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Posts Tagged ‘ Joe Biden

Instagram and Irn-Bru: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes the world inside COP26

The congresswoman’s visit to the UN climate summit is bringing some welcome transparency to the negotiations.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

AOC is proving a hit among the locals in Scotland.

With a swig of Irn-Bru, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have done more for climate diplomacy at this week’s UN climate summit than the rest of the US delegation combined. At the very least, she’s won the hearts and minds of the locals.

The US has sent some of its most powerful and influential voices to speak at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, over the past two weeks, among them President Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, former vice president Al Gore, ecco shoes climate envoy John Kerry and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Between them they’ve made many grand speeches, but none has made any discernible effort to connect with the summit host country’s culture. Not so with Ocasio-Cortez. In answer to an Instagram question Tuesday evening about whether she’d tried Irn-Bru, a fizzy beverage known as Scotland’s other national drink (after whisky, of course), she said she hadn’t, but wanted to. The following day she was duly presented with a can of Irn-Bru by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“I love it,” Ocasio-Cortez said, in a video posted to Instagram after cracking open the can and taking a sip of the liquid, which is such a luminous shade of orange it looks radioactive. She compared it to the Latin American soda Cola Champagne.

It might be easy to dismiss this moment of reprieve from the gravity of the UN climate summit as little more than a photo op. But Ocasio-Cortez, who hasn’t made a speech at the summit, has been using Instagram to bring people inside in a way others have not.

Climate justice advocacy groups have characterized this year’s climate COP as exclusionary. Many indigenous groups and representatives nike sneakers from developing countries who should be attending the summit were shut out due to restrictions on accreditation, the cost of getting to Glasgow or inequities in vaccine distribution. Even those who have made it inside the secure zone where the conference is taking place have found themselves locked out of negotiations and key sessions.

Inside COP26 with AOC

In a series of Instagram stories, Ocasio-Cortez broke down the purpose of UN climate summits, the specific focuses and goals of COP26, and how it’s been structured around themes. She also showed viewers around the venue, explaining what happens in bilateral briefing rooms and plenary halls, and what she was doing during the non-public-facing parts of her day.

As she was posting on COP26’s “gender day” she also explained why gender is such an important issue in fighting the climate crisis, and she noted it’s one of the main issues she came to discuss at COP26.

“Did you know the US had a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women? And that many of these women go missing near fossil fuel extraction sites?” she said. “Did you know that in other countries, women undertake much of the agricultural activity and climate change’s effects on crops have huge ramifications for women and nonbinary people’s rights?”

Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed something asics shoes the climate justice movement has been asking for at the summit, but that few other politicians have acknowledged. “[COP] should be centering Indigenous peoples more as stakeholders in hard negotiations — not just speeches,” she said.

The congresswoman is hardly the first to point that the US arrived at the summit on the back foot after withdrawing from (and then rejoining) the Paris Agreement — Biden also noted that last week. But her message that the country had “not recovered its moral authority” was well received within the summit walls.

Some of the same young activists who felt patronized earlier this week by Obama, for addressing his speech to them while failing to deliver on his own climate promises, were clamoring outside the press conference room hoping to meet her on Tuesday. Ocasio-Cortez’s directness and transparency at COP26 appear to be resonating with them — and Instagram is at least a little to thank for that.

Analysis-Texas abortion law critics warn conservatives of unintended consequences

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As abortion providers backed by President Joe Biden’s administration prepare for Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court arguments in their challenge to a near-total ban on the procedure in Texas, they have found an unlikely ally: a right-leaning gun rights group.

A “friend of the court” brief filed in the case by the Firearms Policy Coalition against Republican-governed Texas illustrates how the law’s unique structure – enforcement by private individuals, not the state – has alarmed advocates for all kinds of constitutionally protected rights.

Some conservatives are warning that similar laws could be crafted by liberals targeting issues important to the right.

A law written like the one in Texas to impede bluetooth headphones courts from ruling on constitutionality before it takes effect could be used, for example, to take aim at constitutionally protected activities including gun rights, religious practice or free speech. Abortion is protected under the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which recognized a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, and subsequent decisions.

“You can’t short-circuit the ordinary steps of judicial review for serious constitutional questions,” said Erik Jaffe, the attorney who filed the Firearms Policy Coalition’s brief.

When laws are enacted that restrict constitutional rights, courts have a vital role to play before they take effect, Jaffe added.

“This circumvents that debate. This says, ‘Too bad you don’t get to have that debate except … with my foot on your neck,'” Jaffe said.

The Supreme Court will consider whether the Texas law’s structure prevents federal courts from intervening to block it and whether the U.S. government is even allowed to sue the state to try to block it.

The measure, one of numerous restrictive Republican-backed state abortion laws passed in recent years, bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy, a point when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant. There is an exception for a documented medical emergency but not for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

MISSISSIPPI CASE

The case reaches the nine justices as the future of abortion rights hangs in the balance. On Dec. 1, the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, is due to hear another major abortion case in which Mississippi is seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/mississippi-asks-us-supreme-court-overturn-abortion-rights-landmark-2021-07-22. The Texas attorney general has signaled he also wants Roe v. Wade https://www.reuters.com/world/us/texas-urges-us-supreme-court-maintain-states-abortion-ban-2021-10-21 overturned.

What is unique about the Texas law is that the state plays no enforcement role. Instead, anyone can sue abortion providers – regardless of whether that person has a personal stake – and potentially win at least $10,000 in damages, a process critics have compared to placing a bounty on abortion providers.

At least three states already are considering legislation mirroring the Texas law’s language including one in Illinois targeting gun dealers, said David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School in New Jersey who filed a brief opposing Texas.

The Texas citizen-enforcement provision does not mean such laws can always evade judicial review. But to challenge them someone would have to be sued under the law first and then take aim at the enforcement mechanism in the defense. In the meantime, the fact that the law is on the books may chill the conduct at issue. That is the skechers outlet case in Texas, with abortion clinics complying with the ban since the Supreme Court let it go into effect https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/texas-six-week-abortion-ban-takes-effect-2021-09-01 on Sept. 1.

Lawyers opposing the law have found potential analogies on other issues involving Supreme Court precedents. Laws that would enable people to sue gun owners and seek to prohibit unlimited independent spending in political campaigns are examples cited by Biden’s administration in its challenge to the abortion law.

In both instances, “those statutes, too, would violate the Constitution as interpreted by this court. But under Texas’s theory, they could be enforced without prior judicial review, chilling the protected activity – and the effect of any successful constitutional defense in an enforcement proceeding could be limited to that proceeding alone,” the administration wrote in court papers.

Legislators have enacted other laws that let people bring individual claims on contentious issues including transgender rights. But those are more like earlier statutes that empowered people to sue over matters such as environmental or civil rights violations.

In Tennessee, a law barring transgender students from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity includes a provision that lets individuals sue local school districts if they “encounter a member of the opposite sex” in a bathroom.

Some conservative and religious groups that nike outlet oppose abortion have signaled little concern about the Texas law’s structure, feeling that critics have exaggerated potential consequences.

Walter Weber, a lawyer with the American Center for Law and Justice religious rights legal group that filed a brief backing Texas, said there is nothing to stop abortion providers from challenging the law after they are sued.

“Abortion advocates crying wolf can raise a lot of money and give cover to legislative and executive measures to push further support for abortion,” Weber said.

If the Texas law is so clearly unconstitutional, Weber asked, “Why are abortionists so terrified?”

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.

Here’s What’s In And Out Of Biden’s Build Back Better Compromise Deal

President Joe Biden says he has struck a deal with the most conservative members of the Senate to move forward with a $1.75 trillion spending and tax bill — a legislative package meant to reflect the biggest pillars of his agenda.

When Biden says he wants to Build Back Better, this is the bill he’s talking about.

But what the White House is now proposing isn’t what Biden wanted. Over the course of the last month, the White House whittled down its dreams of a $3.5 trillion spending bill over 10 years to appease two key Democratic votes: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).

What they’ve come up with is about half the size of what the majority of congressional Democratic lawmakers had hoped for. That meant leaving out a lot of key ― and extremely popular — proposals, like instituting the nation’s first paid family and medical leave program, or lowering pharmaceutical drug prices.

That said, there’s still a lot of policy packed into this proposal. The proposal’s biggest investments are in climate policies ($555 billion), child care and universal pre-kindergarten ($400 billion) and a temporary extension of the expanded child tax credit ($200 billion), which has already hey dude shoes gone a long way toward cutting down child poverty in the United States. It increases taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Biden spent Thursday morning on Capitol Hill trying to convince Democrats to support this compromise. But nothing is for certain; a lot of lawmakers saw their policy priorities cut down, or even cut out all together, because of Manchin and Sinema.

“I need you to help me,” Biden told House Democrats Thursday. “I need your votes.”

Here’s what the White House negotiated.

Democrats appear to be following through on their pledge to make pre-kindergarten universally available across the country. The policy is proposed to remain in place for six years, which is a long time compared to some other stuff in the bill.

It’s set up as a federal-state partnership; states submit plans to set up free pre-K systems and, for the first three years, the federal government foots the bill. After three years, the states have to cover 40% of the costs.

The White House summary of the Build Back Better framework says it would expand access to “free high-quality preschool for more than 6 million children.”

Child Care Assistance

The deal includes the largest-ever investment in child care, through a program that would limit expenses for most families to 7% of household income and offer free access to many lower-income Americans.

In some ways, this plan is set up similarly to the pre-K proposal, but it is financed differently and has more restrictions. Most parents would have to prove eligibility through either employment, education status or health, among other categories, in order to get these child care subsidies. How much parents pay into child care is also on a sliding scale depending on income, and capped to those that make up to 250% of their state’s median income.

For a family of four in Alabama, that hoka shoes works out to about $210,000 a year. For a family of four in Massachusetts, it would be about $340,000. In other words, it would cover the vast majority of families, leaving out only those in the highest income brackets.

The program also includes mechanisms to improve the quality of child care, primarily by raising the wages of care workers. The program requires states to opt in to the program, and some might not. But even with only partial participation, millions of working parents would get significant, much-needed help with child care.

President Joe Biden talks to students during a visit to a pre-K classroom at East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, New Jersey, to promote his Build Back Better agenda on Oct. 25, 2021. (Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden talks to students during a visit to a pre-K classroom at East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, New Jersey, to promote his Build Back Better agenda on Oct. 25, 2021. 

Extension Of The Child Tax Credit

Democrats would continue the monthly child allowance payments of up to $300 per child for one year, with no new restrictions on access for people with low incomes.

But it’s not clear if the new proposal would exclude households with higher incomes. Democrats had originally wanted to extend the benefits through 2025, but recent opposition to the program from Manchin forced Biden to agree to just a one-year extension.

Clean Energy And Climate Investments

Biden initially proposed $500 billion in climate spending in March. But the White House’s deal has actually proposed $555 billion for clean energy and climate investments.

That includes about $320 billion for tax credits for companies that hey dude buy and build solar, wind and nuclear power, and for drivers who purchase electric vehicles. The program would last 10 years ― twice as long as previous clean energy tax credits. Another $105 billion would go to investments to fortify the country against extreme weather, clean up disease-causing chemicals in historically polluted communities, and set up a Civilian Climate Corps modeled on the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted billions of trees and provided jobs during the Great Depression.

The administration said it won $110 billion in targeted incentives to boost domestic manufacturing of clean energy products and baseline industrial goods such as cement and steel, which have struggled to compete with cheaper and often more polluting rivals overseas. The budget includes $20 billion for the government itself to buy more green technologies, including small-modular nuclear reactors, which could have a knock-on effect of spurring on technologies that have had trouble finding private buyers.

The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)
The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida.

Taxes On The Wealthy

Democrats are still raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for the legislation ― just not in the ways they originally anticipated, and not as much as they originally anticipated. A planned hike in the corporate tax rate, which Republicans slashed from 35% to just 21% during the administration of Donald Trump, isn’t happening because of opposition from Sinema. Instead, Democrats are backing a corporate minimum tax, designed to limit the use of tax deductions and credits by large corporations.

The outline also omits a new proposal to tax the unrealized capital gains on stocks and other assets owned by billionaires, after many Democrats complained about a tricky implementation.

Instead, Democrats would go for a “surcharge” on the richest 0.02% of households, plus a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks, which surged as a result of the 2017 Republican tax cut and often do little but enrich executives.

A huge chunk of tax revenue would come not from new taxes, but instead from giving the IRS tens of billions in new funding to enforce existing law and close the “tax gap,” the difference between what people owe and what they voluntarily pay. Most of the gap results from business income earned by wealthy households.

The White House says this collection of tax hikes means the bill would be fully paid for and won’t add to the deficit, but the Congressional Budget Office may disagree.

Affordable Housing

At one point, Democrats feared housing provisions could get cut from the legislation entirely. And while funding for housing did decline from the $327 billion Biden originally requested, more than $150 billion would still go to helping the poorest families afford homes and rent.

The White House says this would pay for the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1 million homes, expand the Section 8 voucher program and would provide financial incentives for state and local governments to change zoning laws to encourage new housing construction.

Care Services For The Elderly And People With Disabilities

The bill would include an unprecedented investment in what’s known as home- and community-based services, or HCBS. These are programs for elderly and disabled Americans that allow them to live outside of large institutions, frequently in their own homes, by offering them help with some of the functions of everyday life.

The services can include everything from home care aides to help with cooking and hygiene, to employment programs that help people with disabilities find and keep jobs. Advocates for the initiative had initially proposed an investment of $400 billion over 10 years. The provision in the bill is just $150 billion. That would still represent the single-biggest increase in these sorts of programs, according to experts.

As with the child care proposal, a major goal of the initiative is to raise the wages of caregivers, whose notoriously low pay leaves many in poverty ― and, especially following the pandemic, has created shortages. And as with the child care proposal, a major caveat is that it requires states to participate. Some may not.

An activist is seen during the Care Cant Wait rally with the Service Employees International Union at the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Tom Williams via Getty Images)
An activist is seen during the Care Cant Wait rally with the Service Employees International Union at the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

Health Care Coverage Expansions

The bill takes two significant, if time-limited, steps toward universal coverage ― in both cases by building on the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

First, it takes some temporary increases in private insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act and extends them through 2025. This increases, in place because of the pandemic relief act in the spring, reduce premiums (and allow access to more generous coverage) for millions, including some who were not eligible for assistance before.

Second, the bill offers an insurance option to low-income people in states dr martens boots where Republican officials have declined to expand Medicaid eligibility, as the Affordable Care Act originally envisioned. It would do so by allowing these people to get effectively free coverage through HealthCare.gov.

If these steps take effect, nearly all American citizens would have access to insurance, experts have said.

The bill also adds a hearing benefit to Medicare, but not vision and dental. The latter, in particular, had been a major goal for progressives, citing the large number of seniors who can’t afford and don’t get dental care now.

Prescription Drug Pricing Reform

The most conspicuously missing piece on the White House framework is a proposal to make prescription drugs more affordable. There’s no proposal at all, despite months of trying to reach an agreement on a plan that would give the federal government some regulatory power over drug prices, just like the governments of other economically advanced countries have.

The hope was to reduce drug prices mainly in two ways: by giving the government power to negotiate prices directly with manufacturers, and by limiting how much the companies could raise prices every year. The proposal also envisioned new investments in basic scientific research, to promote the development of breakthrough cures, and to redesign the drug benefit in Medicare so that it offered seniors more coverage.

It would be a big deal as politics. Democrats have been promising action on drugs since the early 2000s. And it would be a big deal as policy. Because of America’s high drug prices, drug costs are an extra burden for employers and taxpayers, as well as a real hardship for millions, especially elderly Americans whose health problems require multiple medications.

The idea of regulating drug prices is extremely popular, even among conservative voters. And it has support of nearly the entire Democratic caucus, including relatively conservative members in swing districts. But a small handful of Democrats with ties to ― and campaign support from ― the drug industry have objected to more aggressive schemes, citing concerns that limiting drug company revenue would hurt innovation.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was a major opponent of Democrats&#39; proposed prescription drug price reforms. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was a major opponent of Democrats’ proposed prescription drug price reforms.

Biden and Democratic leaders hoped to broker some kind of compromise, by, for example, limiting the number of drugs subject to negotiation. The Democratic holdouts, including Rep. Scott Peters of California and Sinema of Arizona, wanted a version so limited that supporters felt it would do little good.

Champions of aggressive regulation, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), on Thursday vowed to keep fighting to get a drug package into the final legislation.

So there’s still a chance this could come back in some form. Maybe.

Paid Leave

Biden originally proposed giving workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The mandate would ensure that people could take time off for a new child, recovery from an illness, caring for a seriously ill family member or issues arising from a loved one’s military deployment.

But thanks to Manchin, the United States will continue to be the only industrialized nation with no universal paid leave mandate. Manchin was concerned about the cost, as well as the potential for fraud. Democrats tried to come up with a compromise ― shortening the length to four weeks, and eliminating sick leave, but they failed to convince the senator.

Just 23% of private sector workers currently have access to paid family leave provided by their employer and 42% have access to medical leave.

Big Action On Climate Change

The regulatory program meant to serve as the centerpiece of Biden’s climate strategy was eliminated. The proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program would have given the Department of Energy $150 billion to pay utilities who increase their output of zero-carbon power by 4% each year ― and fine those that failed to hit that target. It was projected by independent modelers to get the U.S. one-third of the way to its goal of cutting emissions in half by the end of this decade.

Democrats managed to redistribute that funding to other programs, delivering a much bigger tax credit suite than previously planned. And the administration has vowed to compensate for the loss of the program by enacting new regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency, restoring the federal government’s stick.

A new analysis by the Rhodium Group, a consultancy, found that the mix of funding and executive branch actions could, technically, deliver the 50% emissions cuts Biden promised.

But the implementation of the climate plan comes with big ifs. Regulations will take years to come into force, and will likely face hefty legal challenges. And if Biden, already the oldest person to assume the presidency, is defeated in 2024, the next administration could reverse the regulatory and executive actions almost as easily as the current White House enacted them.

GOP Corporate Tax Cuts Stay Put

Democrats have campaigned since 2018 on reversing Republican tax cuts, especially their reductions to the corporate and top individual rates. But Democrats are offsetting their spending with revenue from novel tax policies while they leave the Republican tax cuts untouched.

The framework is also silent on whether Democrats will restore a property tax deduction used mostly by high income households in populous blue states, though lawmakers said Thursday morning it would be included in the end.

Free Community College

Offering free community college was an issue close to the White House, since First Lady Jill Biden has taught at community colleges for the past 30 years. It would give everyone access to higher education, regardless of ability to pay.

But this proposal was quickly cut as it became clear that the overall price tag would have to shrink. Lobbyists for four-year colleges also opposed the proposal because they were worried it would hurt their bottom line. They argued that states would redirect money away from them, or students would opt to attend community college instead of a four-year institution.

Rising Prices, Once Seen as Temporary, Threaten Biden’s Agenda

Container ships wait to enter the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Container ships wait to enter the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2021.

WASHINGTON — At least once a week, a team of President Joe Biden’s top advisers meet on Zoom to address the nation’s supply chain crisis. They discuss ways to relieve backlogs at U.S. ports, ramp up semiconductor production for struggling automakers and swell the ranks of truck drivers.

The conversations are aimed at one goal: taming accelerating price increases that are hurting the economic recovery, unsettling American consumers and denting Biden’s popularity.

An inflation surge is presenting a fresh challenge for Biden, who for months insisted that rising prices were a temporary hangover from the pandemic recession and would quickly recede. Instead, the president and his aides are now bracing hoka shoes for high inflation to persist into next year, with Americans continuing to see faster — and sustained — increases in prices for food, gasoline and other consumer goods than at any point this century.

That reality has complicated Biden’s push for sweeping legislation to boost workers, expand access to education and fight poverty and climate change. And it is dragging on the president’s approval ratings, which could threaten Democrats’ already tenuous hold on Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.

Recent polls shows Americans’ concerns over inflation are eroding their economic confidence and dimming their view of Biden’s performance. National surveys by CNBC and Fox News show a sharp decline in voter ratings of Biden’s overall performance and his handling of the economy, even though unemployment has fallen quickly on his watch and economic output has strengthened to its fastest rate since Ronald Reagan was president. Voter worry over price increases has jumped in the last month.

Administration officials have responded by framing Biden’s push for what would be his signature spending bill as an effort to reduce costs that American families face, citing provisions to cap child care costs and expand subsidies for higher education, among other plans. And they have mobilized staff to scour options for unclogging supply chains, bringing more people back into the workforce, and reducing food and gasoline costs by promoting more competition in the economy via executive actions.

“There are distinct challenges from turning the economy back on after the pandemic that we are bringing together state and local officials, the private sector and labor to address — so that prices decrease,” Kate Berner, the White House deputy communications director, said in an interview.

Biden’s top officials stress that the administration’s policies have helped accelerate the U.S. economic rebound. Workers are commanding their largest wage gains in two decades. Growth roared back in the first half of the year, fueled by the $1.9 trillion economic aid bill the president signed in March. The country’s expansion continues to outpace other wealthy nations around the world.

Inflation and shortages are the downside of that equation. Car prices are elevated as a result of strong demand and a lack of semiconductors. Gasoline has hit its hey dude highest cost per gallon in seven years. A shift in consumer preferences and a pandemic crimp in supply chains have delayed shipments of furniture, household appliances and other consumer goods. Millions of Americans, having saved up money from government support through the pandemic, are waiting to return to jobs, driving up labor costs for companies and food prices in many restaurants.

Much of that is beyond Biden’s control. Inflation has risen in wealthy nations across the globe, as the pandemic has hobbled the movement of goods and component parts between countries. Virus-wary consumers have shifted their spending toward goods rather than services, travel and tourism remain depressed, and energy prices have risen as demand for fuel and electricity has surged amid the resumption of business activity and some weather shocks linked to climate change.

But some economists, including veterans of previous Democratic administrations, say much of Biden’s inflation struggle is self-inflicted. Lawrence H. Summers is one of those who say the stimulus bill the president signed in March gave too much of a boost to consumer spending, at a time when the supply-chain disruptions have made it hard for Americans to get their hands on the things they want to buy. Summers, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, says inflation now risks spiraling out of control; other Democratic economists agree there are risks.

“The original sin was an oversized American Rescue Plan. It contributed to both higher output but also higher prices,” said Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.

That has some important Democrats worried about price-related drawbacks from the president’s ambitious spending package, complicating Biden’s approach.

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a centrist, has repeatedly cited surging inflation in insisting that Biden scale back what had been a $3.5 trillion effort to expand the social safety net.

Biden has tried to make the case that the investments in his spending bill will moderate price increases over time. But he has struggled to identify things he can do right away to ease the pain of high-profile price spikes, like gasoline. dr martens boots Some in his administration have pushed for mobilizing the National Guard to help unclog ports that are stacked with imports waiting to be delivered to consumers around the country. Biden has raised the possibility of tapping the strategic petroleum reserve to modestly boost oil supplies, or of negotiating with oil producers in the Middle East to ramp up their output.

During a CNN town hall last week, Biden conceded the limits of his power, saying, “I don’t have a near-term answer” for bringing down gas prices, which he does not expect to begin dropping until next year.

“I don’t see anything that’s going to happen in the meantime that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices,” he said.

Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that she expects improvement in the overall inflation rate “by the middle to end of next year, second half of next year.”

With an American public that had gone nearly 40 years without seeing — or worrying — about inflation, the issue provides an opening for the opposition. Republicans have turned price spikes into a weapon against Biden’s economic policies, warning that more spending would exacerbate the pain for everyday Americans.

“It’s everywhere,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, in an interview. “You can’t live your life without seeing your paycheck buy less.”

White House officials have monitored inflationary pressure for months. They remain convinced, as they were in April, that price increases will not spiral out of control and force abrupt interest-rate increases from the Federal Reserve that could slam the brakes on growth.

The president and his top advisers remain confident that price growth will start to fall well before the midterms. They defend the size of the rescue plan and say Americans are focused on inflation right now because the success of the stimulus bill accelerated economic and employment growth and took a larger issue — the availability of jobs for people who want them — off the table.

“It is a highly incomplete view to try to assess the economy, and even people’s views about the economy, by looking at inflation alone,” Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. “You also have to appreciate the robustness of the expansion, and how it’s lifting job and earnings opportunities.”

Bernstein and other advisers say many of the causes of inflation are already improving. They point to calculations by Mark Zandi, a Moody’s Analytics economist, that suggest Americans who have left the labor force will begin flocking back into the job market by December or January, because they will likely have exhausted their savings by then.

The advisers are also continuing to explore more actions they could take, including efforts to increase the number of truck drivers near ports and to force lower prices and more competition in the food industry.

“We are always all in on everything,” Berner said.

To which many officials add a caveat: Almost anything the White House could do now will take time to push prices down.

OnPolitics: Democrats are getting closer to a social spending bill

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, second from left, talks with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, following a meeting with President Joe Biden. She is joined by, from left, Katherine Clark, D-Mass., Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., partially hidden,Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., right. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ORG XMIT: DCSW108
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, second from left, talks with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, following a meeting with President Joe Biden. She is joined by, from left, Katherine Clark, D-Mass., Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., partially hidden,Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., right.

Good afternoon, OnPolitics readers.

Senate Republicans blocked a vote today to advance Democrats’ latest voting rights and election reform legislation.

The bill – the Freedom to Vote Act – is more scaled back than previous pieces of voting rights legislation, like the For the People Act, but would establish some federally mandated election rules.

What is in the revised voting act? The Freedom to salomon boots Vote Act would create a federal standard for voting by mail and drop boxes – means of voting that Trump and some Republican lawmakers attacked during the 2020 election. The legislation would also expand early voting options and access to mail-in ballots, battle dark money in elections and allow for same day registration on Election Day.

The bill comes after months of Democrats haggling on the issue and as former President Donald Trump and Republican state lawmakers continue to push “the big lie,” advancing baseless conspiracy theories to falsely argue the 2020 election was stolen.

But nine months into President Joe Biden’s term, Democrats have not been able to advance any legislation due to Republican filibustering.

It’s Amy and Mabinty with today’s top stories.

Biden looks to scale back social spending bill to $2.2 trillion or less

The leader of progressive House Democrats said Tuesday her members had a “really good, productive meeting” with President Joe Biden as the president works to get separate wings of his party to agree to a legislative package between $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion for his climate and social safety-net agenda.

“We all still feel even more optimistic about getting to an agreement on a really transformational bill that will fundamentally lift people up,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus.

Jayapal said Biden is sticking to a topline number between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion, down from his original $3.5 trillion Build Back Better proposal, in a push to gain the support of moderate Democrats.

“Look, it’s not the number that we want. We have consistently sperry shoes tried to make it as high as possible,” Jayapal said, but added progressive Democrats are now focused on getting the bill’s social and climate programs jump-started.

Two out of 50: Biden needs the votes of all 50 Democratic members to pass the bill in the Senate in a procedure known as reconciliation, but Manchin and Sinema have balked at the price tag. Manchin has said his limit is $1.5 trillion.

House progressives have said they won’t take up another piece of Biden’s domestic agenda – a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate in August – unless the more expansive reconciliation package advances.

What does the package provide? Biden’s social safety-net agenda seeks to transform the economy. But many of the proposals — higher taxes on high-income earners and corporations to pay for free community college, universal prekindergarten, subsidized child care, national paid leave, Medicare expansion and other liberal priorities — are still being debated on and could get cut from the final deal.

Real quick: Stories you’ll want to read

  • Haiti’s ‘descent into hell’: The world now knows the 400 Mawozo gang, after it kidnapped a Haitian driver and one Canadian and 16 American missionaries. But at the commune of Croix-des-Bouquets bandits terrorizing the population have become part of daily life.
  • A new tactic to handle migrants: The Biden administration is stepping up drone surveillance and communications with other countries to help prepare for migrant groups that could come to the United States’ southern border.
  • The culture wars over education: Besieged by parent complaints about everything from critical race theory to questions about sexuality, boards are undoing efforts schools have made to include children of color and LGBTQ students and to teach about the full spectrum of the American experience.
  • The fight over vaccine mandates: The Supreme Court declined to hear an emergency appeal challenging a vaccine requirement imposed on Maine health care workers, the latest defeat for opponents of vaccine mandates.

The unlikely place COVID rescue funds are going: Housing

From Austin to Indianapolis, Minneapolis to Seattle and San Diego, mayors are steering substantial portions of their rescue funds to one of their most elusive challenges: housing. Plans include building affordable housing for low-income residents, bolstering housing trust funds to provide gap-financing to developers, expanding rental vouchers and – like Austin – securing housing for those who lack a permanent home.

A USA TODAY review of plans submitted by U.S. cities to the Treasury Department found replacing lost revenue to avoid budget cuts is the most common use of COVID-19 rescue funds. But when it comes to new investments, no area has seemingly gotten more attention than affordable housing and programs for the homeless.

A few examples: Seattle plans to spend $49 million in COVID-19 rescue funds on homelessness and affordable housing that includes the addition of 400 new affordably priced units. San Diego County signed off on $85 million for homeless services and $15 million more for other housing priorities. Milwaukee will spend $30 million on housing initiatives including gap-financing to support 326 mixed-income affordable housing units. Los Angeles County is devoting $400 million to house the homeless.

Miami school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days to protect others, citing discredited info

Students wearing a protective mask, queue up outside classrooms on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at St. Lawrence Catholic School in North Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 18, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In April, a Miami private school made national headlines for barring teachers who got a coronavirus vaccine from interacting with students. Last week, the school made another startling declaration, but this time to the parents: If you vaccinate your child, they’ll have to stay home for 30 days after each shot.

The email from Centner Academy hey dude leadership, first reported by WSVN, repeated misleading and false claims that vaccinated people could pass on so-called harmful effects of the shot and have a “potential impact” on unvaccinated students and staff.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has debunked claims that the coronavirus vaccine can “shed or release any of their components” through the air or skin contact. The coronavirus vaccines do not contain a live virus, so their components can’t be transmitted to others.

David Centner, one of the school’s co-founders, repeated the debunked claims in a statement to The Washington Post, saying the policy is a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”

“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” Centner said.

Despite the Food and Drug Administration’s evidence that the coronavirus vaccines are safe and highly effective, vaccine misinformation online has been a top hurdle for the White House and public health experts when persuading people to get the shots. Almost 219 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, which is about 66 percent of the eligible population, according to The Post’s vaccination tracker.

In July, President Joe Biden excoriated social media companies, accusing them of “killing people” by failing to regulate misinformation about the vaccines on their platforms. In August, Facebook released data that showed the most popular piece of content from January through March was a link to an article that cast doubt on hoka shoes the vaccine. Last Wednesday, attorneys generals from 14 states sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, inquiring if the company provided special treatment to those disseminating vaccine falsehoods on the platform.

Unfounded claims about masks and vaccines have trickled down to schools, where students under 12 years old remain at a higher risk of contracting the virus since they are ineligible for the vaccines.

Tensions between parents and school districts have also grown violent at times. In August, a parent at an Austin school ripped a mask off a teacher’s face. A week later, police said the father of a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., high-schooler assaulted another student after she confronted him about trying to bring his daughter onto campus without a mask. He was arrested and charged with child abuse without great bodily harm.

Centner Academy is in Miami’s ritzy Design District, and tuition ranges from about $15,000 to nearly $30,000 per year. The school has become a haven for anti-vaccine parents because it does not require any immunizations for enrollment, citing a parent’s “freedom of choice” and falsely claiming there are “unknown risks associated with vaccinations” that could harm children.

A similar sentiment was shared in an email to parents last week regarding the coronavirus vaccine. School leadership referred to the shots as “experimental,” WSVN reported, and encouraged parents considering getting their child vaccinated to wait several more months until the school year ends.

“We ask that you hold off until the summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” Centner Academy leaders wrote.

The school has a history of spreading inaccurate information about the vaccine and penalizing those who choose to get the shots. In April, Centner Academy employees were told they had to notify Leila and David Centner, the married co-founders of the school, if they received a vaccine. Vaccinated school employees were told they would not be allowed any contact with students “until more information is known” about the vaccines. hey dude shoes School leaders also told those wanting the vaccine to wait until the summer to get the shots.

About a week later, a math and science teacher told students they should not hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds, the New York Times reported, referencing the same falsehoods the school communicated in its email about vaccine components “shedding” onto others. Some parents threatened to pull their children out of the school over the comments.

Leila Centner has also spread anti-vaccine information during a meeting with parents and staff and in a WhatsApp group with community members, according to the Times. In late January, Leila and David Centner invited outspoken anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak at the school.

The co-founders also discouraged teachers from wearing masks, the Times reported. When state health department officials visited for routine dining inspections, teachers were allegedly told in a WhatsApp group to put on masks. The school also allegedly provided parents with mask exemption forms for their children.

In his statement to The Post, David Centner said the school’s policies are made as a “prudent precautionary measure.”

“Our top priorities have always been our students’ well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment,” he said.

Southwest says it still plans to implement its employee vaccine mandate, citing federal rules that trump the Texas governor’s blanket ban

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Carrington Tatum/Shutterstock, Stewart F. 
  • Southwest Airlines plans to keep its vaccine mandate despite the Texas governor’s executive order.
  • President Biden’s federal vaccine requirement supersedes state law, according to the carrier.
  • Southwest said that to remain a government contractor, it must comply with the president’s mandate.

Southwest Airlines said it will comply with President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issuing an executive order prohibiting it.

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an hoka shoes executive order preventing any organization, including private businesses, from forcing workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The move comes as President Joe Biden issued a federal vaccine mandate in September requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” Abbott wrote in the order.

Many Texas-based corporations have already announced they will comply with Biden’s order, including Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announcing its workers need to be fully vaccinated by November 24, except for those who have an approved medical or religious accommodation.

Despite Abbott’s order, Southwest said it would continue to comply with the federal mandate, challenging the Republican governor’s decree and creating tension between the company and lawmakers.

“According to the president’s executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor,” a Southwest spokesperson told Insider on Tuesday.

Many major carriers, including Southwest, United, American, and Delta, have government contracts that transport goods and employees, hey dude and therefore have to comply with Biden’s vaccine mandate. In early October, American Airlines mandated its employees be inoculated or face termination, while Delta has yet to implement the requirement.

Southwest’s rebuttal comes after a four-day meltdown that canceled over 3,000 flights and left passengers stranded in airports across the country. While the carrier blamed air traffic control issues and weather for the disruptions, some high-profile public figures said the mass cancellations were due to a pilot anti-mandate protest. However, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Casey Murray denied the rumors.

“I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise,” Murray said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kelly told CNBC on Tuesday that a walkout did not occur.

“We have some very strong views on that topic, but that’s not what was at issue with Southwest over the weekend,” he said.

Sinema’s Income Tax Stance Has Democrats Looking Anew at a Carbon Tax

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) speaks to reporters while departing the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) speaks to reporters while departing the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

WASHINGTON — Opposition from a single moderate Democrat to corporate and income tax rate increases has revived efforts in the Senate to draft a tax on carbon dioxide pollution as a way to pay for the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion budget bill.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has not advocated a carbon tax, which President Joe Biden and other key Democrats have shied away from as a huge political risk. But her resistance to tax rate increases to pay for the Democrats’ ambitious social policy and climate legislation steve madden shoes has set off a scramble for alternatives — at the very least to show her how difficult it would be assemble a package without those rate hikes.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, confirmed that the Senate majority leader had asked him to craft legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions but to ensure that the policy would respect Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on families earning less than $400,000.

That could be done with some kind of rebate or “carbon dividend” during what Wyden called a “transition” from fossil fuel-powered cars and trucks to zero emission electric vehicles, and from coal- and natural gas-fired electric power plants to renewable energy. Also under consideration: Exempting gasoline from the levy.

But there is tension in the design because the rebates could ensure the carbon tax raises little revenue for the package.

“We’ve got a lot of members who care very deeply about this,” Wyden said, citing Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

But other senators and Senate aides have confirmed the driver at the moment is Sinema, the iconoclastic Arizonan whose inscrutable policy positions in an evenly divided Senate can wreak havoc on Democratic plans. She has already said she cannot back a budget plan that spends $3.5 trillion, though she has not said what price tag she can support. Now her position on taxation has Democrats scrambling.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic published Thursday evening, Sinema said that climate change was a major concern that drives her approach to the spending bill.

“In Arizona, we’re all too familiar with the impacts of a changing climate … from increasing wildfires to the severe droughts, to shrinking water levels at Lake Mead, damage to critical infrastructure — these are all the things that we’re dealing with in Arizona every day,” she said. “We know that a changing climate costs Arizonans. And right now, we have the opportunity to pass smart policies to address it — looking forward to that.”

Economists have said for decades that a carbon tax, which would make the use of heavily polluting fuels more expensive, is the most effective way to shift the economy away from fossil fuels toward wind,  ecco shoes solar and nuclear power, which do not produce the emissions that are heating the planet.

“A price on carbon, such as a carbon tax, provides the economic incentive for the quickest, cheapest and most comprehensive emission reductions across the entire economy,” said Richard Newell, president of Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan energy and environment research organization.

House and Senate leaders and tax-writing chairs agreed that the budget legislation would largely be funded by returning the top income tax rate to 39.6%, from the 37% level to which former President Donald Trump lowered it in 2017. They also agree that the corporate income tax rate should rise from 21%, also set in 2017.

But, Democrats confirm, at least for the moment, Sinema is opposing both moves, potentially blowing a significant hole in the finances of a bill to combat climate change, make permanent a generous per-child tax credit, extend prekindergarten and community college to almost all Americans and subsidize child care, among hundreds of other matters.

“Nearly every day for weeks, Kyrsten has been engaged in direct, good-faith discussions with her Senate colleagues and President Biden and his team,” John LaBombard, her spokesperson, said. “Given the size and scope of the proposal — and the lack of detailed legislative language or even consensus between the Senate and House around several provisions — we are not offering detailed comments on any one proposed piece of the package while those discussions are ongoing.”

Democrats such as Schatz and Whitehouse have long promoted a carbon tax, and it has some Republican support. But when a bipartisan group of senators tried to suggest it could pay for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the White House balked, fearing that it would harm the middle class.

Politically, the prospect of enacting a carbon tax remains dicey, Wyden said. Even if middle-class and low-income families are held harmless with rebates, the fear of higher prices for electricity and some goods has sunk other efforts — notably, those pushed by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, a Democrat.

“We feel very strongly about honoring the president’s pledge to not take steps in excess of $400,000, and I personally have studied what happened in Washington state, one of the bluest states in the country, where Jay Inslee tried repeatedly to get a carbon fee or price, and it went down, largely because voters, dealing with transition in the economy, didn’t feel it would make them whole,” Wyden said. “In other words, they thought that they would be facing costs that were impossible for their family to handle.”

Depending on how it is structured, a tax on carbon pollution could be the single most powerful policy enacted by the United States to tackle climate change.

A recent analysis by Newell’s staff found that a tax on U.S. carbon dioxide pollution that started at $15 per ton and escalated to $50 per ton by 2030 would cut nike sneakers domestic carbon emissions by about 44% from 2005 levels — getting the Biden administration most of the way to its ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. It also found that such a program could actually lead to lower, not higher, electricity bills.

A carbon tax could also solve another worrisome problem for Democrats: Under the rules of the Senate, only legislation that strictly qualifies as budget policy may be included in the bill, which is being moved through Congress under a fast-track process known as reconciliation.

A pollution tax would easily pass that test. An analysis by the Senate Finance Committee found that a carbon tax could raise $500 billion, although under the program envisioned by Democratic leaders, a chunk of that money would be returned to individuals in the form of rebates.

As she has done for weeks, Sinema refused to comment on continuing negotiations. When one senator asked what revenue measures she would accept, he said he came away believing she could go along with a tax on carbon emissions and a tax on goods from countries that were not clamping down on climate change.

The latter tax, which is backed by Wyden, would be designed to ensure that other countries with lax environmental rules would not be able to sell their goods at a lower price to American consumers and reap a competitive advantage. Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, it could be difficult for the United States to impose such an import tax — essentially, a tariff on goods from heavily polluting countries — unless its own industries are also subject to one.

Wyden’s staff members, who are now writing that language, are considering a domestic carbon tax that could start at $15-$18 per ton and would increase over time, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak on the record. The tax would be applied directly to coal mining companies, large natural gas processing plants and oil refiners, based on the emissions associated with asics shoes their products, with one exception: Oil refiners would very likely be charged for producing diesel fuel and petrochemicals but not gasoline — a way to try to prevent cost increases from hitting most American drivers at the pump.

But even if they can win Sinema over to the plan, others may not agree. Democrats still feel the sting of former President Barack Obama’s failed effort to pass a climate change bill that would have forced polluters to pay a fee for their fossil fuel emissions. After the House passed it in 2009, Republicans campaigned against it as an “energy tax.” The bill failed in the Senate and contributed to Democrats’ loss of the House in 2010.

Climate activists are trying to make the case to Sinema that times, and climate politics, have changed.

“I can tell you that our volunteers have placed 1,444 calls and emails to Arizona Senate and House offices in the last few months,” wrote Steve Valk, a spokesperson for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which wants a price placed on carbon pollution.

A crucial test of whether Sinema would support a carbon tax would be its effects on Arizona’s economy. Her state has suffered record droughts, which scientists say have been worsened by climate change — and is home to a growing solar power industry.

Robert Aiken, vice president of federal affairs at Pinnacle West Capital, a Phoenix-based company that owns the largest electric utility in Arizona, said that he spoke Thursday with a staff member from an Arizona congressional office about a possible carbon tax provision in the budget bill.

“We were just asked about it from Capitol Hill an hour ago, for the first time,” he said Thursday afternoon. He said that the company could not yet say whether it would support the legislation until it had closely analyzed the details.

“But there’s no question we are decarbonizing in Arizona,” he said. “We’re headed in that direction. We are at the forefront of decarbonization.”

Biden’s child tax credit pays big in Republican states, popular with voters

By Jason Lange and Chris Kahn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A one-year expansion of the U.S. child tax credit, a policy championed by President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats over Republican opposition, has disproportionately benefited states that voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020, a Reuters review of Treasury Department data has found.

Congressional Democrats are now seeking to extend the expansion for four additional years as part of $3.5 trillion hoka shoes social spending legislation opposed by Trump’s fellow Republicans. The one-year expansion – part of COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-congress/bidens-1-9-trillion-covid-19-bill-wins-final-approval-in-house-idUSKBN2B215E signed by Biden in March, is expected to funnel $105 billion to American families, many still hurting from the economic effects of the public health crisis.

The current expanded tax credit has proven popular, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found, supported by 59% of U.S. adults including 75% of people who identified themselves as Democrats and 41% of people who identified as Republicans. The poll was conducted online Sept. 9-10, based on responses from 1,003 adults and with a credibility interval of 4 percentage points.

The policy’s support among Republicans far outstripped their 11% backing for Biden’s overall job performance in a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The policy’s popularity, experts said, might benefit Democrats in elections next year that will determine whether they retain control of Congress for the second half of Biden’s term. Democrats are defending razor-thin majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“That could make a difference in a whole lot of places where we have close Senate and House races,” said Norman Ornstein, an expert on elections at the American Enterprise Institute.

The top 10 states by average monthly child tax credit payments in August – all from the West and Midwest – were: Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Montana, with monthly payments ranging from $515 to $456 in August. All voted last year for Trump over Biden and all but Kansas have Republican governors.

Of the 10 states with the lowest average payments, only one – Florida – backed Trump, also having a Republican governor. Massachusetts residents received the smallest average household payment in August: $387. (For a state-by-state graphic on the tax credit, see https://tmsnrt.rs/397E5B2)

In Wisconsin and Arizona – states that Biden narrowly won last year and are shaping up to have competitive Senate races next year – average payments in August were just under $450.

The policy gets cash to families even before they square annual tax bills. Republican-led states tend to have lower household incomes than states with Democratic leadership such as California and New York, thus benefiting more from the policy, which reduces tax credits to upper-income households.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

The economic stimulus law, called the American hey dude Rescue Plan, raised the existing child tax credit https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over age 6 and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, while upping the age limit from 16 to 17. Families benefit from the full credit if they earn up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent.

Since July, the U.S. Treasury has given more than 35 million households about $250 to $300 a month for each child under age 18, a policy some analysts say is already significantly reducing childhood poverty.

A four-year extension would make it a significant slice of the proposed $3.5 trillion spending package being pursued by Democratic congressional leaders. That legislation is opposed by congressional Republicans as too expensive. Even some Democrats including pivotal Senator Joe Manchin have questioned its price tag. The Treasury Department on Wednesday released a report on the shortfalls of the U.S. childcare system and said expanded child tax credits would help parents pay for childcare.

The tax credit already is being felt by Americans benefiting from it.

Lolitha Maria Scott, a 41-year old call center worker in Phoenix with five children, described the tax credit as a lifeline that she thinks should continue dr martens boots beyond this year because many working parents like her struggle to keep up with rising rent bills.

“I understand people say it’s costly for the budget but it also helps the American people,” Scott said in an interview.

Scott said the policy helped cement her plan to vote for Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, who is seeking re-election next year in Arizona.

Jeremy Monk, 43, an occupational therapist in Palm Bay, Florida, voiced concern that paying for such policies could lead to higher taxes in the future. Monk, a Republican, said in an interview that taking the payments made him feel like he is robbing from his children’s future.

“It puts a little bit of a shiver up my spine,” said Monk, who added that he put his tax credit payment in college savings funds for his son and daughter.