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Minimum wage may not go up, but expect stimulus checks in April

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics in Washington, DC:

Is the minimum wage going to $15 an hour?

Probably not. The House of Representatives did include it in the stimulus bill that they're going to pass as soon as next week, but when it gets over to the Senate it's likely to either be stripped out altogether because of a provision of the reconciliation process known as the Byrd Rule, or you could see some moderate Senate Democrats try to push a compromise measure which would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to something closer to $10 or $11 an hour.

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Mitt Romney isn't the future of the GOP. He's the past.

In this edition of The Red Pen, we take a look at an editorial by the FT's Janan Ganesh, who argues that Mitt Romney represents a future for US conservatism post-Trump and is in a unique position to turn around the Republican Party. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Jon Lieber point out that the GOP is actually moving in a very different direction.

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Biden's controversial Defense pick may need bipartisan support

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics this week:

First question. Why is Biden's nomination of Lloyd Austin for Secretary of Defense controversial?

It's controversial because Austin has not been out of the military for the required seven years that are needed, under the National Security Act of 1947, to ensure civilian control over the Department of Defense. As a result, he'll need a waiver from Congress in order to serve. This would be the second waiver that Congress has approved in the last four years with the first one coming for Trump's Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis. That was justified at the time because Congress was a little concerned about President Trump and really wanted somebody with a steady hand like Mattis on the till. But Biden has other options, including Michele Flournoy, who has a lot of supporters in Capitol Hill. And so, you're seeing some Democrats suggest they may not be willing to give a waiver this time. Austin may require a lot of Republican votes in order to get confirmed.

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Why US COVID relief package progress is unlikely before January

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

With 250,000 Americans dead of COVID and case counts rising, is there any sign of a federal relief package on the way?

And the answer is a solid maybe. The interesting thing is even after the election, neither party has really changed their views on what they want in a stimulus. The Democrats are still holding to their $2.5 trillion number, and the Republicans are saying they want something much smaller and more targeted. President Trump is nowhere to be found in these discussions. He's busy litigating the outcome of an election he lost. Vice President Biden, the incoming President on January 20th, has indicated he basically supports the Democrat's position. He can probably be the deal breaker here. If he wants to tell the Democrats to come down with their number, that could potentially drive compromise with the Republicans. Negotiations haven't really gone anywhere though in the last six months, and I'd frankly be surprised at this point if we saw relief before the fifth January runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate.

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Barrett hearing reflects Supreme Court polarization; predicting US voter turnout

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the latest in US politics:

What has been most revealing to you about the Amy Coney Barrett hearing so far?

Well, what was interesting about them to me was how nakedly political they are. Normally, you have at least the pretense of probing the justice's judicial philosophy, trying to figure out where they stand relative on the political spectrum. But here, you know, the Republicans know they have a vote, so it's largely been cheerleading. And the Democrats have been running what looks like a political campaign, asking questions about the Affordable Care Act, bringing up constituent stories of people who are going to be affected should the Supreme Court knock it down in a way that just is really unusual for Supreme Court. I think that just reflects the polarization of the court and political polarization more generally.

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Americans “are going to get angrier”: Ian Bremmer on US pandemic response

In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

Coronavirus relief bill at a standoff; climate won't sway election

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on US politics.

What's the status on the coronavirus relief bill in Congress?

Well, we're here in front of the US Capitol where there's not a whole lot going on to resolve the standoff over for further fiscal stimulus. There was a brief burst of activity earlier this week when the Problem Solvers Caucus came together with a bipartisan proposal that would probably pass both chambers of Congress. But House leadership quickly shot that down. They don't seem too interested in giving Donald Trump a big fiscal stimulus just six weeks before the election. President Trump, for his part, has been encouraging Republicans to go big. But Republicans seem like they mostly want to go home so they can get out of here, fund the government and go campaign for November. So, we end this week where we ended last week. Not a lot of progress being made. Probably nothing is going to happen here.

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Key Supreme Court decisions; how coronavirus impacts US election

Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

How is coronavirus jeopardizing the legitimacy of a 2020 presidential election?

Well, what coronavirus is doing is a lot of states are worrying about people who aren't going to want to come to the polling places in the fall, and they're worried about a shortage of polling workers who are going to want to come out and volunteer to get sick by interacting with a bunch people in person. So, what they're doing is they're looking at making a shift to vote-by-mail. Most states allow some form of absentee balloting today. Five states just automatically mail you a ballot and they don't do any in-person voting. But the challenge here is that a lot of states are unprepared for the sharp increase that's expected. In the last election, 25% of ballots were cast by mail. You may see 50, 60 or even more percent of ballots cast by mail this time, which could overwhelm election administration, which happens at the state level.

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