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Biden Administration's COVID Response Likely to Impact Midterms | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden administration's COVID response likely to impact midterms

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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United States Senator Joe Manchin III (Democrat of West Virginia), Chairman, US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, listens to the panel during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on domestic and international energy price trends, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Rod Lamkey / CNP/Sipa USA

What We're Watching: Joe Manchin tanks Biden's agenda

Joe sinks Joe. It looks like US President Joe Biden has come to the end of the road with his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Plan, now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has announced flatly he’ll vote “no.” With the Senate split 50-50, Biden needs every Democrat vote in the chamber. The White House haggled with Manchin for months — “dancin’ for Manchin”, you might say. Biden even cut the proposed spending in half. But the moderate Manchin said he still “couldn’t get there” because of concerns about the deficit, and further stoking already high inflation. Republicans, of course, are ecstatic, because passing BBB is Biden's key pitch for Americans to vote for Democrats in next year's midterms and re-elect him (or another Democrat in his place) in 2024. It's not too late to reach a fresh compromise on the bill, but the longer the Dems keep squabbling, the longer their odds of retaining control of Congress next November.

Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021.

REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

What We’re Watching: Chile’s new prez, Manchin sinks Biden’s agenda, Russian NATO wishlist, Australia vs China, Afghan trust fund

Boric wins in Chile. In the end, it wasn’t even close. Faced with two diametrically opposed choices for president in Sunday’s presidential runoff, more than 55 percent of Chilean voters went with leftwinger Gabriel Boric instead of his far-right opponent José Antonio Kast. The ten-point gap was so wide that Kast conceded before the count was even done. Boric, 35, now becomes the youngest president of any major nation in the world. Elected just two years after mass protests over inequality shook what was one of Latin America’s most reliably boring and prosperous countries, Boric has promised to raise taxes in order to boost social spending, nationalize the pension system, and expand the rights of indigenous Chileans. But with the country’s legislature evenly split between parties of the left and the center-right, the new president will likely have to compromise on his sweeping pledge to make Chile the land where neoliberalism “goes to its grave.”

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Think Buying American Will Help Ease Inflation? Larry Summers Says It Won’t | GZERO World

Think buying American will help ease inflation? Larry Summers says it won’t

Many Americans believe the best way to fight rising prices is to purchase US-made goods, in theory, less affected by COVID-fueled disruptions to global supply chains.

For former US treasury secretary Larry Summers, they're wrong.

"I think the right thing to do is to buy cheap and buy inexpensive."

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What’s Next for Infrastructure & Biden’s Build Back Better Plan? | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

What's next for infrastructure and Biden's Build Back Better plan?

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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Will Biden be the Grinch this year?

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Democrats Need to be United to Pass $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Democrats need to be united to pass $3.5 trillion budget plan

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

What are the details of the Democrats' proposed $3.5 trillion budget blueprint?

Well, the Democrats this week in the Senate Budget Committee agreed to move forward with the plan to spend $3.5 trillion spread out over about 10 years on a huge portion of President Biden's Build Back Better Plan. This comes on top of a bipartisan agreement, at least in principle, on another $600 billion in physical infrastructure, which is roads, bridges, tunnels, repair, broadband deployment and a whole bunch of other physical infrastructure spending that Republicans and Democrats agree they want to do but aren't clear on how they want to pay for. But on the $3.5 trillion in spending, this is a lot of new social services, it's extending a number of tax subsidies that are going to low-income families and families with kids as part of the American Rescue Plan, which was the Biden stimulus bill that passed earlier in the year. It also includes money for two years of community college, universal preschool, and expands Medicare to cover things like dental benefits and other things that Medicare currently doesn't pay for.

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Gabriella Turrisi

Can the G7 really build back the world better than China?

Over the weekend, the Biden administration announced a G7-backed plan to build climate-friendly infrastructure projects across the developing world. Against the backdrop of rising US-China competition, the plan is widely perceived as a direct challenge to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which also aims to build roads, ports, and rails across the Global South.

But what is really in the new G7 program — known as "B3W" (Build Back Better for the World) — and what is it meant to achieve? Here are a few questions to ponder.

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