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Grading President Biden's first 100 days; 2020 US Census helps Sun Belt states

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:

How would you grade President Biden's performance in his first 100 days?

Well, Biden's done pretty well in this first 100 days. He's done a good job on what's the number one most important issue facing his administration and that's the coronavirus response. He hit his goal of 100 million vaccinations within the first month or so of his administration. And they increased that to 200 million vaccinations, which they hit on day 92. So that's a pretty successful start. They inherited a lot of that from President Trump to be fair. Operation Warp Speed set the US up for success and Biden delivered after he came into office. And of course, the second thing is his COVID relief package, which the US has taken advantage of a favorable funding environment to borrow trillions of dollars and get them into the hands of American small businesses and families and has really helped the economy through what has been a very bad year but could have been a lot worse if the government hadn't intervened. The bill has been very popular, and it set the stage for a follow on bill that Biden wants to deliver for big priorities for democrats later this year, potentially as much as $4 trillion in spending.

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On Dr. Seuss and cancel culture

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, life looking better every day in the United States, coronavirus land. But I thought I'd talk about, this week, all of this cancel culture that everyone's talking about right now. If you're on the wrong political side, your opponents are trying to shut you down and you take massive umbrage. I see this everywhere, and it's starting to annoy.

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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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Ted Cruz's vacation repercussions; Biden's bind on school reopening

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:

Why is everyone so interested in Ted Cruz's vacation?

Well, the junior Senator from Texas took a little trip down to Cancun with his family this week, which normally wouldn't be that big of a deal, except it was in the middle of historic snowstorm that froze the entire state, left millions without water or electricity.

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Texas grid shows need to fix infrastructure in US; RIP Rush Limbaugh

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

What's happening in Texas?

Speaking of weird weather, my goodness yeah, I didn't know this was coming up here. Yeah, it's cold, right? There's snow. It looks horrible and millions of people without energy and of course that is because the level of infrastructure investment into the Texas grid is well below what it needs to be. There's a lack of integration. Texas' grid largely stands by itself. It is not under the authority of or coordinated multilaterally with broader energy infrastructure. And there has been a lot of investment into renewables in Texas. It is certainly true. They've been very interested in that. Sped up under former Governor Perry but still the vast majority of electricity is coming from fossil fuels. It's coming from coal and mostly oil and gas.

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What We're Watching: Frozen Texas, another Nigerian kidnapping, Super Mario's next level

Texas on ice: Winter storms and uncharacteristically freezing weather have plunged the normally toasty US state of Texas into a severe crisis, as power grids knocked offline by the cold had left nearly 3 million people without electricity by Wednesday morning. The state's 29 million residents are now subject to rolling blackouts. Like everything else in America, the situation in Texas has already become a partisan football. Republicans skeptical of renewable energy seized on a handful of frozen wind turbines to argue that the failure of clean energy sources was responsible for the crisis, but data show the collapse in energy supply is overwhelmingly the result of natural gas infrastructure being knocked offline by the cold (pipelines in Texas generally aren't insulated.) In addition, because of resistance to federal regulation, Texas' grid runs with lower reserve power margins and no connection to surrounding state grids, meaning that no power can be imported when a crisis strikes. The sustainability of that model is likely to be the subject of fierce political wrangling in coming months, and will likely spill over into debates on Capitol Hill about "Green Stimulus." For now, millions of Texans are shivering, and not happy about it.

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The Graphic Truth: COVID deaths — US states vs countries

Back in March and April, the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks were in Europe — specifically Italy, Spain, and France — as well as the Northeastern United States. In the months since, these areas have managed to flatten their curves through strict social distancing policies, but now the epicenter of the coronavirus in the US has shifted to some Southern states that resisted lockdown measures. Consider that the United States recorded an average of 744 COVID deaths in the seven days leading up to July 16, compared to 74 in the UK and 13 in Italy during that same period. Meanwhile, Latin American countries are now also facing some of the biggest outbreaks in the world. Here's a look at where COVID-19 deaths are rising fastest, broken out as a comparison between US states and other hard-hit countries.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this graphic mistakenly labeled the y-axis as rolling 7-day average of deaths per 100,000 people. In fact, the y-axis refers to the rolling 7-day average in deaths from the coronavirus (not per 100,000 people). We regret the error.

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