Joe Biden’s plan to remake America

Joe Biden’s plan to remake america

Well, after years of endless "infrastructure weeks" to nowhere, Joe Biden is now aiming for the moon.

On Wednesday, the US president unveiled a $2 trillion dollar plan that would rebuild tens of thousands of miles of dilapidated roads and rails, modernize ports and airports, boost employment and housing, expand broadband access, and accelerate the transition to a more climate-friendly economy. By the time it's all over, the total spending could rise to $4 trillion over a decade.

This is the most ambitious US infrastructure agenda in many decades. It vastly exceeds anything that Biden's two predecessors attempted. In fact, nothing of this scale has been tried at least since the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. In some ways it invites comparison with the public works programs of FDR's New Deal or with the social aims of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs.

That's because Biden's proposal is about more than just building rails, bridges, electric cars, and the like. It's a bold attempt to revive a once-powerful idea in America: that the government can and should act expansively to reshape and improve society at large. Critics of that idea either object on philosophical grounds (arguing that more government means less liberty) or financial ones (running up the national debt is bad.)

Getting Biden's plan through Congress would upend a nearly 40-year trend of governments under both parties largely rolling back the federal government's presence in American life. Barack Obama's expansion of healthcare was the only major exception to that and it was, as a result, hugely contentious.

In principle, Biden's plan is a political winner. Three-quarters of Americans support a makeover for the country's crumbling infrastructure. Despite being the world's wealthiest country, the US ranks just 13th in overall infrastructure quality.

But as always, there are stark partisan differences here too. A majority of Democrats and independents support hiking taxes on the wealthy to pay for infrastructure, while a majority of Republicans either oppose new infrastructure spending altogether or think it should be paid for without tax increases. For the record, Biden's plan at the moment claims it would pay for itself over the course of 15 years via tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations.

In Congress, Republican leaders won't get on board with a plan of this size, not least because it envisions a sizable increase in the corporate tax rate, and because it contains more green initiatives than the current GOP is comfortable with.

But Democrats are at least as much of an obstacle here as the GOP. There's already a battle brewing within the Democratic caucus about the spending plans. Progressives, led informally by New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are already up in arms because they think the proposal is too small. Rather than spending $2 trillion over a decade, they want to spend five times as much over the same period. But moderate Dems — including the crucial Democratic swing voters of the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — are already balking at the cost and potential tax hikes.

And whereas the urgency of averting mass death smoothed party divisions when it came to the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill, this one will spark a much fiercer battle for the soul of the Democratic party.

So, how are they going to pass this thing? There's virtually no chance of getting 10 Republican votes, which means that either Dems have to take the plunge and scrap the filibuster (which in effect forces lawmakers to get 60 Senate votes to pass most major pieces of legislation), or try to pass the measure through a simple-majority process called "budget reconciliation", which applies for bills that affect taxation and spending. Another question is whether the Biden administration decides to break up elements of the plan into smaller bills, or go for one massive history-making shot on goal.

Whatever Dems are gonna do, they have to do it fast. As the 2022 elections loom, Democrats know they have to use the moment or (potentially) lose it — midterms are historically unkind to the party in power, and the Democrats are working with a razor thin majority to begin with.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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