The TAKE with Rick Klein
Limbaugh was proud of his "dittoheads" and the title of "most dangerous man in America." His passing is a reminder of the world he helped shape -- where falsehoods of all sizes can spread as mainstream political discourse and, as the former president himself would concede, a world where Trump could be elected president in the first place.
The "big lie" of a stolen election lives on post-impeachment, as Trump made clear in his media appearances to mark Limbaugh's passing. Trump's pull in the party remains strong, as new congressional candidates and censure measures against impeachment-supporting Republicans make clear.
Trump suggested that he and Limbaugh had a special bond with voters: "You don't know how angry this country is," he said Wednesday on Fox News.
For all the falsehoods, that may be true. And it figures to stay true after Limbaugh's passing and after the end of the Trump presidency.
The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema
Nearly a month after beginning his presidency with a flurry of executive orders, President Joe Biden is facing intraparty backlash over an issue he says he does not have the authority to address.
"I do think that, in this moment of economic pain and strain, that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1, and No. 2, I'm prepared to write off a $10,000 debt, but not 50, because I don't think I have the authority to do it by signing the pen," he said during a town hall on Tuesday, when asked what he would do to raise the level of debt forgiveness to the amount proposed by some Senate Democrats.
Biden drew a policy difference between debt forgiveness for students who attended private and public universities and indicated that funds used to forgive private school debt could be better spent on early education for children in "disadvantaged circumstances."
Biden's arguments put him at odds with House progressives and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren earlier this month in calling for increased federal student loan forgiveness, saying, "There's very little that the president could do with a flick of a pen that would boost our economy more than canceling $50,000 of student debt."
On Wednesday, the pair invoked the actions of Biden's predecessors', saying in a joint statement that like Trump and former President Barack Obama, Biden "has broad authority to immediately deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans."
"An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans. Cancelling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit the 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree, and help stimulate the economy. It's time to act. We will keep fighting," they said.
The TIP with Kendall Karson
Trump may be out of office, but his lasting imprint on the GOP is putting the Republican National Committee, which has vowed to stay neutral in 2024, in a tricky spot ahead of the coming tug-of-war for who leads the party into the future.
On the same day that the RNC announced the formation of a committee on election integrity to "restore transparency," Trump came out of hiding to pay tribute to Limbaugh before using the opportunity to espouse his baseless conspiracy theories and still claim "we won."
The RNC, along with state parties and lawmakers across the country, are aiming to change voting and election laws. The move comes after a number of states in the middle of a pandemic before last year's election made an unprecedented shift to vote-by-mail, which the former president repeatedly assailed as "fraudulent" without any evidence.
"Election integrity is one of the most critical issues we face as a Party and as a country," said Ronna McDaniel. "As RNC Chair, I will not sit idly by and the Party will respond."
But looming over the party's multifront effort is Trump and his baseless conspiracy theories. As Trump continues to resist the reality of his loss, for the RNC it remains to be seen how much indirect influence he will continue to have over the committee, particularly as some of his staunchest supporters who repeated his false assertions of a stolen election are heading the election integrity task force.
ONE MORE THING
Democrats on Capitol Hill Thursday will introduce their version of immigration reform legislation, which essentially consists of a roundup of immigration priorities Biden laid out on day one of his administration. The reform proposal is so far the most ambitious effort to counteract the Trump administration's hardline border policies. Certain elements have already been floated in Congress and the Biden administration has signaled a willingness to break up their reform effort into parts. But those involved with the legislation insist they're committed to a single legislative push for now.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Medical Unit coordinating producer Sony Salzman, who breaks down what we know about the timeline being offered by the Biden administration for mass vaccinations. Houston resident James Ryan tells us what the last few days have been like with little to no power. And Columbia University researcher Nicole Hemmer explains Rush Limbaugh's legacy and impact on media and the Republican Party. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager for President Donald Trump's second impeachment, told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein Wednesday that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could still be used to bar the former president from running for future office. https://bit.ly/3oMKdUP
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