Biden Bits: Add Up…

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

President Biden’s public schedule for Groundhog Day Thursday, 02/02/2023

7:00 AM The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
The White House Closed Press
7:10 AM In-Town Pool Call Time
The White House In-Town Pool
7:30 AM The President departs the White House en route the National Prayer Breakfast
South Grounds In-Town Travel Pool
8:00 AM The President delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast; The Vice President attends
Capitol Visitors Center In-Town Travel Pool
9:45 AM The President arrives at the White House
South Grounds In-Town Travel Pool
12:00 PM The President has lunch with King Abdullah II of Jordan and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein
Private Dining Room Closed Press
12:45 PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:15 PM The President and The Vice President deliver remarks to mark the 30^th Anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act by 7:00 am]
East Room Pooled for TV and Pre-Credentialed Media
4:30 PM The President and The Vice President meet with Congressional Black Caucus members
Oval Office In-House Pool Spray

Press briefing is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. D.C., time.

This morning the White House posted the following fact-sheet; Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Support and Advance Women’s Economic Security

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is marking the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by announcing new actions to support and advance women’s economic security. For thirty years, the FMLA has helped Americans take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work when they are seriously ill or to care for a new child or a sick family member without the risk of losing their jobs. Today, President Biden is demonstrating his commitment to ensuring access to family and medical leave, by encouraging heads of Federal agencies to provide access to leave for Federal employees when they need it, including during their first year of service.

Across the country, millions of workers still face impossible choices between keeping a paycheck and caring for their family or themselves. This is especially true for women, who shoulder disproportionate caregiving responsibilities, with real consequences for their ability to participate in the labor force and support their families over the course of their lives. That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to champion and take action on national paid family and medical leave, affordable child care, and home and community-based care so that all Americans can both care for and financially support their families.

Improving Access to Leave. Today, President Biden is issuing a Presidential Memorandum to support Federal employees’ access to leave when they need to care for themselves or a loved one. The memorandum calls on heads of Federal agencies to support access to leave without pay for Federal employees, including during their first year of service, to ensure employees are able to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, address their own serious health condition, help manage family affairs when a family member is called to active duty, or grieve after the death of a family member. The Office of Personnel Management is further directed to provide recommendations regarding “safe leave,” to support Federal employees’ access to paid leave and leave without pay for purposes related to seeking safety and recovering from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. These may include obtaining medical treatment, seeking assistance from organizations that provide services to survivors, seeking relocation, and taking related legal action.

This Presidential Memorandum builds on other Administration efforts to improve access to and awareness of family and medical leave, including to:

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  • Ensure military personnel have access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The Department of Defense issued a memorandum expanding the Military Parental Leave Program. Active-duty service members are now eligible for 12 weeks of parental leave following the birth, adoption, or placement of a child for long-term foster care. The expanded leave erases the previous distinction between primary and secondary caregivers, enabling both parents to take time to care for their children while balancing the needs of their unit, and it is in addition to medical convalescent leave, which continues to be available for birth parents recovering from pregnancy. Additionally, service members may request to take the 12 weeks of parental leave in multiple increments of at least one week, which allows for flexibility to meet both family and mission needs.
  • Support paid leave efforts in states. The Administration remains committed to working with states on opportunities to expand access to paid family and medical leave. Yesterday, the White House convened state legislators who are working to advance bills this session that would create statewide paid family and medical leave programs. These new efforts build on the 11 states and the District of Columbia that have passed paid family and medical leave laws. The Department of Labor will also release a new website with information on state paid leave laws.
  • Help employees impacted by cancer know their rights under the FMLA. As the Administration marks one year since the launch of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, the Department of Labor issued new resources in December to help employees know their rights when diagnosed with cancer or taking on a caregiver role. These new tools included a resource page on “Workplace Protections for Individuals Impacted by Cancer,” a practical guide on “How to Talk to Your Employer about Taking Time Off,” and an easy-to-post flyer to help health care providers support FMLA leave.

Investing in Economic Security. The actions announced today build on critical steps the Biden-Harris Administration has taken recently to support economic security for women and families, including:

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  • Protecting the health and economic security of pregnant workers. President Biden signed into law the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as part of the bipartisan end-of-year omnibus law, which will provide basic, long-overdue protections to ensure that millions of pregnant and postpartum workers have the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Under the new law, employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and job applicants, which may include light duty, breaks, or a stool to sit on, without discriminating or retaliating against them.
  • Extending protections for nursing workers. The President also signed into law the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, which extends break time and private space protections for nursing parents to nearly 9 million workers, including teachers, nurses, and farmworkers. These protections will empower parents to continue expressing milk at work, so they do not have to choose between their job or their infant’s health. Today, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released an updated Fact Sheet detailing employee rights and employer responsibilities under the new law and will continue outreach and public education efforts to help pregnant and nursing workers, and their employers, know their rights.
  • Increasing investments in early childhood education and child care. As part of the end-of-year omnibus, the Administration secured a 30 percent increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which could help up to 130,000 more families afford child care and access better child care options. The new law also made significant investments in programs such as Head Start and the Preschool Development Grant – Birth through Five that help young children and their families access quality, affordable early care and education. Greater availability and affordability of high-quality early care and education will help women with young children to enter and stay in the workforce.
  • Supporting women’s right to be safe in the workplace and free from sexual harassment and assault. In December, the President signed the Speak Out Act, which will enable survivors to speak out about workplace assault and harassment by prohibiting the enforcement of pre-dispute nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses regarding allegations of sexual harassment or assault. Earlier last year, the President also signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, which amended the Federal Arbitration Act and allows employees who sign pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements with their employers to pursue claims of sexual harassment or assault in court.

The Memorandum can be found here.

President Biden’s remarks to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act at scheduled for 2:15 p.m. D.C., time.

President Biden has tweeted…

He’s posted 1 tweet so far for Thursday.

The YouTube is currently 52 minutes long. President Biden begins his remarks at the 38 minute and 20 second mark. His full remarks can be found here.

When the post was posted for Wednesday, President Biden had tweeted 1 time. He added 9 tweets giving him a Wednesday Tweeting Total of 10 tweets and 0 retweets.

On 01/31/2023 the White House posted the following Proclamation:

   During National Black History Month, we celebrate the legacy of Black Americans whose power to lead, to overcome, and to expand the meaning and practice of American democracy has helped our Nation become a more fair and just society.  This country was established upon the profound but simple idea that all people are created equal and should be treated equally throughout their lives. 

     It is an idea America has never fully lived up to, but it is an idea we have never fully walked away from either.  The struggles and challenges of the Black American story to make a way out of no way have been the crucible where our resolve to fulfill this vision has most often been tested.  Black Americans’ struggles for freedom, equal treatment, and the right to vote; for equal opportunities in education, housing, and the workplace; for economic opportunity, equal justice, and political representation; and so much more have reformed our democracy far beyond its founding.  Black Americans have made a way not only for themselves but also have helped build a highway for millions of women, immigrants, other historically marginalized communities, and all Americans to more fully experience the benefits of our society.

     From the start, the Biden-Harris Administration has been committed to using the power of the Federal Government to address the long-standing disparities that have hampered the progress of Black communities.  On day one of my Presidency, I issued an Executive Order to advance equity and racial justice in every policy we pursue.  I began by appointing the most diverse Cabinet in American history.  I have continued to nominate a historic number of Black judges to the Federal bench — including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

     During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, my Administration provided relief to hardworking families, which cut the rate of poverty in Black American communities by nearly a third and cut the rate of poverty among Black children by more than half.  My health care policies have dramatically increased health care access and reduced costs for Black American families and capped insulin bills for seniors at $35 per month per prescription.

     We are also working to address centuries of neglected infrastructure in Black American communities.  My Administration is leading the replacement of lead pipes embedded in cities across America so that every child can safely turn on the faucet and drink clean water.  We are expanding public transit and providing high-speed Internet to every neighborhood in the country so parents can get to work and children can do their homework in the comfort of their own homes. 

     We are using every avenue to confront racial discrimination in housing and in mortgage lending and to help build generational wealth in Black communities.  We are working to ensure that any housing agency that receives Federal funds will reach beyond the simple promise not to discriminate and will instead take meaningful, affirmative steps to overcome historic patterns of segregation, giving every person a fair chance to live where they choose.  We are addressing the negative impacts of redlining and other forms of financial discrimination.  And we are working to end a discriminatory system of appraisals that assigns lesser values to Black-owned family homes than to similar homes owned by white families. 

     Additionally, we have invested nearly $6 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  We have also taken historic action to ease the burden of crippling student debt — action which benefits so many Black students and families.  I am proud to have permanently authorized the Minority Business Development Agency and to have given it expanded authority to help grow Black-owned businesses.  I have set a goal to increase the share of Federal contracting dollars going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025, which will bring up to an additional $100 billion in capital to these businesses.

     In May 2022, I signed an Executive Order promoting effective, accountable, and transparent community policing — delivering the most significant police reform in decades.  Among other important measures that increase transparency and accountability, it raises policing standards by banning choke holds, restricting no knock warrants, and requiring body-worn cameras on patrols and during searches and arrests.  It creates a new national law enforcement database to track records of misconduct, and it aims to safely reduce incarceration, support rehabilitation and reentry, and address racial disparities in our criminal justice system.  Additionally, I signed three new hate crime bills, including the Emmett Till Antilynching Act which finally made lynching a Federal crime.

     Equal access to the ballot box is the beating heart of our democracy.  Without it, nothing is possible; with it, anything is.  I restored the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, appointing top attorneys to oversee enforcement of civil rights laws, and the Department has doubled the voting rights enforcement staff.  Every agency of my Administration has been ordered to expand access to voter registration and election information.  These are all important steps, but I will continue to push the Congress to repair the damage to voting rights in this country by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement and Freedom to Vote Acts, to ensure every American has a voice in the democratic process.

     This year, on what would have been Dr. King’s 94th birthday, I was honored to be the first sitting President to deliver a sermon at Sunday service at his cherished Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  The life of Dr. King demonstrates that democracy is an enduring covenant that must be persistently renewed; nothing about it is guaranteed.  During National Black History Month, we honor and continue the work of Black Americans who have created a more fair and inclusive democracy, helping our Nation move closer to the realization of its full promise for everyone. 

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2023 as National Black History Month.  I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with relevant programs, ceremonies, and activities.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirty-first day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

White 01/31/2023.

The YouTube is 9 minutes and 14 seconds long. President Biden opens the meeting with remarks that conclude at the 5 minute 57 second mark.

His full remarks:

You all ready?  All right.  (Clears throat.)  A little bit of a cold.

Thank you all for being here today as my administration takes on new action to lower the costs for American families.

You know, I ran for President to rebuild the backbone of the country — I know you’re tired of hearing me say, but that was the reason I ran — and begin to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

And in two years, we’ve made real progress.  And growth is up.  Wages are up.  And over the last two years, more Americans have applied to start a small business than any year on record. And everybody who applies to — for a new small business, that’s about hope.

And our economic plan is working.  And it’s — an important part of that plan is promoting fair competition across the entire economy.  You heard me say that capitalism without — without competition isn’t capitalism, it is — it is just simply exploitation.

And so, that’s why we’ve been more outspoken about promoting competition than any President since Teddy Roosevelt.  And that’s why I’ve created the Competition Council, which you see around this table.

That’s why when we last met in September — the Council — we challenged them to come up with new ways to deal with and eliminate unfair hidden fees known as junk fees and — that sneak up on consumers.

So, this group stepped up.  As a result, we’re requiring Internet providers to list fees upfront on clear, easy-to-read labels just like the labels on food products you buy.  And now you can compare your choices easily to find the best deal that you want to go to.

We also convinced major airlines to rebook cancellation flights for free rather than charging customers for rebooking.  We pushed banks to ditch surprise overdraft and bounced check fees, saving Americans an estimated billion dollars a year as a consequence of that.

And last month, we took a big step toward promoting competition in the labor market when the Federal Trade Commission proposed the rule banning non-compete agreements for 30 million Americans — 30 million Americans. 

If you worked as a bellhop in one hotel, you couldn’t go across the street to another hotel to be able to make two bucks a week more or two bucks a day more. 

And these are — these contracts that say you can’t do a job in the same field even if it’s a better deal, like a security guard who wants to take a job across town but you can’t because you signed a non-compete agreement, I think it’s wrong.  I think we all think it’s wrong.

And now, today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing a new rule to lower credit card late fees. 

Right now, credit card companies charge an average of $31 whenever you can’t pay your bill on time.  That’s on top of the interest or — you’re already paying.

Now, nobody is saying that you should pay — or you shouldn’t pay your fees on time.  And no one says the bank should lend you money for free.  But that’s what banks charge interest for.

But in the Obama-Biden administration, Congress passed the bipartisan law that said banks cannot charge late fees that are significantly more than the late payments cost them in the first place.  And so, well, it doesn’t cost 31 bucks for a bank to process the late fee, but that’s how much they’re charging you now.  And, folks, that’s a junk fee if there ever was one, and it can drain hundreds of dollars a year from the pockets of hardworking American families, especially — especially folks who are already struggling to make ends meet.  But not anymore, after today.

Today’s role proposes to cut those fees from $31 on average to $8 — to $8.  That change is expected to save tens of millions of dollars for Americans, roughly $9 billion a year in total savings.

And over the next few weeks, my team is going to meet with state and local officials across the country to identify things they can do to crack down on junk fees in their own jurisdictions.

And today, I’m also calling on Congress to pass the Junk Free [Fee] Protection Act, a ban — to ban four of the most frustrating charges Americans face.

The first one of those is: Some airlines charge extra to pick your seat, including for parents who just want to sit next to their child on the plane, and charge extra.  You don’t know that going in, though.  And it’s wrong.

Secondly, the — when you book a hotel, you should see the full cost right then and there, instead of getting hit with what’s called a resort fee, which can be over $50 a night, and — when you check out.

And third, you should be able to switch your Internet, cable, or cell phone plan without the $200 early termination penalty some of these companies charge.

And fourth, you should lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap onto tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out.

Congress should pass the Junk Fee Protection Act so we can crack down on these fees and give hardworking Americans just a little bit more breathing room.

Look, the bottom line is this: It’s un- — these unfair fees add up.  It’s a basic question of fairness.  And with the help of the folks in this room, we’re going to keep building an economy that’s fair, an economy that’s competitive, and an economy that works for everyone.

Now I’m going to turn this over to Director Chopra.  And you fire away.  The floor is yours.

White 02/01/2023.

The White House posted the following meeting readout:

This afternoon, the President convened the White House Competition Council to discuss the significant progress made toward lowering costs for the American people thanks to his Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Council also discussed plans for further action in the coming weeks, months, and years. The Competition Council drives the Administration’s whole-of-government effort to restore competition and coordinate progress on the Executive Order’s 72 initiatives, delivering concrete benefits of increased competition to America’s consumers, workers, farmers, and small businesses.
The President commended Council members for taking up his call to action to address exorbitant junk fees in a variety of industries, announced new steps by his Administration, and urged more action to address these hidden, surprise fees that hit the most vulnerable Americans the hardest. Today’s announcements include:

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  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a proposed rule that would lower the amount credit card companies can charge in late fees. Currently, 18 out of 20 major credit card issuers charge the maximum late fee allowed, which is $30 for the first late payment and $41 for a subsequent late payment. The proposed rule would lower that fee to less than $10 for a majority of credit cards. The CFPB estimates that this proposed rule, if made final, could save Americans $9 billion in fees.
  • The President called on Congress to take action to address some of the most persistent and unfair fees that Americans face by passing a Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would:  
    • Crack down on excessive online concert, sporting event, and other entertainment ticket fees.
    • Ban airline fees for family members to sit with young children.
    • Eliminate exorbitant early termination fees for TV, phone, and internet service.
    • Ban surprise resort and destination fees.

The Council members used the rest of the meeting to discuss strategic priorities for the first half of the year and additional actions expected in the coming months, including how the Council can continue to institutionalize the President’s competition agenda in each agency and deliver cost saving measures for Americans.

Participants in today’s meeting included:

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  • Brian Deese, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council (Chair)
  • Merrick Garland, Attorney General
  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors
  • Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
  • Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce
  • Julie Su, Deputy Secretary of Labor
  • Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission
  • Jessica Rosenworcel, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission
  • Gary Gensler, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Daniel Maffei, Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission
  • Rostin Behnam, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • Marty Oberman, Chair of the Surface Transportation Board
  • Richard Revesz, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

The Junk Fee Prevention Act is not a thing, yet. The President is asking that it becomes a thing. In yesterday’s post I shared the White House fact-sheet; President Biden Highlights New Progress on His Competition Agenda here’s the ask part:

Even as the Administration is taking these significant steps to use existing authority to eliminate junk fees, the President is calling on Congress to pass a Junk Fee Prevention Act that cracks down on four types of junk fees that cost American consumers billions of dollars a year.

Specifically, the President is urging Democrats and Republicans in Congress to come together to:

Crack down on excessive online concert, sporting event, and other entertainment ticket fees. Many online ticket sellers impose massive service fees at check-out that are not disclosed when consumers are choosing their tickets. In a review of 31 different sporting events across five ticket sellers’ websites, service charges averaged more than 20% of the ticket’s face value, and total fees—like processing fees, delivery fees, and facility fees—reached up to more than half the cost of the ticket itself. A family of four attending a show could end up paying far more than $100 in fees above and beyond the cost of the tickets.

Significant concentration in the industry—and a lack of consumer options—makes matters worse. Often, if Americans want to attend a particular concert or sporting event, they only have one online option for making the initial ticket purchase. That means that even if consumers knew they might have to pay a large fee on top of the ticket cost, they would have no way to avoid it if they wanted to attend a particular show. One company has exclusive partnerships with a reported 80 of the top 100 arenas in the United States, allowing it to charge fees to attend events at those leading venues without fear of competition.

While antitrust enforcement agencies have the authority to investigate and address anti-competitive conduct in the industry, the President urges Congress to act now to reduce these fees through legislation. Specifically, the President is calling on Congress to prohibit excessive fees, require the fees to be disclosed in the ticket price, and mandate disclosure of any ticket holdbacks that diminish available supply.

Ban airline fees for family members to sit with young children. Many airlines today charge a fee to select a seat in advance, including for those traveling with children. Parents can find themselves unexpectedly not seated with their young child on a flight or paying large fees to sit next to their children. The President believes no parent should have to pay extra to sit next to their child. 

In July 2022, the DOT issued a notice stating that it is the Department’s policy that U.S. airlines ensure that children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no extra charge, but still no airline guarantees fee-free family seating. DOT will publish a family seating fee dashboard and launch a rulemaking to ban the practice. The President is calling upon Congress to fast-track the ban on family seating fees so that the DOT can crack down on these practices more quickly than through a rulemaking. 

Eliminate exorbitant early termination fees for TV, phone, and internet service. Too often, cable TV, internet, and mobile phone providers have “early termination” fees that consumers must pay if they want to switch to another provider. These fees can exceed $200. Early termination fees are costly for consumers and undermine economic dynamism by making it harder for innovative companies to win a toe-hold in the market by encouraging customers to switch. And these providers often charge people when they’re most vulnerable—people who are forced to move because of a job loss or other financial downturn, for example, may be slammed with hundreds of dollars in early termination fees.

The President urges Congress to eliminate these excessive early termination fees so that companies can no longer lock in customers and must truly compete with each other on the basis of price and quality.

Ban surprise resort and destination fees. When families set their budget for a vacation, they expect that the hotel price they see is the price they will pay. But many travelers encounter surprise “resort fees” or “destination fees” when they check out or at the end of a lengthy online reservation process. These fees harm consumers by preventing them from the seeing the true price when they pick out a hotel and by limiting their ability to comparison shop. Over the past decade, a growing number of hotels have imposed these fees on consumers, which can be $50 or more per night. More than one-third of hotel guests report having paid such fees. And the total costs for Americans are enormous: according to one report, hotels collected billions in these fees and surcharges in 2018.

The President urges Congress to ban these surprise fees by requiring that hotels include them in the price of the room, so consumers aren’t surprised. Travelers should know which hotels charge these fees and which ones do not, so that they can plan and budget accordingly.

The President is calling for passage of a Junk Fee Prevention Act to provide millions of Americans with fast relief from these frustrating and costly fees. This will not only save Americans billions a year, but make our markets more competitive—creating a more even playing field so that businesses that price in a fair and transparent manner no longer lose sales to companies that disguise their actual prices with hidden fees. In the coming weeks and months, the Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with Congress to crack down not only on these fees, but also other junk fees that take cash out of Americans’ pockets and hide the true cost of products.

White 02/01/2023.

The YouTube is 23 minutes and 4 seconds long. His full remarks can be found here.

The White House posted the following meeting readout:

As part of a series of meetings with congressional leaders, President Biden hosted Speaker McCarthy in the Oval Office this afternoon, where they had a frank and straightforward dialogue.
They covered a range of issues and President Biden underscored that he is eager to continue working across the aisle in good faith, after passing historic bipartisan laws during his first two years in office.
President Biden made clear that, as every other leader in both parties in Congress has affirmed, it is their shared duty not to allow an unprecedented and economically catastrophic default. The United States Constitution is explicit about this obligation, and the American people expect Congress to meet it in the same way all of his predecessors have. It is not negotiable or conditional.
The President welcomes a separate discussion with congressional leaders about how to reduce the deficit and control the national debt while continuing to grow the economy. This conversation should build on the President’s leadership in delivering a record $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction in his first two years in office.
The President and the Speaker agreed to continue the conversation. 

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Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.