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The Washington Report: April 9, 2021 … “Go Big Or Go Home”

09 Apr 2021

The Washington Report: April 9, 2021 … “Go Big Or Go Home”

Biden’s Skinny Budget … Once In A Lifetime Realignment … Women Steer The Economic Recovery … Arc of American History: End of the Age of Reagan … The Story Of The Century … Congressional Departure Lounge … and other news of the week.
The Senate and House are back next week.
Best,
JR
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
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Biden’s ‘Skinny” Budget Is Here

WaPo “The document dropped late this morning and asks lawmakers for $1.5 trillion in federal spending for fiscal year 2022. It’s the president’s first budget request and will be followed by a more formal plan in the spring. But we can learn some things from this proposal, which greatly increases discretionary spending for education, health care and the environment.
  • The Education Department’s budget would rise 41 percent, with most of the new money going to high-poverty schools. HHS would get a 23 percent boost, with $8.7 billion going to the CDC in the highest amount allocated to that agency in two decades. And public housing programs would get a 15 percent boost to $69 billion.
  • Big price tag: Remember, Biden’s budget request comes after the recent enactment of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and his desire for a sweeping infrastructure plan is expected to cost about the same amount. The budget does not include tax proposals or mandatory spending for Social Security and Medicare, per the Times.

The administration seeks $715 billion for the Pentagon, a modest increase from the current level, Politico reports. “That planned fiscal 2022 budget topline is up from the more than $704 billion allocated by lawmakers for this fiscal year. But it’s unlikely to satisfy factions of Republican defense hawks seeking to continue major increases in military spending, and progressive Democrats who want to enact steep cuts to the defense budget.”

No More OCO aka “Slush Fund?”

Bloomberg “In a change from previous administrations, Biden will also forgo labeling funding for current military operations as “overseas contingency operations,” or OCO, according to one official. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized OCO as a “slush fund” of money that should be spent as part of the regular Pentagon budget.”
A more complete spending plan that includes both discretionary and mandatory spending and tax proposals is due later in the spring.
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Biden Legacy Moves

Politico “Joe Biden’s ambitious civil rights agenda might face insurmountable hurdles in the Senate. But he isn’t waiting on members of Congress to try and build a legacy.  “This past week, Biden voiced support for Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia after decrying the state’s new voting law as restrictive and ‘Jim Crow in the 21st Century.’ A day later, the Transportation Department invoked the Civil Rights Act to halt a Texas highway that officials argued would have a disparate impact on Black and Latino residents. And on the anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ he signed an executive order to direct federal resources toward voting accessibility.”
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Revamp Global Tax System

Politico “In a major overhaul of the global tax system, … Biden wants the world’s 100 largest companies — those with revenues of at least $20 billion — to pay into countries’ coffers wherever they sell their goods or services, according to proposals sent to more than 130 governments involved in ongoing tax talks.
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Gun Sanity

The Story: President Biden wants action on guns.
Yesterday, the president issued several executive actions to confront what he called the country’s gun violence “epidemic.” It’s the Biden admin’s first move on [sane gun laws]. And follows deadly shootings in Georgia, Colorado, and – most recently – in California, South Carolina, and Texas. But despite the president calling gun violence an “international embarrassment,” his actions aren’t expected to result in immediate change.
What do they do?
Tell the Justice Dept to focus on a few things. That includes ghost guns. These self-assembled (sometimes 3D-printed) weapons are on the rise in major cities. But they don’t have serial numbers so they can’t be traced. Biden wants the DOJ to come up with a plan to crack down on them. He also wants to crack down on stabilizing braces, which turn pistols into rifles – and were allegedly used by the gunman in Boulder. And “red flag” laws. These allow families or officials to ask a court to remove someone’s firearm if they present a danger to themselves or to society.
I’m sensing a theme.  Right – a lot of the announcements involved Biden telling the DOJ to handle it. He also wants the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to publish an annual report on weapons trafficking. And to invest $5 billion over eight years into community programs fighting violence. Beyond that, he said Congress needs to “go further.”
More than 100 Americans die each day at the hands of guns. And it’s still unclear what the tangible impacts of yesterday’s announcement will be. (theSkimm)
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Once-In-A-Lifetime Realignment

THE END OF THE “AGE OF REAGAN”
Axios “We’re about to be hit with a flood of coverage about the close of President Biden’s first 100 days, coming up at the end of April. But we should be paying a lot more attention to the 100-year trends that are unfolding in this age of volatility and polarization.
Doug Sosnik — former political director for President Clinton — [says] the digital disruption is a hinge moment in American history that’s unlike any since the transition from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age in the late 1800s. Sosnik, isolates these massive trends:
  1. “At the same time that we are going through this economic transformation, we are approaching a tipping point in the next 20 years to becoming a multiracial society, with whites comprising less than 50% of our population.”
  2. “During this period of transition, half of the country thinks that we are changing too fast while the other half believing that we are not changing fast enough.”
  3. “[T]he current period of turmoil and chaos that began in the early 2000’s will likely continue throughout this decade.”

What’s next: One arc of American history was the Big Government era that stretched from FDR in the 1930s to the end of the 1970s, when it petered out and Ronald Reagan roared in with a reset that included tax cuts and deregulation.

Economics blogger Noah Smith calls President Biden “the end of the Age of Reagan.”
As we scooped last month, Biden met secretly with a group of historians who bolstered his own idea that he could be the next FDR or LBJ — a reset president who leaves behind a transformed America. Measured by expansion of government reach and spending, he is well on his way.”
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Women Steer The Economic Recovery

Axios “One big difference between 2021 and 2009: Many of the world’s top economic officials this time around are women. The big picture: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai are front and center on U.S. efforts, Reuters reports. The European Central Bank is led by Christine Lagarde, the IMF by Kristalina Georgieva and the WTO by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“[W]omen [run] finance ministries in 16 countries, and 14 of the world’s central banks.” Between the lines: The pandemic shattered decades of economic progress for women, and there is concern that the scarring in the labor market could be permanent. Gender and racial diversity within Biden’s economic policy team likely means more attention will be paid to issues of inequality across the board. That includes policies that will help maximize women in the labor force, ensuring that they earn more and can therefore contribute more to increased economic growth.
The bottom line: UN adviser Eric LeCompte told Reuters he’s been “meeting with Treasury secretaries for 20 years, and their talking points have been entirely different. In every area we discussed, Yellen put an emphasis on empathy, and the impact of policies on vulnerable communities.”
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This Week, What People Are Watching …

Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. This week, America heard from experts on the former police officer’s actions and George Floyd’s death. Prosecutors are trying to prove that Chauvin’s excessive force led to the 46-year-old Black man’s death last year. And the defense is trying to prove Floyd’s opioids and underlying health problems killed him, not Chauvin. The trial’s expected to last until the end of this month. Here’s a recap of week two so far:
  • Monday: A Minneapolis Police Dept official said Chauvin didn’t use an authorized restraint technique when he put his knee on Floyd’s neck. But the defense argued Chauvin didn’t have his knee on Floyd’s neck the whole time – but on his shoulder at times.
  • Tuesday: A Minneapolis police use-of-force instructor said officers are trained to use the “least amount of force necessary” and kneeling on a person’s neck isn’t a technique that’s taught. It contradicted the defense’s argument that Chauvin did “what he had been trained to do.”
  • Wednesday: The defense tried to argue that Floyd admitted he was on drugs. But a special agent interpreted Floyd as saying he wasn’t on any.
  • Thursday: Medical experts testified that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen. And that any healthy person would have died when “subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to.” (theSkimm)

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Deadly Russian Obstruction

Politico “Russia has effectively rendered toothless the international body tasked with policing outlawed chemical weapons, allowing Moscow and ally Syria to get away with using poison as state policy. That’s according to a new assessment of the 193-member Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established to police the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
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Climate Spending IS The Story of the Century

Axios “Massive public and private spending is flooding into climate tech, as part of an energy transformation not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
Why it matters: A successful global effort to slash carbon emissions demands unprecedented investment. Private investment has been ramping up, and President Biden is pushing to spend hundreds of billions more.Experts say the spending needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — a goal now embraced by the U.S. and many other countries — constitutes a transformation as profound as the machinery, factories and railways that remade America before the Civil War. John Kerry, Biden’s special envoy on climate change, said during an event yesterday: “We believe very deeply that this is going to be the biggest economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution.”
A few snapshots:
  • Worldwide spending last year on renewables and electric vehicles — plus other “energy transition investment” — topped $500 billion, research firm BloombergNEF estimates.
  • Biden is calling for $2 trillion in spending under the infrastructure banner. “Energy relevant” parts of the package could cost as much as $584 billion, ClearView Energy Partners estimates.
    The private sector is already pouring in money. GM is investing $27 billion through 2025 on development of electric vehicles and autonomous tech.
What we’re watching: The future corporate winners and losers in this reshaping of global energy are being determined now:
  • Big Oil companies, including BP and Shell, are competing with existing electricity giants to get greener.
  • Detroit’s legacy automakers are scrambling to catch up with Tesla and other startups.

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Shield Pac

BGov “A group of moderate Democrats who lost their House seats in the 2020 elections after Republican foes labeled them too liberal have formed a new political action committee to prevent their ex-colleagues in swing districts from suffering the same fate. Seven former Democratic lawmakers and two Democratic candidates are vying to counter GOP messaging with early spending and advertisements. They serve as an advisory role for SHIELD PAC, an independent entity launched by the think tank Third Way to protect incumbents and ensure Democrats keep their House control.”
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Departure Lounge (Bgov)

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Best Cities For First Time Home Buyers

Realtor.com ranked 774 cities with a population of 50,000+, based on factors that included the share of 25- to 34-year-olds in the population … housing availability, affordability, amenities … job openings … commutes.
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Morning Defense “Today is the 156th anniversary of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House to end the Civil War — Lee donning his dress uniform and sword, Grant wearing his muddy soldier’s coat. Grant’s two-volume memoir remains our favorite of all presidents. He did, after all, have the help of his friend and former congressional staffer Mark Twain. “The most confident critics,” Grant wrote, “are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.” Design best-practices suggest a large font size for easy readability both on desktop and mobile devices.”

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