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Podcast: The LSE’s Minouche Shafik on how to fix our broken society

Listen: It was an ongoing question before the pandemic, but coronavirus has made it all the more urgent. With global inequality and extreme poverty on the rise, how do we patch up the many holes in the world's social safety nets? The idea of governments providing all adults with a set amount of cash on a regular basis, no strings attached, is gaining attention worldwide — especially given the need to expand post-pandemic social safety nets. But for London School of Economics Director Minouche Shafik, universal basic income "is like giving up on people." Shafik speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World Podcast.

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One economist’s argument against universal basic income

The idea of governments providing all adults with a set amount of cash on a regular basis, no strings attached, is gaining attention worldwide — especially given the need to expand post-pandemic social safety nets. But for London School of Economics Director Minouche Shafik, universal basic income "is like giving up on people." Find out why on the latest episode of GZERO World, which begins airing on US public television Friday, May 28. Check local listings.

No-drama Joe Biden’s first 100 days: big wins, but challenges ahead

In his first 100 days, Biden has issued more executive orders than any president since FDR. 40 of them by mid-April. His administration exceeded (modestly set) goals for vaccine distribution, pushed a record $1.9 trillion stimulus plan through Congress, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and announced an end to the war in Afghanistan. Biden's approval rating of 53% at the 100-day milestone, though lower than those of Obama and Bush, is 12 points higher than Trump's was at this point. But there are clear signs the next several months will be a much bumpier ride, with challenges from immigration to healthcare to a deeply divided Congress.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

Biden's big bet on Big Government

There are many differences between America's two main political parties, but the most fundamental is this: Democrats say government can and should act boldly to improve people's lives and strengthen the nation. Republicans insist that government itself poses the greatest threat to individual liberty and the nation's lasting competitive strength. The past 100 days make crystal-clear which side of that argument President Joe Biden lives on.

Ronald Reagan's presidency in the 1980s seemed to finally settle this question in favor of less government. Bill Clinton, the first post-Reagan Democrat in the White House, famously told Congress in 1996 that "the era of big government is over." A generation later, outside of his ambitious healthcare reform plan, fellow Democrat Barack Obama was notably cautious on this question.

But the pandemic has given Biden an opportunity to show government can go big. Historically big.

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Biden's massive, historic stimulus relief bill passes

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his perspective on the historic American Relief Act:

The American Relief Act just passed. Joe Biden's big $1.9 trillion stimulus has now passed the Senate and the House of Representatives and is on its way to the president's desk to be signed into law. This is a massive, historic piece of legislation on top of already $3 trillion in stimulus that Congress has provided to respond to the novel coronavirus. Here's another almost $2 trillion, that two thirds of which will be spent in this calendar year.

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Minimum wage won't go up for now; Texas sets reopening example

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

Another stimulus bill is about to pass the Senate. Why won't the minimum wage be going up?

Well, the problem with the minimum wage is it didn't have the 50 votes it needed to overcome the procedural hurdles that prevent the minimum wage when traveling with the stimulus bill. Clearly support for $15 an hour minimum wage in the House of Representatives, but there's probably somewhere between 41 and 45 votes for it in the Senate. There may be a compromise level that emerges later in the year as some Republicans have indicated, they'd be willing to support a lower-level minimum wage increase. But typically, those proposals come along with policies that Democrats find unacceptable, such as an employment verification program for any new hire in the country. Labor unions have been really, really fixated on getting a $15 an hour minimum wage. They may not be up for a compromise. So, we'll see what happens.

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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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Congress after the attempt to overthrow democracy: Democratic Senator Chris Murphy

Two-term Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut joins Ian Bremmer to talk about his harrowing experience during the Capitol riots of January 6, why he thinks an impeachment trial is still valuable even if Republican support for a conviction looks increasingly unlikely, if he believes President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package will pass both chambers, and how he thinks US-China foreign policy should change under the new administration.

Watch this extended interview from the recent episode of GZERO World: After the insurrection: will Congress find common ground?

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