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US VP warns Dems against playing politics over vaccine – Anadolu Agency




US Vice President Mike Pence has warned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris against playing politics with COVID-19 issues. 

Biden, Harris, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, need to “stop playing politics with people’s lives by undermining confidence in a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine,” Pence told Fox News on Sunday.

“The president has speeded up the process through Operation Warp Speed, but we cut no corners on safety, and we are not going to distribute a coronavirus vaccine until the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and independent evaluation say it is safe and effective for the American people,” he added.

The FDA approved Thursday Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir, a drug touted by President Donald Trump who received it earlier this month after contracting COVID-19.

On Friday, the FDA also gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to continue their vaccine trials after both companies earlier paused their trials as some participants in trials became ill.

Some Democrats have claimed Trump was acting reckless in coronavirus treatment options, arguing the president has been expediting trials to have a vaccine ready before the election on Nov. 3.

“I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said last month.

The US administration implemented Operation Warp Speed, which offers to pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million doses if their vaccine proves “safe and effective”, and a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses by next January.

The US has more than 8.63 million cases and over 225,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, figures show over 43 million infections and more than 1.15 million deaths.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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Josh Hawley shows what GOP politics after Trump will look like – The Washington Post



What does the GOP base want? That question is of paramount importance to the ambitious Republican who would become the party’s champion in 2024. The emerging consensus is that the way to win that base’s affections is by channeling and encouraging their resentments, much in the way President Trump did.

Pulling this off won’t be easy for more conventional politicians. Many will try; the slate of potential candidates is long and growing. But if you want to understand how Republicans see their own voters, you can’t do much better than to watch Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and his performative populism.

It’s performative because while it’s vivid and dramatic, it has almost no policy content. Hawley doesn’t actually want to do much of anything that might hurt the interests of the wealthy and boost the fortunes of ordinary people; what he wants instead is to encourage seething resentment of the “elite” that he can ride to greater political fortune, a new culture war for the post-Trump era.

Consider this recent Twitter exchange:

Hawley knows perfectly well how nonsensical and incoherent it is to claim that his opponents are simultaneously corporate tools and radical Marxists. But that incoherence is a feature, not a bug.

This is a standard refrain from Hawley, that any Democrat he wants to criticize is a “condescending corporate liberal” looking down their nose at reg’lar folks while they do the bidding of big business (the “sneering” he references in this tweet is the key). As he said in a 2019 speech full of laughable distortions of history (the Framers, he claimed, “built a new republic governed not by a select elite, as in the days of old, but by the common man and woman”), the “cosmopolitan elite” that runs things leaves Americans feeling “unheard, disempowered and disrespected.”

And the mention of “critical race theory” — which approximately one in a thousand Americans actually understands — is another tell. It’s a way of saying that those elitist White liberals don’t care about you because they’re too busy caring about Black people.

This is what political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call “plutocratic populism,” a stylistic anti-elitism that wins popular support for an agenda that serves only the wealthy and corporations. Nearly every prominent Republican demonstrates it in one way or another, but Hawley offers us one of its clearest incarnations.

Hawley himself is as elite as they come. The son of a banker, he attended prep school before Stanford and Yale Law, where his term as president of the school’s Federalist Society chapter no doubt helped propel him all the way to a Supreme Court clerkship with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. His escalator to the top required no bootstrap-pulling.

Yet posing as a down-home populist has been one of the keys to Hawley’s rise. One example: During his 2018 run for Senate, he faced a serious liability in the lawsuit that he and other Republican attorneys general filed to nullify the Affordable Care Act, which would have yanked protections for preexisting conditions away from all Americans. So he aired an ad claiming to be the guardian of those protections for families like his own: “We’ve got two perfect little boys. Just ask their momma.”

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with politicians who come from wealth promoting the interests of the downtrodden; we have a long history of such figures, most notably Franklin Roosevelt. But the plutocratic populists like Hawley offer regular people only the spiritual succor of outrage: I may be working to increase inequality in America, but elect me because I hate the people you hate.

This is the shared strategy of Hawley and Trump: They’re both products of the American elite riding forth on anti-elite resentment. The difference is that Trump was driven by a sincere envy of the elite and a desperate desire to be accepted by them. He was always the kid from Queens whose (largely inherited) money couldn’t buy him a welcome into Manhattan society; no matter how many buildings he bought or how many times he was mentioned on Page Six, the old-money swells wouldn’t consider him one of their own, which caused him no end of whiny bitterness.

But Hawley is too smart to put himself in the story of grievance he tells; without a force of personality anything like Trump’s, he can only be a vehicle for others’ resentment. He’ll claim to be an enemy of corporations, rail against nonexistent “religious bigotry” and tell the Republican base over and over: You’re the victims. Get mad.

In this effort — indeed, in today’s GOP as a whole — dishonesty, hypocrisy and self-contradiction aren’t sins, they’re virtues, so long as they’re deployed to irritate the libs. Hawley understands as well as anyone that his is a party of trolls, particularly the activist base that will be so important in determining who gets the 2024 nomination; no quality is held in higher esteem among them than the ability to make the left angry.

And in that, Hawley is well on his way. The liberals who pay enough attention to politics to be familiar with him already consider him utterly loathsome.

It may be partly because they understand that while he isn’t exactly a dynamo on the stump, he could have some real appeal to Republicans, particularly when compared with some of the duds lining up to run in 2024, black holes of charisma such as Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hawley is every bit as phony as any of them, but he’s much less likely to make voters recoil. Which makes him all the more dangerous.

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Trump's fights with fellow Republicans have political consequences beyond 2020 – NBC News



WASHINGTON — President Trump is leaving office the same way he started his political career — by attacking fellow Republicans.

But the fights he’s picked with Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in Georgia, as well as with Gov. Doug Ducey in Arizona, are different than those insults at John McCain, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Rick Perry in 2015.

One, they’re taking place with the top elected leaders in onetime GOP-leaning states that just turned blue in 2020 — and with one of them (Georgia) holding twin runoffs in January that will decide the control of the Senate.

And two, Trump is upset that these Republican officials aren’t helping him overturn election results in states that he narrowly yet clearly lost.

Dec. 1, 202002:22

Let us repeat that again: He. Wants. Them. To. Reverse. The. Results.

“ALL 15 counties in Arizona — counties run by both parties — certified their results,” Ducey replied to Trump via Twitter. “That’s the law. I’ve sworn an oath to uphold it, and I take my responsibility seriously.”

“Georgia law prohibits the governor from interfering in elections,” Gov. Kemp’s spokesman said in a statement, per NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard.

These intraparty fights not only complicate the Senate runoffs in Georgia, but also future statewide contests in these two states.

As NBC’s Ed Demaria reminds us, Ducey might be the best Republican on paper who could win both a GOP Senate primary and a general election in Arizona in either 2022 or 2024. But what if Trump decides to sink his chances?

And that’s the dilemma for Republicans if Trump — once out of office — becomes the face of the GOP opposition to Biden.

Does he use his powers to help the party? Or exact revenge?

Tweet of the day

NYT: Trump has raised $170 million since Election Day

“President Trump has raised about $170 million since Election Day as his campaign operation has continued to aggressively solicit donations with hyped-up appeals that have funded his fruitless attempts to overturn the election,” the New York Times reports, citing one person familiar with the matter.

The rub: The fine print on the president’s call for donations to his “Official Election Defense Fund” show that the vast majority of donations don’t necessarily support a recount at all. Most of the money instead is headed for the president’s personal leadership pac, which he’ll be able to use to fund his post-presidential political activity, and to the Republican National Committee.

It’s not surprising, but it’s still astonishing.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

6,238,766: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication.

13,624,624: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 170,294 more than yesterday morning.)

268,990: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,394 more than yesterday morning.)

192.77 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

96,039: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

35: The number of days until the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

50: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Biden rolls out his economic team

“President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday will formally introduce his picks for his economic policy team, including Janet Yellen for treasury secretary,” NBC’s Geoff Bennett and Rebecca Shabad write.

Biden Cabinet/Transition Watch

State: Tony Blinken (announced)

Treasury: Janet Yellen (announced)

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (announced)

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (announced)

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (announced)

Defense: Michèle Flournoy, Jeh Johnson, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Attorney General: Doug Jones, Xavier Becerra, Sally Yates

HHS: New Mexico Gov, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Calif. Rep. Raul Ruiz, Calif. Rep. Karen Bass, Dr. Vivek Murthy

Interior: Deb Haaland

Agriculture: Heidi Heitkamp

Labor: Andy Levin, Bernie Sanders, Marty Walsh

Education: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Randi Weingarten

OMB Director: Neera Tanden (announced)

CIA: Michael Morell

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain (announced)

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan (announced)

Climate Envoy: John Kerry (announced)

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield (announced)

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki (announced)

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne (announced)

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders (announced)

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

Today’s Runoff Watch checks in on the enormous amount of money pouring into Georgia over the next few months.

As of now, there’s been $293 million devoted to both runoffs (this includes TV and radio advertising already spent and booked, per Advertising Analytics). The special runoff (Loeffler vs. Warnock) has $158 million devoted to it, compared to the other runoff’s (Perdue vs. Ossoff) $135 million, with Republican groups outspending Democrats in both.

If no one else commits a dime to either race, the special runoff alone (from Nov. 4 on) will have more TV and radio spending in it than every single 2020 Senate race except for three (North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona). And in the Perdue-Ossoff runoff, that $135 million spent and booked between Nov. 4 and Jan. 5 is virtually the same amount spent on the race by Election Day.

But of course, it’s almost certain that there will be a lot more money flooding the state as both parties dig deep into the piggybank to help decide control of the Senate.

The Lid: Man! I feel like a woman

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at the rise of women in Congress and now in Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks.

Shameless plug

All this week, NBC News will have in-depth coverage on the “Race for a Vaccine” across its programs and platforms, including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, TODAY, Dateline NBC, MSNBC, and NBC News NOW.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Joe Biden is outpacing or exceeding Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s timelines for choosing Cabinet members.

Some progressives aren’t happy about the business ties of some of Biden’s top picks for White House jobs.

Politico looks at how Janet Yellen became Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary.

The Washington Post looks at how Neera Tanden has become one lightning rod for the transition.

Biden received his first presidential daily briefing yesterday.

Controversial White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas has resigned.

Some House Republicans want to challenge the Electoral College count on the House floor.

Georgia voters will choose John Lewis’s short-term successor in a runoff election today.

There could be a huge economic recovery next year. But a lot depends on the winter.

What does an inauguration look like in a pandemic?

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The Politics Of Student Debt Cancellation – Forbes



President-elect Joe Biden has promised to provide student debt cancellation of some kind to student borrowers. While he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both pitched that plan during the campaign, the policy has become central to many political debates in recent weeks.

But there is division around the issue, both within the Democratic Party and across the aisle. Progressives are pushing Biden to cancel student debt, while moderate Democrats are less supportive and Republican elected officials are fully opposed.

Part of the case some are making against student debt cancellation is around the fairness of the policy. One columnist recently went viral on Twitter when he said the policy would anger those who didn’t go to college or who already paid off their debts.

While the latter may be less compelling, the former argument is one that could have real political implications. About 45.1 million Americans have student debt, but that’s less than 15% of the population of the United States. There are already political divides across education where those without a college degree are more likely to vote for Republican candidates.

New data shows that these divides are becoming even more stark. Many worry that enacting a cancellation would ignite a backlash from those who never went to college, particularly given the income divides across levels of educational attainment. Of course, in a large legislative package, many policies could be enacted at the same time, so the backlash might be easier to avoid.

But because Democrats did not win as many Senate races as expected, Biden’s legislative proposals will be more difficult to pass. Even if Democrats win both Georgia runoff elections, that would yield a 50 – 50 split with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being the tie breaker. And that best-case scenario assumes all Democrats support each proposal and support eliminating the filibuster. That has put a lot of focus on what President-elect Biden can do without Congress.

Part of the reason that student debt cancellation has received so much focus is that some believe student debt cancellation can be done via executive authority rather than only legislatively. Senator Elizabeth Warren made the first high-profile push for this idea into the political discourse during her presidential campaign. In September, Warren and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a resolution calling on the next president to use this authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower.

This issue is a high profile one that many on the left will see as a significant win if Biden is able to forgive some debt. A number of Democrats are pushing President-elect to use this executive authority to provide some form of relief, especially if Senate Republicans don’t agree to a larger economic relief package as proposed by President-elect Biden. Biden will have weigh both sides of the political spectrum as he decides what to do.

Related Readings:

Will The Biden Administration Give Students $10,000 In Loan Relief?

Joe Biden’s Plan For Student Debt Cancellation

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