Supercreator Review: “Rounded the turn, almost at the stretch”
Democrats made some tough decisions this week to push Biden’s economic agenda forward. Plus: updates on voting rights, immigration and videos from Beyoncé and Adele that made my heart smile.
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It’s Friday, Oct 22. Welcome to Supercreator Review, an in-depth recap of the top stories in national politics and pop culture — and their impact on online creators and their fans. Let’s get to it:
President Joe Biden has been on the move this week promoting his Build Better Agenda. He attended a surprisingly newsy CNN town hall in Baltimore last night and returned to his old stomping grounds in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Wednesday. The president also held meetings damn-near all-day on Tuesday with separate factions of the Democratic Party to bridge the gaps. “Politics is the art of the possible and President Biden is someone who understands how to bring people together, how to resolve differences and how to move us forward,” Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, the president’s other home state, said. “The Build Back Better bill will move us forward.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her weekly press conference that Democrats have “rounded the turn and are almost at the stretch.” Here’s where negotiations on the jobs and families plan the party hopes to pass in tandem with a roads, rails, bridges and broadband package that’s already passed in the Senate:
The child tax credit, which is the crown jewel of the pandemic response plan Biden signed in March, will most likely be extended for a year. Democrats wanted to make the benefit permanent, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a temporary extension is acceptable to her if it’s cool with the president.
The Medicare expansion for dental, vision and hearing is still on the table. The same goes for universal pre-K and Obamacare funding.
There will likely be a paid leave component in the final agreement. But it will be four weeks, down from the 12 weeks the White House proposed. Over one hundred House Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging him to stick to the 12-week plan.
It looks like free community college is out, per multiple sources. Instead, the administration is looking considering “community college scholarships,” but there have been few details on what that alternative would look like. And investments in home health care are down to less than $250 billion from $400 billion.
What’s left to figure out: How to pay for all of this so there’s no deficit spending or increased taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 and the provisions to meet the administration’s climate goals. (A group of activists are on a hunger strike in front of the White House to demand Congress keep the administration’s central climate program in the plan. But Sen. Joe Manchin cares more about protecting his coal cash than investing in renewable energy so their protest ultimately may be to no avail.
The final price tag is expected to be around $2 trillion, down from the Biden’s $3.5 trillion initial request.
Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York is concerned funding for affordable housing and public housing developments could become an afterthought. So he sent a letter, signed by 123 House Dems, calling on leadership to make sure the cuts to the package don’t come at the expense of accessible homes for the most marginalized people.
We’re still mired in a pandemic, so how about we bask in some good news on the virus front? Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are down, a trend I hope continues. And FDA approved mixing vaccines and approved Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters. The agency didn’t recommend one brand over the other and there’s a possibility that it may suggest that using the same vaccine as a booster when possible is preferable. But the move gives vaccine providers and state and health officials the flexibility they’ve been asking for to offer a different brand at their discretion.
The CDC issued guidance last week on preparing to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 years old. (Approval for the children’s vaccine is expected in the coming weeks.) I was on a Zoom call with the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials on Wednesday and Jeff Zients, the administration’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said it had enough supply to vaccinate every child in the country. Zients also said that the vaccines for kids will feature modified packaging and smaller needles for pediatric distribution.
These are encouraging developments considering more than six million children have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since the pandemmy began and more than 750,000 child COVID-19 cases have been reported over the last four weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Now for the not-so-good news: Unvaccinated peeps had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus and were more than 11 times more likely to die, according to new data from the CDC. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the 65 million Americans who remain unvaccinated could potentially cause of fifth wave of infections. I’d hate to see it.