Here is a summary of the top political issues making headlines this week.
1. Biden fires back at Republicans over nominee for budget director
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman took aim at Senate Republicans who are voicing complaints about his choosing Neera Tanden to be his director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“By the way, she’s smart as hell. Yeah, I think they’re going to pick a couple of people just to fight [over] no matter what,” Biden said while taking issue with the concerns over some of Tanden’s tweets.
Tanden, who is president of the Center for American Progress, a prominent liberal think tank, had been a senior policy adviser to both Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, described Tanden as “radioactive” and said her intended nomination by Biden is “really a misstep by the administration.”
“It’s pretty crazy to me to think that she can go back and … eliminate all the tweets that she’s sent out over the last, whatever, months, years,” Cornyn said.
Tanden and Biden’s other cabinet nominees, none of whom have received the kind of pushback she has, will need Senate confirmation.
“I think there are trade-offs, that not all compromise is walking away from principle,” Biden told The New York Times about working with Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. “He knows me. I know him. I don’t ask him to embarrass himself to make a deal.”
2. U.S. attorney general says significant fraud not found in election
U.S. Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press this week that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Barr’s statement refutes at the highest level of the U.S. government President Donald Trump’s claim that the election was stolen from him and that there was a massive conspiracy leading to Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 3rd election.
Biden won the popular vote by more than 6.5 million votes and the determining Electoral College, 306 to 232. Trump has launched numerous unsuccessful legal challenges in various states contesting the results.
While he has said he will leave the White House if Biden is claimed the winner when the electors vote in their states on December 14, Trump has not conceded.
Instead he has taken to Twitter often and friendly TV networks to tout his claims about the election being stolen. For weeks, many top Republicans have been silent about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims as Biden continues with his transition efforts.
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, said Barr’s comments would likely lead to his being replaced as the attorney general.
“I guess he’s the next one to be fired, since he now too says there’s no fraud,” Schumer said. “Trump seems to fire anyone in that regard.”
a. Opinion | If William Barr can admit Trump lost, why can’t other Republicans? – The Washington Post
3. Former college coach Holtz to get highest civilian honor
Former American football college coach Lou Holtz will receive the nation’s highest civilian award on December 3, the White House said.
U.S. President Donald Trump will give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Holtz, who Politico points out has been an avid supporter of the president’s and the Republican Party.
Holtz’s crowning achievement in 33 years as a coach was during the 1988 season when he led Notre Dame to the national championship.
Along with Notre Dame, Holtz coached at North Carolina State, the University of South Carolina and the University of Arkansas as well as one season in the National Football League with the New York Jets.
Holtz gave a speech at this year’s Republican National convention, calling Trump “a winner” and saying; “I used to ask our athletes at Notre Dame, ‘If you did not show up who would miss you and why?’ Can you imagine what would happen to us if President Trump had not shown up in 2016 to run for president? I’m so glad he showed up.”
In a statement, the White House said: “America recognizes Lou Holtz as one of the greatest football coaches of all time for his unmatched accomplishments on the gridiron, but he is also a philanthropist, author, and true American patriot.”
4. Obama questions use of the ‘defund the police’ slogan
U.S. President Barack Obama told the host of a Snapchat political show that using slogans such as “defund the police” can backfire on those seeking reform of law-enforcement agencies.
Obama told Peter Hamby, who hosts“Good Luck America”: “You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.
“The key is deciding do you want to actually get something done or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?” Obama added.
“Defund the police” became a rallying cry of the racial justice protests over the summer in reaction to the death of George Floyd, an African American, in May when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
The deadly incident involving excessive use of force against a black man triggered the Black Lives Matter calls to defund the police across the United States and put the money into facilities and programs to improve the lives of African Americans.
a. Police brutality and change in the Obama and Trump eras – Washington Examiner
b. What does ‘defund the police’ mean and does it have merit? – Brookings
5. Progressives back Democrats in Georgia to force tie in the Senate
The Sunrise Movement, which champions vast changes in policies regarding climate change, and other progressive groups are actively campaigning for the two Democrats, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, to win the U.S. senate runoff races in Georgia.
They are doing so, although the candidates might not support their particular agendas.
The reason is because Democrats need to win both seats on January 5 to force a 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate. They would then have control as Kamala Harris, once she is sworn in as vice president, would cast the tie-breaking vote on legislation.
“Without Democratic control, progressive lawmakers, activists and their grass-roots supporters worry that they will not be able to achieve even a pared-down version of their policy wish list for the country,” The New York Times said.
“We are moving heaven and earth and pointing all of our resources as much as we can to help us win those two seats in Georgia,” said Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November.
a. Can Democrats Really Win Georgia’s 2 Senate Seats? – The Nation
6. California governor mum on who will replace Harris
California Governor Gavin Newsom has been rather tight-lipped about a big choice he has to make. But others are certainly talking.
Plenty of advisers, both formal and informal, have been mentioning names to Newsom about who should fill out Kamala Harris’s U.S. Senate term when she becomes vice president in January.
The person would have two years in the seat before it is up for election again in 2022.
The leading candidates according to the media and political experts are: Xavier Becerra, who is California’s current attorney general. He had served 12 terms as a congressman before being appointed to replace Harris as state attorney general position in 2017. Becerra is also on the short list to be President-elect Joe Biden’s U.S. attorney general.
2. Alex Padilla, 47, the current California Secretary of State.
3. Karen Bass, 67, an African American, who will be in her sixth term in the House of Representatives in January.
Biden is reportedly considering her for several positions in his incoming administration.
4. Barbara Lee, 74, who has been in Congress since 1998. She gained fame after the 9/11 attacks for being the only member of Congress to vote against the Iraq war.
Lee is also being considered for a Biden administration post.
b. One Seat, Competing Pressures as Newsom Considers Senate Pick – New York Times
7. Six-vote loss has Iowa candidate seeking House intervention
The adage your vote can really make a difference has been heard often across the U.S. political landscape.
But nowhere is that truer this year than in the middle of America and the state of Iowa.
The Washington Post reported that Democrat Rita Hart, a former Iowa state senator, is saying a recount that put her six votes shy in her bid to beat Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks still left many votes uncounted.
“We all watched #IA02 close from 47 votes to 6, but there are still ballots that haven’t been counted,” Hart tweeted. “The only way to ensure all Iowans’ votes are counted is a full examination of this election by the U.S. House that will consider every ballot cast.”
The district is currently represented by Democrat David Loebsack, who chose not to run for reelection.
The Post reports that Hart intends to file a petition to the House Administration Committee asking that it review all the votes cast, including those left out in the state’s recount.
Hart’s race was the closest congressional contest since 1984.
b. Why we returned to Iowa after living in ‘amazing place’ like Seattle – Des Moines Register
8. Trump continue to talk of four more years in the White House
Talk of another four years is still being heard from U.S. President Donald Trump, a month after the November 3rd election.
But those who heard him talk about that at a White House Christmas reception this week may think that means running again in 2024 and not continuing on and on about the loss to Joe Biden in the November 3rd election.
Trump is not exactly saying which year yet.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump reportedly said. “We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
Trump again insisted he had won the election, saying: “But they don’t like that,” CNN reported.
A Trump campaign adviser told the network that there have been discussions about holding an event on Trump’s plans, perhaps around the January 20 inauguration day when Joe Biden is scheduled to be sworn in as the next U.S. president.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, has said the president would “absolutely” run again in 2024.
“I would absolutely expect the president to stay involved in politics and would absolutely put him on a shortlist of people who are likely to run in 2024,” Mulvaney told the Institute for International and European Affairs think tank, “He doesn’t like losing.”
a. Can Trump run again in 2024 after losing election to Biden? – The Independent
b. Grover Cleveland – White House