Monday | October 25th, 2021

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It’s Monday, October 25th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) New Details Emerge From Alec Baldwin Movie Shooting

The Topline: Last week, actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer on the set of a new Western with what he’d believed to be a gun loaded with blanks. The director of the film, titled “Rust,” was also struck and has been treated and released from the hospital.

Angela Weiss/ANGELA WEISS/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

What Happened

Baldwin was on the set of the movie “Rust,” rehearsing a scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The set armorer — the person responsible for firearm props — had set three guns that were supposed to be loaded with blanks on a cart for the scene. None were supposed to have live rounds – typically referred to as “cold guns.”

The assistant director gave one of them to Baldwin to begin rehearsing. The second time Baldwin pulled the gun from a holster he was wearing, he pulled the trigger, striking and killing 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography, and injuring director Joel Souza.

Production on the film has been paused as the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office investigates further.

How It Happened

Live rounds are never supposed to be used on set.

It appears that a chain of protocols broke down in this situation. For example, the Actors’ Equity Association guidelines state, “Before each use, make sure the gun has been test-fired off stage.” 

Reports say the assistant director said “cold gun,” when he handed Baldwin the prop, indicating it was safe to fire. 

According to NBC, the assistant director has an “unsafe history.” There are also reports of crew members walking off the set a few days prior due to poor working conditions. 

One of those who walked off was the props master, who would have been in charge of overseeing gun safety. The day of the accident was reportedly the new prop master’s first day.

Three crew members told The New York Times there had been at least two previous accidental discharges in the days leading up to the incident, which led a supervisor to complain about the safety practices on the set. 

Legal Fallout

Baldwin not only shot the gun, but is also a co-producer for the movie, so it’s possible he could face some charges.

The fatal shooting could be ruled an accident or negligence, or be classified as recklessness or involuntary manslaughter.

A Los Angeles Times report quoted several legal experts saying they think Baldwin and others involved with the film could at least face civil liabilities.They say everyone on a film with weapons like those should have been versed in fundamental safety rules and events suggest these weren’t followed.

Anna Moneymaker/Staff/Getty Images

2) Biden Courts Manchin On Spending Bill

The Topline: On Sunday, President Joe Biden hosted Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) at his home in Delaware, in a last ditch attempt to gain support for his multi-trillion dollar social spending bill. 

The Bill

Since the Senate is split evenly right now, in order to pass this heavily partisan bill, Democrats must have all 50 members on board, because no Republicans will vote for it.

Republicans essentially view Biden’s social spending bill as a far-Left wish list. It includes policies such as free college tuition, strict climate change measures, medicare expansion and corporate tax increases. Its initial price tag was $3.5 trillion, but Manchin said he wouldn’t vote for anything higher than $1.5 trillion. 

Remember: Manchin represents  West Virginia – a state where only 29% of people voted for Biden. 

Political Threats

Last week, reports said Manchin was threatening to leave the Democratic party if leadership wouldn’t lower the price tag on the social spending bill. Manchin said he told party leaders if they had a problem with him being a centrist, he’d be happy to file as an Independent, but still caucus with the Democrats. 

This is unlikely because it could cost him his position as chair of the Senate Energy Committee, and Democratic leaders don’t want him to leave the party, as they still need his vote. 

Political Point: Even if there is a deal struck on the price tag, there will still be a lot of other items for lawmakers to work out, so it’s unlikely the bill will pass in the coming days. 

Constantine Johnny/Getty Images

3) Democrats’ New Bank Monitoring Proposal

The Topline: After national backlash, Democratic leaders in Congress have scaled back their proposal to have banks report to the IRS all accounts with at least $600 of transactions per year, but critics say their new reporting threshold would still involve nearly every single working American, exposing their personal financial details to the federal government.  

Quote Of The Day:The average American will be picked up by this plan.”

– Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)

The Proposal

Originally, Democrats proposed adding a provision to the reconciliation bill requiring banks to report any bank accounts with $600 in transactions a year. 

Now, the proposal states that beginning next year, banks would have to report all private or commercial accounts that have more than $10,000 a year in transactions — deposits and/or withdrawals — to the IRS. The new proposal would eliminate wages from an employer and federal benefits like Social Security from reporting requirements. However, this privacy doesn’t apply to people who are self-employed.

The $10,000 annual threshold means if someone pays at least $834 a month in bills, his or her account would be reported to the IRS. The American Bankers Association said in a statement, “Virtually all Americans will be subject to this new reporting.” 

The Debate

The Treasury Department officially says it’s trying to collect potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, especially from people who work off-the-books. 

Politically, the Biden administration needs to find more revenue to pay for its multi-trillion-dollar spending plans. 

Republicans say the proposed reporting requirement could lead to the IRS likely asking for more specific details about individual transactions, which could trigger more IRS audits. 

The Biden administration has claimed that audits of people who make less than $400,000 a year won’t rise proportionally compared with wealthier Americans — but they’ve also said the IRS plans to increase audits of wealthier Americans. 

Biden has also proposed hiring 87,000 new IRS agents, doubling the size of the IRS, which will also mean more audits for the middle class — potentially fueled in part by these new reporting requirements.

Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

DeSantis

In an effort to combat the growing supply chain crisis, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) encouraged cargo companies stranded outside the ports in Los Angeles to reroute their cargo ships to ports in Florida. The governor highlighted capacity at all of Florida’s ports as well as incentives for companies who decide to ship their cargo through Florida. 

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