December 6, 2022
Today, President Joe Biden traveled to Arizona to highlight how the CHIPS & Science Act is bringing innovation and jobs to the country. He visited a facility that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is building north of Phoenix, where he met with chief executive officers from several companies and with lawmakers. TSMC has recently committed to investing $40 billion in Arizona to produce advanced semiconductors, the very sort of investment the CHIPS & Science Act was designed to attract.
Biden noted that this investment will bring more than 10,000 construction jobs and 10,000 jobs in high tech, and he emphasized that the Democrats’ investment in the nation’s economy is paying off. The country has added jobs in every month of Biden’s administration—10.5 million of them—and exports are up, helping the economy to grow at 2.9% last quarter. And Walmart’s chief executive officer yesterday said that prices are coming down for toys, clothing, and sports equipment, while the chief executive officer of Kroger says prices for fresh food products are also easing.
But, Biden said, he is “most excited” about the fact that “people are starting to feel a sense of optimism as they see the impact of the achievements in their own lives. It’s going to accelerate in months ahead, and it’s part of the broad story about the economy we’re building that works for everyone: one… that positions Americans to win the economic competition of the 21st century.”
“Where is it written that America can’t lead the world once again in manufacturing?” Biden said. “We’re proving it can.”
Biden has apparently tried to undercut the radical right by ignoring its demands and demonstrating an America in which everyone works together to solve our biggest problems. His trip to Arizona was in keeping with that program, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters that his trip was about “the American manufacturing boom we’re seeing all across the country thanks to, again, his economic policies… [and] in large part thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act the President signed into law—and a historic—let’s not forget—a bipartisan piece of legislation.”
But reporters immediately asked if President Biden would visit the border in Arizona, bowing to a right-wing talking point. Jean-Pierre responded that Biden would not engage in a political “stunt,” as the Republicans have been doing, and was instead going to Arizona “to talk about an important initiative that’s going to change Americans’ lives, specifically in Arizona.”
The follow-up? “If the President is not going to make time to visit the border during [this] trip…, will he do it… in the new year?”
The news from the right-wing faction in the nation often seems to steal the oxygen from the sober, stable politicians trying to address real issues and doing so with more than a little success.
Today, fewer eyes were on the $40 billion investment in Arizona than were on the verdict in the trial of the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corporation. Late this afternoon, the jury found the two entities guilty on all counts for a range of crimes surrounding the company’s payments to its senior employees through apartments, school tuition, cars, and so on, to avoid taxes. The company was charged with scheming to defraud, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, and conspiracy. The key witness was Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud, grand larceny, and conspiracy last August and received a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against the company (but not against former president Trump or members of his family).
Trump promptly issued a statement. He blamed everything on Weisselberg and promised to appeal.
House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters today the committee will make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. Those referrals, a source told Sara Murray, Annie Grayer, and Zachary Cohen of CNN, “will be focused on the main organizers and leaders of the attacks.” The Department of Justice is engaged in its own investigation, of course, but such a referral places a marker from a bipartisan group of lawmakers—many of whom are lawyers—indicating that they believe crimes have been committed.
Special counsel Jack Smith is now in charge of investigating the events surrounding January 6 as well as Trump’s theft of government documents, and news broke today that on November 22, just two days after he began work, he sent grand-jury subpoenas to officials in Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, asking for all communications officials had with Trump, his campaign, or many individuals associated with the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Meanwhile, the Biden-Harris administration continues to govern. Tomorrow, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will convene a roundtable discussion with leaders from 13 Jewish groups from across the country to discuss the rise in antisemitism. Mr. Emhoff is the first Jewish individual married to a president or a vice president, and he has called out the escalating antisemitism as the former president elevates white supremacists.
“I do not see this just as a Jewish issue,” Emhoff said. “This is an issue for all of us. Because we’ve seen this before. This is how it started 70 years ago. So I don’t want it to feel normal. I don’t want people to think, ‘Well it’s just words, it’s just Kanye.’ No. This matters.”
And finally, tonight, as I finished up this letter, the news networks called the Georgia Senate runoff race for Democratic senator Raphael Warnock, giving the Democrats a 51–49 majority in the Senate. This means that the Democrats will have the power to issue subpoenas without getting Republicans to sign on to them. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post pointed out a few weeks ago that Democrats could use this power to demonstrate what actual congressional oversight should look like, compared to House Republicans’ threatened investigation of Hunter Biden, perhaps drowning out the Republicans’ tactic of endless “investigations” to tarnish their opponents.
After the results came out, Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser tweeted: “Huh, so Democrats managed to pick up a Senate seat in a cycle where they should have been crushed. Consider the possibility that Joe Biden is very good at his job.”