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October 29, 2021
What A Day
Let's Make A Democratic Spending Deal

In This Episode

  • After weeks of negotiations, President Biden announced his revamped Build Back Better plan, which includes approximately $1.85 trillion of investments to fight climate change, expand health care, create jobs and more. This plan was originally much much bigger but two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are the reasons Dems had to abandon some of the bigger provisions.
  • And in headlines: big oil CEOs testified before Congress, the DOJ will pay $88 million to the victims’ families of the 2015 massacre at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and a new criminal complaint alleges former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo of forcibly touching a female staff member.



Show Notes

  • NY Times: “The World ‘Has Found a Way to Do This’: The U.S. Lags on Paid Leave” – https://nyti.ms/3mmRzA5





Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, October 29th. I’m Gideon Resnick


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day where we are congratulating Mitt Romney on being the last person to go as Ted Lasso this Halloween.


Gideon Resnick: And if you don’t know what we’re talking about right now, just go on with your day. Just enjoy it. Don’t look it up.


Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t. Don’t let him ruin that for you. Don’t let him take away your joy.


Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, Congress grills Big Oil. Plus Facebook rebrands as Meta.


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, after weeks of negotiation, President Biden announced his revamped Build Back Better plan yesterday.


[clip of President Biden] After months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have an historic, I know we have a history economic framework. It’s a framework that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people.


Priyanka Aribindi: It includes approximately 1.85 trillion dollars of investments to fight climate change, expand health care, create jobs and more.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And we’ve been hearing about this plan for weeks, if not months, as lawmakers voted how much to spend and what to cover. So let’s give everybody a rundown of what actually made the cut and this revamped plan.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So it is quite a list, but I’m going to do my best to run you through with the highlights and what people are excited about. So let’s start with combating climate change, which is of existential importance to all of us and our planet.


Gideon Resnick: It’s true.


Priyanka Aribindi: So $550 billion are going towards clean energy investments and efforts to combat climate change, including home energy and efficiency tax credits, rebates and credits for U.S.-made electric vehicles. Princeton energy expert Jesse Jenkins told The New Yorker that these proposals make this the quote, single largest climate policy in U.S. history.


Gideon Resnick: And what about the parts of the plan that would actually help families, expand the social safety net, those aspects?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So a hefty portion of the bill is centered around parents and children. It establishes free universal pre-K for more than six million three and four-year olds while expanding the child tax credit for another year and giving some parents a little more help with handling child care expenses. There’s also an expansion of health care coverage, which includes a Medicaid expansion that will affect two million low-income Americans and reduce premiums for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And there’s also major investment in affordable housing options, including the creation and reconstruction of affordable homes. Rental assistance and more affordable options for the elderly.


Gideon Resnick: That all sounds very promising. And so this plan was originally quite a bit bigger. Like it felt like the only stories we were seeing over the last couple of days and weeks was about what was actually getting cut here. So what did get left on the chopping block?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you’re right. It was a lot bigger. This is a pared-down version, for sure. And I mean, you know why, you know their names. Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, they are the reason we had to abandon some of the bigger provisions that President Biden campaigned on. We’re talking things like Free Community College, a clean energy program, efforts to lower prescription drug pricing and paid family leave. These are obviously going to bring the price tag down, but many Democrats aren’t happy because those would have been huge, life-changing policies for their constituents, and, you know, all of us. And it was completely within reach had it not been for Manchin and Sinema. Here is what Biden had to say about the process:


[clip of President Biden] No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus. And that’s what I ran on.


Priyanka Aribindi: He seems a lot more measured than either of us are about this. But it’s important to note that this isn’t final. Things are definitely still in flux as they have been for quite some time. We’re just giving you the latest updates.


Gideon Resnick: Exactly. So let’s get to the costs of this bill. It was originally supposed to be north of three trillion. I’m old enough to remember the articles over the summer about six trillion. That felt great, huh?


Priyanka Aribindi: Who knows? I have no recollection. My memory is about a week long at this point in time.


Gideon Resnick: I had to look it up myself, but it was a good feeling to see it again. So where are we now, and how is this actually getting paid for?


Priyanka Aribindi: So right now, the total cost of this is $1.85 five trillion. As for who has the tab, here is what we know about the proposed tax changes—stay with me, there are a lot of numbers, but I promise it’s really not so complicated. First, there will be an additional 5% tax on personal income above $10 million and an additional 3% on income north of 25 million. If you are listening to the show and that applies to you, I’m going to drop my Venmo in the show notes. Feel free to toss me a few bucks.


Gideon Resnick: Same.


Priyanka Aribindi: Feels like you know you can maybe afford it.


Gideon Resnick: Possibly.


Priyanka Aribindi: There will also be a 15% minimum tax on corporate profits of large corporations that make over a billion dollars in profits, plus taxes on foreign profits of U.S. corporations, and a 1% tax on stock buybacks. So it’s pretty much only affecting the ultra wealthy and major corporations, the vast majority of which do not pay their fair share of taxes in the first place.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and Manchin, again, has also pushed back on the tax on the billionaire’s gains aspect of all of this. So we’ll see how that shakes out, too.


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, it is so beautiful we have someone giving a voice to the voiceless. Thank you. Thank you, sir.


Gideon Resnick: Finally, finally.


Priyanka Aribindi: Thank you, sir. Now we have gone over what is in this and all of the important stuff that’s been trimmed out. But let’s talk about how progressives have responded.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So first, as a reminder, here progressives in Congress have said that they would back the bipartisan infrastructure bill if they were happy about the details of this Build Back Better plan and thought that 50 senators would vote for the specifics that they had seen. They don’t want to pass something in the House and have it go to the Senate and then see more things cut. So here’s Representative Pramila Jayapal, Chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, shortly after the president’s remarks, and she starts on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which she refers to as BIF:


Speaker 4 He did not ask his staff for a vote on the BIF today. The speaker did, but he did not. He said he wants votes on both bills, and he said that what we do on these two bills is going to be determinative for how the world sees us. [unclear question] Well, let’s see. I mean, we’re going to go meet, but I can tell you that, you know, we have had a position of needing to see the legislative text and voting on both bills and we’ll see where people are. But I think a lot of people are still in that place.


Gideon Resnick: OK, so she mentioned a meeting, right? Yesterday evening, Jayapal put out a statement following her caucus meeting, saying a couple of important things. So one was that the Congressional Progressive Caucus had quote unquote “overwhelmingly” approved the Build Back Better framework in principle. That they still want to also see legislative text of it before they back BIF, aka, the infrastructure bill. And lastly, again, that members of the caucus are just not going to vote for BIF without the Build Back Better act.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, and that’s a huge deal because the Progressive Caucus isn’t going to vote on just the infrastructure bill alone. We’ve known that for a long time. They’ve been saying that for a long time.


Gideon Resnick: Right.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if they don’t do that, that’s not going to pass the House. They need those votes.


Gideon Resnick: That’s exactly right. And the margins here are so narrow that three—literally three— ‘no’ votes on BIF alone would have killed it. There was reporting that as many as 30 members were actually going to vote against it yesterday. And so the other thing in the thinking of these House progressives is they don’t know how the framework of the Build Back Better plan may or may not get changed in the Senate. And to be clear here, Manchin and Sinema have still been kind of cagey about this. They were like, we like that negotiations are happening. But I don’t think that there was anything explicit that was like, we are voting for this framework. So again, there’s a lot that’s in flux. By recording tonight, the plan from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to vote and pass the infrastructure bill was dead in the water as we speak.


Priyanka Aribindi: What has been the reaction to the details of the Build Back Better plan from the progressives in the Senate?


Gideon Resnick: Yes. So for one, Senator Sanders, who helped to craft the original bill when it was three and a half trillion, basically backed the strategy of those House Democrats saying that they wanted to wait for the full text and the support of 50 senators. So here’s a little bit more of what he had to say.


[clip of Sen. Bernie Sanders] I think if you look at the bill that the president announced today, it is probably the most consequential bill since the 1960s in terms of protecting the needs of working families, our children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. It is a major, major step forward, but clearly to my mind, it has some major gaps in it.


Gideon Resnick: One of those gaps that Sanders has mentioned in his attempts to improve the bill is to get a broader expansion of Medicare to include not only hearing, but vision and dental benefits as well.


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely, that would be great. And to that end, we’re kind of talking about a moving target here as we go to record. But what else could possibly be added to this?


Gideon Resnick: Priyanka, oh man. There’s a lot of stuff that’s in the mix, so—


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry for asking.


Gideon Resnick: It’s OK. This is, this is what we have to do. According to New York Times, Pelosi wants to get a paid family and medical leave program back in. By the way, just to put this in context, the U.S. is one of only like a half a dozen countries in the entire world that doesn’t have national paid maternity leave. It is truly a disgrace. We’ll link to an article that shows—


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s embarrassing. This is embarrassing for us. We need to get that in there.


Gideon Resnick: It is. Yeah, totally. We’re going to link to an article that shows how much of an insane outlier we are. There are also reports of the ongoing conversations about a plan to lower prescription drug costs, and a proposal that would allow the IRS to access bank account info to pursue tax cheats.


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, we’ve certainly been talking about this for some time, but I’m down to keep talking about it if they add in all this stuff. That’s good. It’s important. We should be doing it. And the clock is ticking because Biden wants this passed as soon as possible. Why is that the case?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, beyond you know how long the conversations have been going on, there is this relatively close Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday. There’s a belief in some circles that if the infrastructure bill gets passed by then, it could help the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe. I don’t super know if that is 100% the case, but that is a thought that’s going around. And then, according to multiple reports yesterday, Biden reportedly told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting that quote, “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the Democratic House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week.”


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, he gets it. He knows this is a big deal.


Gideon Resnick: Right. Right. The proverbial “big fucking deal” as he put it about the ACA. And Biden has now really thrown his weight behind this specific framework, hoping to have something not only to tout for next year’s elections, but also before this upcoming UN Climate Change Conference that starts on Sunday. Little bump on the fact that there won’t be spending to worry about without a planet. Just a side note for me.


Priyanka Aribindi: Just a note.


Gideon Resnick: Just a parting word. Of course, this did not pass before he left for said Climate Change Conference. So we’ll see where things go from here in the next few days. More on this soon. But that is the latest for now. It’s Friday, WAD squad, and today we’re doing a segment called The Solution, where we propose a fix to a news story that has created chaos in our world. Guiding us through it once again is our head writer Jon Millstein.


Jon Millstein: Thank you guys so much. I look forward to this every week and it is my life’s goal.


Priyanka Aribindi: So do we, Jon. So do we.


Gideon Resnick: It’s ours as well. I’m glad that our goals are in sync.


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. So everybody forgot why Facebook was bad yesterday as the company rebranded as Meta. Announced by CEO and grill-enabled piece of smart tech Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s annual Facebook Connect event, the new name serves to emphasize the importance of the metaverse to the company’s future. The metaverse is what Zuckerberg sees as the successor to the internet we know now, which will incorporate augmented reality, virtual reality, and good old fashioned computer screens. Ten years from now, Zuckerberg thinks, we’ll enter the metaverse to hang out, meet with coworkers, date, and also quote, “teleport to a private bubble to be alone.” If you are having trouble understanding, this clip from yesterday’s keynote will clear everything up:


[clip with different voices] 3D street art? That’s cool.—Send that link over so we can all look at it.—This is stunning.—That is something.—That’s awesome, wow.—I love the movement.—Wait, it’s, it’s disappeared.—This is amazing.—Hold on. I’ll tip the artist and they’ll extend it.—Wow.—If you guys like it, here, I have another one that you’re going to love. Check out this forest room.—Huh, let’s see it.—Koi fish that fly? That’s new.—This is wild.


Gideon Resnick: Oh man. 3D art is where I checked out, and that was the first line.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry.


Jon Millstein: I’m all about the koi fish that fly. That’s what I’m looking for in a social media platform.


Priyanka Aribindi: Every like, “whoa, that’s awesome.” like, very scripted line that they gave him? Loved it. But of course, what you’re missing here is the 3D avatars of Zuckerberg and his friends inside the metaverse. They all look like variations on Sid from Toy Story before Pixar figured out faces. To throw one final science fiction code word at you, Facebook’s new VR platform to allow users to enter the metaverse will be called Horizon. It’s a whole lot of info, and we still don’t even know who’s going to buy our metaverse browsing habits to make this company billions of dollars. So for the new company Meta and the voyage into the metaverse that will be a central product, here is Jon with the solution:


Jon Millstein: Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse needs to better capture what we love about our virtual lives online by offering way more opportunities to win free iPod Nanos. As we know, iPod Nano giveaways are the main driver of our behavior on the internet. The primary reason we even go on websites is to be visitor number 100,000 and get two free iPod Nanos after filling out a very brief survey. The second reason we go on the internet is to pirate MP 3s from hardworking musicians to put on our iPod Nanos. Mark’s metaverse may allow us to negotiate business deals while appearing as a new twist on Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, but it lacks the one feature of the internet that we really, truly love. I’m certainly willing to put on 2-pound glasses and wave toy light sabers around in my room if there’s a chance it’ll get me 2,000 songs in my pocket. If there’s not, I’m out, and so are my extremely influential friends. Of course, supply chain problems are a huge trend recently, so maybe that’s what’s going on here. It could also be that the last iPod Nano was manufactured in 2017. If so, Mark better speak up now and then he can blow us away by announcing a whole new aspect of the metaverse, where virtual moms can surround us and tell us about one weird trick that doctors really don’t want us to know about. At that point, the metaverse will be perfect, and I’ll be really happy to spend my entire life on it.


Gideon Resnick: Wow, that is beautiful, and the right priorities, once again.


Priyanka Aribindi: You have a gift. You really just have a solution for everything.


Jon Millstein: You know how the people in The Matrix, they look at code and see the world. I look at the metaverse and see ways to incorporate more iPod Nanos.


Priyanka Aribindi: Beautiful. That’s beautiful for us all.


Gideon Resnick: Exactly.


Priyanka Aribindi: That was The Solution. We will be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Priyanka Aribindi: Congress held a hearing with Big Oil CEOs yesterday to get answers on whether they misled the public about climate change to protect their own interests. Lawmakers heard from a true global warming super group, including executives from Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP. The hearing was part of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s investigation into the industry’s decades-long quote, “climate disinformation efforts.” Democratic lawmakers had fiery words for these executives. Here is Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar:


[clip of Rep. Ilhan Omar] I hope that you are ashamed of the future that you contributed for your children and for ours, and I ask all of you to resign.


Gideon Resnick: Wow.


Priyanka Aribindi: Lawmakers compared yesterday’s questioning to a 1994 hearing where executives from large tobacco companies testified about industry practices. Now, this is not a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill. Democrats on the panel argued oil and gas companies, much like tobacco, knew its products were harmful for years and did nothing. But Republicans didn’t pin the blame on Big Oil. Instead, they called the hearing a quote, “distraction” and questions its legitimacy.


Gideon Resnick: That checks out to me. The Justice Department announced yesterday that it will pay $88 million to the victims’ families of the massacre at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. In that event, a self-proclaimed white supremacist shot and killed nine people. The families of the victims sued the government because they allege the FBI failed in its background check of the shooter. Before the massacre, he had been arrested on drug charges, which should have prevented him from purchasing a gun. The payments to the families ranged from six to seven and a half million dollars for those killed in the shooting. And for those who survived, the payments are $5 million per claimant. Bakari Sellers, one of the attorneys for the victims, said this about the settlement:


[clip of Bakari Sellers] We’re taking this tragedy that they tried to tear our country apart with and build Black communities in generational wealth.


Gideon Resnick: The victims were all Black, and those who were killed ranged in age from 26 to 87.


Priyanka Aribindi: I obviously remember this shooting. I didn’t realize about the failed background check. Really just illustrates how broken our systems are. Complete failure. Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is back for another one of his famous disgraces: a criminal complaint accusing him of forcibly touching a female staff member was filed in Albany city court yesterday. The victim is Brittany Commisso, a former aide to the governor, who was one of 11 women whose allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo were investigated in a report released this August. The complaint said the Cuomo quote, “intentionally and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly placed his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part.” Forcible touching is considered a misdemeanor in New York and carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. For Cuomo to be convicted, prosecutors would have to prove that his touching of Commisso was not accidental, but was carried out intentionally and with force.


Gideon Resnick: The only place to get a jug of laundry detergent that is big enough to hide inside, Costco, is raising its starting hourly wage to $17 beginning on Monday. Now this comes less than a year after the company raised its minimum wage to $16, and it comes in the midst of a labor shortage that’s got corporations around the country competing for workers and has also led to a bunch of really great viral tweets of employees texting their bosses mean things in quitting. Starbucks also announced a pay bump for its hourly workers this week. By next summer, the company’s base hourly pay will rise to $15, with some employees earning up to $23. Starbucks workers are in the midst of a unionization push in Buffalo, but the company said that wasn’t the impetus for the pay increase. Ha ha, I’m sure. Either way, the higher pay probably will not be reflected in the prices of the delicious adult milkshakes that we all buy there every day.


Priyanka Aribindi: You know what? I know the real thing behind this Costco, No one at Costco, no one at Starbucks wanted to get a mean text, and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want one, either. So good on you. I like your solution here.


Gideon Resnick: Yes, keep firing those mean texts. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go. We have NSYNC’s Joey Fatone wishing us happy two years using the exclusive website Cameo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, or Joey, but you can check it out on our Instagram and on Crooked’s Twitter account. It is not to be missed.


Priyanka Aribindi: It is truly iconic.


Gideon Resnick: Really.


Priyanka Aribindi: Do not want to miss it. It’s a ballad, honestly.


Gideon Resnick: It is. It’s beautiful, really is. That is all for today. If you like show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, follow us into the metaverse, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just the terms and conditions on our free iPod Nanos like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And enjoy your adult milkshakes!


Gideon Resnick: We make them sound like they’re alcoholic.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, they’re pretty delicious. I mean. I’m not going to lie, I like a pumpkin spice latte.


Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.