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From $3.5 trillion to $2 trillion: Cuts to US spending bill mean less money for families

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

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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Moderate Democrats will determine the infrastructure bill's fate

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

What happened with the infrastructure bill in the House this week?

The infrastructure bill, $550 billion in new spending on infrastructure, roughly doubling the amount of money that the US spends on roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, water infrastructure over a five-year period was scheduled for a vote on Monday of this week. That was later delayed so that Speaker Nancy Pelosi could negotiate between progressives in her caucus and moderates, the moderates who wanted to get the bill done quickly. It was bipartisan.

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The Graphic Truth: Hispanics are underrepresented in US Congress

After Asian Americans, Hispanics are now the fastest-growing ethnic/racial group among the US population, and contributed half of America's population growth over the last decade. But although Hispanics make up 19 percent of the general population today, they hold less than one-tenth of seats in Congress. Will this change significantly by 2060, when the Hispanic share of the US population is projected to reach 28 percent? To mark Hispanic Heritage Month, we take a look at Hispanic representation in the House and Senate, compared to Hispanic share of the population, over the last 20 years.

Biden's legacy rests on pandemic leadership (not Afghanistan mistakes)

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the US Senate hearing on Afghanistan, French President Macron's popularity, and China's hostage diplomacy.

As top US military officials testify right now on Capitol Hill, just down the road, do you expect the Biden administration to suffer any long-term consequences for its botched Afghanistan withdrawal?

The answer is yes, but at the margins. I still think Biden will be most remembered overwhelmingly for how he handles the pandemic as well as for the three trillion plus dollars that will likely, but not certainly, get passed to pay for infrastructure and improve the social contract in the US. On both, he has been taking hits. Certainly the former has not gone well in terms of the pandemic response and on balance, I still think that means that the House in midterm elections is going to flip fairly solidly Republican. Means that they understand they have a narrow window to get policy done. Okay. That's it.

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US on track for August 31 withdrawal; House passes $3.5T 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:

Is the US on track for the August 31st withdrawal from Afghanistan?

The US is actually doing a pretty good job, getting its own citizens out of Afghanistan despite the chaos that's been seen at the airport and across the country over the last two weeks. It's estimated on Wednesday afternoon, there were about 1,500 citizens of the United States, still in Afghanistan. And some of them, according to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, may not want to leave. The US has been evacuating enormous numbers in the last several days. Over 21,000 people have gotten out. And even though Biden sent his CIA director, William Burns, to potentially negotiate a longer withdrawal date than August 31st with the Taliban, he says, he's going to stick to this deadline. The people who may not get out are the interpreters and helpers that aided the American military, who are native Afghanis, who are probably going to be left behind when the US leaves at the end of the month.

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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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January 6 committee partisan battle; SCOTUS rules on election reform

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:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forming a January 6th committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection. What do you expect to come from it?

Well, the committee is allowed to perform with the input from minority Republicans, but the Republicans are basically refusing to participate. Which means that most committee members, with the exception of probably Liz Cheney, the Trump critical member of Congress from Wyoming and daughter of the former vice president, are going to be Democrats. And the Democrats are going to probably go into this with an earnest desire to look at what happened on January 6th, who instigated the riot, why it happened, why the signs were missed at the Capitol by the Capitol police and others. What's likely going to come out of this is a lot of partisan messaging, trying to link the Republican party to the insurgence that stormed the Capitol on January 6th. That will help to harden views around January 6th and lead to more ongoing partisan battling in the advance of the 2022 midterm elections. So, expect a lot of heat, but not a lot of light to come out of this investigation. It'll probably be dismissed by Republican critics, even if its findings were to be sound.

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Joe Biden's presidency: biggest surprises, successes and mistakes so far

What surprised Jane Harman, former US Congresswoman (D-CA), most about Joe Biden's presidency? "Number one, he's much more hands-on as a leader than I fully understood. It's coming out now how he runs his meetings and what he does. But number two, and I love this, he's really enjoying the job." Harman, a nine-term member of Congress who served for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives, notes that Biden's stint as Vice President was no guarantee of how he would perform. "I think sitting behind that desk, and having the buck stop with him is very different. And I think he fills out the job very well."

In an interview with Ian Bremmer, Harman says Biden has a dimension that none of his four predecessors had, because of his experience in Congress and in foreign policy. She also shares her perspective on Biden's biggest successes as well as some mistakes he's made.

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