The Hill’s Morning Report — Biden, Obama and Sanders hit the road
At their most useful, political surrogates raise a ton of money, have enough star power to fill a room and can lay out the stakes in ways that turn wishy-washy citizens into actual voters.
President Biden wants to be helpful in Philadelphia this afternoon for Senate candidate John Fetterman (D), Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, who is being challenged by Republican political newcomer Mehmet Oz, a TV doctor. A few weeks ago, Fetterman wasn’t sure he needed to share a stage with Biden, whose iffy job approval numbers give Democratic candidates heartburn.
But the Pennsylvania Senate race has tightened. Biden defeated former President Trump by a narrow margin there two years ago and likes to draw on his bona fides as a Scranton native. While avoiding a big rally, he aims to outline what Fetterman could bring to the high-stakes Senate next year.
Fetterman’s continuing recovery from a stroke in May also captured Biden’s attention and his empathy. Biden survived two life-threatening brain aneurysms in 1988 and went on to serve as a Delaware senator, vice president and after his third try, became his party’s victorious candidate for the nation’s top job.
Amid questions about Fetterman’s health, Biden thinks the lieutenant governor “is very much capable” of serving in the Senate, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday (The Hill). The candidate’s primary care physician said in a statement that his patient has “no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office” (The Hill).
Biden, who says he intends to run for reelection if his own health is good, will also appear today at the site of a collapsed Pittsburgh bridge to champion bipartisan federal infrastructure investments enacted on his watch (The Hill).
Former President Obama, a celebrity with the Democratic base, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the darling of progressives and younger voters, also will hit the trail in key states to mobilize voters.
Some party stalwarts worry that Obama got a late start. “I think a lot of people have said, `Where’s Obama?’” a Democratic strategist told The Hill’s Amie Parnes. “He shouldn’t just be the closer. He’s still seen as the party’s rock star.” Obama headlined four fundraising events in August and September and recorded TV and radio spots that voters will soon see and hear.
He will be in Georgia on Oct. 28 and in Michigan and Wisconsin on Oct. 29. Obama, who won Nevada decisively in 2008 and 2012, will also be in Las Vegas on Nov. 1 to stump for Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), who is running neck and neck against Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in a state that seemingly leans more Republican with each election cycle (The Hill).
The Hill: Democrats hope polls are wrong in Nevada — and that it will help them.
Sanders, who worries that Democratic turnout among working-class voters will fall short, plans to campaign for candidates in eight states during 19 events beginning in Oregon on Oct. 27. He’ll be in California, Nevada (with events in both Reno and Las Vegas), Texas (including one in McAllen) and Orlando. Sanders’ second weekend on the hustings will focus on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan (The New York Times). Some moderate Democrats fret that his campaigning in swing states could backfire because GOP candidates point to the Vermont Independent as a symbol of left-wing extremism.
Pull Quote In Bold Here “I am a little bit concerned that the energy level for young people, working-class people” is not as high as it should be, Sanders told the Times. “And I want to see what I can do about that.”
▪ The Hill: These third-party candidates could have a big impact on the midterms.
▪ Roll Call: Is Ohio part of the Senate battleground?
▪ The Hill: GOP leaders McConnell, McCarthy headed for collision on Ukraine aid.
▪ Reuters: Pro-Trump conspiracy theorists hound election officials out of office.
▪ Washington Monthly: Not all redistricting commissions are created equal.
LEADING THE DAY
A California-based federal judge on Wednesday said records submitted by former President Trump and his allies to the court indicate that they knew their allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia were baseless while pushing false claims in legal submissions and in public.
The judge ordered John Eastman, a legal adviser to Trump, to turn over the records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.
The judge determined the communications were not protected since they were likely exchanged in furtherance of a crime, writes The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch.
“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” wrote Judge David Carter. “The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
Of the 33 documents the judge ordered Eastman to hand over to the House panel, eight are related to crimes of obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, the judge said. He previously found in March that it was more likely than not that Trump committed crimes as part of his plot to stay in power (The Washington Post).
Bloomberg News: Trump prosecutors at the Justice Department may head for an obstruction case against the former president in 2023. A decision will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland after a review of all evidence.
The Hill’s Max Greenwood details six ways Trump has significantly changed the GOP, including turning the party against the mainstream media, sparking opposition to institutions and fueling skepticism in the country’s elections.
The Washington Post: Trump deposed at Mar-a-Lago in case brought by sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has agreed to release records by Dec. 1 related to the state’s migrant flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., financed with public funds. As Politico reports, “Florida is using interest earned off the billions in COVID-19 relief aid provided by Congress to pay to relocate migrants from Florida to other states.”
DeSantis has pledged that the migrant flights will continue, despite multiple legal challenges to the program, which has been criticized by Democrats for being a political stunt (Business Insider).
💰 A Wall Street Journal investigation found that federal officials traded stocks at higher-than-normal rates in the first months of the pandemic, often coinciding with plunging markets.
A deputy at the National Institutes of Health “reported 10 sales of mutual funds and stocks totaling between $157,000 and $480,000 that month,” the Journal reports. “Collectively, officials at another health agency, Health and Human Services, reported 60 percent more sales of stocks and funds in January than the average over the previous 12 months, driven by a handful of particularly active traders.”
Federal employees cannot work on matters in which they have a significant financial stake, trade on confidential information learned on the job or take any official action that creates an appearance of a conflict of interest.
The New Yorker, Jane Mayer: In one of the most momentous cases that the Supreme Court is considering this term, conservative stalwart J. Michael Luttig is opposing far-right legal theory that could subvert American democracy.
➤ ADMINISTRATION & ECONOMY
Biden on Wednesday announced the release through December of a planned 15 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try to lower gasoline prices (Reuters). The nationwide average pump price on Wednesday was $3.85 per gallon (AAA) as the president said of prices, “They’re not falling fast enough.”
Biden took direct aim at U.S. producers, urging them to pass some of their revenues to consumers during a period of inflationary pressures. “My message to oil companies is: `You’re sitting on record profits, and you’re — and we’re giving you more certainty. So you can act now to increase oil production.’”
Biden denied his initiative is aimed at wooing voters ahead of the midterm elections, adding that the administration will refill U.S. petroleum reserves at a future price of $70 per barrel to maintain security, encourage oil production and support market stability (The New York Times).
NPR: Biden is releasing 15 million barrels from the strategic oil reserve to tame prices.
High inflation could lower tax rates for many American filers in 2023, the Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday. The adjustments will apply to the 2023 tax year, for which returns will generally be filed in 2024.
To ward off “bracket creep,” when salary increases aimed at accounting for a higher cost of living end up pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets, the IRS will be shifting tax brackets and adjusting the standard deduction.
The standard deduction will increase by $1,800 for married couples filing jointly, by $1,400 for heads of households and by $900 for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately (The Hill and NPR).
▪ The Hill’s Tobias Burns breaks down five things to know about the change in taxes.
▪ Bloomberg News: Inflation forces over half of Americans to consider second jobs.
▪ CNBC: The typical U.S. household is spending $445 more a month due to inflation. Here’s how to reduce the bite.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia would impose martial law in the four regions of Ukraine he illegally claimed to have annexed last month.
Ukrainian officials said Putin’s order would not deter their efforts to retake occupied territory, but warned there could be mass deportation of Ukrainians out of the occupied regions, and harsher treatment for those that remain. Experts said the order could be a “back door” to pull more of Russian society into the war effort, which would strengthen Putin’s footing for future offensives but weaken his claim that the “special military operation” in Ukraine is not a full-fledged war (The Hill).
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told “CBS Mornings” on Wednesday that the Biden administration will continue supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression.
“We are going to do everything we can, as we have now for going on eight months, to make sure that the Ukrainian armed forces have what they need in the field,” he said. “We’re going to stay at this. You’ve heard the president talk about that. As long as it takes. We’re committed to that.”
▪ Reuters: Ukrainian forces push toward Kherson, Kyiv orders electricity curbs.
▪ The Washington Post: U.S. and Ukraine create joint task force for reconstruction.
▪ Reuters and The Seattle Times/AP: The European Union, which remains divided over a proposed cap on natural gas prices, begins a two-day summit on energy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging cohesion.
▪ Bloomberg News: U.S. calls for Security Council briefing on Russia, Iranian drones.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military on Monday intercepted two Russian bombers near Alaska. The recent activity is “not seen as a threat nor is the activity seen as provocative,” North American Aerospace Defense Command noted in its press release (The Hill).
In Great Britain, the home secretary resigned on Wednesday. She served for 43 days. Suella Braverman, a Conservative Party right-winger, was reportedly fired by Prime Minister Liz Truss for sending an official document to a fellow lawmaker from her personal email, which constituted a security breach.
Braverman’s resignation follows weeks of controversy in Truss’s government over a proposed economic plan and tax overhaul that were subsequently walked back and overhauled. Truss’s political future is in question as she faces pushback from opposition leaders as well as her own party (The Guardian and The New York Times).
“I’m a fighter and not a quitter,” Truss told Parliament on Wednesday.
➤ STATE WATCH
A New York gun control law that prohibits firearms in Times Square, Yankee Stadium, the subway and other sensitive places is on shaky legal ground after a judge found these provisions violate the Second Amendment, with the case on appeal now, writes The Hill’s John Kruzel. The ongoing court battle over the New York law is part of the shifting legal landscape resulting from a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling in June that expanded the Second Amendment, which has already blocked or struck down gun control laws at a dizzying pace.
Vox: In their quest to shore up power, four Latino leaders managed to set back the city’s multiracial progress, and Latino representation, local activists argue. The Los Angeles City Council’s racist recording scandal, explained.
■ Ohio’s Rep. Tim Ryan, with a glass of wine, rebrands the Democrats, by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3seUwVu
■ Vladimir Putin’s guide to alienating allies, by Clara Ferreira Marques, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3CPt71x
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 11 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session. Members are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Nov. 14.
The Senate convenes at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session. Senators make their way back to Washington on Nov. 14.
The president will use a collapsed Pittsburgh bridge as a backdrop for a speech at 2:15 p.m. about federal investments in infrastructure. He’ll fly to Philadelphia to headline a political event at 7 p.m. for Senate candidate Fetterman. Biden will return to the White House at 9:15 p.m.
🎂 Vice President Harris celebrates her 58th birthday! She has no events on her public schedule.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department reports at 8:30 a.m. on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 15.
➤ PANDEMIC & HEALTH
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday authorized Novavax COVID-19 boosters for adults, including those who received Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots as their primary series.
The Food and Drug Administration said people aged 18 and older can receive Novavax as their third dose six months after completion of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations (The Hill and CNBC).
NBC News: Omicron subvariants reflect a “viral evolution on steroids.” The new subvariant BA.4.6 can cause reinfections, posing a threat to vaccinated individuals and those previously infected, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. A slew of other subvariants on the horizon may do the same.
Boston University COVID-19 experiments are under investigation by the National Institutes of Health, the agency said, after scientists at the university tested strains of COVID-19 virus they created by combining the ancestral and omicron variants.
Federal authorities are looking into whether the researchers should have sought their permission before undertaking experiments that could lead to “gain of function” in the coronavirus, meaning it could add enhanced or new abilities, seen as “inherently risky” for virology research (CBS News).
After two years and one of the most intensive public-health campaigns in human history, we know this much about the potentially life-altering perils of long COVID: The chronic condition may arise in 4 percent of cases, or 15 percent, or 48 percent. As The Hill’s Daniel de Visé writes, the little-understood condition can present a bewildering array of symptoms, most of which overlap with any number of other illnesses and chronic conditions. Vaccinations and weaker variants may reduce the odds of Long COVID — or maybe not.
The Washington Post: White Americans are now more likely to die from COVID-19 than Black Americans: Why the pandemic shifted.
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,066,584. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 323, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Take Our Morning Report Quiz
And finally … 🎃 👻 It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Alert to the worldwide overabundance of ghouls and monsters, we’re eager for some smart guesses about Halloween headlines and some White House history.
Email your responses to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
The Top 10 most popular Halloween costumes in 2022, according to Google Trends “most searched” list, as reported this week by news outlets, includes ______?
- All of the above
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis recently spoke to The New York Times about her final film in a long-running horror franchise. What’s the title of that new movie?
- “Scream 4”
- “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
- “Laurie’s Last Stand”
- “Halloween Ends”
Which former first lady was, well, first to decorate the White House for Halloween?
- Mamie Eisenhower, 1958
- Jacqueline Kennedy, 1962
- Nancy Reagan, 1982
- Melania Trump, 2018
The evil inflation monster attacked Halloween candy this season. Prices are up by what percent since 2021’s trick or treat holiday, according to the latest Labor Department data and this week’s news accounts?
- 5 percent
- 13.1 percent
- 15 percent
- 100 percent
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