Biden picks Powell

After months of umm-ing and ahh-ing, Joe Biden this morning announced that he will nominate Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell to a second term at the helm of the central bank.

The move is designed to reassure. At a time when prices, and economic anxiety, are on the rise, Biden has opted for a known quantity: the Trump appointee who has helped steer the US economy through an uncertain few years.

Progressives had been pushing Biden to replace Powell with Lael Brainard, a Fed board member who had criticized some of Powell’s moves as governor. Among her most vocal supporters was Elizabeth Warren, who has called Powell a “dangerous man.”

But those looking for an indicator that Biden has swerved to the center shouldn’t over-interpret this morning’s move. The reappointment of an existing Fed chair during a first term is a tradition most presidents adhere to. Moreover, Biden has fudged things a little by promoting Brainard to the position of vice-chair. And the White House statement on the decision emphasizes the top team rather than Powell alone, with Biden expressing his confidence in “Chair Powell and Dr Brainard’s focus on keeping inflation low, prices stable and delivering full employment.”

The Fed announcement kicks off a Thanksgiving week stuffed full of decisions that could prove decisive for Biden’s economic legacy. Tomorrow, Biden will deliver a speech on inflation and the health of the US economy. Last Friday’s passage of Biden’s reconciliation package means that attention moves to the Senate, where there remain significant differences over everything from the SALT deduction, which Bernie Sanders has described as “bad politics,” to paid leave, about which Joe Manchin remains less than enthusiastic. A series of deadlines loom over proceedings, the first of which is the need to pass legislation to fund the government by December 3.

In a matter of days, Biden will be a lot closer to finalizing his landmark legislation and, with that bill and the decision to reappoint Powell, locking in the policymaking decisions that will help determine the near future of the US economy as well as the country’s mood heading into next year’s midterms.

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Hayes and Goldberg take a stand

Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, founders of the Dispatch, have resigned from Fox News. As they explain, their decision to end their network contributor contracts was prompted by Tucker Carlson’s three-part January 6 documentary Patriot Purge, which indulges all kinds of fringe crankery about the riot at the Capitol and a new “War on Terror” aimed at the right.

But the decision wasn’t just about one show, but a broader trend at the network, with primetime hosts undermining the work of the rest of the organization. As Hayes and Goldberg put it: “We sincerely believe that all people of good will and good judgment — regardless of their ideological or partisan commitments — can agree that a cavalier and even contemptuous attitude toward facts, truth-seeking and truth-telling lies at the heart of so much that plagues our country.”

Hayes and Goldberg aren’t the only ones to have voiced their frustration with Carlson. NPR reports that hosts Bret Baier and Chris Wallace are among the more temperate voices at Fox who raised concerns over Patriot Purge with CEO Suzanne Scott. Any hope that the grim final days of the Trump presidency might prompt a wake-up call at the network has been dashed. No wonder Hayes and Golberg have had enough.

The Lincoln Project is rooting for Trump

Contrast Hayes and Goldberg’s good-faith and straightforward stand against Fox’s editorial direction with the cynical hucksters over at the Lincoln Project. Rick Wilson, an ex-Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project and claims to consider Trump an existential threat to American democracy, told CNN that he would be rooting for the former president in a 2024 GOP primary. “We want Trump to kill his own babies,” he said. “We believe if we narrow the field and it’s only Trump in 2024, it’s an easy choice for Americans to say no.”

Like so many now devoted to fight Trump, Wilson cannot face the possibility of a Trump-free future, in which his organization loses its raison d’être — and the flow of cash dries up.

GOP governors’ blue-state blues

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, was elected for the eighth time in 2016. Leahy won’t be seeking re-election, though his twenty-eight-point margin suggests a straightforward race for whichever Democrat is chosen to replace him. Adding to Democratic confidence is the fact that Joe Biden won the state by thirty-five points.

Republicans had wondered if they might have an ace card in the form of the state’s governor, Phil Scott. Recent polling found Scott to be the most popular state-level leader in America. Those hopes appeared to be dashed last week when a spokesperson for Scott said that news of Leahy’s retirement had not changed his reluctance to head to Washington. Scott is the second Republican governor in recent weeks to decline a Senate bid.

Earlier this month, Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire announced he would not be running. The decision of these popular officials to sit out the midterms makes the GOP’s already difficult task of flipping the Senate harder still. Given the uncompromising and bad-blooded nature of national politics, is it any wonder that the luster of DC has faded, especially for Republican governors of blueish states?

What you should be reading today

Dominic Green: Kyle Rittenhouse is no hero
Gilbert T. Sewall: John McWhorter versus the progressive elect
Roger Scruton: Our gadgets are misleading us
Ross Douthat, New York Times: The diminishing Democratic majority
Michael C. Bender, Wall Street Journal: Republican governors distance themselves from Trump, drawing his ire
Demitri Sevastopulo, Financial Times: China’s hypersonic weapon fired a missile over South China Sea

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 41.3 percent
Disapprove: 53.4 percent
Net approval: -12.1 (RCP Average)

Will the Build Back Better bill make inflation better, worse or have no impact?
Better: 26 percent
Worse: 43 percent
No impact: 15 percent (USA Today/Suffolk)

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