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“Sends a terrible message”: Sanders opposes reinstating SALT deduction

Senator Bernie Sanders told "Axios on HBO" he opposes the efforts by Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to bring back SALT, the State and Local Tax deduction that benefits wealthier residents of blue states.

Why it matters: There's a dispute among Democrats over whether to use President Biden's infrastructure negotiations to reinstate a popular tax break capped by former President Trump.

  • Republicans could exploit the issue as they try to move their own party's reputation away from corporatism to appeal to the working class.

Driving the news: "It sends a terrible, terrible message when you have Republicans telling us that this is a tax break for the rich," Sanders, of Vermont, said in an interview from Louisville, Kentucky, where he participated in a May 2 rally.

  • "In fairness to Schumer and Pelosi, it is hard when you have tiny margins, but you have got to make it clear which side you are on — and you can't be on the side of the wealthy and powerful if you're going to really fight for working families."
  • Biden did not include a SALT reinstatement in his infrastructure announcement. But some blue state Democrats are eager to force it into the bill. Sanders sees it as a bad move for a party that is supposed to represent the working class.

The big picture: Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats and ran twice for president as a Democrat, agonizes over the failures of Democrats in poorer red states like Kentucky.

  • In Kentucky, Amy McGrath spent more than $90 million in her failed bid to defeat Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. Her campaign outspent the GOP leader's by some $30 million but he beat her by nearly 20 percentage points in November.
  • Sanders says it's unsustainable for the Democratic Party to keep losing non-college educated voters. He believes the party can do better by selling simple economic programs that directly benefit the working poor.
  • "The Democrats over the years have become more and more of a corporate party and have turned their backs on the working class of this country," he said. "You're an average white worker in America, for example, what have you seen the Democrats do to stand with you?
  • "It is imperative that we educate the American people about what government can, in fact, do for them."

Between the lines: Sanders is appealing for simplicity and tangible actions voters can easily understand: sending checks, extending unemployment insurance, providing affordable child care and free college. He's encouraged by Biden's early steps.

  • Mimicking how a reluctant voter might feel, Sanders said, "Oh you hate Democrats? They're terrible. They're awful. Oh, yeah. I just got $5600 for a husband and wife and two kids....
  • "Oh, I hate those Democrats. Oh, by the way, they extended my unemployment to September with a $300 supplement. Oh, by the way, make it easier for me to raise my kids. And now my kids are going to be able to go to good free summer programs and after-school programs..."
  • Sanders feels President Obama should have gotten more electoral reward for the health coverage protections in the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that helped millions of voters but that it was complicated to understand and easy for political opponents to confuse voters about. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama not only lost in Kentucky; he did worse there than he did in 2008.

What to watch at the Olympics today: Gymnastics, golf, 3x3 basketball, swimming

5 events to watch today...

  • 🤸‍♀️ Men’s gymnastics: Team USA’s Sam Mikulak and Brody Malone compete in the individual all-around final. Coverage starts at 6:15 a.m. on Peacock (watch the replay at 8 p.m. ET on NBC)
  • 🏀 3x3 Basketball: The women’s gold medal game between the U.S. and Russia starts at 8:55 a.m. ET on USA Network. Russia and Latvia will play in the men’s final at 9:25 a.m. ET.
  • 🏌️ Men’s golf: Round one tees off at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel or stream on
  • 🏊 Swimming: Men’s 800m freestyle, 200m breaststroke and 100m freestyle finals and women’s 200m butterfly final. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
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National parks "drowning in tourists"

Data: National Park Service; note: Gateway National Recreation Area is excluded due to missing data in 2021. Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

National Parks across the U.S. are overflowing with a post-pandemic crush of tourists, leading to increased issues with congestion, traffic jams, user experience, strain on staff and increased damage to the parks.

Why it matters: Some are seeing such a record number they're being forced to limit, and even close, access to certain areas to avoid the danger of eroding the land. The result, ultimately, could change the way Americans interact with the parks going forward.

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Facebook's next chapter: Build the "metaverse"

Facebook's "next chapter," Mark Zuckerberg says, is to be prime builder of "the metaverse" — an open, broadly distributed, 3D dimension online where, he says, we will all conduct much of our work and personal lives.

The big picture: Zuckerberg admits Facebook will only be one of many companies building this next-generation model of today's internet — but he also intends Facebook to lead the pack.

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CDC asks the vaccinated to help save the unvaccinated from themselves

The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

The big picture: America's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" has gotten bad enough that vaccine mandates are starting to catch on, and masks are coming back — in some cases, even for the vaccinated.

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Least persuadable unvaccinated Americans are largely white and Republican

Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they'll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

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Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Female Olympians in Tokyo are rejecting the uniforms that have long defined their sports, highlighting a double standard that exists how women dress in competition vs. men.

Driving the news: During their qualifying round Sunday, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-length unitards, eschewing the conventional leg-barring leotards worn by most female gymnasts.

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Simone Biles won't defend Olympic title at gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.

After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.

— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

DOJ declines to defend Mo Brooks in Eric Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit

The Department of Justice declined late Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a civil lawsuit against the Georgia congressman concerning the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Brooks had argued he should have immunity in the suit, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) against him, former President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the insurrection. He said he was acting as a government employee when he spoke at a rally before the insurrection.

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