👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Biden’s address to Congress highlighted his accomplishments on job growth, infrastructure, climate, drug price cuts for seniors, and consumer protections in his first two years in the White House. In his first State of the Union address to a divided Congress, Biden challenged the new House Republican majority to work with him, repeatedly saying “Let’s finish the job” while calling on lawmakers to pass policing reform, immigration legislation, codify abortion rights, and to cap the price of insulin. Republicans, however, heckled Biden over drugs entering the country and when he accused them of threatening Social Security and Medicare. Biden was also met with boos after he pointed out that 25% of the U.S. national debt was added under Trump’s tenure. “They’re the facts, check it out,” Biden replied. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / NPR / CNBC)
2/ Hakeem Jeffries suggested that Republicans who heckled Biden during the State of the Union address are unfit to serve in Congress. During his speech, Biden accused Republicans of holding the “economy hostage” over the debt ceiling while pushing to end entitlement programs. “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans – some Republicans – want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.” Marjorie Taylor Greene, nevertheless, began calling Biden a “liar” from the back row over the reference to Rick Scott’s plan that “all federal legislation sunsets in 5 years.” (Medicare and Social Security were created through federal legislation and would seemingly need to be reauthorized every five years). Biden replied: “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?” Following the speech, Jeffries tweeted: “President Biden delivered a compelling speech outlining a vision to make life better for everyday Americans. And his dignity presented a stark contrast with the right-wing extremists who are unfit to serve.” (The Hill / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico)
3/ Mitt Romney told George Santos “you don’t belong here” before Biden’s State of the Union address. Romney said he criticized Santos for “trying to shake hands […] given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation,” adding: “He should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room.” Santos faces multiple investigations over his campaign finances and repeated lies about his resume and biography. Santos, meanwhile, said that Romney’s comments were “reprehensible” and “it wasn’t very Mormon of him.” (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
4/ The Labor Department’s internal watchdog identified “at least $191 billion” in misspent pandemic unemployment benefits. The new estimate is nearly $30 billion more than the $163 billion that the government had identified last year. Federal officials, however, said they can’t accurately compute the total amount of federal pandemic aid subject to fraud and abuse. (Washington Post / Politico)
5/ The U.S. intelligence community said China’s spy balloon was part of a global surveillance program designed to collect information about the military capabilities of countries around the world. The Pentagon said that in recent years Chinese surveillance balloons have been spotted over Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Europe, collecting information on military assets of emerging strategic interest to China. Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said that the State Department has shared this information with dozens of countries. “We’re doing so because the United States was not the only target of this broader program, which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 35% of Americans say they are better off now than they were a year ago, while 50% are worse off. Since 1976, the only other time half or more of Americans to say they were worse off was during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. (Gallup)
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