Good Friday Morning! Especially to FL Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose kickoff was covered as a disaster by the press, which bears little resemblance to reality. I’ve got a whole column on it, but the short story is this: Twitter had technical issues because more than 6.5 million people tried to jump in on the DeSantis launch space simultaneously. After the room got restored, more than 3.7 million listened to the space, 9 million if you include mirrored sites. And DeSantis raised $8.2 million in his first 24 hours, shattering all previous records.
You can listen to the space yourself here (Youtube link for those not on Twitter). I wasn’t a fan of the opening statement (too stilted), but once the conversation started, DeSantis cranked home runs on all the critical issues for me. He’s got my support in the primary, and I’m rooting for him. Aside from Tim Scott, I don’t think anyone else in the primary could deliver the kind of answers DeSantis did in that announcement.
I want to spend a quick moment to thank everyone who reached out about last week’s newsletter on AI, Instagram, and social media. And also, my column, linked below, on Tim Keller. It was fun chatting with everyone, and I’m glad you found both topics edifying. I’ll return to the AI topic in a future issue. I’m happy so many of you also found Tim Keller an important influence.
This week, I’m going to dive into the debt ceiling negotiations and what comes next there – links to follow.
- Bud Light continues to suffer. Bud Light is offering rebates on its products for the Memorial Day weekend. Some of those rebates make the beer free. There are displays in places like Wisconsin, the drinking capital of the US, where you can walk out with free Bud Light, and the displays are still full. These rebates are going out because the Bud Light boycott is hitting independent distributors now. Fun note: Trump supports Bud Light, and you can purchase Bud Light at any Trump property.
- Target joined the boycott foray this week, too. Target HQ held intense emergency meetings over its decision to sell trans-clothing to kids. Between sexually explicit clothing and dealing with Satanist designers, Target made Bud Light seem like a walk in the park. Target said they were removing or changing displays as a result. But the damage is already being felt. Target’s stock lost $9 billion in valuation over the last week as investors fear a Bud Light similar impact.
- In a Twitter Spaces announcement with Elon Musk, Ford Motors’ CEO announced they had cut a deal with Tesla for all Ford electric vehicles to use Tesla charging stations. If Elon Musk manages to own the “gas stations” for all electric cars, he will make a much larger fortune than any can imagine. This coup that no one saw coming will have a massive impact on the future of electric vehicles. There’s an adage that says the best thing to sell in a gold rush is shovels. Elon Musk owning the charging stations during a boom towards electric vehicles is a huge victory.
Where you can find me this week
Please subscribe, rate, and review my podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play — the reviews help listeners, and readers like you find me in the algorithms. Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter and become a subscriber at The Dispatch, where I’m a contributor.
[05/22/2023] Timothy J. Keller (1950 – 2023) – The Faithful Servant – Conservative Institute
[05/26/2023] DeSantis Rockets into 2024 GOP Primaries – Conservative Institute
The Debt Ceiling Looms Over Everything
We’re starting to see the first outlines of a debt ceiling deal form, according to Republican negotiators. The New York Times was the first to learn about the plan, which would effectively secure some limitations on government spending in return for raising the debt ceiling.
Top White House officials and Republican lawmakers were closing in Thursday on a deal that would raise the debt limit for two years while imposing strict caps on discretionary spending not related to the military or veterans for the same period. Officials were racing to cement an agreement in time to avert a federal default that is projected in just one week.
The deal taking shape would allow Republicans to say that they were reducing some federal spending — even as spending on the military and veterans’ programs would continue to grow — and allow Democrats to say they had spared most domestic programs from significant cuts.
Negotiators from both sides were talking into the evening and beginning to draft legislative text, though some details remained in flux.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed many of the same details while stating that no official deal is in place. There likely won’t be any deal struck through the Memorial Day weekend.
From my vantage point, Republicans are seriously trying to negotiate with the White House. The ultimate question is whether or not the White House wants a deal. It takes two to tango, and I still believe the White House is incentivized not to cut a deal, which would make the US default on its debt.
Case in point, everyone is headed home for the long holiday weekend ahead of the so-called June 1 deadline. On the one hand, I think everyone understands that it’s a made-up date. The WSJ reported that the Treasury and White House are outlining contingency plans to keep the government from defaulting past the June 1 deadline. On the other hand, things get complicated for the Treasury after June 1.
During a White House press briefing, both the White House and other reports got heated when people pointed out the hypocritical nature of Biden taking a vacation while also saying a debt ceiling default is a systemic threat to the United States. It’s a decent point to make. If this is such a big problem, why take a vacation? It seems like it’d be more important to stay and get a deal done.
This isn’t just concern trolling from a right-leaning writer. Democrats are frustrated too. House Democrats see themselves getting outflanked, outmaneuvered, and outplayed by Kevin McCarthy every step of the way. Politico wrote a long, reported piece showing cracks all over the Democratic caucus:
But the void left by the White House this week — Biden spoke very briefly before Monday’s meeting with McCarthy and made fleeting remarks Thursday — has frustrated Capitol Hill Democrats who believe Biden’s team is allowing Republicans to define the debt ceiling debate on their terms.
“It’s time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench. No one’s responding to anything. Kevin’s consistently on message,” said one House Democrat, who was granted anonymity to speak freely. “We have the Oval Office. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Biden is set to be even further out of sight this weekend when he leaves Friday for Camp David, and then travels to Delaware. Told Biden was planning to leave Washington for the weekend, one House Democrat expressed disbelief.
“Please tell me that’s not true,” said the lawmaker, who was granted anonymity for fear of angering the White House. “You’re going to see a caucus that’s so pissed if he’s stupid enough to do that.”
Biden’s aides have largely ignored the chorus of those calling for him to be more public. His minimal presence has been purposeful, according to an administration official granted anonymity to discuss strategy.
How bad is it? Politico’s piece ended with this truly hilarious quote:
Some Democrats acknowledged they could do only so much. [Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democratic appropriator] publicly begged reporters to provide the pushback that has yet to more fully come from the White House.
“Help us,” she told a group of reporters on Thursday. “I don’t want you to feel that you’re being co-opted, but you have a responsibility as well.”
Yes, you read that right. Democrats are begging journalists to step in and help them with Biden and Republicans. That’s how pathetic House Democrats are sinking, “please tilt this issue in our favor!!!” On the Senate side, Democrats are begging Biden to use the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt limit – in other words, they’d rather trigger a constitutional crisis than negotiate.
Politico and the New York Times paint the Biden administration’s strategy as purposeful. Biden is trying to be a master strategist by remaining quiet, despite little evidence he’s negotiating.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortex and the Progressive Caucus had a total meltdown this week. AOC went off on a tirade claiming McCarthy and Republicans needed her and Democrats because they didn’t have the votes to pass any debt ceiling legislation. It’s a hilarious suggestion because McCarthy and House Republicans are the only ones to have passed any measure to raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have not passed or proposed legislation in either chamber.
One Democrat pleads with journalists to tip the scales; another rages into the void. When I say Kevin McCarthy has outfoxed Democrats, it feels like I’m understating it.
I don’t even blame Biden for his strategy to try and call McCarthy’s bluff. The White House believed that Republicans would implode amidst infighting in the House, like last time. That didn’t happen, McCarthy passed a bill, and suddenly we have a total meltdown with Democrats. No one knows what to do.
That leaves us trying to game this out. As I see it, there are essentially two paths now: 1) Biden cuts a deal with McCarthy, it passes Congress, Biden signs it, and Republicans (correctly) declare victory. 2) Biden decides to let this slide into a shutdown and tries to use that plus the press to push for a “clean” debt ceiling bill. I don’t believe we get Biden attempting the 14th amendment gambit; there’s no way that flies before the Supreme Court.
Biden headed for a vacation this weekend supports both theories. You can read it as either confidence a deal is coming together or that he’s got no interest in any agreement and plans on using the shutdown. My read all along has been that Biden is incentivized toward a shutdown. But that all depends on whether or not he wants to ride that fight out or not.
Suppose it looks like Biden walks away from negotiations when Republicans have both the contours of a deal plus an already passed piece of legislation. In that case, I don’t see an easy way for the press to spin that. Voters will blame both parties, but it’ll be easy to see who walked away.
There’s also the possibility Biden isn’t up to the job anymore, and we’re watching a rudderless White House muddle its way through a debacle. For similar historical parallels, see Woodrow Wilson and his wife.
Most betting money sees a deal getting cut – which is what will eventually happen. But the big question is whether or not we blow by that June 1 deadline first. I think we will. The only question left is whether or not we get an actual default. Janet Yellen is working overtime to prevent that possibility; we’ll see if the Treasury can pull that off. We also get to learn whether or not Biden truly wants a deal.
Links of the week
FBI misused surveillance tool 278,000 times on Jan. 6 suspects, BLM arrestees and others: Crime victims, political donors and potential sources were targeted in digital searches that the FBI says have now been scaled back – Washington Post
How Dems ended up where they swore they wouldn’t be: Negotiating on the debt limit: President Joe Biden’s party slowly relented on its insistence that any hike be clean. And progressives are aghast at the concessions the GOP is poised to extract. – Politico
At High School Debates, Debate Is No Longer Allowed: At national tournaments, judges are making their stances clear: students who argue ‘capitalism can reduce poverty’ or ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ will lose—no questions asked. – James Fishback, Free Press
Migrant Children Released into United States by Biden Admin Are Being Put to Work, Lawmakers Say: ‘Many children are being trafficked and forced to work illegally following their release from federal custody’ – Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon
Seattle Firefighters Now Drilled on Ibram Kendi Before Promotion to Top Jobs: Lieutenants’ test includes “How To Be an Antiracist,” “Memoirs of a Transgender Firefighter,” and other woke tomes – Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon
More than 150 former Trump administration officials now backing DeSantis for president: Among several others, former DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli has joined the coalition to support DeSantis for president – Fox News
Casey DeSantis will ‘move mountains’ to help her husband Ron succeed – Karol Markowicz, NYPost
Cohabitation before clarity about commitment may produce something more akin to ‘maybe I do’ than a fully volitional ‘I do.’: Cohabiting prior to getting engaged is linked to higher risk of divorce and marital unhappiness. – IFS
A Housing Bust Comes for Thousands of Small-Time Investors: They were offered the benefits of owning apartment-building rentals without any of the work, in real-estate investments that have already left some people empty-handed – WSJ
Biden Courts Another Mortgage Crisis: Housing officials double down on the policies that preceded the crash of 2008. – Edward Pinto and Tobias Peter, WSJ
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Russia Issues 437,819th Warning To The West – Waterford Whispers News
Thanks for reading!