October 29th, 2021: President Biden in Europe, a Slowing Economy, and TikTok and Snapchat in the Hot Seat
This week, Paul Brandus shares the news about the pandemic's continued effect on the economy, Biden's trip to NATO and the G20 Summit, Snapchat and TikTok's appearance on Capitol Hill this week, and the ongoing struggle to pass the Infrastructure Bill. Featuring special guest Newsweek's Jonathan Broder.
Deal or no deal — the fate of two big pieces of legislation — and perhaps the Biden presidency — remain unclear.
The pandemic takes a big bite out of economic growth
And social media woes — this time its TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube in the crosshairs on Capitol Hill
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, October 22.
President Biden is in Rome — for meetings with leaders of the world’s biggest economies — though some biggies like China’s Xi Jinping— Russia’s Vladimir Putin are no-shows. They blame covid. Then its on to Scotland for a UN conference on climate change.
We’ll get to that in a second — but first — the president jetted away from Washington Thursday and we’re still NOT sure whether two giant pieces of legislation he’s been fighting for months to pass — are over the goal line yet.
Here’s a portion of what said before leaving the White House:
I THINK we have a deal, he said — before correcting himself.
Was it a slip of the tongue? Yes, it was. After all, there’s STILL no deal — that’s what Democrats say, and the president himself admitted privately — and I’m quoting — “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week.” Unquote.
So what’s in this framework he’s mentioning? Too many specifics — but in general one-and-three-quarter trillion dollars in programs for everything from universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, to expanded Medicare for seniors. There’s more than half a trillion in tax credits for clean energy, including electric vehicles. And the cost of childcare — a crushing expense for parents — will be capped at 7% of what they make; The hope THERE — is that parents, mostly Moms who have had to leave jobs to take care of there kids will be able to re-enter the workforce.
Those are the broad strokes to this — and again as the president emphasized no one is getting all they wanted — including him. More from his remarks Thursday.
Some of the claims the president makes — like how this framework won’t add to the deficit — are debatable. But its also moot — because as of this taping there’s still no deal.
The economy downshifted in the third quarter — growth down to two percent — it had been well over six percent for the year.
So what’s going on? Well — consumer spending is two-thirds of the U-S economy and folks are spending less — also the pandemic aid that HAD been going out to millions of Americans — that’s no more.
The road ahead could be troubled — inflation is heating up — gasoline, food — and the energy department warns it’ll cost more to stay warm this winter.
What’s worrying about this is that even BEFORE inflation picked up — the Federal Reserve said that nearly one-third of Americans would have trouble with an unexpected expense of of 400-dollars. Now — times are even tighter.
Some other quick items from this week:
Housing prices remain solid — up nearly 20-percent in the top 20 markets from a year ago — says the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. But there are signs that things may be leveling off —
Hate crimes on the rise — the FBI says they rose 45-percent against blacks last year — and 73-percent against Asians.
And a different kind of crime — the white-collar variety. The Justice Department says it’s stepping up the fight against it.
In just a minute — TikTok and Snapchat have some explaining to to on Capitol Hill — and we’ll take a closer look at the president’s trip to Europe.
But first — let’s hear about ANOTHER Evergreen podcast — that I know you'll enjoy”
Welcome back — you’re listening to West Wing Reports — from Washington — I’m Paul Brandus. Two more social media companies are in the hot seat on Capitol Hill. TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube — all wildly popular with younger Americans, including teens — AND kids even younger than that. Also
The problem: how safe these platforms are — how much privacy they have, and algorithms that may steer harmful content their way. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey:
There’s a bill to better protect young social media users - the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — Markey asked two witnesses if their companies support that. bill. The first is Jennifer Stout of Snapchat, followed by Michael Beckerman of TikTok:
Meantime, Beckerman — the TikTok guy — had this exchange with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar:
So a lot of talk — but not enough action to protect kids — at least in the eyes of lawmakers.
Now let’s open up the West Wing Reports archives — and take a look at what made history this week in the past:
He was known as "The Atlas of Independence." John Adams - born this day in 1735. The 2d president — but the first president to live in the White House. Wanna read a good book ON Adams? — at the top of the list is the biography by David McCullough — it’s called simply John Adams.
Theodore Roosevelt — born the week in 1858 — he was the youngest president ever — though the youngest ever ELECTED was JFK. A CSPAN survey of historians — that including me I’m proud to say — ranks Roosevelt the fifth greatest president. He’s just one of four on Mount Rushmore, by the way — and speaking of Mount Rushmore — IT opened this week in 1941.
And 2001 — George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act — a series of measures aimed at preventing future terror attacks on the United States. The government was given broad new powers to monitor things like communications and financial transactions. There have been several legal challenges since 2001 to the Patriot Act; Federal courts have ruled that some are unconstitutional. Civil rights supporters have said the provisions trample upon the individual liberties of American citizens.
I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: is’t from James Monroe — our fifth president.
He said something that I think resonates today, quote — “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.”