For Republicans looking for red-meat issues, what could be juicier than claiming that President Joe Biden wants to yank red meat off Americans' dining tables? Over the weekend, they spread a scare story about a looming gut kick to carnivores. Never mind that there was not a morsel of truth to it.
The food fable went viral after the sensationalist Daily Mail's misleading conflation last Thursday of Biden's climate goals with a 2020 University of Michigan study of how "hypothetical" reductions in meat consumption might reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One extreme scenario was based on a 4-pounds-a-year limit. Glossed over was that Biden has proposed no such things regarding meat nor is there any hint he would. Neither Biden, his administration nor his campaign had anything to do with the U of M study. No matter.
Starting Friday, no fewer than five Fox News and Fox Business talking heads ran with the nonstory. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — tweeting a Fox News graphic that Biden's "climate requirements" call for cutting 90% of red meat from U.S. diets — proclaimed: "Not gonna happen in Texas!"
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) complained: "Why doesn’t Joe stay out of my kitchen?" Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: "I’m pretty sure I ate 4 pounds of red meat yesterday. That’s going to be a hard NO from me."
Larry Kudlow, the cable news host who became an economic adviser to former President Donald Trump and is now on Fox Business, mused about a future July Fourth when Americas would have to "throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled Brussels sprouts." That drew mockery from Democrats noting that it's customary for beer to be plant-based.
"Excited to be watching the Oscars with an ice cold plant-based beer," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted on Sunday night. "Thanks Joe Biden."
By Monday, Fox News host John Roberts aired a retraction acknowledging that the report about Biden's purported war on red meat was inaccurate. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Biden administration has no desire to push people to eat less meat. From the White House communications shop, rapid-response director Mike Gwin tweeted a photo of Biden working the grill with a big meat-eating grin, spatula in hand, at a 2019 steak fry in Iowa.
New York down for the count
The 2020 census figures are in. For New York State, there's good news, bad news and a big ouch in how the numbers will affect national reapportionment of the House of Representatives.
Newsday's Yancey Roy reports that state officials feared the decennial population count would cost New York two seats, but the Census Bureau said just one district will be cut, reducing the state's House delegation after the 2022 elections from 27 members to 26.
The stunner: Census officials said in a news conference that if New York's count had had just 89 more residents, it would not have lost any seats. Minnesota was the beneficiary of New York's shortfall.
The finalized count will trigger a scramble to redraw election districts and force some lawmakers to consider retiring or running for a new office. In all likelihood, it means an upstate Republican district will be folded into another district because Democrats control the state Legislature and effectively control how election maps will be drawn. Also, upstate has seen slower population growth than downstate New York.
Nationally, there was a marginal net gain for red states. Texas will gain two House seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each pick up one. Besides New York, there are one-seat losses in California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If the 2020 election results had been based on the new lineup, Biden would have won 303 electoral votes instead of 306.
Poll: Majority not OK with J&J vaccine
Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans not yet immunized against the coronavirus say they would be willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found broad mistrust of the shot’s safety after federal health officials paused its use. The poll was conducted before the pause was lifted Friday. The J&J formula now carries a new warning about a remote possibility of dangerous blood clots.
There is much higher confidence — more than 7 in 10 — in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
NY gun law in Supreme Court sights
The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear an appeal to expand gun rights in the United States in a New York case over the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.
With the conservative shift in the court lineup, gun control advocates are worried. The newest justice added to the court, Amy Coney Barrett, has a more expansive view of gun rights than the jurist she succeeded, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
New York is among eight states that limit who has the right to carry a weapon in public.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said gun laws have made New York the "safest big state in the country" and that the "NRA-backed case is a massive threat to that security."
Biden has announced several executive actions to combat what he called an "epidemic and an international embarrassment" of gun violence in America.
Soaking the less-than 1%
Biden’s forthcoming capital-gains tax hike proposal would affect only the top 0.3% slice of U.S. taxpayers, according to Brian Deese, who runs the president's policy-writing National Economic Council.
Biden is set to propose nearly doubling taxes on capital gains to 39.6% for people earning more than $1 million.
"We need to do something about equalizing the taxation of work and wealth in this country," Deese told reporters Monday. "And that's why the reforms that the president will lay out are focused on this top sliver of people."
The soon-to-be-announced tax hike will treat those investment proceeds as wages for top earners and applies only to about 500,000 U.S. households, Deese said.
More coronavirus news
See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments on Long Island and beyond by Newsday's Bart Jones and Robert Brodsky. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.
What else is happening:
- The U.S. will begin sharing its entire stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said Monday. As many as 60 million doses are expected to be available for export in the coming months.
- Biden signed an executive order on Monday establishing a task force aimed at helping workers organize unions. The order directs the panel to make a set of recommendations within 180 days on how existing policies, programs and practices can be used to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining. Vice President Kamala Harris will chair the group.
- The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, in part because of the March 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black medical worker who was shot to death by police during a misdirected raid at her home, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.
- Biden's first address to Congress on Wednesday night will be an invite-only affair, no guests allowed, because of coronavirus protocols. Only about 200 people will be in the House chamber, meaning a majority of Congress will not be there in person. House leaders from both parties controlled the invitation list.
- The Washington Post fact-checkers counted 67 false or misleading statements by Biden as he nears his 100-day mark on Thursday. On that score, Trump won by a landslide, with 511 whoppers over a comparable period.
- Few Democratic senators have embraced a push by progressives to expand the Supreme Court as a way to undo its conservative tilt, Politico reports. Biden created a commission to study the issue.