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Harris Quickly Consolidates Support After Biden Exit

Harris at the White House on Monday
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Monday, July 22, 2024

Harris Quickly Consolidates Democratic Support After Biden Exit

It’s a whole new race!

President Joe Biden’s game-changing decision Sunday to end his re-election bid and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him atop the Democratic ticket completely reshapes the 2024 presidential contest in ways that are far from clear right now. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they know how things will play out from now until November.

What is clear is that Democrats have quickly coalesced around the 59-year-old Harris, who has gotten the endorsements of hundreds of the party’s elected officials, including virtually all those who had been considered potential challengers for the presidential nomination.

At least 221 Democratic members of Congress have publicly backed Harris, as have more than 20 Democratic governors, including Andy Beshear of Kentucky, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Gavin Newsom of California, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

A fundraising boost: The party’s base and donor class appear to have quickly been re-energized by the change of candidate. Harris’s team said Monday that it raised a record $81 million in the 24 hours since Biden dropped out, with the money pouring into the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees. The campaign said more than 880,000 grassroots donors had contributed, with 60% of those donors chipping in for the first time in this election cycle.

“The historic outpouring of support for Vice President Harris represents exactly the kind of grassroots energy and enthusiasm that wins elections,” campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz reportedly said in a statement.

Praise for Biden: In her first public appearance since Biden withdrew, Harris praised his record as president. “Joe Biden's legacy over the last three years is unmatched in modern history,” she said at a White House event celebrating champions of college sports. “Every day, our president, Joe Biden, fights for the American people and we are deeply, deeply grateful for his service to our nation."

Influential former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who helped persuade Biden to step aside, also praised the president Monday as she joined those endorsing Harris. “As one of our country's most consequential presidents, President Biden has been not only on the right side of history, but on the right side of the future,” she said in a statement. “Now, we must unify and charge forward to resoundingly defeat Donald Trump and enthusiastically elect Kamala Harris as the next President of the United States.”

Republicans launch new attack lines: The Trump campaign reportedly has been preparing for weeks for the possibility that Harris could replace Biden, and it has already gone on the attack, criticizing Harris’s role in the Biden administration’s immigration policy and other areas. Sen. JD Vance, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, questioned Harris’s patriotism. “If you want to lead this country, you should feel grateful for it, you should feel a sense of gratitude,” he said. “And I never hear that gratitude coming through when I listen to Kamala Harris.”

The bottom line: Harris is moving swiftly to lock up the 1,976 delegates she needs to secure the nomination — and she’s reportedly more than halfway there already. As Democrats line up behind her, the Republican attacks are already heating up and are sure to get more vitriolic.

Will Harris Be Different Than Biden on Taxes?

The next president will face a massive challenge in the area of tax policy next year, as lawmakers battle over the expiration of some key elements of the 2017 Republican tax cuts, including tax breaks for individuals.

CNBC’s Kate Dore notes that while presumptive Democratic nominee Kamala Harris hasn’t released her own policy proposals, there’s good reason to think she will hew closely to the plans already provided by President Joe Biden.

Garrett Watson, a policy analyst at the conservative Tax Foundation, told Dore that he expects Harris to adopt the basic outline of Biden’s plan, which emphasizes higher taxes on the rich and corporations, as well as more generous childcare benefits for most families. In addition to likely agreeing with those ideas, Harris may lack sufficient time and resources to develop alternatives, Watson said, since she is inheriting the existing Biden campaign and policy infrastructure so close to the election.

Still, a look at Harris’s past proposal suggests that she could lean into more progressive tax policies than Biden. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport notes that in 2019, Harris proposed to provide a tax credit worth up to $500 a month for those earning less than $100,000 a year, as a way to make up for the expiration of tax cuts for individuals in the 2017 tax law. She also proposed raising the estate tax to help pay for salary raises for teachers and increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 35%.

One key issue to look out for is whether Harris adopts Biden’s view that taxes should not be raised for households earning less than $400,000 a year. “That’s a big one with significant consequences” for Democrats as they produce more detailed tax proposals in negotiations next year, Andrew Lautz of the centrist Bipartisan Policy Center told Dore.

EPA Awards $4.3 Billion to Cut Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it is awarding a total of $4.3 billion to 25 projects around the country designed to reduce pollution. The funding comes from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which included more than $750 billion in spending for environmental programs intended to combat climate change.

Projects receiving programming include electric vehicle infrastructure development along the I-95 corridor; improving forest management and reducing coal seam fires in Montana; decarbonizing freight transport at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California; and using land along the Atlantic coast for carbon sequestration.

The combined programs are expected to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by as much as “971 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050,” the EPA said in a press release. That’s roughly equivalent to the emissions produced by the energy use of 5 million homes each year for the next 25 years.

Projects selected for grants could receive federal funds as early as this fall. The Washington Post’s Sarah Raza reports that the announcement reflects the Biden administration’s effort to distribute climate funds as quickly as possible before the fall election, which, depending on which way it goes, could produce a very different federal approach toward climate change over the next four years.

EPA administrator Michael Regan highlighted the unavoidably political nature of the grants. “President Biden understands that America needs a strong EPA,’' Regan said last week in a preview of the announcement for reporters, adding that the Biden-Harris administration “has made the largest climate investment in history, providing billions of dollars to state, local and tribal governments to tackle climate change with the urgency it demands.”

Number of the Day: 27%

Giving cash to poor people could help improve their health, or at least result in fewer trips to the emergency room, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study tracked nearly 2,900 low-income people in the Boston suburb of Chelsea, Massachusetts, who applied for a lottery to receive $400 a month via a debit card from November 2020 to August 2021. The researchers found that people who received the money had 27% fewer visits to an emergency room.

The researchers say that it’s unlikely that the recipients of the cash simply replaced their ER care with outpatient services. “A more likely explanation for the fewer visits to the emergency department is a direct improvement in health from the cash benefit that reduced the demand or need for emergency care,” they write. “By decreasing the demand for more expensive acute care relative to outpatient care, cash benefits have the potential to be cost saving to the health care system.”

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