Lianeon Weekly Topics | Infrastructure Deal Dead in 24 Hours?

Week of June 21st

The Essential Three

Ranked-Choice Voting Gets A Prime-Time Shot Under New York City's Bright Lights

An important election takes place Tuesday in New York City.

But beyond who wins the mayoral primaries there, what happens could have consequences for how millions of Americans vote in the future.

That's because the city, for the first time, is using ranked-choice voting. The method, which allows voters to rank candidates by preference rather than selecting just their top choice, has gained some traction throughout the country, pushed by reformers who say it's a better election system.

Ranked choice voting and approval voting schemes have the potential for greatly reducing the polarized politics that is poisoning democracy in America. Essentially, the benefit is access to a great number of candidates, and most people will get a candidate they like….or at least accept. Unlike today, where every election results in half of voters angry and disgruntled.

Biden: 'We have a deal' on infrastructure with bipartisan group of senators

President Joe Biden said Thursday he has agreed to a deal on infrastructure with a bipartisan group of senators after White House officials and the senators had a massive breakthrough the night before in their infrastructure negotiations.

Both Republican and Democratic senators said Wednesday evening there was an agreement reached with White House officials and 10 senators on a bipartisan infrastructure deal. And on Thursday afternoon, Biden said he had signed off on the agreement.

An overview of my thoughts on this plan is incoming. Overall, a remarkable deal given that Trump also wanted to spend $500 billion on infrastructure and his own party, which controlled the house and senate at the time, didn’t back him on it.

Graham calls Democrats' dual-track infrastructure plan "extortion"

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Politico Thursday that he will not support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that President Biden struck with 10 senators, after Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded it be passed alongside a budget resolution with key Democratic priorities.

Why it matters: The bipartisan infrastructure bill needs every Democrat and 10 GOP votes — meaning five more than the number of Republicans that have already signed on — in order to overcome a legislative filibuster in the Senate.

And just like that, the deal may have imploded. On one hand, Biden didn’t do himself favors by essentially threatening to pocket veto a deal that he agreed to hours before. On the other hand, it has been no secret that the Democrats would push to pass their agenda through reconciliation in a separate bill. Biden messed up for sure, but the GOP is displaying false outrage.

Healthcare/Society

White House acknowledges U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal

The Biden administration acknowledged on Tuesday that it will likely miss its goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4.

Why it matters: Despite falling short of the goal, the White House still believes most Americans will be safe to fully celebrate Independence Day, as COVID-19 cases and deaths remain at low levels throughout much of the country.

It's a vastly different message than this time last year, when public health officials and some governors were limiting large gatherings and pleading with the public to only host small, outdoor events for the holiday.

Expect the White House to spin this. They are already highlighting the fact that over 70% of people over 30 have gotten at least one shot. This will muddle the message in the minds of the public. This was not the goal, the goal was for 70% of all adults. Likely the goal will be reached, albeit a few weeks late.

All recent US population growth comes from people of color, new census estimates show

As we await the final 2020 census statistics for America’s race and ethnic populations (due later this summer), newly released Census Bureau estimates compiled independently of the 2020 census[1] suggest something unprecedented: The 2010s could be the first decade when the nation’s white population registered an absolute loss.

These new estimates show annual population changes by race and ethnicity between July 2010 and July 2020. They indicate that, for each year since 2016, the nation’s white population dropped in size. Thus, all of U.S. population growth from 2016 to 2020 comes from gains in people of color.

The Delta Variant Is a Grave Danger to the Unvaccinated

Lineage B.1.617.2, now known as the Delta variant, was first detected in India, in December, 2020. An evolved version of sars-CoV-2, Delta has at least a dozen mutations, including several on its spike protein that make it vastly more contagious and possibly more lethal and vaccine-resistant than other strains. In India, the Delta variant contributed to the most devastating coronavirus wave the world has seen so far; now, it has been detected in dozens of countries, including the United States. In the U.S., it accounts for a minority of cases—but it is rapidly outcompeting other variants, and will likely soon become our dominant lineage.

For some perspective, the partial social distancing measures taken by the US last year took out 99% of the seasonal flu, but Covid-19 still killed more Americans than WW2.

The alpha variant is 60% more transmissible, the Delta variant is about 60% more transmissible that that. Expect this virus to rip through the world at a rapid clip.

Coronavirus FAQ: I've Been Vaccinated. Do I Need To Worry About Variants?

I've been vaccinated. Do I need to worry about variants?

That depends on a few things — including your personal risk tolerance.

But first off, know that your vaccine is quite valuable. The COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be protective against the new virus variants, according to the World Health Organization.

Exactly how much the various vaccines protect against the delta variant — the newest form of the virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dubbed a "variant of concern" — is still somewhat of a guessing game. But if you're fully vaccinated (two weeks after your second dose) the odds are highly favorable that you won't get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, and even better that if you are one of the unfortunate few, you won't get a severe case.

Education/Science/Technology

Don't Ban Critical Race Theory in Education. Embrace School Choice Instead

Conservatives in Florida, Idaho, and the nation's capitol are attempting to block public schools from teaching Critical Race Theory, an ideology that holds that racism is historically fundamental to how America's political, legal, and cultural institutions are structured.

It's an authoritarian proposal that would cut off classroom debate about hot-button political issues. Rather than rejecting the idea of forcing students to learn controversial concepts as though they're facts, it just picks a different side of the controversy and pushes that one instead.

I don’t agree that school choice is a magical answer, but the writer makes some solid points. We should not outright ban the teaching of CRT though legislative fiat….that is the very definition of government censorship. That said, CRT is a vehicle through which a political agenda is being pushed, an agenda that is often toxic and divisive.

Economy/Business

U.S. Existing-Home Prices Hit Record High in May

U.S. home prices in May experienced their biggest annual increase in more than two decades, as a shortage of properties and low borrowing rates fueled demand.

The median existing-home sales price in May topped $350,000 for the first time, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The figure was nearly 24% higher than a year ago, the biggest year-over-year price increase NAR has recorded in data going back to 1999.

Sales prices have been climbing sharply since last summer, when lockdowns related to the Covid-19 pandemic eased across the country and many people rushed to find more space and bigger homes. Others working remotely seized on the chance to move to a less expensive city.

Policy/Politics

Biden risks break with progressives on infrastructure

President Biden's relationship with his party's liberal base is being tested by a bipartisan framework on infrastructure spending, which has sparked a revolt from progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The big question is whether Biden will endorse the bipartisan plan, even though many Democrats are disappointed it leaves out many of their priorities.

If Biden throws his weight behind the $974 billion, five-year plan, Democratic strategists predict the party will quickly unify behind him, even if they do so reluctantly.

But doing so would scar Biden’s relationship with progressives, who worry the president might fall short on his pledge to deliver big and bold change.

Rudy Giuliani barred from practicing law in New York over election lies

Rudy Giuliani is suspended from practicing law in New York state following disciplinary proceedings over his misleading statements to courts and the public following the 2020 US presidential election.

The New York supreme court issued its decision on Thursday, saying that it had found “uncontroverted evidence” that Giuliani made “demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large”, on behalf of his client, then-president Donald Trump, and created a “narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client”.

The consequences to trying to overturn democracy have not been severe enough to date. The precedent is being set for a future President to lose and election, and, if his party controls the House and Senate, to simply overturn the results. That is not democracy.

Justice Department announces challenge to Georgia's restrictive voting law

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced Friday that it is suing the state of Georgia over its recently enacted voting restrictions.

"Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

The move is the first major federal enforcement action around the spate of Republican-led laws that have imposed limits on voting in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

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