A magic minute and magic maths

Why did House minority leader Kevin McCarthy deliver a speech that lasted a whopping eight and a half hours last night? After all, his filibuster will not stop the House from passing the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending bill, which will be voted on shortly after lawmakers reconvene this morning.

But in much the same way people don’t run marathons to get from A to B, McCarthy’s demonstration of rhetorical stamina was designed to prove a point. “I am a fighter” was the intended message and the GOP caucus was the intended audience. For McCarthy wants the Republicans to win back control of the House next year, and he wants to be the one handed the speaker’s gavel if they do.

By the time he finally sat down at 5:10 this morning, McCarthy had beaten Nancy Pelosi’s record for the longest floor speech in the chamber. The epic effort was possible thanks to a custom known as the magic minute, which allows the speaker and majority and minority leaders to speak for as long as they want.

McCarthy’s address grabbed attention this morning, but the Congressional Budget Office verdict on the fiscal consequences of the Build Back Better legislation, which was delivered shortly before he started speaking yesterday evening, will ultimately prove more consequential.

The CBO confirmed that the bill is not revenue neutral, finding that if passed it will add nearly $400 billion to the deficit over the next decade. That undercuts the White House’s already farfetched claim that the spending package costs nothing. (It is worth pointing out that, as the Wall Street Journal explains, the real fiscal impact will likely be much worse.)

Earlier in the week the Biden administration pre-empted the inconvenient finding by claiming that, as one spokesperson put it, “CBO does not have experience analyzing revenue amounts gained from cracking down on wealthy tax cheats who are taking advantage of every honest taxpayer.”

For technical reasons, the CBO did not include its estimate of extra revenue raised by Biden’s pledged IRS crackdown in its final deficit verdict, but it forecasts an increase of around $200 billion. The White House claims that a little more zeal from tax collectors will raise about twice as much revenue as the independent experts claim. Conveniently, that is enough for them to maintain that their spending package is revenue-neutral. Who to believe?

In fact, they go further. This huge spending bill will actually reduce the deficit, claims the administration. The White House spin on the CBO score is that it means the gap between spending and revenue will be smaller after this legislation is passed, and by more than $100 billion! A once-in-a-generation infusion of extra spending, a slew of fresh entitlements, a tax cut for the put-upon suburbanites of the northeast, not a single penny in extra taxes for the vast majority of Americans and this bill will improve America’s fiscal position. It sounds too good to be true. Because it is.

How hard was that, Ronna?

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel has finally uttered the words she has struggled to find for months. She recognizes Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, she said Thursday. “Painfully, Joe Biden won the election and it’s very painful to watch. He’s the President. We know that,” she told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in downtown DC.

“Squadsgiving”

Reader, I regret to inform you that there is something called “Squadsgiving.” Not content with their cringey collective term, the far-left group of lawmakers seem have instigated their own holiday. AOC, Ayanna Pressley and company gathered with their staffs to celebrate the auspicious occasion. Ilhan Omar even had a sign made.

The Q Shaman’s ad-libbing lawyer

Jacob Chansely, aka the “QAnon Shaman” who peacocked his way through the Capitol on January 6, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison. Chansley pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and said in court that “the hardest part is that I know I am to blame.”

But it was the out-of-work actor’s lawyer who stole the limelight. Outside the courtroom, attorney Albert Watkins was asked whether he thought it was fair to describe his client as an insurrectionist.

“An insurrectionist? Look up the word,” he said. “Are you gonna follow the guy who’s naked, tattooed, nipples, January, DC, hours outside, with horns, face paint and fur and say ‘yeah, that’s the guy I want, I’m following him’ — unless you are smoking crack, which you know is not bad on occasion.”

What you should be reading today

Matt McDonald: Infrastructure Republicans aren’t traitors

Stephen L. Miller: Krysten Sinema, voice of the Gen X generation

Matt Purple: Congress, worst anime ever

Rav Arora, City Journal: Mandates won’t immunize against crime

Alan Greenblatt, Politico Magazine: Redistricting, a true American bloodsport

Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: America slowly learns to live with Covid

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval

Approve: 41.3 percent

Disapprove: 53.5 percent

Net approval: -12.2 (RCP Average)

Is America generally heading in the right direction or on the wrong track? 

Right direction: 27 percent

Wrong track: 61 percent (YouGov/Economist)