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Another testy Supreme Court battle is the last thing America needs — but it’s probably what lies ahead

The last thing an internally estranged America needs is an alienating Supreme Court confirmation battle. But that’s almost certainly what lies ahead following Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision to retire.

President Joe Biden’s first high court pick will create a moment of promise for a struggling administration, offers Senate Democrats a badly needed shot at unity and could shatter another glass ceiling since Biden plans to nominate a Black woman.
And despite the narrowness of their Senate majority, it should be reasonably simple for Democrats to confirm a new justice swiftly, without any Republican votes, before they risk losing the chamber in the midterm elections.
A drama-free Supreme Court process could enhance the tattered image of Congress, help a President whose approval ratings are tumbling and do some good to the tarnished reputation of a court increasingly tangled in politics. And since replacing Breyer, a liberal, will not shift the court’s 6-3 conservative balance, it might seem that the stakes are lower this time.
Inside Biden's calculated silence on Breyer's retirement
But such hopes ignore the corrosive impact of recent nomination fights — which ended with Democrats accusing the GOP of stealing seats and conservatives claiming nominees endured character assassination. Then there are legacy scars of Supreme Court battles deeper in the past, some involving the President himself, which may have some conservatives plotting revenge.
Political fury that has raged through the fight against Covid-19 has meanwhile brewed a fetid political mood hardly conducive to magnanimous hearings. And the midterm elections in November mean that senators have every incentive to play to the most fervent activist voters in each party before the television cameras.
An ideological docket breeds political discord
Another reason why a smooth confirmation process is unlikely is the growing prominence of the court itself in American political life. The idea that the Supreme Court is above politics has always been something of a myth. But hoka shoes dominating the high court has been a fundamental goal of the conservative movement for several decades.
So it’s not surprising that the successful campaign has hurt justices’ reputations for impartiality. And the new majority is being used in nakedly partisan ways, with Republican attorneys general seeking to fast-track cases to its marbled chamber on the most polarizing issues, including on abortion, the government’s powers to fight the pandemic and gun control. Former President Donald Trump tried to drag the court into his delusional claims of election fraud and the investigation into the January 6 insurrection — both subjects that have left it exposed to bitter winds of partisanship.
Here's how long it's taken to confirm past Supreme Court justices
All of this will inject an even more politicized tone into the next justice’s confirmation hearings. It could lead grandstanding senators from both sides to seek politically motivated assurances that could further the impression that the court is now populated by partisans.
Supreme Court nominees these days are highly prepared — and by their nature are adept at dodging leading questions. But still, Republicans are likely to seek answers on issues like firearms laws that the nominee will be wise to avoid. And progressive senators might ask a nominee in a hearing for their positions on abortion with Roe v. Wade, the landmark case affirming a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, under siege at the Supreme Court. While such exchanges are unlikely to thwart a nomination, they will inevitably drag Biden’s pick onto treacherous ground.
Democrats get a do-over
The coming weeks will test the competence of Democrats to get things done while in control in Washington.
Despite some early wins, a White House that ran on fixing problems and congressional Democrats have developed a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot. There is growing criticism of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s political tactics following the stalling of Biden’s Build Back Better climate and social spending plan and sweeping Democratic voting rights bills. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who were roadblocks on those bills, have never voted against a Biden judicial nominee so it would be a surprise if the Democratic coalition splits. But party leaders have learned the perilous nature of a 50-50 Senate majority. And an ill-timed death or serious illness among the Senate’s aged band of Democrats could seriously delay or even jeopardize the confirmation process.
Joe Biden's 2022 just got a lot better
Biden does have one highly effective weapon in his arsenal as he begins his selection process — his chief of staff Ron Klain, who masterminded Supreme Court nominations in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Klain has faced criticism during Biden’s administration, as the White House has stumbled, including on the pandemic and during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. So the nomination is an opportunity for him to revive his standing in Washington and to deliver the President a much needed win that could reenergize Democrats as tough midterm elections loom in November.
Republicans can still cause headaches
No Supreme Court nomination struggle would be complete without the looming shadow of Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Since he’s in the minority, McConnell seems to lack the power to derail Biden’s first pick. But mangling Democratic Supreme Court hopes is his vocation and he used all kinds of procedural chicanery to seat a generational conservative majority on the top bench — indisputably the top achievement of Trump’s presidency.
The wily Kentuckian and the conservative legal establishment that built the current court do have the power to make seating a new justice a painful olukai shoes ordeal. In the first taste of the partisan combat to come, Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, had this first reaction to Wednesday’s Washington bombshell: “The Left bullied Justice Breyer into retirement and now it will demand a justice who rubber stamps its liberal political agenda.”
“And that’s what the Democrats will give them, because they’re beholden to the dark money supporters who helped elect them,” Severino added.
Biden’s past could come back to haunt him
The current Supreme Court nomination process is unusual in that the nominee will be chosen by a President who has been embroiled in controversial Supreme Court nomination battles.
Biden, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was instrumental in the blocking of President Ronald Reagan’s nominee, Judge Robert Bork, to the court in 1987. Democrats faulted the ultra-conservative for what they saw as prejudiced views toward the rights of Black Americans and women. But conservatives have long reviled Biden for his defeat of the nomination and many of them date the hyper-politicized trend in nomination battles to that moment. Conservatives with long memories, therefore, have every motive to give Biden’s first nominee a hard time in confrontations that will draw right-wing media attention and claims of double standards if liberals complain.
Biden said he'd put a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Here's who he may pick to replace Breyer
That’s the case even if Biden was heavily criticized from the left a few years after the Bork showdown over his treatment of Anita Hill, a law professor who alleged sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, who has since gone on to be a conservative hero on the court.
Some Republicans may also seek retribution on a Democratic Supreme Court nominee for the treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who endured the most searing confirmation fight in decades. Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual misconduct dating from the 1980s, which he forcibly denied in emotional, angry hearings before the Trump administration and McConnell secured his confirmation.
The refusal of Trump to leave the political scene is also likely to raise political temperatures around the hearings, since the former President is a master at seizing on events that fuel his culture war narratives.
It is a sad commentary on the bitterness of the current era that the nomination of a Black woman, in what promises to be a moving historic moment, could also spark racist and sexist debate. It would not be surprising to hear accusations of tokenism against Biden from the more radical sectors of the conservative media ecosystem as he seeks to make history with his high court appointment. Former President Barack Obama’s first hey dude court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic woman to reach the top bench, attracted such prejudice despite her distinguished public and legal career. Any Supreme Court nominee in the modern era must expect extraordinary scrutiny of their personal, financial and professional lives. But the cross-examinations of the first Black woman Supreme Court nominee are likely to underscore some of America’s enduring prejudices.
The justice that the new nominee, whoever she is, will replace, is renowned for temperance, moderation, courtliness and a willingness to seek common ground with his ideological opposites.
Breyer is an anachronism in modern Washington, where such qualities are now all but extinct. That is why it’s questionable whether Biden, Congress, the court and America itself will emerge with reputations enhanced from a process that in the end may only worsen the national funk.

Truckers make the world go round. Invisible truths you didn’t know about trucking in America

What’s the journey of all the goods we consume? Trucking is dangerous, difficult and in demand. Here’s the story behind an industry on the cusp of major technological change.

In May 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic in its infancy, a chain of colorful big rigs parked along Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC, for nearly three weeks. Horns blared as idling truck drivers protested sinking pay, rising insurance costs and lack of transparency bluetooth headphones from the brokers who set their rates to transport goods. In a Roll Call video, an organizer described what it was about: “All the things that were brought to the stores … [truckers] brought it, and they’re the ones who got screwed in the end.”

The modest-size demonstration went largely unnoticed by the American public. But it represented something much larger that affects us all.

Convoy of trucks
  • A convoy of trucks converged in the nation’s capital at the start of the pandemic to protest low freight rates, as drivers had to keep loads of toilet paper and essential supplies moving.
  • What would happen if all the 3.5 million truck drivers in the US stopped working for just three days? It wouldn’t take long for America to resemble a sci-fi dystopia: Grocery store shelves would go bare, hospitals would run out of medical equipment, computer and vehicle parts would dry up, fuel tanks would go empty. Consider some of the shortages we witnessed through early COVID-19 times, like meat and cleaning supplies, but in an exponential ripple.
  • “The world would come to a stop,” said Ricky Rodriguez, a flatbed truck driver who works 12 to 14 hours a day hauling steel, aluminum and lumber through the Midwest. Paul Marhoefer, aka “Long Haul Paul,” a veteran trucker and host of the eight-part Over the Road podcast, was equally blunt in response: “The biggest effect would be on the psyche of the nation.”
  • Trucks are the linchpin of the economy, responsible for moving 72% of all the goods we consume. They’re a critical link in the supply chain for both goods arriving in ships from abroad and those made in the US. Every product that goes from an American port or factory to your doorstep rides on a truck at some point. Like intrepid pilots of the highway, truckers collectively travel 450 billion miles each year sperry shoes to haul those loads for consumers, carrying 11 billion tons of merchandise, electronics, supplies and produce.
  • “Trucks will continue to be the dominant freight transportation mode for the foreseeable future,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said before a Senate committee in May.
  • Still, many of us don’t think beyond our one-second “Buy Now” click, or how our online shopping builds a demand for freight carried by trucks. We just want our mass-produced items, the bulk of which are made overseas, cheaper and faster, as CNET reporter Ian Sherr spells out in the opening story of our Made in America summer series.
  • So what do we really know about the invisible life behind the wheel? And as manufacturing continues to be outsourced and as vehicles shift to natural gas and electric, will America just keep on truckin’ in the same way?
  • To find out the answers to those questions and more, I spent time talking to truckers, industry experts and executives from companies specializing in self-driving vehicles. With so much hype around new robots on wheels replacing the jobs of millions of truckers, I wanted to understand how these hauling machines have evolved, how they’ll survive seismic shifts in automation, and how some truck drivers are working 80 hours a week and still going broke.
  • Every product you use travels on some type of truck
  • The first thing to know is that there’s not just one kind of truck, nor is there an “average truck driver.” As consumers, we tend to have the most direct contact with the parcel and delivery workers from UPS, FedEx or Amazon who hand us our packages. But they’re just a subsection of the trucking industry.
  • There are trucks that haul combined shipments from different businesses and those that transport specialized or dangerous goods like heavy equipment, trash, gasoline or chemicals. There are local and regional drivers who make short trips to service stores and retail outlets. Then there are port truckers who collect cargo in the colossal shipping containers at the docks, and intermodal workers who move freight between different modes of transport, like rail, ship and plane. Backup of trucks on a highway
Traffic delays are regular frustration for truckers, like those waiting here to enter the Port of Long Beach to pick up loads. Most long-haul truckers get paid by the mile, not hourly.If you’re on a barren highway at nightand you see a halo of headlights, or you’re boxed into the slow lane on the interstate by an 18-wheeler, it’s probably an over-the-road driver. These long-haul truckers spend weeks or months crisscrossing the country over vast distances from production sites to distribution centers. They’re carrying what are called “full truckload” shipments of more than 10,000 pounds on a 53-foot trailer, which will be either a “dry van” or a “reefer” (a trailer with a refrigeration unit).

Those kinds of big rigs are named “semis” because a detachable rear-wheel trailer attaches to the tractor towing it. And they shaped the American economy in a profound way.

During World War I, the semi truck offered an alternative to the congested railroad for the transport of salomon boots military cargo, and their use boomed during the Great Depression, in large part due to food. As families were struggling to feed themselves cheaply, the budding trucking industry allowed farms and businesses to get their goods faster and more directly to market than trains could. Soon, trucking became the dominant mode of freight transport, and with the launching of the interstate highway system in 1956, trucks could carry goods from coast to coast without a hitch.

Today, the rail, aviation and ocean shipping sectors couldn’t survive without trucks acting as the connective band between them. And that’s become more critical with the boom of e-commerce and just-in-time manufacturing, which reduces inventory costs, cuts waste and calls for the production of what customers want in the timeframe they want it. But it also means that any interruption to the country’s lean and fragile supply chain has a burdensome impact on workers, who have to keep producing and delivering without delays.

A trucker in the cab of a truck goes through a checklist.
Trucking routes were a challenge for drivers due to COVID-19 supply-chain bottlenecks as well as restaurant and restroom closures.The pandemic took a heavy toll on truckers, who kept everything rolling: emergency goods, medical components, electronics, food and basic supplies. They risked their safety and health traveling through areas hit hard by the virus. Market disruptions from international lockdowns and clogged ports, combined with consumers panic buying, clobbered the global supply chain and every link in it, as CNET’s Kent German points out in his Made in America story.

That meant drivers were subjected to intense bottlenecks and prolonged hours to pick up and deliver freight. Rodriguez told me it was also stressful dealing with shippers’ quarantine restrictions because he didn’t know if he’d be given access to their facilities.

Ellen Voie, the president and CEO of the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association, said drivers weren’t brooks shoes provided with personal protective equipment when supplies were limited and that many states also closed their rest areas. Voie noted that it was particularly difficult for women — who make up just 10% of all truck drivers — to find a bathroom or a shower. Overall, she noted, women drivers face higher risk and have to be “especially sensitive to being situationally aware to protect themselves.”

Yet one woman trucker I spoke with saw the COVID-era as a beckoning for a fresh career. Nasrin Naderi, an immigrant from Afghanistan, went to trucking school and got her commercial driver’s license, or CDL, in 2020 after she realized she could no longer rely on her previous employment in restaurants or hotels, or with Uber and Lyft.

Meet Moog’s music machines, made in America

Asheville, North Carolina, a  city of about 90,000 in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a cultural hub, packed with dozens of art galleries and a thriving local music scene with venues that attract acts from around the world. So if there’s a pairing of a company and a community that works better than Moog Music and Asheville, I don’t know what it could be.

Asheville has been called one of America’s greatest music cities, and Moog wouldn’t dream of moving anywhere else. “We’ve really taken on a character of the town,” says Mike Adams, president of Moog Music, a 20-year veteran of the storied synthesizer company. “There’s a great music scene here, and there’s a lot of very artistic people. I would say 70% of the people that work here are musicians — it’s a really natural fit.”

Moog’s high-end boutique synthesizers run keen shoes from around $1,200 to $9,000 or more. Founded in New York in 1953 by Robert Moog (pronounced “moag”), its instruments ushered in the era of electronic music, and have been used by everyone from Trent Reznor to Donna Summer, from The Beatles to the Beastie Boys. Today the factory where its 170 employees work looks more like a mad scientist’s music lab than an assembly line. And there’s a good reason: Each synthesizer takes dozens of hours each to build, all right in Asheville.

“Nothing we make has an off-the-shelf component to it,” Adams says. “And that’s part of the beauty.”

Founder Bob Moog moved to Asheville in 1978, and the company has been making synths here since 1994. Its ability to attract the unique mix of musical know-how and the technical skills required to assemble the synths is another reason Moog is staying put. Adams mentions at least two current employees who drove to Asheville, prepared to live out of their vans until they could somehow get hired at the company.

“We obviously have to attract and recruit specific engineering talent,” he says. “But there’s a lot of people [here] that have just always loved what Moog is about and what it stands for.”

MOOG Music factory tour
A door at the back of the store leads right into the main production floor of the manufacturing facility.Playing through the pandemic  

Despite a premium product line and fiercely loyal customers, Moog faces a lot of the same manufacturing challenges as other businesses around the world. “Supply, supply, supply.”

“We just can’t get enough parts to keep up with the production,” Adams says. “We’ve been hurt by the extraordinary expense that it’s taken to bring in material that’s cost us an arm and a leg.”

The supply chain problems stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, nike outlet which hasn’t left the rarified world of hand-assembled synthesizers untouched. While Moog instruments are built in the USA, critical internal components come from China, which leaves this company in the same difficult situation as so many others. Factory shutdowns and slowdowns around the world have left some components in short supply, driving up prices, while international cargo shipping is struggling to catch up on missed 2020 deliveries. It’s a version of the same problem plaguing phone manufacturers and carmakers. It’s the same reason you still can’t buy a PlayStation 5. Even the price of the wood used on the outer shells of retro-looking Moogs has skyrocketed.

Moog One 3-Part Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer
The Moog One 3-Part Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer was introduced in 2018. It costs $8,500.

“Our business is really handcuffed by our suppliers and the ability to get anything from plastic to metal to electronic components to printed circuit boards,” says Adams.”The reasons for that range from anything from raw materials shortages to climate change to COVID to just a huge spike in demand for certain products.”

But there’s something of a pandemic silver lining for a company like Moog, too. Spending more time at home, those with the means to do so took the opportunity to invest in hobbies and creative pursuits that mattered to them. And by not spending money on travel or entertainment, some spent more skechers outlet than they normally would on things like premium music gear.

“People did the cocooning, and they wanted better gear because they’re spending so much more time with it,” says Joe Richardson, Moog’s chief marketing officer. “Our instruments lend themselves very well to folks creating music on their own. There was so little performing going on, so synthesizers make for a great way to discover and go exploring to satisfy that creative need.”

Despite the supply chain and pandemic challenges, the company says it has sold twice as many of its flagship (read: $9,000) Moog One synths as expected so far in 2021.

“It’s a really strong statement that people are willing to invest in quality,” Richardson says, adding, “Nobody buys a Moog because it’s inexpensive.”

The handcrafted look of a Moog, and the unique factory where the instruments are built and tested, are all part of the brand’s mystique. CNET photographer Sarah Tew took a tour of Moog’s Asheville headquarters. Follow along with her to see everything from vintage synths to testing stations to a display case of rare prototypes. And when you’re in Asheville, you can take a mini tour (more extensive tours are suspended due to the pandemic) and browse the company store and a showroom. A separate “Moogseum” nearby is run by the Bob Moog Foundation, named after the company founder, who died in 2005.

How to meet America’s climate goals: 5 policies for Biden’s next climate bill

<span class="caption">President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference starting Oct. 31 in Scotland.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/president-joe-biden-speaks-about-his-bipartisan-news-photo/1349024147" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images">Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</a></span>
President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference.

President Joe Biden’s new climate strategy, announced after his original plan crumbled under opposition in Congress, will represent a historic investment in clean energy technology and infrastructure if it is enacted. But it is still not likely to be enough to meet the administration’s emissions reduction goals for 2030.

As director of the Fletcher School’s Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University, I analyze ways governments can manage climate change.

As the new plan comes together, and the steve madden shoes administration considers future steps, here are five types of policies that can help get the United States on track to achieve its climate targets. Together they would reassure the world that the United States can honor its climate commitments; help stave off the effects of a carbon border tax planned in Europe; and, if designed right, position U.S. workers and firms for the low-carbon economy of the 21st century.

Industrial policy

The United States’ ability to compete in low-carbon and resilience technologies such as energy storage has eroded over the past two decades.

Part of the problem has been the political impasse in Washington over clean energy and climate policies. Over the past 20 years, tax credits, loan guarantees and regulations have started and stopped, depending on the political whims of whoever is in power in Congress and the White House. U.S. companies have gone bankrupt while waiting for markets to materialize.

Meanwhile, European companies, with backing from their investment and development banks, and Chinese companies have surged ahead, using their home markets to demonstrate new technologies and build industries. Wind turbines are a good example. European companies, led by Denmark’s Vestas, controlled 43% of the wind turbine market globally in 2018, and China controlled 30%. By contrast, the United States accounted for only 10%.

I believe the United States as a country needs to make choices about where it has comparative advantage, and then the federal government can chart a clear course forward to develop those industries and compete in those global markets. Will it be electric vehicles? Electricity storage? Technology for adaptation such as sea wall construction, flood control or wildfire management? Independent advice could be provided to the administration and Congress, perhaps by the National Academies of Science, and then Congress could authorize an investment plan to conditionally support these industries.

Tempting as it is to support all technologies, public dollars are scarce. Companies that receive subsidies must be held accountable with performance requirements, and taxpayers should get a return when those companies succeed.

Two men standing on a slanted roof preparing to install a solar panel
Workers install solar panels on a Virginia church. 

As part of industrial policy, officials also need to squarely face up to the fact that some workers, states, cities and towns with industries closely tied to fossil fuels are vulnerable in the transition to cleaner energy.

On an expert panel convened by the National Academies of Science and recent study, colleagues and I recommended that the government establish a national transition corporation to provide support and opportunities for displaced workers and affected communities. These dr martens boots communities will need to diversify their economies and their tax bases. Regional planning grants, loans and other investments can help them pivot their economies to industries that contribute less to climate change. Establishing a U.S. infrastructure bank or green bank to fund low-emissions and resilience projects could help finance these investments.

Equally important is investing in the workforce needed for a low-carbon economy. The government can subsidize the development of programs at colleges and universities to serve this economy and provide scholarships for students.

Fiscal tools

Other policies can help generate the revenue needed to support the transition to a clean economy.

Obviously, removing subsidies for fossil fuel industries is a crucial step forward. One analysis estimated, conservatively, that the U.S. provides about US billion a year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Estimates of indirect subsidies are much higher.

Tax reform can also help, such as replacing some individual and corporate income taxes with a carbon tax. This policy tool would tax the carbon in fuels, creating an incentive for companies and consumers to reduce use of fuels with the greatest impact on the climate. To avoid overburdening low-income households, the government could reduce income taxes on lower-income households or provide a dividend check.

Tax credits, loan guarantees, government procurement rules and investments in innovation are all useful tools and can shape markets for American companies. But these fiscal policy tools should not be permanent, and they should be phased down as technology costs come down.

Investing in markets as well as innovation

The government has the ability to both “push” and “pull” climate technologies into the marketplace. Government investments in research and human capital are “push”-type policies, because supporting research ensures that smart people will keep moving into the field.

The government can also “pull” in technologies by creating vibrant markets for them, which will provide further incentives to innovation and spur widespread deployment. Carbon taxes and emissions trading systems can create predictable markets for industry because they hey dude provide long-term market signals that let companies know what to expect for years ahead, and they at least partially account for a product’s damage to the environment.

An electric vehicle charging next to an EVs-only parking space
Electric vehicles are among the examples of a new market.

While the United States is investing in clean-energy research, development and demonstration, it has been less successful than China or Europe – both of which have emissions trading systems – in developing predictable, durable markets.

Performance standards

A tried-and-true U.S. policy tool is the use of performance standards. These standards limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit, such as fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles, energy efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment, and building efficiency standards at the state level. Fuel economy standards on automobiles since 1975 have saved about 2 trillion gallons of gas and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 14 gigatons, roughly three times the country’s annual emissions from energy in 2020.

Performance standards give companies the flexibility to find the best way to comply, which can also fuel innovation. The Biden administration could develop new performance standards in each major emitting sector – vehicles, power plants and buildings. Federally imposed building codes, which are set at the state and local levels, would be a difficult political lift.

The laws that established the government’s authority to set standards, such as the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act, have some ambiguities that can leave standards vulnerable to court challenge, however. Legal challenges have led to a zigzag in regulations in some sectors, most obviously the power sector.

Nature-based solutions and state legislation

A final area where policy is needed is for nature-based solutions. These might be fiscal incentives for restoring forests, which store carbon, or protecting existing lands from development, or they might be regulations.

Laws and regulations at the state level can also be enormously powerful in changing the U.S. emissions trajectory.

Biden’s Plan B

The centerpiece of Biden’s original climate plan was a program designed to reward and pressure utilities to shift electricity production away from fossil fuels faster. With the Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s opposition sank the plan.

The Biden administration’s new Plan B has a number of heroic assumptions and relies heavily on fiscal and regulatory tools, along with lots of state-level actions.

Missing from Plan B is the emphasis on innovation and industrial policy, both of which might have a larger impact on U.S. emissions. The elephant in the room that cannot be ignored is that the United States needs a climate bill that puts its targets for reducing emissions by 2030 and 2050 into law, gives the right government agencies the authority to set policies and addresses industrial and workforce needs.

Frequent movie cop Denzel Washington talks policing in America: ‘I have the utmost respect for what they do’

The dark new thriller The Little Things marks the 13th time the 66-year-old Oscar winner plays a law-enforcer during his illustrious career, most of them clean (The Bone Collector, Out of Time) but a few occasionally dirty (Training Day). In The Little Things, Washington plays a disgraced Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective who finds a chance at redemption when he believes a serial killer he once chased is on another murder spree.

And while policing in America has been under heavy scrutiny in the wake of multiple high-profile officer-involved killings, Black Lives Matter protests and calls to “defund the police” — a discourse that has extended into entertainment steve madden shoes with the cancellations of shows like Cops and Live PD — Washington makes it clear where he stands on the issue.

“I have the utmost respect for what they do, for what our soldiers do, [people] that sacrifice their lives,” Washington tells Yahoo Entertainment during a recent interview (watch above). “I just don’t care for people who put those kind of people down. If it weren’t for them, we would not have the freedom to complain about what they do.”

Washington, who has also played military servicemen or veterans more than a half-dozen times (Glory, Crimson Tide, Courage Under Fire, et al.), notes his next project will be directing a film (Journal for Jordan, starring Michael B. Jordan) about a soldier who “makes the ultimate sacrifice.”

Denzel Washington in 'The Little Things' (Warner Bros.)
Denzel Washington in The Little Things.

The revered performer, who has also portrayed revolutionaries Steve Biko and Malcolm X, traced his appreciation for members of law enforcement back to a ride-along while preparing to play a cop-turned-district attorney in the 1991 thriller Ricochet.

“I went out on call with a sergeant,” he recalls. “We got a call of a man outside his house with a rifle that was distraught. We pulled up and did a U-turn past the house and came up short of the house. He told me to sit in the car, which I was gonna do. I wasn’t getting out.dr martens boots He got out. As he got out, another car came screaming up and two young people jumped out screaming. As it turned out, it was their grandfather. This policeman defused the entire situation by just remaining calm.

“But it showed me in an instant how they can lose their life. … He didn’t overreact. He could’ve pulled his gun out and shot the people that came up driving real fast. He could’ve shot the old man that was distraught and a bit confused, I think he was suffering a little bit from dementia. But in an instant it taught me, and I never forgot it, what our law enforcement people have to deal with moment to moment, second to second.”

America’s Need to Pay Its Bills Has Spawned a Political Game

The U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
The U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

WASHINGTON — For nearly two decades, lawmakers in Washington have waged an escalating display of brinkmanship over the federal government’s ability to borrow money to pay its bills. They have forced administrations of both parties to take evasive actions, pushing the nation dangerously close to economic calamity. But they have never actually tipped the United States into default.

The dance is repeating this fall, but this time the dynamics are different — and the threat of default is greater than ever.

Republicans in Congress have refused to help raise the nation’s debt limit, even though the need to borrow stems from the bipartisan practice of running large budget deficits. Republicans agree the United States must pay its bills,brooks shoes  but on Monday they are expected to block a measure in the Senate that would enable the government to do so. Democrats, insistent that Republicans help pay for past decisions to boost spending and cut taxes, have so far refused to use a special process to raise the limit on their own.

Observers inside and outside Washington are worried neither side will budge in time, roiling financial markets and capsizing the economy’s nascent recovery from the pandemic downturn.

If the limit is not raised or suspended, officials at the Treasury Department warn, the government will soon exhaust its ability to borrow money, forcing officials to choose between missing payments on military salaries, Social Security benefits and the interest it owes to investors who have financed America’s spending spree.

Yet Republicans have threatened to filibuster any attempt by Senate Democrats to pass a simple bill to increase borrowing. Party leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky want to force Democrats to raise the limit on their own, through a fast-track congressional process that bypasses a Republican filibuster. That could take weeks to come to fruition, raising the stakes every day that Democratic leaders decline to pursue that option.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that no one is quite sure when the government will run out of money. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States in waves, frequently disrupting economic activity and the taxes the government collects, complicating Treasury’s ability to gauge its cash flow. Estimates for what is known as the “X-date” range from as early as Oct. 15 to mid-November.

Amid that uncertainty, congressional leaders and President Joe Biden are not even attempting to negotiate a resolution. Instead, they are sparring over who should be saddled with a vote that could be used against them, raising the odds that partisan stubbornness will propel the country into a fiscal unknown.

It all adds up to an impasse rooted in political messaging, midterm campaign advertising and a desire by Republican leaders to do whatever they can to protest Biden’s economic agenda, including the $3.5 trillion spending bill that Democrats hope to pass along party lines using a fast-track budget process.

Republicans say they will not supply any votes to lift the debt cap, despite having run up trillions in new debt to pay for the 2017 tax cuts, clarks shoes uk additional government spending and pandemic aid during the Trump administration. Democrats, in contrast, helped President Donald Trump increase borrowing in 2017 and 2019.

“If they want to tax, borrow, and spend historic sums of money without our input,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this week, “they will have to raise the debt limit without our help.”

Thus far, Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have declined to do so, even though employing that process would end the threat of default.

Jon Lieber, a former aide to McConnell who is now with the Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy in Washington, wrote in a warning to clients this week that there is a 1-in-5 chance the standoff will push the country into at least a technical debt default — forcing the government to choose between paying bondholders and honoring all its spending commitments — this fall.

“That’s crazy high for an event like this,” Lieber said in an interview, noting that the odds are significantly higher than in past standoffs. “But I feel really confident that’s the level of panic we should be having.”

Under President George W. Bush, Democrats, including Biden, voted in 2006 against a debt-limit increase, citing Bush’s budget deficits that were swollen by tax cuts and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They did so despite warnings from administration officials that a default would hurt the nation’s credit rating and economy.

Biden, like many other Democrats, said he could not abet Bush’s fiscal decisions. But his party did not filibuster a vote and Republicans were able to pass a debt limit increase along party lines. White House officials say Biden’s vote was symbolic, noting that the ability of Republicans to raise the debt ceiling was never in question.

Leaders of both parties have, at times, made a version of the core argument in favor of raising the limit: that it is simply a way to allow the government to pay bills it has already incurred. Both parties also have shown no sign of slowing the nation’s borrowing spree, which accelerated last year as lawmakers approved trillions of dollars of aid for people and businesses struggling through the pandemic recession. Each party has recently occupied the White House and controlled Congress, but neither has come close in recent years to approving a budget that would balance — which is to say, not require additional borrowing and a debt-limit increase — within a decade.

Biden administration officials, former Treasury secretaries from both parties and business executives from around the country have all urged lawmakers to raise the borrowing limit as soon as possible.

“I think it’s scary for consumer confidence and for confidence in U.S. businesses and potential credit ratings if we don’t make sure that we raise that debt ceiling,” Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, said on CNBC earlier this month.

Democrats say Republicans have a responsibility to help raise the limit, noting that they helped when Trump needed to do it. White House officials called McConnell’s position hypocritical.

“Republicans in hey dude shoes Congress have spent a decade ushering in a new era where the prospect of default and a global economic meltdown has become a dangerous political football,” Michael Gwin, a White House spokesperson, said in an email. “As we rebound from the deep recession caused by the pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to put partisanship aside, remove this cloud from over our economy, and responsibly address the debt limit — just like Democrats did three times under the previous administration.”

Lieber and other analysts worry party leaders are talking past each other. Experts suggest it would take a week or two for Democratic leaders to steer a debt limit increase through the fast-track budget process. That could leave the government vulnerable to a sudden crisis. On Friday, the independent Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, said the government could run out of cash to pay its bills by mid-October.

Lieber said he is worried about “the risk of miscalculation of both sides,” in part because this standoff is not the same as the ones under Obama. “The Republicans aren’t asking for anything,” he said. “So their position is, there’s nothing you can do to get us to vote for a debt ceiling increase. That’s a dangerous situation.”

Goldman Sachs researchers warned in a note to clients this month that the volatile nature of tax receipts this year, a product of the pandemic, makes the debt limit “riskier than usual” for the economy and markets. They said the standoff was at least as risky as in 2011, when brinkmanship disrupted bond yields and the stock market.

Other financial analysts continue to believe that, as they have in the past, the sides will eventually find an agreement — largely because of the consequences of failure.

“We believe Congress will raise or suspend the debt ceiling,” Beth Ann Bovino, S&P U.S. chief economist, wrote this week. “A default by the U.S. government would be substantially worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, devastating global markets and the economy.”

In the meantime, Republicans are awaiting a vote by Democrats to raise the limit. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who heads Republicans’ campaign arm in the Senate, told an NBC reporter he was eager to highlight Democratic support for raising the limit in midterm advertisements.

Democrats seek new tax on America’s richest while scaling down other hikes

Tucked into the House Democrats’ tax plan to raise $2.2 trillion in tax revenue is a new tax on the country’s wealthiest Americans — but other, earlier proposals that target the rich have been scaled down or eliminated altogether.

The proposal from the House Ways and Means Committee includes a 3% surtax on individuals with an adjusted gross income of more than $5 million, something not included in President Joe Biden’s initial plan.

“[That] is significant,” Howard Gleckman, nike store senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, told Yahoo Money. “I suspect it’s going to be a surtax on taxable income… there’s still lots of ways for high-income people to reduce their taxable income.”

The 3% tax will be imposed on individuals, trusts, and estates and is expected to raise $127 billion over 10 years, according to the draft proposal. It is yet unclear whether the surcharge would apply only to ordinary income or would include capital gains, too, according to Gleckman.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attend a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pelosi and fellow House Democrats introduced a package of sweeping reforms aimed at curbing presidential abuse of power. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(L-R) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attend a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

‘Avoid the higher capital gains tax’

The new tax comes as the Democrats scale down the increase to the top long-term capital gains and qualified dividends tax rate to 25% from 20%, which would generate $123 billion over a decade.

Biden initially proposed a top rate of 39.6% for those earning over $1 million.

“The capital gains rate increase is obviously much more modest than what Biden proposed,” Gleckman said, “A 25% rate is just not that much of a change.”

Another tax hike Democrats left out was Biden’s proposed change on how assets are taxed when passed onto heirs.

Under Biden’s proposal, gains over $1 million for single filers ($2.5 million for joint filers when keen shoes combined with existing real estate exemptions) would be taxed based on the asset’s value when it was initially acquired — rather than the value when it was inherited.

“What you’re doing is you’re essentially signaling investors to hold on to an unproductive asset to avoid the higher capital gains tax,” Gleckman said. “If you have unrealized gains at death, a lot of that incentive would go away.”

Biden’s proposal to increase the top individual income tax rate made it into the Democrats’ plan.

Both propose to revert the top individual income tax rate back to 39.6% for taxable income above $400,000. That rate is currently 37%, established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 passed during the Trump administration. The provision is expected to raise $170 billion over 10 years.

US President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus protections in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, DC, September 10, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus protections in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, DC, September 10, 2021.

Overall, the House Democrats tax plan is estimated to raise $2.2 trillion over a decade, with $1 trillion coming from tax hikes on high-income individuals, $900 billion from corporate and international tax reform, and additional revenue from increased tax compliance. The majority of the changes would be effective after December 31, 2021.

The tax proposals may change as brooks shoes Democrats finalize the bill that they hope to pass in the coming weeks through reconciliation without any Republican support.

“That’s a fairly ambitious [proposal],” Gleckman said. “I don’t think they’re going to get that much, but that’s a very ambitious start.”

How Educational Differences Are Widening America’s Political Rift

Students on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, Aug. 16, 2021. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Students on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, Aug. 16, 2021.

The front lines of America’s cultural clashes have shifted in recent years. A vigorous wave of progressive activism has helped push the country’s culture to the left, inspiring a conservative backlash against everything from “critical race theory” to the purported cancellation of Dr. Seuss.

These skirmishes may be different in substance from those that preceded them, but in the broadest sense they are only the latest manifestation of a half-century trend: the realignment of U.S. politics along cultural and educational lines and away from the class dr martens boots and income divisions that defined the two parties for much of the 20th century.

As they have grown in numbers, college graduates have instilled increasingly liberal cultural norms while gaining the power to nudge the Democratic Party to the left. Partly as a result, large portions of the party’s traditional working-class base have defected to the Republicans.

Over the longer run, some Republicans even fantasize that the rise of educational polarization might begin to erode the Democratic advantage among voters of color without a college degree. Perhaps a similar phenomenon may help explain how Donald Trump, who mobilized racial animus for political gain, nonetheless fared better among voters of color than previous Republicans did and fared worse among white voters.

President Joe Biden won about 60% of college-educated voters in 2020, including an outright majority of white college graduates, helping him run up the score in affluent suburbs and putting him over the top in pivotal states.

This was a significant voting bloc: Overall, 41% of people who cast ballots last year were four-year college graduates, according to census estimates. By contrast, just 5% of voters in 1952 were college graduates, according to that year’s American National Elections Study.

Yet even as college graduates have surged in numbers and grown increasingly liberal, Democrats are no stronger than they were 10, 30 or even 50 years ago. Instead, rising Democratic strength among college graduates and voters of color has been counteracted by a nearly equal and opposite reaction among white voters without a degree.

When Harvard-educated John F. Kennedy narrowly won the presidency in 1960, he won white voters without a degree but lost white college graduates by a 2-1 margin. The numbers were almost exactly reversed for Biden, who lost white voters without a degree by a 2-1 margin while winning white college graduates.

About 27% of Biden’s supporters in 2020 were white voters without a college degree, according to Pew Research, down from the nearly 60% of Bill Clinton’s supporters who were whites without a degree just 28 years earlier. The changing demographic makeup of the Democrats has become a self-fulfilling dynamic in which the growing power steve madden shoes of liberal college graduates helps alienate working-class voters, leaving college graduates as an even larger share of the party.

The Democratic advantage among college graduates may be a new phenomenon, but the relative liberalism of college graduates is not. College graduates have been far likelier than voters without a college degree to self-identify as liberal for decades, even when they were likelier to vote Republican.

College graduates attribute racial inequality, crime and poverty to complex structural and systemic problems, while voters without a degree tend to focus on individualist and parochial explanations. It is easier for college graduates, with their higher levels of affluence, to vote on their values, not simply on economic self-interest. They are likelier to have high levels of social trust and to be open to new experiences. They are less likely to believe in God.

The rise of cultural liberalism is not simply a product of rising college attendance. In fact, there is only equivocal evidence that college attendance makes people vastly more liberal. Far from the indoctrination that conservatives fear, liberal college professors appear to preach to an already liberal choir.

But it is hard to imagine the last half-century of liberal cultural change without the role played by universities and academia, which helped inspire everything from the student movements and New Left of the 1960s to the ideas behind today’s fights over “critical race theory.” The concentration of so many left-leaning students and professors on campus helped foster a new liberal culture with more progressive ideas and norms than would have otherwise existed.

“If you live in a community which is more liberal, there’s a self-reinforcing ratcheting effect,” said Pippa Norris, a professor and political scientist at the Harvard Kennedy School who believes that the rise of higher education contributed to the rise of social liberalism throughout the postindustrial world.

As college graduates increased their share of the electorate, they gradually began to force the Democrats to accommodate their interests and values. They punched above their electoral weight since they make up a disproportionate number of the journalists, politicians, activists and poll respondents who most directly influence the political process.

At the same time, the party’s old industrial working-class base was in decline, as were the unions and machine bosses who once had the power to connect the party’s politicians to its rank and file. The party had little choice but to broaden its appeal, and it adopted the views of college-educated voters on nearly every issue, slowly if fitfully alienating its old working-class base.

Republicans opened their doors to traditionally Democratic conservative-leaning voters who were aggrieved by the actions and perceived excesses of the new college-educated left. This GOP push began, and continues in ecco shoes some ways today, with the so-called Southern strategy — leveraging racial divisions and “states’ rights” to appeal to white voters.

The reasons for white working-class alienation with the Democrats have shifted from decade to decade. At times, nearly every major issue area — race, religion, war, environmentalism, guns, trade, immigration, sexuality, crime, social welfare programs — has been a source of Democratic woes.

What the Democratic Party’s positions on these very different issues have had in common is that they reflected the views of college-educated liberals, even when in conflict with the apparent interests of working-class voters — and that they alienated some number of white voters without a degree. Environmentalists demanded regulations on the coal industry; coal miners bolted from the Democrats. Suburban voters supported an assault gun ban; gun owners shifted to the Republicans. Business interests supported free-trade agreements; old manufacturing towns broke for Trump.

A similar process may be beginning to unfold among Hispanic voters. The 2020 election was probably the first presidential contest in which the Democratic candidate fared better among voters of color who graduated from college than among those without a degree. Trump made large gains among voters of color without degrees, especially Latino ones. The causes of his surge are still being debated, but one leading theory is that he was aided by a backlash against the ideas and language of the college-educated left, including activist calls to “defund the police.”

For some Republicans, Trump’s gains have raised the possibility that it may be easier to appeal to working-class voters of color.

“It doesn’t seem quite as big of a bridge to cross as saying, ‘Let’s go back and win white suburbanites,’” said Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster who is writing a book on how the party might build a multiracial coalition.

True or not, it is a view that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if it leads Republicans to adopt strategies aimed at making it a reality.

There is no guarantee that the rising liberalism of the Democratic primary electorate or college graduates will continue. The wave of activism in the 1960s gave way to a relatively conservative generation of college graduates in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Perhaps something similar will happen today.

What can be guaranteed is that the college-educated share of the population — and the electorate — will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

In 2016, Massachusetts became the first state where four-year college graduates represented the majority of voters in a presidential contest. In 2020, the state was joined by New York, Colorado and Maryland. Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and others are not far behind. Nationwide, four-year college graduates might represent a majority of midterm voters at some point over the next decade.

That time America almost had a 30-hour work week

The nature of work has undergone a lot of changes during the pandemic. Millions of office workers began working from home; the service industry has struggled to get workers to come back, and some businesses, like Kickstarter, are now experimenting with four-day workweeks – without reducing salaries. In Congress, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., has introduced legislation to make a 32-hour workweek standard.

This “Great Reassessment” of labor feels revolutionary. But we have been here before. In 1933, the Senate passed, and President Franklin Roosevelt supported, a bill to reduce the standard workweek to only 30 hours.

Americans have worked hard, perhaps too hard, since the Colonial era. brooks shoes English and other European colonists often had to work longer and harder on farms here than in the Old World, and a philosophy of working from sunrise to sunset prevailed, according to the Economic History Association. The Massachusetts colony even passed a law requiring a 10-hour minimum workday.

Enslaved people, whose labor profits were stolen, generally worked 10-16 hours a day, six days a week. Some studies estimate that when slavery ended, the hours African Americans spent working fell by 26-35 percent.

In the 1830s, workers in manufacturing were on the job roughly 70 hours a week, often in horrendous and even deadly conditions. By the 1890s that had dropped to about 60 hours. This period also saw the rise of labor unions, the creation of Labor Day as a national holiday, Grand Eight Hours Leagues and the motto “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what you will.” At that time, “what you will” did not include Saturday; workweeks were generally six days with only Sunday off.

The eight-hour day picked up in popularity in the decades preceding the Great Depression. Federal workers, railroad workers and Ford Motor Co. employees all moved to eight-hour shifts. CEO Henry Ford first instituted a six-day, 48-hour workweek for male factory workers in 1914, according to History.com. In 1926, a five-day, 40-hour workweek was extended to all employees, along with a pay raise. Ford argued that his employees were more productive in fewer hours; critics were skeptical they could be productive enough to make up the difference.

Then came the stock market crash, the Great Depression and record-high unemployment. After an underwhelming response from President Herbert Hoover, he faced New York Gov. Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 election. Shorter work hours was a major issue among voters, and both candidates had ideas, according to historian Benjamin Hunnicutt in his book “Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the ‘Right to Work.'” Roosevelt, a Democrat, pushed federal legislation to establish shorter work hey dude shoes hours – something he had already done at the state level in New York – while Hoover backed voluntary share-the-work drives. The idea was that if workers had shorter hours, no one would be unemployed, even if everyone ended up making less money, though unions were also pushing for a decent federal minimum wage.

After Roosevelt won the election but before he took office, Sen. Hugo Black, D-Ala., introduced a bill backed by the American Federation of Labor to temporarily shorten the workweek drastically, to only 30 hours – six hours a day, five days a week. For a while, it had Roosevelt’s support, and he began negotiating with business leaders behind closed doors; if they would shorten the workweek to 30 hours voluntarily, then he would go easy on antitrust reforms, he said, according to Hunnicutt.

As soon as Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933, he called Congress into a special session – what would become its most productive streak in history. Over the next 100 days, Roosevelt and his Cabinet guided more than a dozen major bills through the House and Senate, stabilizing the banking system, regulating Wall Street, subsidizing farmers and getting relief checks into the hands of the unemployed.

Amid this flurry, on April 6, the Senate passed Black’s 30-hour week bill 53-30 in a bipartisan vote. Supporters claimed it would create 6 million jobs, The Washington Post reported. It was expected to pass the House, and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins was publicly supportive.

Business leader were up in arms. “Instead of looking at the increase in leisure as inevitable or as potentially beneficial,” Hunnicutt wrote, they feared that if workers got a taste of a 30-hour week, they would never want to go back, and the law would become permanent. Men of industry held emergency meetings in Chicago and Philadelphia, and Perkins, who also supported a federal minimum wage, was flooded with messages of opposition.

Meanwhile at the White House, as Roosevelt worked on a comprehensive recovery plan, he began to turn against the 30-hour week. What if, rather than sharing available work, there was just more work? As the plan for a hoka shoes massive public-works program took shape, support for the 30-hour week collapsed. Instead, Roosevelt used the threat of it as leverage to get industry leaders to agree to ban child labor, set a modest minimum wage and limit the standard workweek at 40 hours, Hunnicutt wrote.

The resulting National Industrial Recovery Act was a triumph, but one that didn’t last. Two years later, in May 1935, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in a decision that so angered Roosevelt he threatened to expand the court.

In 1938, the minimum wage, 40-hour week and child labor ban returned in the form of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This time, Perkins asked Department of Labor lawyers to draft a law that had a better chance of passing judicial scrutiny. And they had another ace in their sleeve – a few months earlier, Roosevelt had nominated his first justice for the Supreme Court. He chose Hugo Black.

For decades, the 40-hour week has endured, but it didn’t seem like it would in the beginning. As Joe Pinsker of the Atlantic pointed out in June, many economists once assumed we would be working fewer than 40 hours by now. In 1956, even then-Vice President Richard Nixon predicted a 32-hours, four-day workweek in the “not too distant future.”

It hasn’t happened yet. In fact, in a 2014 Gallup poll, half of full-time employed respondents reported working 41 hours or more per week; 18 percent said they worked more than 60. Only 8 percent said they worked 39 hours or less.

Spanish-language Covid disinformation is aimed at Latinos as delta surges

MIAMI — On a recent show on Actualidad, a Miami AM radio station, the host was promoting a false cure for Covid-19: the use of ivermectin, a drug used to deworm animals. The Food and Drug Administration has been warning against its use and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cautioned that poison centers are reporting an increase in severe illnesses caused by people taking the drug.

The host said Aug. 23 that he could cite clinical trials from Latin America, “where doctors are using ivermectin with extraordinary results” and “people recover in three or four days.” He falsely suggested that ivermectin was not being promoted for Covid by government health officials because it brooks shoes “costs 20 cents per pill and with three or four or five pills, you’re done. Pharmaceutical companies don’t make much money.”

Florida is grappling with record numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, as well as a surge in hospitalizations as a result of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Yet on Spanish-language radio, hosts are pushing right-wing conspiracy theories similar to those heard on English-language shows. Just recently, three English-language conservative radio hosts who railed against vaccines died from Covid-19.

Amid a surge in Covid cases across the country, medical disinformation in Spanish persists on AM radio, social media and closed messaging apps, where people claim that masks do not work and that the vaccines are dangerous and part of the “global reset.”

Many of the influencers and groups spreading such conspiracy theories in Spanish are the same ones that spread disinformation leading up to the 2020 presidential election, continuing with false narratives about electoral fraud and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Now, they have moved to medical disinformation. A common theme is to compare international government responses to the pandemic to Nazi Germany, with groups claiming lockdowns as well as mask and vaccine mandates are the beginning of global tyranny. Many of the claims being made in Spanish are not much different from those in English and other languages throughout the world.

Joan Donovan, research director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said researchers are not sure how much of the Covid-19 disinformation is truly coordinated, as opposed to just tapping into “known tropes that tend to mobilize people,” like the ideas that individual freedom is being taken away or that independent choices are going to be criminalized.

“That’s when we start getting into some really dangerous territory,” Donovan said, “when people are being mobilized by disinformation and are making decisions based upon things like medical misinformation, for instance, leaving to clarks shoes uk get up out of their houses and go to the school board meetings and talk about masks being somehow oppressive or to talk about vaccines being microchipped.”

There is evidence people are mobilizing based on the false information they see and read. On a popular Facebook page in Spanish, an influencer calls school board members in Florida who voted to mask school children “communist” and equated vaccine mandates to “tyranny against liberty.”

The influencer attended a school board meeting over mask mandates in Lee County, Florida, and was escorted out as she yelled “communists” at the board members. She shouted at parents to “stop complying” and to “take your kids out of school.”

On her Facebook page, she calls for prayers for the “marvelous” Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican. While he has urged Floridians to get vaccinated, DeSantis has largely been seen as an ally to many of these groups, because of his fight against mask requirements for students and businesses requiring proof of vaccination.

At least 26 Florida educators and five children died from Covid-19 last month alone.

Because of the highly contagious delta variant, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all students ages 2 and older, as well as teachers, staff members and visitors, regardless of vaccination status in K-12 schools.

The more dangerous Spanish-language information about masks and vaccines continues to be in closed messaging apps, like WhatsApp and Telegram.

In one Telegram channel, a user urged people not to give up parental rights to the government, adding “first it’s ‘mask mandate,’ second is ‘healthcare mandate’ thirdly, your ‘parental rights’ mandated away.”

In another Telegram channel, a user posted a video of the Venezuelan singer José Luís Rodriguez getting the third dose of the Moderna vaccine with a caption that said he “has been sold to promote the venom.” Another user wrote: “[H]e is so stupid. They’re probably paying him to put on that show.”

Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, a Democratic strategist based in Florida who was the first to point out that disinformation in Spanish against Democrats was raging on hey dude shoes social media and WhatsApp groups during the 2020 campaign, said she thought there would be a decrease in disinformation after the elections, “but it has been quite the opposite, as the same people seem to be targeting vaccines.”

“All the false information being repeated on social media and radio is having an influence on our communities,” Pérez-Verdía said.

Since the spread of conspiracy theories in Spanish came to light, some progressive groups have taken an interest and created ways to combat disinformation.

Voto Latino is one of the organizations that teamed up with Media Matters to launch a Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab, partnering with the group Media Matters, which monitors disinformation. Voto Latino focuses on creating interventions to stop it.

In the spring, the Latino Disinformation Lab released a study that found that “almost 4 in 10 Latinx respondents report having seen material or information that makes them think the COVID-19 vaccines are not safe or effective.”

After studying the findings, Voto Latino released an ad in California, Texas and Florida with everyday people talking about their experiences after being inoculated. They identified people who were vaccine hesitant and “on the fence” about getting vaccinated, not those considered unpersuadable. Those who watched the ad were 54 times more likely to search the term “get the Covid vaccine.”

“It shows that intervention actually works,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino.

Kumar said they used similar modeling and identification markers for people who were not sure whether they would register to vote.

“It shows the Latino community is not getting enough information,” Kumar said. “But when you give good information directly to them, it gives them the opportunity to make the right choices for their families and for themselves.”