McConnell, GOP bet against Biden’s infrastructure push – National & International News – MON 5Apr2021

McConnell, GOP want voters to pay for infrastructure rather than corporations.

GOP bets against Biden’s infrastructure push. New security fears after Capitol. Israel: Netanyahu bribery case resumes amid political turmoil. China steps up Taiwan flyovers.


McConnell, GOP bet against Biden’s infrastructure push

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Congressional Republicans are signaling that they won’t support President Biden’s $multi-trillion infrastructure plans. The Republicans are backing a strategy that succeeded in defeating a similar plan under President Obama. The GOP are looking to make Democrats take full ownership of the costly project, gambling that voters will see it as a government overreach and a waste of money.

Republicans’ main complaints about the plan relate to the $billions set aside for what they see as a massive expansion of the welfare state. President Biden is betting that GOP voters won’t see it that way. Instead of making concessions to Republican demands, Biden’s plan is to appeal directly to the GOP’s own constituents. Recent polling shows that Biden’s instincts are correct.

Who pays? 

The key division between the Democrats and GOP seems to hinge on who should pay for the massive infrastructure upgrades. In Biden’s proposal, large corporations, who would likely be the largest beneficiaries of the upgrades, would pick up the tab. Biden proposes raising corporate tax rates from 21%-28% and closing loopholes that currently allow corporations to keep assets offshore. 

The GOP seems to think ordinary Americans should foot the bill. Sen. Roy Blunt, (R-MO) recently said that the GOP might support a smaller bill, paid for by toll hikes and other “user fees” rather than taxing corporations. 

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New attack raises Capitol security fears

Last Friday, 25-year-old Noah Green rammed his car into a security barrier outside the US Capitol, killing one Capitol police officer and injuring another. He then got out his car and ran towards the officers brandishing a knife. Another office shot Green, who later died. Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans was killed in the attack. Evans was an 18-year veteran of the force and a father of two.

Few details on Green’s motivations have emerged. People who knew Green say he struggled with his mental health. Much has been made in the press of Green’s support for the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist group, but it’s currently unclear what if anything this had to do with the attack.

Whatever Green’s reasons might have been, the attack has spurred new calls for ramping up Capitol Hill security once again. Following complaints from Congressional Republicans about “excessive” security precautions around the building since the Jan. 6 riot, security has been gradually stepped down. Rep. Tim Ryan, (D-OH), who leads the subcommittee that funds the Capitol Police, said that security would need to be “re-evaluated” after Friday’s attack.

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Israel: Netanyahu bribery case resumes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefly returned to court today as his ongoing bribery and abuse of power case resumed after a COVID hiatus. Today began the witness testimony and evidence stage of the case. Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari told the that Netanyahu sought “improper benefits from owners of major media in Israel in order to advance his personal affairs”. Netanyahu was then excused from the court before witness testimony commenced.

First to take the stand after Netanyahu’s departure was Ilan Yeshua, the former CEO of Walla News. Yeshua claimed that the company’s owner, Shaul Elovitch, told Yeshua to eliminate any negative coverage of Netanyahu and his family. This, prosecutors say, was part of a quid pro quo, with Netanyahu promising to steer regulations in the company’s favor. This is just one of several corruption charges against Netanyahu, which you can read more about by following the link below.

Poor prospects for coalition

Across town, President Reuven Rivlin began meetings with representatives from the various parties who won seats in the Knesset in the country’s inconclusive elections last month. This, presumably, was Netanyahu’s post-court destination. Rivlin has said he is not optimistic that a ruling coalition will emerge from the current players. This will mean a 5th round of elections in 2 years.

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China steps up Taiwan air incursions

Taiwan has reported yet another invasion of its air space by Chinese military aircraft. The latest involved 8 fighter jets and 2 other aircraft. This follows a similar incursion late last month by 20 Chinese aircraft.

These flyovers seem to be part of a coordinated intimidation effort by Beijing against Taiwan. Taiwan has functioned as a de facto independent state since 1949, but China has long claimed it as part of its territory. Recent statements from high-ranking Chinese military officials have threatened to reclaim the island by force. The invasions of the island’s air and maritime space demonstrate Beijing’s willingness to make good on the threat.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that the US and Australia discussing a possible response if such an invasion takes place. Neither side has committed to a military response. However, the US has pledges to boost Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, and has sold Taiwan $billions in weaponry in recent years. 

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