Explaining reconciliation and the social issues at stake, with Mary C. Curtis

Congress will be back in earnest next week with a lot on the to-do list, including two infrastructure bills.

The first, a bipartisan, Senate-passed infrastructure package, would spend billions of dollars to improve roads, bridges, waterways — but it’s yet to be passed by the House. And then there’s the partisan “human” infrastructure bill that would provide sweeping funds for President Joe Biden’s social agenda, including subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care, clean energy programs and more.

Democrats’ only chance at passing such a bold measure without GOP support? A process called budget reconciliation.

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call columnist and host of the Equal Time podcast, sat down with Norm Ornstein, senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, to better understand reconciliation. She also talked with Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison to understand more about what’s at stake for the party with the bold social priorities.

Local News Roundup: COVID-19 Cases Rise In Schools, 3-Year-Old Killed By Gun Violence, Redistricting Begins In Charlotte

On the Local News Roundup: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the community and area schools. Where this is happening and what are officials doing about it?

In Union County, not much. Their school board votes to keep mask-wearing optional for students and teachers — one of only three systems in the state to reach that decision.

Mecklenburg County releases data on its employees’ vaccination rates as organizations representing police and fire prepare to push back on possible vaccine mandates.

And a Charlotte City Council committee starts drawing new election maps based on 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Ann Doss Helms, WFAE Education Reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Hunter Saenz, WCNC Reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s Executive Producer for Investigations & Chief Investigative Reporter

Reconciliation, infrastructure and the social safety net

President Joe Biden made clear from his first day in office that social justice issues are at the top of his economic agenda. A “human” infrastructure bill remains on Congress’ to-do list, which includes subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care and clean energy programs — in other words, a social safety net.

But to get this partisan, largely unwritten measure passed, Democrats have embraced the budget reconciliation process. Mary C. Curtis speaks first to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to unpack the reconciliation process. To discuss the friction within the Democratic Party on this measure and more, Curtis turns to DNC Chair Jaime Harrison on what’s at stake.

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable with a look at the top stories of the week.  As always… there’s a lot to talk about.  Hurricane Ida, back to school in the DMV, recapping the March On Washington, and gun violence in our communities.  We start with the end of the war in Afghanistan.

Voting Rights, Student Loans, and FDA Approved COVID Vax

Panelists Mary C. Curtis, Jessica Holmes, and Dawn Blagrove weigh in on the recent rule of NC judges to eliminate the waiting period and give formerly convicted individuals the right to vote, effective immediately, and the impact of Biden’s moves to reduce student debt. Dr. C. Nicole Swiner offers her take on the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine, booster shots, and family politics of COVID.

MLK III: ‘Listen with your ears, hear with your heart’

Martin Luther King III joins Equal Time to talk with Mary C. Curtis about his father’s “I have a dream” speech, voting rights today and personal memories of his father. Fifty-eight years after his father’s iconic words, MLK III joins John Lewis’ family and others to galvanize the nation to, once again, ensure voting rights for all Americans.

Local News Roundup: Census Data; City Council Approves NDO; CMS Discusses Title IX; Mask Mandates In Charlotte-Mecklenburg?

Title IX training and discussions of how students should report sexual assaults and harassment at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were part of a latenight board meeting for the district this week. And as the new school year begins later this month, school leaders are hoping to meet the academic and health challenges caused by the pandemic.

Charlotte City Council approved a new nondiscrimination ordinance that leaders call “historic” and “the right thing to do.”

Mayor Vi Lyles made waves this week during her weekly press conference about mask mandates and who has the power to make them.

We provide an update on COVID-19, as numbers of cases and hospitalizations in our region return to high levels, and as some schools who are already in session reverse masking policies after having outbreaks of the illness. We’ll also discuss how Gov. Roy Cooper’s $100 incentive to get the vaccine has sparked a new surge of vaccinations.

Guest host Erik Spanberg from the Charlotte Business Journal and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

GUESTS:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time” and contributor at WCCB-TV

Katie Peralta Soloff, reporter for Axios Charlotte

Claire DonnellyWFAE health reporter

Joe BrunoWSOC-TV reporter

Clyburn: Pass voting bills or Democrats will lose majorities

As a young civil rights activist, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn was involved in protests that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Now, the 81-year-old Democrat from South Carolina, whose endorsement is widely credited with helping Joe Biden turn around his bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, says Congress needs to act to stop a new assault on voting.

The House has passed one sweeping bill — dubbed HR 1, or the For the People Act — that sets standards for voting and overhauls campaign finance and ethics law. But an attempt to bring it up was defeated in the Senate. Another measure — dubbed HR 4, or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — is being drafted in the House and getting attention in the Senate. Clyburn joined CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast last month to discuss what’s at stake and how he expects it to play out. An edited transcript:

‘Punching down,’ the political weapon of so-called tough guys

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay’s right to say whatever, said, “His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power.” Clay’s core audience, Carlin said, were “young white males” threatened by Clay’s targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …” — well, you get the idea.

In today’s cruel world, it’s not just comedians punching down, reaching for the “easy” joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don’t feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the “punching” is the point, and it’s always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country’s history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

Local News Roundup: School Districts Buck CDC Mask Guidance; Charlotte Unveils Nondiscrimination Ordinance

It was only a few weeks ago that North Carolina’s rate for positive COVID-19 tests was below 2%. But the spread of the delta variant sent the positivity rate above 10% this week — the first time since February it crossed that threshold.

Gov. Roy Cooper and others said the worsening metrics were the result of COVID-19 spreading among those who have not been vaccinated.

“This virus is now much more contagious and spreading fast, and it’ll find you if you’re unvaccinated,” Cooper said Thursday.

Join our roundtable of reporters for more on those and other stories from the week’s news.

GUESTS

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call columnist and host of the Equal Time podcast (@mcurtisnc3)

Claire Donnelly, WFAE health care reporter (@donnellyclairee)

Hunter Saenz, WCNC local government reporter (@Hunt_Saenz)

Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal managing editor (@CBJspanberg)