POLITICO Playbook PM: Pelosi details the 2021 Dem agenda

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning she is “very confident” Joe Biden will be elected

WHAT AN ALL BLUE D.C. WOULD LOOK LIKE … Speaker NANCY PELOSI said this morning she is “very confident” JOE BIDEN will be elected president next week, and she laid out what she saw as the Democratic Party’s governing agenda come January.

THIS IS A USEFUL preview of what Democrats will be rowing toward in 84 DAYS — should they capture the White House.

“WE HAVE PLENTY OF WORK TO DO in a Joe Biden administration,” PELOSI told reporters in the Capitol. “We’re going to build the infrastructure of America in a green way. We’re going to make sure health care is available to all Americans, lower the cost of prescription drugs. We’re going to have H.R. 1 … right off the bat, be about cleaner government so that we can reduce the role of big, dark, special-interest money that prevents us from having policies that the American people need and … have doubts that we can do unless we reduce the role of big dark money. … Of course this will be impacted by Joe Biden’s agenda — his Build America Better is similar to our Moving America Forward.”

TAX HIKE? … WE ASKED PELOSI if she would be in favor of raising the corporate rate. She punted on that one.

“WELL, WHY DON’T WE WAIT until we win the election, we have our transition and the president of the United States puts forth his agenda. I always have thought that when we do major tax policy we should try to do it in the most bipartisan way possible. Contrary to the dark-of-night, speed-of-light of passage of the bill that gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1% in our country, and then they reinforced that in the CARES Act in the dark of the night as well. So it’s not a question of having that discussion here. I think there was quite an agreement that we should have brought down the corporate rate. But we should not have given away the store at the expense of American working families.”

PELOSI on TRUMP saying he is putting husbands back to work: “One million women left the workplace. What’s the president’s message to women? We’re getting your husbands back to work. Well, factually, it isn’t even true, but in addition to that, what decade is he living in? What century is he living in? So completely removed from the realities of life. And that has caused death.”

LOL … LARRY KUDLOW on Fox News this morning: “This morning, Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin was sent a letter from Speaker Pelosi — like he needs a letter, they’ve been talking every day for three months. Somehow, I guess it’s a mystery, that letter got to POLITICO before it got to the secretary.”

— WRONG: PELOSI’S office sent it to Washington’s Most Eager Man early this morning — before it was in Playbook.

THE UNEMPLOYMENT PICTURE — “Jobless claims fall to 751,000, but new infections a threat,” by AP’s Christopher Rugaber: “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 751,000, the lowest since March, but it’s still historically high and indicates the viral pandemic is forcing many employers to cut jobs.

“Applications for unemployment aid fell 40,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. They fell in 30 states, including big drops in California, Florida and Texas. Claims rose in Arizona, Illinois, and Michigan.” AP

THE GDP JUMP, via BEN WHITE: “The Commerce Department’s report Thursday marked the fastest pace of annualized growth on record just after the worst drop on record. But it still left U.S. economic output below pre-pandemic levels as dark clouds reappear with another surge in coronavirus cases this month, slamming markets just ahead of Election Day. … Even the 33.1 percent annualized gain — a 7.4 percent jump in the third quarter from the second quarter — did not get the U.S. economy back to where it was at the end of the first quarter.” POLITICO

— WILL TRUMP WORLD talk about this today? Or will some other random issue dominate the president’s public appearances?

EYE ON THE SKIES — AP’S @zekejmiller: “Per FAA, Trump will be in Sterling Heights, MI and Rome, GA on Sunday and Wilkes-Barre Scranton, PA and Grand Rapids, MI on Monday (Just the initial advisories for what is expected to be a breakneck 48 hours of travel for the president.)”

Good Thursday afternoon.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT — “Potentially thousands of requested mail ballots lost in Butler County, official says,” by Spotlight PA’s Jamie Martines in Harrisburg: “[T]he U.S. Postal Service has been asked to immediately investigate what happened to them. … Nearly 40,000 registered voters in the county requested mail ballots. So far, only 24% of them have been returned to the county, by far the lowest rate among the state’s 67 counties. The county with the next-lowest return rate, Fayette, has received 50% of requested ballots. …

“But this week, county call centers and email addresses set up to handle elections issues were flooded with messages. By Tuesday morning, officials abandoned any hope that the ballots would arrive … New ballots have been mailed to voters living in the county and overnighted to anyone living out of state, like college students. In some extenuating circumstances, sheriff’s deputies are hand-delivering ballots.”

— “Duval County judge leading vote-counting board donated to Trump 12 times. That’s not allowed,” by Florida Times-Union’s Andrew Pantazi: “A local judge and head of Duval County’s vote-counting board has donated repeatedly to President Trump’s re-election campaign and other Republican efforts, and his home is covered in signs supporting Trump, despite rules requiring judges like him refrain from donations or public support.

“Duval County senior Judge Brent Shore has served as chairman of the canvassing board because of his role as a county judge. Yet judicial rules bar judges from political donations of any kind. And canvassing board rules bar members from ‘displaying a candidate’s campaign signs.’” Florida Times-Union

YIKES … AP: “Wisconsin Republican Party says hackers stole $2.3 million,” by Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.: “Hackers stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s account that was being used to help reelect President Donald Trump in the key battleground state, the party’s chairman told The Associated Press on Thursday. The party noticed the suspicious activity on Oct. 22 and contacted the FBI on Friday, said Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt.

“Hitt said the FBI is investigating. Hitt said the hackers were able to manipulate invoices from four vendors who were being paid to send out direct mail for Trump’s reelection efforts and to provide pro-Trump material such as hats that could be handed out to supporters. Invoices were altered so when the party paid them, the money went to the hackers instead of the vendors, Hitt said. Hitt said it appears the attack began as a phishing attempt.”

WHAT WE’VE COME TO — “Facing Gap in Pennsylvania, Trump Camp Tries to Make Voting Harder,” by NYT’s Nick Corasaniti and Danny Hakim in Philadelphia: “President Trump’s campaign in the crucial battleground of Pennsylvania is pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress mail-in votes in the state, moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating Pennsylvanians trying to vote early. …

“The Trump campaign’s on-the-ground efforts in Philadelphia have already drawn a rebuke from the state attorney general, who warned that the campaign’s foot soldiers risked being charged with voter intimidation. But the Trump campaign has defied local leaders and is running a similar operation in Delaware County.”

PROBING POMPEO … NBC: “Emails show how Pompeos mixed personal, official business,” by Josh Lederman: “[E]mails show that Susan Pompeo routinely gives instructions to State Department officials from her personal email address about everything from travel plans and restaurant reservations to the elite Madison Dinners that NBC News reported on in May. Many involve routine matters like logistics and scheduling for official events that would involve coordination with the secretary’s spouse in any administration.

“But other requests, such as seeking assistance with planning a multiday visit for an elite group of young executives from Kansas, appear to be less directly connected to advancing the State Department’s core mission. They include maintenance requests for the house the Pompeos rent on a Washington-area military base, which Susan Pompeo appears to be routing through the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. Emails show special agents from the service’s Secretary of State Protective Division updating Susan Pompeo about repairs to the HVAC system in 2018 and to the porch and stairs in 2019.” NBC

HACK ATTACK — “FBI warns ransomware assault threatens U.S. healthcare system,” by AP’s Frank Bajak in Boston: “Federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing a wave of data-scrambling extortion attempts against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems, which could hurt patient care just as nationwide cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

“In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had ‘credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.’ … The cyberattacks involve ransomware, which scrambles data into gibberish that can only be unlocked with software keys provided once targets pay up. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week, and could potentially impact hundreds more.” AP

BLOOMBERG: “An Avalanche of Fraud Buried a Small-Business Relief Program,” by Michelle Davis, Zachary Mider and Polly Mosendz: “For a few months this year, a U.S. government aid program meant for struggling small-business owners was handing out $10,000 to just about anyone who asked. All it took was a five-minute online application. You just had to say you owned a business with at least 10 employees, and the grant usually arrived within a few days.

“People caught on fast. In some neighborhoods in Chicago and Miami, it seemed like everyone made a bogus application to the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Professional thieves from Russia to Nigeria cashed in. Low-level employees at the agency watched helplessly as misspent money flew out the door. Even after the $20 billion in funding for grants dried up in July, the fraud continued, as scammers looted a separate $192 billion pot of money set aside for loans. …

“This account of the disaster-aid program is based on interviews with frontline SBA workers and outside fraud investigators, and on a review of thousands of social-media postings. The unprecedented scale and urgency of the pandemic response made some missteps inevitable, and lawmakers explicitly ordered the agency to prioritize speed over thrift. But decisions by agency leaders contributed to the chaos.”

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Trump rule requires health plans to disclose costs up front,” by AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: “Trying to pull back the veil on health care costs to encourage competition, the Trump administration on Thursday finalized a requirement for insurers to tell consumers up front the actual prices for common tests and procedures. …

“A related Trump administration price disclosure requirement applying to hospitals is facing a federal lawsuit from the industry, alleging coercion and interference with business practices. The idea behind the new regulations on insurers is to empower patients to become better consumers of health care, thereby helping to drive down costs. But the requirements would take effect gradually over a four-year period, and patients face a considerable learning curve to make cost-versus-quality decisions about procedures like knee replacements or hernia repairs.” AP

MUCK READ — “Susan Collins backed down from a fight with private equity. Now they’re underwriting her reelection,” by Theo Meyer and ProPublica’s Justin Elliott: “In late November 2017, Senate Republicans were racing to secure the votes for their sweeping tax overhaul. With no Democrats supporting the bill and even some Republicans wavering, Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican, found herself with enormous leverage. The day before the vote, she offered an amendment to make the legislation, which lavished tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy, more equitable. …

“Then Collins backed down. The day after she introduced it, as the Senate voted on the bill, a Republican Senate aide told a Treasury Department official that Collins was ‘no longer offering her amendment,’ according to emails obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. … Her turnabout has been one of the mysteries surrounding the $1.5 trillion tax bill, which slashed the corporate rate.

“The new emails and interviews shed light on how quickly Collins climbed down from her amendment proposal and how the industry maneuvered to preserve the break in the new law, which remains President Donald Trump’s most important legislative achievement. Nearly three years later, Collins is facing a tough reelection battle and the private equity industry has become her most reliable source of donations. She has gotten more than half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the private equity industry this cycle, more than any other senator, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations.”

DISINFORMATION DIGEST — “‘Tsunamis of Misinformation’ Overwhelm Local Election Officials,” by NYT’s Kellen Browning and Davey Alba: “Hundreds of people have called in [to Philadelphia election offices] every day for months, many parroting conspiracy theories about the election and lies about how partisan megadonors own the voting machines. Staff members spend hours shooting down the rumors … Fueled by inaccurate comments from Mr. Trump and others, election lies have spread across social media. …

“Election officials in places such as Philadelphia, El Paso and Santa Rosa, Calif., are bearing the brunt of the fallout, according to interviews with a dozen of them in seven states. Some have had to contain misinformation-induced voter panic. Others are fighting back by posting accurate information on social media or giving newspaper and television interviews to spread their messages. Many are working longer shifts to debunk the distortions. But their efforts have largely been fruitless, they said.”

CLICKER — “The 2020 Presidential Election Is On Track for a Record Gender Gap,” by WSJ’s Aaron Zitner, James Benedict and Luis Melgar: “Polling suggests that if the election were held today, it would show the largest gap on record for a presidential election–a 15-percentage-point divide.” WSJ

HMM — “Turkish Bank Case Showed Erdogan’s Influence With Trump,” by NYT’s Eric Lipton and Benjamin Weiser: “Geoffrey S. Berman was outraged. The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Mr. Berman had traveled to Washington in June 2019 to discuss a particularly delicate case with Attorney General William P. Barr and some of his top aides: a criminal investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank suspected of violating U.S. sanctions law by funneling billions of dollars of gold and cash to Iran.

“For months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had been pressing President Trump to quash the investigation, which threatened not only the bank but potentially members of Mr. Erdogan’s family and political party. When Mr. Berman sat down with Mr. Barr, he was stunned to be presented with a settlement proposal that would give Mr. Erdogan a key concession. …

“At the White House, Mr. Trump’s handling of the matter became troubling even to some senior officials at the time. The president was discussing an active criminal case with the authoritarian leader of a nation in which Mr. Trump does business. … And Mr. Trump’s sympathetic response to Mr. Erdogan was especially jarring because it involved accusations that the bank had undercut Mr. Trump’s policy of economically isolating Iran, a centerpiece of his Middle East plan.” NYT

MEDIAWATCH — “What happens to Fox News if Trump loses? Rupert Murdoch is prepared,” by WaPo’s Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr

— Patrick Kingsley will be the next Jerusalem bureau chief for the NYT. He is currently a correspondent in Berlin. Announcement

— Mindy Marqués will be VP and executive editor for Simon & Schuster Editorial. She currently is SVP of news and executive editor of the Miami Herald Media Company and McClatchy’s Florida regional editor.

TRANSITION — Pamela Taylor will be chief comms and marketing officer at Share Our Strength and its No Kid Hungry campaign. She most recently was VP for strategic partnerships at Common Threads.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, and Lottie Walker, child and family therapist at the Sibley Group, welcomed Albert “Albie” Walker Kondik on Oct. 21. Pic

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