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Grinch 3, Biden 0 – U.S is very far from normal | ticker VIEWS

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It was not a good week for the home team in the White House

The plan was to win Senate approval of President Biden’s sweeping social program and climate change package and use the political capital that comes with victory to pivot to a heroic fight to change the Senate rules to enable voting rights legislation to become law in time for the 2022 elections.

But it was not to be…

Sen. Joe Manchin refused to give his endorsement to Biden’s program by the time the Senate adjourned for the year. On Sunday morning on Fox News, Manchin said he was now opposed to the bill altogether: 

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin

And in a statement after being on TV, Manchin added insult to injury:

“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful.” 

The White house reaction in a statement by Jen Psaki was exceptionally blunt:

“If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”

The bill cannot pass without Manchin’s 50th vote.  And if this bill cannot pass, no further Biden bills of consequence are likely to pass in the remainder of this Congress.

Without the votes of Manchin and Sen Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to change the rules and prevent a filibuster of historic voting rights, that bill could not pass either.  And this was after Biden addressed students at a Black college in South Carolina, the state where Black voters cemented his win of the Democratic nomination to become president:

“We must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  We must. We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done.  And you’re going to keep up the fight.  And we need your help badly.”

Biden is lagging in the polls in part because Black voters, who overwhelmingly supported Biden in 2020, see no progress on racial justice issues

Biden’s words did not change any votes in the Senate.  And the Senate has adjourned for the year.

At the same time, the new Covid variant started sweeping across the country, disrupting the holiday season. 

Cases are spiking alarmingly, with over 120,000 per day, and deaths at 1,200 per day – just as the US marked 800,000 dead from this pandemic.  That toll is expected to reach 1 million by Easter.

The score this Christmas week: Grinch 3. Biden 0.

With the pandemic raging, lives and hopes are disrupted. Covid is people and people are the economy.

Households in this economy are immensely burdened with the spikes in inflation. At 6.8%, the highest in 39 years, with beef up 20%, fish and eggs, 8%, petrol 58%.

Biden came into office signaling that the pandemic can be managed, and the economy will recover and we will have normal.

The US is very far from normal. And this is why it is really hurting the president, in his overall standing, in his approval rating and in the strong sentiment among voters that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

U.S PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

Especially in these days leading up to Christmas and the New Year, Biden urgently needs a reset.  He and his advisors now recognize this, with the White House announcing over the weekend that Biden will address the nation Tuesday night.

This is what it needs to accomplish in that speech:

  • On the virus.  What to do.  What not to do.  What the situation really is.  How we will handle it.  How we will get through the holidays and January.  How those who are not vaccinated are at mortal risk.  How he has done everything he can.  How everyone has it in their hands whether they will stay healthy or get sick and possibly die. This is not about mandates.  It’s about the choices the American make and live or die with.
  • Biden needs also to update country on his Build Back Better program and why he is optimistic he  can still get it. The genius of the initiative is to lower cost for what most American households need for childcare, education, care for seniors, health care. Biden has to tell everyone what they will get.  He has to tell them why this is not done yet.  And tell them he will not stop working on it.
  • And Biden must outline the strategy and tactics to change the Senate and win voting rights- or die trying. Why this is so crucial to all Americans and why this is so crucial to America’s democracy.  And demand that the Senate enable this legislation to pass. And demand that they take votes to change the rules. And demand they take votes on this even if the first votes fail – to let everyone know where each Senator stands. (That’s how civil rights bills were passed in the Senate in the ’60s: The southern Senators won early test votes on the civil rights bills, but over time, popular sentiment shifted, and the filibusters were ended by cloture votes and the bills were passed.)

On Tuesday Biden needs to make where he is right now the bottom of his term- and start going up from here. 

Biden needs a speech that turns the tide and makes things happen.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Are U.S. lawmakers more worried about protecting gun rights than children? | ticker VIEWS

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Yet another mass shooting in America, and the world is reeling because change is unfortunately unlikely

As a human being, as a woman, as a Journalist, as a daughter, and as a friend, I was wholeheartedly saddened to hear of the Texas mass shooting in Uvalde, at Robb Elementary School.

I was, and still am angry, sad, and horrified, but unfortunately, not surprised.

Guns are woven into the fabric of America, in particular, Texas.

It’s becoming clearer after each senseless murder, that lawmakers are more worried about protecting their gun rights than they’re innocent people.

Enough is enough.

It’s almost ten years since the Sandy Hook mass shooting where 20 children were murdered.

You would assume that particular massacre would’ve been enough to ignite change in American gun rights, but it wasn’t.

Now, another group of children has been slaughtered in their classrooms. So what is the threshold before something is done?

Children shouldn’t have to live in fear. The kids of Uvalde were just two days out from summer vacation, where they should be just that- kids.

Now, the selfish and barbaric actions of one 18-year-old individual, who had easy access to an assault rifle, stole their futures away.

Moments of silence are not enough, condolences are not enough.

This does not happen as frequently in any other country in the world. So why is the political appetite for change in America so low?

“You cannot separate the fabric of gun ownership from the reality of being American”

megran pratz, cheddar
Megan pratz, cheddar

Gun law overhaul

Here’s what’s being discussed in Congress, in regards to making a change to gun rights.

Currently, federal law does not require unlicensed gun sellers to conduct background checks prior to the purchase of arms. 

Dubbed the H.R. 8 bill, it would step up the required background checks before a gun is purchased.

However, it continues to be stalled in the Senate, where it needs ten Republican votes to get through.

It’s now in the process of getting on the upper chamber’s calendar, with many pushing for an urgent vote, even if it’s doomed to fail by Republicans.

They argue that background checks tarnish gun rights and will take away guns.

“You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,”

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will also push for a gun safety bill to be voted on in June.

The proposed bill would “allow family members and law enforcement to obtain an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or to others by a federal court.”

Red flag laws are also in place, but they prove ineffective far too frequently.

They only alert a problem if someone has a criminal history or has been previously deemed mentally ill.

Meaning cases like the 18-year-old suspect in the Uvalde mass shooting slipped through the cracks.

Most regulations on gun rights vary from state to state, because gun regulation cannot pass at the Federal level, with no majority support.

Therefore, it leaves gun use and availability up to the leaders of each state.

At this point in time, gun control will not stop every horrific attack, but it will make a difference.

If you keep doing the same process in life, you will get the same outcome. A mass shooting nearly every week in America is surely enough reason to make a change?

“The President should demand that the Senate meet right now on the gun control bill and let the votes fall where the children die”

Bruce wolpe, U.s studies centre

National Rifle Association meeting

And most distastefully, the National Rifle Association convention is scheduled for this weekend in Houston, Texas.

Attendees at this convention are prohibited from “bringing firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items.”

So no guns are allowed at the NRA meeting but an 18-year-old can walk into an elementary school with an assault rifle and massacre innocent people.

The irony in that. As the NRA essentially continues to hold America hostage.

“You’ll see a very paradoxical messaging strategy, where NRA will talk about guns for everyone, everywhere, all the time, while not allowing guns in its own events”

mega pratz, cheddar
megan pratz, chedda

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Joe and Albo already talk the same language | ticker VIEWS

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The morning after the election here, President Joe Biden, in Seoul on the first leg of his first major trip to Asia to engage with the US’s principal allies in the Indo-Pacific, was on the phone to Anthony Albanese:

“President Biden spoke with Australian Prime Minister-Designate Anthony Albanese to congratulate him on his election as Australia’s 31st prime minister. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ steadfast commitment to the U.S-Australia alliance and his intent to work closely with the new government to make it stronger still. President Biden expressed deep appreciation for the Prime Minister-Designate’s own early commitment to the alliance, reflected in his decision to travel almost immediately to Tokyo to attend the Quad Summit—a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. President Biden looks forward to a close partnership between our administrations that will benefit the American people, the Australian people, and the world, starting with consequential meetings in Japan this week.”

Bruce Wolpe on ticker NEWS

The foundations of the alliance are exceptionally strong, capped last year with the announcement of the AUKUS strategic partnership.  

AUKUS ALLIANCE

At any summit meeting between leaders, or when they get on a video call, what becomes so important is the resonance, the chemistry between them. 

That deeper personal chemistry has informed the quality of the ties between several prime ministers and presidents:  Bob Hawke and George H W Bush in the first Gulf War to liberate Kuwait; Paul Keating and Bill Clinton to establish APEC; John Howard and George W Bush on 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US-Australia free trade agreement; Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama to get Australia into the G20;  Julia Gillard and Obama stationing Marines in Darwin and the pivot to Asia; Scott Morrison and Donald Trump in alliance against China and exempting Australia from Trump’s trade wars.  

Tony Abbott and Barack Obama

It has not been all sweetness and light:  Tony Abbott and Barack Obama famously disagreed on global warming, especially on its endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef.  Their discussions were chilly while the globe warmed.

The new PM’s relationship with Biden will have a special dimension.

In Anthony Albanese, Biden will see someone very close to his life experience and values

  • They both come from poorer backgrounds, and they know what it means for families to pull themselves up. 
  • They are both Catholic.
  • They both strongly support unions and good union jobs. Biden is pro-union, pro-worker and pro-manufacturing.  So is Albanese.
  • They are both huge on infrastructure.  It is Biden’s strongest achievement in Congress so far, and Albanese served as Infrastructure Minister for 6 years.  They can talk planes, trains and broadband.
  • Albanese has taken a Biden-style agenda to his campaign.  Biden won office with Build Back Better and Albanese’s hopes are with A Better Future.  
  • They both support policies that have at their core helping working families not only with higher wages and good jobs, but also helping them shoulder the cost of living for childcare, education, medicines, and care for seniors.
  • Labor is simpatico with Biden on climate, electric vehicles and renewable energy.  In fact, an Albanese government can get more enacted on climate than Biden can in this or the next Congress.

Joe and Anthony will find themselves talking the same language.  They already do. When they shake hands, the Prime Minster will say, “Everyone calls me Albo.” And Joe will.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a ‘Quad nations’ meeting at the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein – RC2IWP9759ZQ

At the end of the Tokyo talks, we should expect Biden to invite Albo to Washington, and for the PM to invite the President to come to Australia.  They will want to spend more time together.

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Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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