Two years into the pandemic, Biden and Democrats are now playing defense on Covid

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday … President Biden is meeting with top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. … Trump stars in a new ad in the Georgia gubernatorial race as the GOP primaries heat up. … NBC’s Benjy Sarlin delves into the debate over how pre-K programs work. …And the 4th quarter FEC reports are in.

But first: The Biden White House gets stuck on Covid.

On the one hand you have 70% of Americans in a new poll from Monmouth who agree with the statement that Covid is here to stay and we need to get on with our lives.

You have Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson saying on “Meet the Press” last Sunday that “we need to get out of panic mode” when it comes to the virus.

And you have New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy agreeing with him: “We’re not going to run this from scratch. You have to learn to live with that. »

On the other hand, you still have some 2,000 Americans dying from the virus every day; you have a situation where children under 5 are not eligible to be vaccinated (although there is significant progress on this front); and there is the realistic possibility of another wave or variation on the horizon.

What President Biden has failed to do is articulate a vision for the future after Delta, after Omicron, after recalls, after 75% of Americans have received at least one vaccine, and after the administration has started distributing free Covid tests.

He came closest to it at last month’s press conference, when Biden said, “We’re in a better place than we’ve been and have been so far, clearly better than a year ago. We’re not going back – we’re not going back to lockdowns. We are not going back to closing schools.

But what about local mask mandates? Are teleworkers returning to the office? Indoor gatherings? Daycare disruptions after positive tests?

As we’ve said before, as the virus advances, so does Biden’s presidency.

And now Republican candidates have turned the script on Covid, aggressively campaigning against vaccination mandates, Biden’s handling of the virus and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, according to NBC’s Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki.

While the Democratic candidates have been relatively silent on Covid.

Tweet of the day

Mid-term review

Republican David Perdue launched his first television commercial this morning in his race against GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the ad features former President Donald Trump.

“Brian Kemp let us down. We can’t let this happen again,” Trump said.

And the announcement comes as other GOP primaries take a negative turn.

In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz is slamming former hedge fund manager David McCormick for a new job, calling McCormick a “friend of China, not ours.”

And in the Alabama Senate contest, the Club for Growth continues to run an ad linking Katie Britt to Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Meanwhile, fundraising reports filed on Monday showed once again that Trump’s endorsement doesn’t necessarily translate to a windfall, especially for candidates facing incumbent Republicans.

None of Trump’s seven favorite candidates challenging incumbents who voted to impeach Trump have passed GOP lawmakers. On average, the House Republican facing a Trump-backed challenger raised $891,000 in the last fundraising quarter of 2021, while the average top Trump-endorsed opponent raised $226,000. In the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, again defeated her main opponent, Kelly Tshibaka, raising nearly $1.4 million to Tshibaka’s $602,000.

Embattled Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, started the year with a massive financial advantage against his main challenger, Jessica Cisneros. As of Dec. 31, Cuellar had nearly five times as much cash in hand with $2.3 million in his campaign account compared to $494,000 for Cisneros. For more on the South Texas race, check out NBC’s Garrett Haake ground shipping.

Data download: Today’s figure is… $178.4 million

That’s the combined amount of money the top four spending super PACs had on congressional races at the end of 2021, according to fundraising reports filed Monday.

And Republican groups beat their Democratic rivals. The GOP super PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senator Leadership Fund, which play in the House and Senate races respectively, had $39 million more than their Democratic counterparts, the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority. CAP.

Here are the main lines of their fundraising reports, which spanned the last six months of 2021:

  • CLF: $53.6 million raised, had $61.2 million
  • SLF: $42.3 million raised, $47.4 million
  • HMP: Raised $28.5 million, had $39.2 on hand.
  • SMP: $36.2 million raised, had $30.6 million

Other numbers you need to know today:

$122 million: How much money former President Donald Trump’s political committees had on hand at the end of 2021.

$22.3 million: The amount of money in Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign account as of Dec. 31, the most of any Senate candidate, according to an analysis by NBC News.

16: The number of senators participating in bipartisan negotiations to update the voter count law, per Politico.

Talk politics with Benjy

Democrats love universal pre-K. Does it work, however? Even as Democrats push to roll back Build Back Better in hopes of salvaging a deal, any version that passes still seems likely to include a universal pre-K agenda, which is popular even with centrists like Sen. Joe Manchin , DW.V. But there’s less consensus than you might think about how pre-K benefits young children.

A new study by Vanderbilt University researchers of Tennessee’s low-income pre-K program made waves this week when it found a slight negative impact on participants in 6th grade, including lower test scores and more disciplinary infractions, compared to children unable to secure a pre-K spot through a coin toss.

Dale Farran, one of the study’s co-authors, told NBC News that his team and state officials “expected ours to be the first rigorous study to validate the positive effects at long-term pre-K attendance”.

Instead, they were “saddened” when the result appeared to show otherwise, and are trying to figure out why. One theory proposed by Farran and his co-researcher Kelley Durkin is that kindergarten may be too focused on academic subjects like numbers and letters, compared to more general skills like paying attention to a task or a story.

Advocates of pre-K programs point to other research showing benefits. A recent study of graduates from a 1990s Boston lottery pre-K program found that graduates were more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to end up in prison or juvenile detention than children who did not. hadn’t come to class.

But Vanderbilt isn’t the first pre-K study to question its benefits. A survey of decades of research by the Brookings Institution in 2017 also found mixed results, with some studies suggesting long-term positive effects and others more ambiguous.

Rasheed Malik, director of early childhood policy at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, suggested the BBB might be more beneficial because its programs would cover all incomes. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that students tended to make greater gains in universal pre-K programs, rather than those aimed at disadvantaged families like in Tennessee.

Universal pre-kindergarten may also be important as a child care program, although its academic benefits are less clear. A 2018 Vox research roundup noted that while the data on pre-K benefits was mixed, universal programs in places like Washington, D.C. allowed many more parents to enter the market. work and increase their family income.

ICYMI: What else is going on in the world?

The New York Times reports that Trump was more involved in the effort to seize voting machines after the 2020 election than previously reported.

In a bipartisan effort, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and Sen. Lindsey Graham are urging the president to nominate someone to the Supreme Court who did not attend an Ivy League school.

And Politico Magazine predicts “the ingredients for a constitutional crisis” if Trump and Biden face off in a rematch in 2024.

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