US Politics

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the Biden administration's response to the omicron variant:

How is the Biden administration's response to omicron?

Well, it hasn't been great. It started with the travel ban from affected countries that was already probably behind the curve given how widespread the variant was and the administration admitted they did not see this new variant coming. They were caught flat-footed on the surge in demand for testing over the holidays. And while they first promised to make tests reimbursable by insurance, which is, of course, a real pleasure for Americans who love to deal with their insurance companies, they then said they were going to make 500 million tests available for free, but this isn't even enough to have two tests for every American. And news came out that they were instead of investing in increased manufacturing capacity, what they were doing was going to purchase surplus tests, which could exacerbate private sector shortages. But probably, more importantly, it means that the new free tests were going to arrive probably after the current surge in cases is over.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses social media, US housing market, and learning to live with COVID-19:

What are three profound changes that you would foresee that will shift the nation in a good way?

Well, it's kind of hard to be optimistic when you spend too much time looking at US politics, but I'll give you three things I think would help. One, and that will help, one, Americans are going to get smarter about social media. A quiet storyline this year has been an ongoing investigation in Congress into the harm that can be caused by unfettered access to social media platforms. A whistleblower came forward with some evidence from some of the tech companies suggesting that too much time on social media can be harmful, particularly for teen girls. And I think parents are going to start to get smarter about this issue. There won't be legislation, and this will be a slow process. While unfettered 24-7 human contact has been great in many ways, it also has a dark side, and these kinds of congressional investigations will help give parents new tools to help deal with that.

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Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

Well, I can think of five. The first and most important was probably January 6th. Historically important moment, rioters breached the Capitol building in order to stop the legal counting of the presidential election results, but also, it was an important moment because it created a dividing line for Republicans who had to decide if they were with President Trump, who had a role in instigating the riot, or if they were against him. A lot of Republicans ended up choosing to be with him creating various forms of apologies for the rioters over time, and even to some degree making martyrs out of some of them. This will be a really important defining moment, not just in American history, but also for the Republican party.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the voting reform bill.

What is the outlook for a voting reform bill passing Congress?

Well, it's not great. Congress is adjourned for the year without pushing something that's been considered a big priority for Democrats all year, which is voting reform. Voting reform is considered a critical priority because a number of Republican states after the 2020 election have moved to roll back some of the law changes that made it easier for people to vote during the pandemic. Democrats think that these laws make it harder to vote and in particular, disenfranchise minority voters. So Democrats have been working on a compromise bill that would change how congressional districts are drawn, they expand opportunities to vote early, and generally make it easier for people to vote while also reinstating some restrictions on law changes in states where there's a history of discrimination against Black voters.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is happening to Roe v. Wade?

Well, this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case called Dobbs v. Jackson, which challenges a Mississippi law that would outlaw abortions after 15 weeks in the state. That law itself is a direct challenge to the legal precedent set by Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago, which is one of the most politically important Supreme Court decisions in American history. It has driven deep polarization between the right and the left in the US and become a critical litmus test. There are very few, if any, pro-life Democrats at the national level and virtually no pro-choice Republicans at any level of government. Overturning Roe has been an animating force on the political right in the US for a generation. And in turn, Democrats have responded by making protecting Roe one of their key political missions.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why did President Biden renominate Jay Powell to be the chairman of the Fed, and who's his No.2, Lael Brainard?

Well, Powell by all accounts has done a pretty good job of managing the Fed through the coronavirus pandemic. He dusted off the playbook, first pioneered by Chairman Bernanke during the financial crisis, and he's largely continued the relatively easy monetary policy of his predecessor at the Fed, now Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen. With inflation growing the way it has over the last several months, Biden now owns the policies of the Fed and is essentially endorsing what Powell has been doing and giving Powell the political cover to continue to keep rates low for longer, or as many people expect, raise them slightly over the next 12 months in order to fight inflation.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Now that President Biden has signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, what's next for infrastructure?

The President this week signed a significant new investment in infrastructure, about $550 billion beyond the money that's already being spent in the baseline levels for the US infrastructure, and this is a big investment. It about doubles how much money the US spends on infrastructure over the next five years, and the money's going to go to all kinds of places, roads, bridges, tunnels, water projects, broadband deployment for Americans, climate resiliency, electric vehicles. There's a lot of different things that are going to be funded by this pot of cash.

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