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D.C. Memo: Build Back Butter

Biden approval rating tanks, Rep. Angie Craig’s midterm opponent faces some controversy and butter gets a big day in Congress.

image of butter pats in the shape of the us capitol dome
Agriculture Committee members Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar as well as Rep. Angie Craig introduced resolutions to proclaim November 17 as “National Butter Day.” Reps. Betty McCollum and Michelle Fischbach have joined the effort as well.

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me getting ready to make my way back home to Minnesota next week for Thanksgiving. This year I’m really reflecting on how nice it is to be able to travel safely again — I wasn’t able to see my family for the holiday last year, but now thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine I’m excited to see some relatives I haven’t seen in about two years. Speaking of Thanksgiving: In spirit of the upcoming holiday, there will be no D.C. Memo next week. I’ll catch you in December. Here’s what we’ve got in the Memo this week: Biden approval rating tanks, Rep. Angie Craig’s midterm opponent faces some controversy and butter gets a big day in Congress.

Biden approval ratings hit a new low as he signs the infrastructure bill

Last week I said I’d stop writing about infrastructure, but there is one last thing: President Joe Biden officially signed the infrastructure bill on Tuesday, cementing the long-fought-for bill into law. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was at the signing ceremony along with Sen. Tina Smith, who posted this selfie of her and some other lawmakers’ “field trip to the White House.”

Despite bipartisan support for the bill, though, Biden’s approval rating has fallen to a new low, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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The poll overall shows Americans’ pessimism about the economy — seven in 10 Americans rate the economy negatively, and 38 percent say that it’s in “poor” condition. Over 60 percent say that Biden has “not accomplished much” after his first 10 months in office, including 71 percent of independent voters.

If the 2022 elections were held today, the poll found that 46 percent of adults would back the Republican candidate for Congress and 43 percent would support the Democratic candidate. And in terms of inflation, which has become a major talking point in the country recently, nearly half of respondents said that they blamed Biden for the current rate of inflation a “great deal/good amount.”

Inflation nation

Speaking of inflation, it’s at 6.2 percent, its highest rate in decades. And now, especially after the passage of the over $1 trillion infrastructure bill, there is debate over whether government spending is to blame for the rise in inflation, or if the spending will make it better.

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips and Republican Rep. Tom Emmer were both guests on WCCO Sunday morning this week to discuss the issue of inflation, the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act.

“I’d call it the Build Back Broke plan, it’s $555 billion for Biden’s job-killing energy agenda that will increase energy prices on every American household,” Emmer said. “Think about this, the average Minnesotan is going to be paying 50% more for energy to heat their homes this year than they did last.”

The House version of the Build Back Better Act contains tax cuts for many Americans aside from the ultra-rich, universal pre-K, caps on child care costs, extension of the child tax credit and Medicare coverage for hearing aids.

“Moody’s just announced that the Build Back Better Act, the second initiative, will not impact inflation. If anything, it’s going to reduce costs for families. Child care, cost of child care will drop by 50% within the first year,” Phillips said.

The 2022 race is already getting heated

Second District Rep. Angie Craig already has an opponent for the 2022 midterm election — Tyler Kistner, who ran against Craig and lost in 2020, is running against her once again. Kistner is already attempting to tie Craig to the “defund the police” slogan, as Republicans have been attempting to do for months.

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In a campaign press release this week, Kistner said that Craig hosted a fundraiser last week with the Heart of LA Democratic club, and connected this meeting with the group’s support of “the movement to ‘defund the police.’” Kistner said that this fundraiser coming a few weeks after Craig denounced the “defund the police” movement showed Craig’s “hypocrisy on public safety.”

Meanwhile, the Star Tribune came out with a story Wednesday revealing that Kistner reimbursed himself “nearly $7,000” for mileage in his latest campaign finance report. Experts quoted in the report said that this is an unusually high amount, especially for someone in the relatively small Second District. The report found that since launching his campaign in January 2020, Kistner’s travel reimbursements of $26,000 have equated to around 46,000 miles, which is “around 84 miles per day through early July of this year.”

Dairy day? You butter believe it

Minnesota lawmakers have shown the heartfelt spirit of bipartisanship for the one thing that unites Minnesotans on either side of the aisle: butter. Agriculture Committee members Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar as well as Rep. Angie Craig introduced resolutions to proclaim November 17 as “National Butter Day.” Reps. Betty McCollum and Michelle Fischbach have joined the effort as well. The lawmakers want to “promote butter production nationwide,” according to a press release reported by KSTP.

“Dairy producers play an important economic role in Minnesota and across the country, and our state produces the best butter in the world,” Smith said. “And anyone who’s been to the Minnesota State Fair knows that it’s also home to the world’s best butter sculptures!” Craig said.

“Minnesota’s dairy farmers are key to producing and protecting our nation’s food supply,” Klobuchar said. “By designating November 17 as National Butter Day, we are recognizing their contributions and celebrating the great butter made in our state.”

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What I’m reading

  • “The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2021,” Women’s Media Center. WMC has been putting out this annual report for the last few years, and it’s always interesting to see diversity trends in media as we progress. One pretty eye opening statistic: At 117 of roughly 200 newsrooms affiliated with the Institute for Nonprofit News, 28 percent of staffers were people of color and 69 percent were women. And a daunting number: U.S. newsroom employment fell by 23 percent between 2008 and 2019.
  • “Songwriter Dave Frishberg, of ‘I’m Just a Bill’ fame, dies at 88,” The Hill. I can’t be the only one who learned how a bill becomes law from the “Schoolhouse Rock” show when I was a kid. And I won’t lie, sometimes the song gets stuck in my head while I’m walking around the Capitol. “I’m just a bill, yes only a bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill.” RIP to an American legend.

That’s all from me this week. As always, please feel free to send any questions, concerns or thoughts on our new national holiday to ahackett@minnpost.com, or find me on Twitter at @byashelyhackett.