Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-Courtesy of Getty images
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have proposed legislation reform of the nation’s public housing industry that would cost up to $172 billion. Under the legislation called the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act which was unveiled on Monday. The two progressives seeks to transition the public housing system “as swiftly and seamlessly as possible” to zero-carbon communities that produce on-site renewable energy according to news report about the proposal.
The $172,000 investment in public system would be invested over a period of 10 years The overhaul of the public housing system and would affect nearly 2 million people living in some 950,000 public housing homes. The sponsors claim that the legislation would reduce the cost of water bills among public housing residents by 30% and is predicted to cut energy-utility bills by up to 70% per year. And it would create about 240,000 union jobs, according to Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.
The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, goes far further than President Joe Biden’s planned $2.3 trillion spending package, which includes about $40 billion to improve public housing infrastructure.
Ocasio-Cortez spoke about the rental housing conditions in New York city, saying that Housing Authority needs to address the huge backlog of maintenance repairs, chipping lead paint broken heating systems and gas utilizes included in President’s Biden’s proposal a $40 billion investment which is currently in the American Job Plan.
The legislation comes as Democratic lawmakers have expressed a willingness to negotiate with Republican about the scope of Biden’s infrastructure spending package. At this stage, Republicans want to avoid a Democratic override of the filibuster, but are also firm in the stance that they don’t want the package to be paid for with a 7-point hike in the corporate tax rate as is proposed.
The legislation also seeks to repeal the Faircloth Amendment, which prevents any net increase in new public housing developments. It would additionally mandate those given funds to guarantee collective bargaining for workers and use material in construction that are substantially manufactured mined, and produced in the United States.
Given how much further the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act goes as compared to Biden’s proposed amount of spending on public housing and centrist Democrats’ desire to gain Republican support, the proposed $172 billion public housing plan most likely be a tough act to sell.
White House announced on Friday that President Biden would limit the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year to pre-agreement by the Trump administration set at low level of 15,000, reversing an earlier promise he made of 60,000 people fleeing from war and persecution.
But this move to cap the number at 15,000 prompted such an immediate backlash from Democrats and human rights activists that the White House later retreated and promise to announce a final increased number by May 15.
White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, did not specify how many refuges would be allowed into the country, but she did say that Mr. Biden’s initial goal of welcoming 62,000 seemed unlikely.
The expected number of 62,000 signaled the struggle with the Biden administration to try to reverse the Trump’s harsh immigration policies amid a record surge at the of children and teenagers at the southwest border.
“This Biden administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time, there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000. Say it ain’t so, President Joe.”
Unauthorized migrants crossing the border are processed differently from refugees, who are fully vetted and approved for resettlement before arriving. But Mr. Biden was concerned that lifting the Trump-era cap on refugees would overwhelm already a strapped system according to two senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss decision making.
Yet, the Biden administration had been promising for months to raise the cap. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken notified Congress on Feb. 12 that the administration planned to allow up to 62,000 refugees to enter the United States in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 citing it is of “grave humanitarian concerns” around the world. For months, however, Biden did not sign a presidential determination that would have allowed refuges to board flights to America.
Maintaining the Trump-era admissions level of 15,000 leaves thousands of refugees stranded in camps in places like Kenya, Tanzania and Jordan. Roughly 33,000 refugees have already been vetted and are prepared to travel to the U.S.
Vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief— a settlement agency affiliated with evangelical Christian said, “the walk back from Mr. Biden to raise the cap “doesn’t change the reality” that , for now, the historically low cap remains.
Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman move into Official Vice-Presidential Residence
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will finally return home–not in the Blair House, but in her 33-room official residence. She will take Marine Two to the Victorian home which has housed vice presidents and their families since the Mondales in the 1970s.
Vice president Harris stopped in Chicago to tour a coronavirus vaccination site before flying on to Washington while Mr. Emhoff visited Washington State. Scheduled improvement delayed the vice president’s move into the Victorian home which involved two months of innovations, including the installation of a new heating and air system, refurbished wooden floors and updated chimney liners, reports from an official of the vice president. The home features a large veranda, a pool and sunroom that sits on the ground of the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington. The Navy provides funding for most of the structural renovation such as the heating and air conditioning and or refurbishing of floors according to Philip Dufour who served as the home’s manager and social secretary to Vice President Al Gore. It is reported the Navy has awarded contracts worth at least $4.2 million in air conditioning and heating upgrades since 2018.
Payment for preservation of home improvements was funded by the coffers of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation in 1991 after Vice President Dan Quayle initially solicit donations for various home improvements including $130,000 pool, a .gym and a putting green which [then] vice president Biden, former resident said about Mr. Quayle, “He’s my favorite vice president. While Biden acknowledged that he is a fan of the pool, he also said that his granddaughters love it.
The Victorian home has unique foundation and with pieces of artwork, and new drapes [a complimentary portrait of the Vice President] would be an added attraction. It is was reported, the Bidens painted the dining room the name shade of blue as their home in Delaware, and hung pieces on loan from the National Gallery of Art.
Vice President Kamala D. Harris— Tyler Gordon/ Artist
The spread of the coronavirus has made an impact on everyone and every aspect. In 2020, lockdowns became reality for all people around the world.
Now, US. Travelers escaping the city this summer will need to pay significantly more for accommodation than before the pandemic as the price of short-term rentals jumps in line with the rising vaccination rates and loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.
For nationwide restaurant chains and independent eateries are saying that there is a growing demand for workers; and frankly aren’t enough workers to staff kitchens and dining rooms just as Covid-19 restrictions relax and more consumers want to eat out again.
For example, fast food operators like owners of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and restaurants are offering signing bonuses for recruits. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is offering perks such as free college tuition to employees who work at least 15 hours a week after four months on the job. Other fast-food chains like Taco Bell is offering paid family leave to company store managers while MacDonald’s Corp owners are assessing what pay and benefits its U.S. employers would like as a best place to work.
Atlanta-based restaurant operator Daniel Halpern, who runs fifty TGI Fridays and other restaurants recently increased hourly wages and is offering employees immediate pay.
During the pandemic, U.S. restaurants shifted their store operations to online launching online food brands or rely on takeout services. Sales at bars and restaurants increased up to 13.4% in March compared with the month of February, according to U.S. Labor Department.
Despite of Chipotle fast-food chain offering its college tuition initiative, servers, hosts and line cooks are reluctant to come back because they are fearful to contract Covid-19; have moved on to other industries or remain on unemployment benefits.
Other sectors of the U.S. economy also are struggling to add staff especially with manufacturers, live-event coordinators [in entertainment] and other companies wresting with labor shortages. Some restaurant owners have had to pass on some of the increases to customers in the form of higher prices as other prices rises at the same time— operation and overhead, for example. Consequently, consumer fast-food prices in March grew to 6.5% compared to last year, biggest year-on- year since 1998, the Labor Department data show. It was also reported McDonalds and Pizza Hut owners are closing earlier in the evening than if they were fully staffed, cutting off potential sales.
Food-service jobs on Indeed.com cited mid-April jobs stood at 16.2% higher than February fiscal year 2020 reflecting the highest number for severs, cooks, hosts and managers and other restaurant jobs posting since the pandemic began spreading in the U.S.
However, restaurants were struggling with employment before the pandemic when unemployment stood at 3. 5%; Covid-19 created new problems restaurateurs said. Many restaurant and bar workers were laid off when the pandemic hit last year. Economists expect it would take time for workers who dropped out of the market to return.
New York City, some restaurants are closing earlier due to labor shortage according to report on April 11 by McDonald’s. It is reported supplemental unemployment benefit of $300 a week could be reason for workers to return to work according to economists and restaurant owners as federal and average state unemployment payments can surpass thew weekly pay of an employee working 40 hours at $15 an hour. The median hourly wage for a fast-food worker in 2020 stood at $11.47, Law Department data show. However, restaurants like full service and high-end restaurant Wolfgang Puck’s Spago-Beverly Hills, servers earns as much as $100,000 a year plus tips are also struggling to recruit workers. Mr. Puck said in an interview that expended unemployment benefits and new options like personal chef gigs are contributing to staffing shortages at Spago and other restaurants .
In 2020, million of Americans believed that aiming toward making America great would become a reality. But, unfortunately, 2020 became the most challenging; facing two presidential impeachments, the spread of the deadliest virus Covid-19 and a divided nation.
On Jan 20, America watched as President Joseph R. Biden took the oath of office. With his message of “Healing the Soul of America,” once again, America’s hope was lifted as Biden promised 100 million coronavirus vaccines will be administered into the arms of the people in his first 100 days in office which went beyond the expected numbers. So far, President Biden is still fighting to keep his promise as Congress passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan under the American Recovery Act which also includes a proposal of $2.1 trillion infrastructure plan to build bridges, roads, airports and issues concerning schools, broadband, health and childcare.
But within his 100 days, Biden has been forced to make unpopular decisions maintaining President Donald Trump’s low cap refugees law of 1,500 which he said he would rescind the 1,500 cap and raise refugees entry to 162,000. Critics from both isles said oppose his decision to keep cap at 1,500, but later said that he would raise at 162,000 in May.
Meanwhile, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been strong criticized about their [so-called] no action for the growing surge of unaccompanied Children and teenagers at the southwestern border. GOP-Republicans are saying Biden and Harris need to visit the border and address this issue.
A string of massive shootings are popping up everywhere that recently Indianapolis and Georgia as well as police-killings in Minnesota and Chicago. In response to the shootings, President Biden has respond issuing executive order as recently as this week.
But, GOP-Republicans continue to criticize the Biden administration particularly concerning unaccompanied immigrants [aliens] at the southwest border. One may question, why hasn’t the GOP provided an effective plan or alternatives that would stop the flow of aliens coming to the border? Perhaps, if GOP focus on an alternative that would help the Biden administration, this could be resolved.
Treasury Secretary hunts for revenue through global minimum tax
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is embarking on negotiating a global minimum tax on multinational corporations as White House administration channels its efforts to raise revenue aimed to help drive President domestic agenda– to “build back better plan.”
The effort could be more challenging than U.S. establishing coalition of allies in fighting the war in Afghanistan. If, Ms. Yellen succeeds in global negotiation of tax laws, this could prove one of biggest policy legacies of yellen’s term.
It also could prove central to Biden’s presidency. The $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation signed into law last week was financed completely by additional federal borrowing. However, the White House administration is expected to raise taxes at least partly to pay for for its other big ticket spending priorities–massive infrastructure and job package being discussed by White House officials and congressional Democrats. It was pointed out that a key source of new revenue probably will be corporate taxes which Donald Trump sharply cut in 2017. While Biden has not proposed to reversing Trump’s cut in corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, he said he would aim to raise potentially billions of dollars more in revenue from big businesses.
Some tax experts, business groups and Republican lawmakers say that raising the tax rate could damage U.S. competitiveness. They also say countries worldwide both have recently, and over the past several decades have joined the U.S. in reducing the tax rates to attract corporate investors [investment] which economists view as destructive a ‘race to the bottom.’ According to Tax Foundation, a right-leaning think tank reports that the average tax rate among countries is 24%. France and other countries lowered their corporate tax rates as each country seems to think it can steal business from others by lowering taxes while the richest MNCs are the only ones who benefit in the race to the bottom said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University a mentor of Yellen.
Treasury Sec. Yellen is working to curb the practice through an effort at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] in which 140 countries are participating. The goal is for countries to agree in principle to a minimum corporate tax rate–although it would be nonbinding –that would make it harder for MNCs to play countries off by threatening to leave. Yellen is hoping that she negotiate an agreement for minimum tax rate. Yellen in her confirmation hearing told U.S. Senators that ” A global minimum tax could stop the destructive global race to the bottom on corporate taxation and help discourage harmful profit-shifting.” She added. “It’s necessary for U.S. to be globally competitive, and that’s why these OECD negotiations are so important.”
After provided with $714 million in relief funds, the largest schools districts have not announced their plans to return to in-person learning
On Thursday of last week, President Joe Biden signed the $1,9 trillion Covid-19 bill; the largest Democratic-led bill in the history in order to reopening the schools had been closed since Mid-March of last year.
The bill includes $730 millions for schools to reopen, for Covid-19 logistics and distribution; testing and contact tracing to fight the virus, and for school infrastructure that include ventilators in schools.
Although several school districts have reopen for public school children K-8 grades, some school districts like Poland Public Schools and teacher unions, there were debates centered on when to reopen school safely. Seattle and Kent Public Schools
In Washington State, spokesperson for the Washington Education Association said the educators’ union agrees a safe return to schools is best for those who choose to return. However, spokesperson Julie Popper said Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation assumes all schools can provide a safe in-person learning.
In a statement Popper said that “some districts are not yet prepared to safely welcome students back to the buildings.” She added, Local unions are activeky bargaining with districts to ensure the return to buildings is as safe as possible and shortcutting those safety processes is not in the best interest of our students, staff, or communities. School district must partner with local unions and community groups, including communities of color—to ensure safety measures and robust mental health supports are in place before returning to buildings and for families that opt for remote learning.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Washington Education Association said the educators’ union agrees a safe return to schools is best for those who choose. However, spokesperson Julie Popper said the governor’s proclamation assumes all schools can provide safe in-person learning.
“Some districts are not yet prepared to safely welcome students back to buildings,” Popper said in a statement. “Local unions are actively bargaining with districts to ensure the return to buildings is as safe as possible. Shortcutting those safety processes is not in the best interest of our students, staff, or communities. School districts must partner with local unions and community groups – including communities of color – to ensure safety measures and robust mental health supports are in place before returning to buildings and for families that opt for remote learning.”
The Washington schools districts have been implementing a hybrid model of instruction and only a few schools remain fully remote. As of March it is reported that 40.9 of student population are receiving in-person instruction weekly, according to Office of State Public Instruction. It is noted that the Office of Superintendent Public Instructions have received $714 million Covid-19 relief fund for schools which is available to districts with a plan to return.
Bernie Sanders asks to Amazon CEO: “What is your problem with Amazon Workers organizing?”
Recognized the most richest man on Earth with a net worth of $184 billion, was asked to attend this week’s Senate Budget committee hearing on income inequality, but decline. Amazon has become the topic of conversation across the country after thousands of workers in a small suburb of Birmingham known as Bessemer, Alabama; thousands of workers in Bessemer, Alabama are trying to form a union at an Amazon warehouse. Joint-effort of President Joe Biden and Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio have publicly stated their support for Alabama workers’ unionization plan.
During his appearance on MSNBC Sunday, Senator Sanders challenged the billionaire why he chooses to oppose workers who want to form a pro-union at the facility for better working condition and better pay.
[As] “the richest man on the planet, what is the problem with Amazon workers organizing for better working condition and better pay? You are worth $182 billion. “You cannot continue to have it all when so many are struggling.” Sanders told MSNBC host Ali Velshi after declining his Senate invitation.
The pro-union labor group who represents the Amazon employees in Alabama are seeking “just-cause” instead of “at-will” employment,— the ability to challenge write-ups and terminations perceived as wrongful and safer conditions in the workplace particularly amid a pandemic when workers are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. In October, the company revealed 20,000 of its employees had tested positive or presumed positive for the deadly virus.
A Bessemer worker filed a claim against Amazon with the National Labor Relations Board accusing it of unfair labor practices; the NLRB cited Amazon’s corporate wing setting up DoltwithoutDues.com. The site makes false claims about employees in Alabama, a right-to-work state, being forced to pay union dues.
In a statement sent to Newsweek, Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said: “We respect our employees’ rights to join or not to join a labor union, but the fact is that Amazon already offers what these groups claim they want.” Ms. Levandowski said that the company believes that not all employees have this view. The Company provides employees an opportunity to work at Amazon by offering potential workers some of the best jobs everywhere we hire, and encourage them to compare pay, benefits, and our work environment to any other company with similar jobs.
Senator Sanders’ official website features petitions support unionization efforts at multi-billion dollars corporations like Walmart and Amazon for example a petition fundraising campaign featured a message on the website from Sanders to Bezos.
Mr. Sanders points out that multi-billionaire companies pay their employees low minimum wages— lower than what CEOs of companies earn in ‘one second’ compared to the average employee wage earns in ‘one year.’ Rather than a company with a multi-billion dollars net worth [who says] it provides the “best jobs everywhere we hire with pay and benefits and [safety environment] is viewed as inequitable to its employes. An invitation to meet with the National Budget committee would provide Amazon an opportunity or clarify reason for opposing to a pro-union labor group at Amazon.
Republicans’ resistance is likely defined as an election issue
[Every] Republican opposed the bill by voting “no” Wednesday leaving the Democratic-led U.S. House to pass the $1.9 trillion legislation. Republicans called the bill “a laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic” signaling that the bulk of the spending would go to an array of items unrelated to COVID-19 from Amtrak railroad services to arts and humanities programs.
In an effort to position the party for 2022 election, Republicans might potentially view as an opportunity to gain-seats in House and Senate majorities.
While the Republicans voted “no” to the bill, they must remember Mr. Biden had the backing of leading economists, city mayors, the labor unions and members as well as many American who struggle every day to put food on the table amid the pandemic. The “laundry list ” which Republican described as unrelated to COVID-19 — Amtrak rail transportation, the arts and entertainment industry as well as the health care professionals, Health and Human services all are related because many Americans held jobs in these areas when the pandemic hit and many were laid off —redefined.
The relief bill defined or highlighted providing $1,400 relief checks to Americans, extends unemployment benefits, addresses ‘child poverty and health care programs’ and speed up the supply COVID-19 vaccinations and school reopenings all critical items Democrats frequently tout.
Chris Taylor, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said ” the American people will remember that House Republicans voted against cutting childhood poverty in half” and getting stimulus checks into the hands of struggling Americans,” among other benefits. He added, “House Republicans left American families out to dry. ” The people won’t forget that.”
As such, public opinion polls showed strong bipartisan support of the bill particularly among economists, city mayors, labor unions and members and the Americans. Implications are Republicans will switch to other issues as the pandemic recedes. For example during the debate, some Republicans spent as much time hitting the Biden administration over an upsurge in illegal border crossings, including children, and decision to keep schools closed defined as “distractions.”
U.S.-China: Scheduled next week, high-level talks with Chinese officials in Alaska
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong told the British Broadcasting News [BBC] the new American leader [President Joe Biden] would be someone who believes in multilateralism and international trade. Lee also posits the U.S. is still number one, but China is number two—that it’s not far so behind and believes that that is what’s difficult for the U.S. to accept.” Some estimates that the China economy is slated to overtake the U.S. to become the world’s largest by 2028. Five years before it was forecast.
China economic rise in recent years accompanied by increasing aggression internally and externally under the leadership of Xi Jinping. This rise has led to condemnation of its action from many in the West and some concerns among partners in Asia. Despite reactions from other nations, Prime Minister Lee said that he could not afford to take sides.
It is a problem for many countries, which is why we are all hoping and encouraging the two large powers to think very carefully before deciding that the other one is an adversary which hs to be kept down, if not put down,” he said.
It is a problem for many countries, which is why we are all hoping and encouraging the two large powers to think very carefully before deciding that the other one is an adversary which has to be kept down, if not put down,” he said. “What we would like to see is China being a country where its prosperity, development and growing strength is welcomes by other countries in the world, who see this as an opportunity for them to prosper together and live in a stable world together.”
The Biden administration will hold its first high-level talks with Chinese officials in Alaska next week.
A call for coalition efforts–the United States, EU-United Nation Security council and allies to impose arm embargo against the Burmese Military/Myanmar
On February 1, 2020. The military claimed it was acting in response to election irregularities, citing charges it later imposed on elected leaders —the civilian leader, Daw Aung San Stuu Kyi who was accused of illegally importing walkie-talkies perceived as a ridiculous accusation. The goal of the Burmese military was to nullify the results of the November 2020 democratic election, a similar experience that happened in the United States. On January 6, an insurrection at the Capitol designed to nullify the results of its own free and fair election, promptly condemned the Burmese military actions. As a response to such Burmese military actions, U.S. President Joe Biden declared the situation a national emergency and ordered the government to take steps to prevent Burmese military leaders from using $1 billion assets held in the United States. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later expanded sanctions to include individual members of the Burmese military.
Although an approach to declare a national emergency and order the U.S. government to place hold on Burmese military assets of $1 billion, it is suggested Biden administration work coherently with the European Union [Obama Administration strategy with Afghanistan], the Nations Security council and allies to impose arms embargo against the Burmese military. Recommendation for more actions comes from 130 nongovernmental global organizations [NGOs] as taking such action by cutting the supply of weapons, tanks, trucks and planes that are being used to crack down on [peaceful] protesters throughout the country. To restrain the supply of weapons to the Burmese military, the U.S. use its relationship with Singapore to prompt change in Myanmar since the country is ally to U.S. and use its leverage as the largest investor in the Burmese economy.
The U.S. should ensure that companies that do business in America are not doing business with Singaporean companies that have interests in Myanmar. However, the U.S. must remember that Burmese military has spent much of the past decades operating under economic sanctions imposed by European Union and the United States as they are not afraid of the fragmented sanctions; to take step to impose continacy sanctions and arms embargo can help pressure the military which will harm their cause.
Biden delivers on his promise– $1,400 stimulus checks to struggling Americans
According to Reuters, payment will go to 85 percent of Americans. The Senate and House Democrats debated the $1.9 trillion bill for weeks with provisions that includes an increase to a $15 minimum wage being taken out of the relief package in order to get the bill through.
The president said, “This plan puts us on a path to beating the virus. This plan gives those families who are struggling the most the help and the breathing room they need to a fighting chance to survive.”
This is the first major bill Democrats were able to push through after they won the House Senate and White House during the 2020 election.
Biden said “It’s a good day today. When we took office 45 days ago, I promised the American people help was on the way. Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise that help is o the way.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gives a thumbs up after leaving the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, Retrieved from Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York keep his 50 member caucus intact throughout the process, but not without some last-minute drama. The so-called vote -a-rama session was delayed for 10 hours on Friday as Senate Democrat reached a last-minute deal with Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia on the size of federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Now, legislation will go back to the House where the bill is made ready to send to send to Biden’s desk before federal unemployment benefits expire date March 14.
The Senate Republicans criticized Democrats for using “ budget reconciliation process to pass their $1.9 trillion After a legislative process that involve House Senate voting 50-49 entirely along party lines came after the Senate remined a 24 hour overnight session. Senate Republicans sought to amend the legislation but the Senate Democrat stood in solidarity to defeat any major changes to the bill considered as one of the largest federal aid packages in history.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York keep his 50 member caucus in tact throughout the process, but not without some last-minute drama. The so-called vote -a-rama session was delayed for 10 hours on Friday as Senate Democrat reached a last-minute deal with Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia on the size of federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Now, legislation will go back to the House where the bill is made ready to send to send to Biden’s desk before federal unemployment benefits expire date March 14.
The Senate Republicans criticized Democrats for using “ budget reconciliation process to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package along party lines and rebuked Democrats for using the legislation as a poor way to pass their [liberal priorities].
Republicans argue voters picked a president who promised bipartisanship. The Democrat’s goal was to ram through ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation on a razor-thin margin.’
The Senate bill included changes from the House version of the bill which was passed last week. In the House’s legislation minimum wage would have increased from $7.25 to $15 an hour which the Senate parliamentarian determined it violated Senate rules. In response to parliamentarian rules. Sen. Bernie Sanders sought to overrule the parliamentarian and pass the minimum wage hike as an amendment to the relief package on Friday when Senate eight Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it a sign that it had no chance of passing.
Democrats agreed on an amendment from Sen Manchin that provide $300 a week in payment through September 6 Rathan than $400 a week through August that was originally laid out in the bill while there would be a change in providing a $10,200 tax relief for laid-off workers for households with incomes of $150,000 a year.
A race to the finish line–Senate and House agreement on changes before passing package
The new arrangement would also make the first $10,200 worth of benefits tax-free for households with annual incomes less than $150,000. Prior to latest version of the bill, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin halted the process with the Democrats’ crucial 50th vote signaled he wouldn’t support the initial changes his Senate colleagues were proposing to the House version. which would have extended the $300 benefits boost through the end of September. Sen. Manchin suggested he was open to a less generous plan proposed by the Republicans. However after extracting some concessions, he sided with his party.
The Senate House reached a deal after voting on a series of amendments in a process known as a ‘vote-a-rama’ before moving to a final vote on the entire relief package. The amendments included the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to provide benefits to freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the pandemic.
Nearly a year ago, Congress created the PUA programs and the PEUC program consist increases to duration of payments for those in the traditional state unemployment system. The programs included a $600 weekly boost that lasted four months in the $2 trillion relief package in order to help cushion laid-off workers during the pandemic economy downturn. The programs were extended and the %300 weekly enhancement was added as part of lawmakers’$900 billion relief deal passed in December.
To answer the call of million of struggling Americans, President Joe Biden proposed to provide a $400 boost and continuing the programs through the end of September as part of the massive relief package just before taking office.
On Friday, President Biden was pleased of the changes that Senate House made in the bill.
To answer the call of million of struggling Americans, President Joe Biden proposed to provide a $400 boost and continuing the programs through the end of September as part of the massive relief package just before taking office.
Although the two chambers have worked out most the bill, there is one more issue to work out before sending the final legislation to the President for his signature, the lawmakers’ self-imposed deadline of March the 14 for the passing the relief package could cause Americans who are receiving PUA and PEUC benefit payments which is expected to phase out over the month —the $300 enhancement also ends next weekend.
Some Republican Governors stand by the mask orders, but not all
It should be remembered in early summer of last year, governors of California and Florida and Texas began to ease the restrictions of mask-wearing and social-distancing. As a result, hundreds and thousands of people again fallen prey to the Covid-19 as they gathered in large crowds on beaches and social clubs and bars. And, again hospitalization quickly accelerated reached high levels thus many died.
Public health experts have concluded face coverings are essential to slowing the spread of the virus, which has killed more than half a million Americans. However, it appears the tide is changing as there is resistance to public health measures in the United States, especially mask-wearing which has become politicized, with many republican states enacting fewer and looser COVID-19 protocols.
President Biden said that deciding to end the wearing of masks in Texas and Mississippi is “Neanderthal thinking” when, the Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 500,000 million Americans.
While some states such as Florida and South Dakota have never been under statewide mandate, others like Alabama and Ohio, the mask mandates remain in effect. However, Rep. Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia said that on Wednesday he was not ready to ease any restrictions including in-door mask mandate. The West Virginian governor issued mandate for all businesses to continue following safety guidelines.
Rep. Governor Abbott’s executive order in Texas will lift mask restrictions statewide set to go in effect on March 10 and forbid local authorities from penalizing residents who do not wear face coverings. His executive order will remove all restrictions on businesses in counties without a high number of hospitalizations.
The Texas executive order also counter against statistics which reported about 7,500 new cases a day on a seven-day average according to Reuters data, and it was ranked 47th in the list of states that have vaccinated the highest percentage of their populations.
On Tuesday, Rep. Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi also, lifted the mask order in his state and removed all restrictions on businesses.
Although Texas reported a 47% vaccination rate which is higher than any other state, and Mississippi governor has lifted restriction of mask-wearing and businesses, might consider high-risk of other contagious variants due to lifting restrictions.
Biden calls on states to prioritize vaccinations for teachers
To meet their demand, President Joe Biden called in U.S. states to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers to ensure children could return to school quickly and safely. He added that every educator should receive at least one shot by the end of March.
Biden also announced that Merck Co., and Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine will join efforts to administer the shots same as those seen during World War II. With three vaccines now available, he believes there will be enough vaccine for each adult in the United States by the end of May.
The President said that he was upbeat about reaching his goal of delivering 100 million Covid-19 in his first 100 days, but urged Americans to remain vigilant in wearing masks and observing social-distancing.
Cecilia Rouse has said she will make promoting racial and gender equity in the economy a priority as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Retrieved from New York Times
Amid economic and public health crisis, a coronavirus pandemic, and a dire congressional debate on Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic aid package. As C.E.A. chair, she sees a larger set of priorities which includes overhauling the inner workings of the federal government to promote racial and gender equality in the economy.
Ms. Rouse testified in her hearing, “As deeply stressing as the pandemic and the economic fallout have been, it is also an opportunity to rebuild the economy better than it was before—making it work for everyone by increasing the availability of fulfilling jobs and leaving no one vulnerable to falling through the cracks.”
One of her initiatives as council chair will be to audit the ways in which government collects and reports economic data—to break down by race, gender, and other demographic variables with the goal of improving the government’s ability to target economic policies to help historically disadvantaged groups.
Ms. Rouse’s goal is to help design policies that will be economically effective. When asked how would she judge effectiveness? She replied, by keeping our eyes on this ball, and asking ourselves every time we look at a policy what are the racial and ethnic impacts?”
Indeed, a focal point is to keep eyes on the ball while analyzing a policy, what are the racial and ethnic impacts?
Indeed, Ms. Rouse points out some valid points. As she previously points to the impacts of the pandemic and economic fallouts that includes business closures, and employee layoffs, it can an opportunity for innovation and creating [green] jobs via of technology innovation. Another point she made that government needs to collect and report [credible] economic data not only limit to race, gender and other demographic variables such as demographics on U.S. households, employment and income and so on. Collecting such data will provide a roadmap on how to decide on what policy to implement and how will it address racial and ethnic inequality that significantly impact the economy.
Biden Administration set “rule” to approach China’s business practices
In its plans to move forward with the plan, officials are concerned that blocking or diluting the rule would send the wrong message about the new administration approach to China perhaps fueling criticism that it is taking a weaker approach as perceived by the people. However, administration officials have signaled to the business community that they won’t enforce the rule aggressively, but would soften the impact, although business representatives say the rule will still subject firms like smaller one to new costs and uncertainty.
It is noted that the rule is “unworkable for U.S. businesses in its current form and should not be considered as the final publication without significant revisions, said the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from companies like Amazon.com Inc. Citigroup Inc. and Walmart Inc. in a comment filed with Commerce Department in January. The International Business Machine Corporation said the rule as written was ‘massively overbroad’ and would harm the economy and fail to increase U.S. national security. A representative of the Commerce Department said that the agency continues to accept public comments on the rule through March 22, adding the rule become final then.
In response to those concerned, the agency is committed to provide “trustworthy information and communications technology and services that are essential to our national and economic security and remain a top priority for the Biden/Harris administration, the representative stated.
The rule which is set for March 22, could affect as many as 4.5 million American businesses –small, medium and large according a representative of the Commerce Department,potentially requiring businesses to get government clearance for purchases and deals involving sophisticated technology with what the regulation calls a “foreign adversary,” or face potential unwinding of deals or other enforcement.
The new government oversight of foreign trades would apply to technology transactions involving critical U.S. infrastructure, networks and satellite operations, large data hosting operations, widely used Internet connectivity software, advanced computing drones and advanced robotics according to a draft rule could affect sales or some cases, use of technology. The telecommunication and financial-services industries are partly affected by the rule because they are heavy users of information technology services that handle sensitive consumer data as many other consumer-facing business also have a large stake as well. The rules fate is being closely watched as overseer of the Biden administration’s policy direction on China.
Indeed, the rule could affect sales and business deals with China technology, perhaps enforcing such rule will mitigate cyber attacks posing threats to U.S. national security.
GOP support for Stimulus Plan, but concern about extraneous provisions
Tara Davis, a 40-year-old foster mother of Burlington, N.C. said, “It’s like Republican establishment doesn’t have any common sense. “We’re finding out all this money that’s just been wasted and they couldn’t give people $2,000?” She added, It’s sickening. Anyone that the establishment hates, that’s who I like.”
Judy Betty, a Republican and retired principal from Marana, Arkansas, said that she mostly opposed the second round of stimulus payments but felt let down by the congressional Republicans who she thinks didn’t fully investigate fraud claims surrounding the election—charges that were repeatedly shown to be baseless. Ms. Betty seems to think that the Republican Party had become a” Party of Trumpism”– that she and others be supported and believed him.
Sharon Tomski, a teacher at a Catholic high school in the Milwaukee suburbs, believed that any stimulus plan should be targeted for those who lost income as a result of the pandemic. However, Ms Tomski doesn’t wish that the Republican Party return to the era of fiscal austerity. While Patricia Dorenbosch, a 75-year-old Republican retiree from Henderson, Nevada expressed that she was turn off by former president’s actions after the election, blaming him for stoking the attack and pushing baseless claim of voters fraud, but appreciate new leadership emerging in Washington although she did not vote for him. Ms. Dorenbosch said, “I’m pleased so far—I really am surprised, but I am. I agree with a lot of things. She added, ” We don’t have a lot of this blowhard kind of attitude. We’re are not attacking people so much.
Indeed, Ms. Dorenbosch couldn’t have said it better as the old saying is if the leader is doing it, I’m doing it. Such Republican voters as Ms, Dorenbosch, Ms, Davis, Ms, Betty and Ms, Kern are echoe their sentiment as a constant reminder of what kind of leadership the American people need; an oath keeper with dignity, humility, trustworthy in defending the Constitution of the United States.
Costco Wholesale intends to pay its staff $16 hourly minimum wage, a dollar more than its competition Amazon and Targets
Costco’s Chief Executive Officer Craig Jelinek made the announcement to the U.S. Senate Budget Committee chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders-Vt-I. Jelinek in the hearing on wages at large companies, saying “It takes a lot of time to interview, find employees, lot of labor involved just to hire individuals. “We want people to say with us,” Jelinek said in his answer to Sen. Sanders.
Issaquah, Washington-based Costco with a workforce of over 180,000 employers in the U.S. has seen their sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers stocked up their pantries.
The company raised their hourly wages to $15 in 2019 and offered premium pay to workers during the virus outbreak. Jelinek emphasized the importance of maintaining a competitive business particularly in unprecedented times. “In my past experience, wages usually don’t put people out of business, how you run your business will put you out of business,” Jelinek said at the hearing.
Even as big corporations raise their hourly wages, many small businesses have opposed a $15 federal minimum wage, saying it would lead to job cuts and closures.
A Decade ago American Workers received $7.25 per hour minimum wage: Will Congress increase hourly wages to $15?
Democrats suffered a setback on Thursday when they tried to push through a $15-minimum-wage-per-hour as part of President Biden’ $1.9 billion stimulus package after the Senate top rule enforcer said that the increase could not be included in the bill.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki during Thursday morning briefing, “President Biden is disappointed in this outcome. “He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process. “He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and to live in poverty.”
Top democrats vow to continue fighting for the increase which would be the first such raise since 2009. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, the chairman of the Budget Committee said “I’m confident we have a majority in the United States Senate including the vice president who would vote to increase the minimum to $15 an hour as President Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan.’
Mr. Sanders said because of the archaic and undemocratic rule of the Senate, Democrats are unable to move forward to end the starvation s wages— raising the income of 32 million Americans.
Mr. Sanders said he will try an alternative approach by proposing an additional measure that would tax deduction away from companies who fail to pay their workers at least $15 hourly wages.
Still employers of companies particularly those with high economic of scale could more security for workers, paid for performance in the form of bonuses and profit-sharing while providing affordable health insurance plans to suit their needs. Just as CEO of companies who have excessively annual net earning such as Amazon Inc. could provide tenured workers [long-term employees] the opportunity to buy company bonds or shares.
US. Secretary Blinken is mending Diplomatic Fences
With international travel restrictions, most diplomatic travel remained postponed. Instead, Mr. Blinken is relying on technology via telephone, video screens and ZOOM Conferences. Mr. Blinken and President Biden realized the tremendous challenge in restoring the bonds with key allies, establishing open communication and American leadership against rivals like China and Russia, confronting threats such as climate change and a nuclear Iran.
Although Mr. Blinken have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, US. State officials remains caution about Blinken’s foreign travel with his aides, security personnel and support staff and journalists many who are at risk of contracting the virus. Although the State Secretary is not scheduled for travel, senior administration officials said that he might not take to the air until April even so, that timeline is uncertain.
To assume role of U.S. State Secretary. opened face-to-face communication is essential for establishing diplomatic relations. Diplomats say proximity breeds familiarity that cannot be replicated such as body language, eye contact and handshakes, shared meals, cultural events experiences, exchange of gifts, occasional hallway encounters and outdoors walks and other moment away from their aides. Under normal conditions, events are part of a sweeping Europe trip that includes Munich Security Conference, a trip to NATO.
It is “a lost opportunity at the moment of reinvigoration for transAtlantic relationship in particular,” said Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, the executive director of “The Future if Diplomacy Project” at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She adds, “you think of all the pictures from summits, where leaders are leaning over one another” she said. “That’s where the actual details are ironed out.”
Indeed, open-face-to-face communication cannot be replicated especially when communicating with leaders and diplomats from China as their persona is quiet and reserve, accustomed to nods and bows when spoken to. Diplomatic nuances when dining and walking as Chinese tranquil, deep thinkers. From a business perspective, they are not quick decision-makers— decisions are made collectively. with a focus on the better good for all– cultural awareness and diplomatic approach are effective practices.
Internal Relations – Senate approves Biden’s pick Linda Thomas-Greenfield to lead U.S. Resurgence at U.N
In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, United States Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate has confirmed Thomas-Greenfield to serve.
After graduation, she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin [UW-Madison].
With a professional philosophy she developed during her post in the Foreign Service, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said “Diplomacy is driven by relationships, and talking about difficult topics while chopping onions for gumbo sauce cab break barriers and foster success, she said. While assigned to Rwanda in 1994, near the start of the country’s genocide, she was mistaken by a man for a Tutsa women he had been sent to kill. She escape death by talking to him. Facing such experience, she learned by using power of kindness and compassion, she will survive.
With Her diplomatic skills [words] positioned her to serve as ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012; one one year stint as director general of the Foreign Service; top U.S. diplomat for African Affairs from 2013 to 2017 — assist overseeing the response to the Ebola epidemic. However, she was pushed out of the department by Sec. of State Rex W. Tillerson. Yet, during her confirmation some Republican lawmakers had concerns about a speech Ms. Thomas-Greenfield delivered to Chinese Confucius Institute, a Chinese government educational organization that American officials have accused to spreading spreading China Propaganda in the U.S. Her speech was being criticised by some, saying [it] lack criticism of China’s human rights record [or] predatory-lending practices in developing countries.
Rep. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Rep. Marco Rubio of Florida specifically use her Savannah State Speech during Ms. Thomas-Greenfield confirmation hearing stating that she was soft and naive to Confucius Institute. Ms. Thomas express regret to agree to make the speech, but contested the insinuation about her record. “If you look at what I have done prior to that, she said,” there is no question that I am not at all naive about what the Chinese are doing and I have called them out on a regular basis. which she included sharp criticism of China on other points in the hearing.
Despite political critics, American experts on China and veteran diplomats who know Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said it was important to place her Savannah State speech in the context of the serverness [severe downturn] in U.S.-China relations that accelerated during the Trump administration.
Perhaps, one should reflect on how “democracy” is sometimes inappropriately demonstrated or taken out of context– taken account the conversation on social media and political figures lately. It is important to point out the word “diplomacy” can be misinterpreted or misunderstood when it is used out of context. One must refer to Ms. Thomas-Greenfield’s philosophy and her purpose — clearly defines
“Diplomacy is driven by relationships, and talking about difficult topics while chopping onions for gumbo sauce cab break barriers and foster success.”
Economists see possible ‘boom’ in economic recovery
Perhaps if America wants to build back better, using the same familiar tactics may not achieve the end goal. For example, about a half century ago, the U.S. economy was built on industrialized automotive industries. In the 1990’s the focus was on job creation in information technology.
Since the pandemic crisis, America again is forced to recreate itself; to explore new horizons. Already, there is focus on technology innovation that includes online shopping, political and social media platforms via of cloud-computing services becoming key driving force reshaping business perspectives in job creation that ultimately lead to economic growth. Amazon who transformed into a multifaceted business employing tens and thousands of hires across the nation.
As previously stated, despite of U.S. economy appears to be mired in a pandemic winter of shattered businesses, high employment and slow job growth, but a shift in business perspective could create a possible post-Covid-boom. It is expected the pandemic will be followed by a period of strong economic as businesses reopen and Americans resumes their normal activities. Economists have begun to talk about a rebound that will bring down unemployment drives up wages and may foster years of stronger growth.
There are signs that the economy has turned a corner–retail sales rose last month as consumers received the latest round of government aid. Record of unemployment claims have declined from early January-though they remain high. Business investment is picking up, a sign of confidence from corporate leaders.
Economists surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia this month predicted that U.S. output will increase 4.5% this year which makes it the best year since 1999. Some economists expect and even stronger output. Economists at Goldman Sachs forecast that the economy will grow to 6.8% this year and the unemployment rate will drop to 4.1% by December, a level that took eight years to achieve after the last recession. Chief economist, Jan Hatzius said, “We’re extremely likely to get very high growth rate. Whether it’s a boom or not. I do think it’s a V-shaped recovery, he added referring to steep drop followed by a sharp rebound.
This growing optimism stems form the confluence of several factors 1) coronavirus cases are falling in the United States, 2) the vaccine rollout though slower than expected is gaining steam and 3) largely because of trillion of dollars in federal aid as the economy appears to have made it through last year with less structural damage in the form of business failures, home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies than many people had feared last spring. The last factor is consumers are siting on a trillion dollar cash pile as a result of months of lock-down-induced savings and a successive rounds of stimulus payments which could be in everyone’s favor If Congress approves of the aid to households that President Biden has proposed. One predicts when the pandemic ends cash could flow like water that coming from melting snow as consumers are released from their cabin fever, travel rush to book hotel rooms and restaurant dining.