump continues his scorched-earth endorsement-collection campaign, leaving DeSantis embarrassed in the dust, conditions may have changed for the pair.

“Supporters say the VP offer [would] stop DeSantis from opposing [Trump] and offer a ‘youthful conservative vigor’ to the slot, which Biden doesn’t have,” the source told Page Six.

It’s an unlikely pairing. And an incredibly demonic thing to imagine.

MAGA’s New Culprit in Carlson’s Firing: RINO Globalist Paul Ryan!

The conspiracy theories are running rampant.

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images

First, it was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now the far right is blaming Paul Ryan for Tucker Carlson’s sudden departure from Fox.

Ryan is one of eight members of Fox’s board of directors. While there has long been some latent far-right disdain for the former Republican House speaker, the new conspiracy theory around Carlson revolves around Ryan’s disinterest in disputing the 2020 election results.

Some on the right point to court documents revealed during the Dominion v. Fox defamation lawsuit as proof of Ryan’s offense.

Fox “should not be spreading conspiracy theories,” Ryan allegedly told Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Ryan believed that the theories were “baseless” and that Fox “should labor to dispel conspiracy theories if and when they pop up.”

Such beliefs apparently incriminate Ryan. Perhaps the most offensive thing he said? That Fox should “move on from Donald Trump and stop spouting election lies.”

And that explains pretty concisely why the far right is embracing the theory: because they themselves still believe the 2020 election was stolen. Never mind that Fox coughed up $787.5 million to Dominion to stop further inquiry into the network’s lies about the company.

The Ryan conspiracy theory has metastasized into tangential strains. For instance, just as Fox has been infiltrated by RINO-ideology, so apparently has the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

Or, more readily, the whole thing is about the conservative establishment getting behind Ron DeSantis (despite his having barely a handful of endorsements from Republican establishment elected officials, while Trump has now locked up over 60):

Again, the far right is assailing Ryan for the high crime of thinking that maybe Fox shouldn’t spread lies about the 2020 election. It could very well be that Ryan thought Carlson was bad for the network—though given that numerous hosts were spreading lies about the election, some even more than Carlson, Ryan would’ve had to clean out the whole house. And that’s assuming Ryan was somehow influential enough to do so at all. Whatever decisions were made by the higher-ups to let go of Carlson, it certainly took more than the complaints of one Paul Ryan.

Carlson Was Drunk With Power—and Murdoch Was Taking Notes

Tucker Carlson called a Fox News executive a slur. And that’s just where the story begins.

A billboard put up by progressive activist group MoveOn that reads “I Hate [Trump] Passionately - Tucker Carlson, January 4, 2021" and a photo of him looking confused.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Erstwhile television host Tucker Carlson may have gotten too big for his britches at Fox News, and the network is reportedly poised to punish him for it.

Carlson was abruptly fired Monday, prompting much speculation as to why. He had featured prominently in court documents released by Dominion Voting Systems that showed he knew he was spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election on his show. Documents also revealed Carlson privately (and regularly) bashed Fox executives.

He went so far as to refer to one executive as the c-word. When Fox News lawyers told him they had persuaded the court to redact the slur from the legal filings, Carlson was angry, the The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. He wanted everyone to know just how much he despised that executive, according to the Journal.

The Journal, citing anonymous sources, said that “reservations had been mounting” about Carlson. There was concern among top executives that if any of the redacted information about him in the Dominion filings became public, it would be damaging to the network. But there were also concerns that “the populist firebrand had come to believe himself bigger than the network—a cardinal sin in Fox Corp.”

Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz suggested that Carlson may have directed the slur at Irena Briganti, who leads Fox’s Communications Department, given other text messages in the court filings. Briganti is notoriously combative, and many former Fox employees have accused her of planting negative stories about them after they left the network. Multiple women who work at Fox told New York magazine in 2016 that they did not speak out about past sexual harassment because “they were terrified Briganti would find out and smear them in the press.”

Briganti is also known for compiling dossiers of damaging information on individual Fox employees—and she might have one on Carlson. Rolling Stone reported Wednesday that Fox has assembled an “oppo file” on Carlson that they are prepared to publish should he try to attack the network.

The file reportedly includes internal complaints about workplace conduct, insulting comments made about executives and colleagues, and allegations that Carlson created a toxic work environment, according to Rolling Stone, which cited anonymous sources. If it’s true, then the file’s contents mirror allegations made about Carlson by Abby Grossberg, a former producer on his show.

Grossberg is suing Fox, where she worked for four years, alleging that company lawyers coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit. The move, she argued, was due to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy” and gender-based discrimination, citing multiple examples from Carlson’s team in particular. She also said that there were constant “lies and deceit” at Fox because the network prioritized ratings above all else.

What Was Missing From Joe Biden’s 2024 Announcement

Biden somehow avoided any mention of some of the most important issues among his base.

Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg/Getty Images

What is Joe Biden doing?

On Tuesday, the president officially declared his bid to run for reelection in 2024. In his announcement video, Biden showcased his signature optimism and persistent cause to win the “battle for the soul of America.” Yet nowhere in the three-minute video did Biden even mention the words “abortion,” “climate,” “environment,” “gun,” “immigrant,” “justice,” “labor,” “union,” or “worker.”

The video announcement paid a great deal of focus to themes of freedom and democracy and the threats “MAGA extremists” pose in eroding them: cutting Social Security and cutting taxes for the wealthy, “dictating what health care decisions women can make,” “banning books and telling people who they can love,” doing it all “while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”

“This is not a time to be complacent,” Biden urged, asking voters to consider a key question: whether they will have more freedom and rights, or fewer.

Biden’s ad in a broad sense focused on the abstractions: his belief that “we’re good and decent people” in a “country that believes in honesty and respect, and treating each other with dignity.”

But in so doing, Biden spent 184 seconds avoiding any mention of the most popular issues not only among his base but across political lines.

State after state is advancing restrictive abortion bans and pushing attacks on LGBTQ people. The majority of Americans—regardless of party—say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But Biden’s only invocations of the issues were subdued: MAGA extremists are looking to dictate “what health care decisions women can make” or tell people “who they can love.”

Amid an appalling wave of gun violence across the country—from shootings of kids accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell or driving up the wrong driveway to mass shootings at schools and banks—Biden did not mention the word “gun” once.

In the aftermath of a border detention facility fire killing 40 migrants, Biden did not mention the word “migrant,” or “immigrant,” not even to hand-wave about America being a “beacon” for people fleeing oppression or searching for a better life.

Nothing about “justice” either, as police killings continue, as do protests of the construction of a bloated police facility in Atlanta (protests where masses of people have been arrested indiscriminately on no just cause and one protester was killed in cold blood).

After first billing himself the “most pro-union president in American history,” and then imposing a contract on railroad workers, Biden did not mention the words “labor,” “union,” or “worker.”

And on a ticking clock with no regard for second chances, after Biden rubbed his foot into the faces of the millions of young people who got him into office and approved the controversial Willow pipeline project, the president could not even muster the gumption to say “climate,” “environment,” or even “nature.”

Of course, it’s just an ad. On the other hand, it’s also the ad—the long-awaited confirmation that Biden is running again, and that he should earn our support lest we lose to the dangerous Republicans. Amid Biden’s lurch to the right—with no apparent electoral benefit—every display of priority matters. So if his announcement is to be graded on any scale of genuine concern for the broader slate of Democratic-mobilizing issues, or for the life-changing problems for millions of people, it fell remarkably short.