China is ghosting the United States

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants to reschedule his date with China. Beijing is giving him the cold shoulder.
The Biden administration called off Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing in February after a Chinese spy balloon traversed U.S. skies, but has since been trying to restart high-level talks. That includes rescheduling the Blinken visit, and setting up other trips by top U.S. officials and a phone call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a current U.S. official and a former State Department official said.

But China is rebuffing the U.S. efforts”

“China also is pressing back particularly hard on the proposals for a Xi-Biden call.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ State of the Union Response Offers a Grim Glimpse of the GOP’s Future

“Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s response speech suggested that the Republican counter will be light on policy and heavy on grievances.”

“Sanders could have used the speech to challenge the Biden administration’s ambitious spending proposals even while inflation and the national debt remain serious problems. Instead, she touted that her first act as governor included banning the word “Latinx” from official government use and forbidding schools from teaching critical race theory.”

“Sanders briefly addressed COVID-19 policy by saying that she “repealed COVID orders and said ‘never again’ to authoritarian mandates and shutdowns.” But the majority of her speech was a missed opportunity. When Sanders mentioned Democrats’ “trillions in reckless spending and mountains of debt,” it was to decry that the spending had failed to stop “fentanyl [from] pouring across our southern borders.””

“the speech signaled what Republicans would likely focus on over the next 18 months. As Josh Barro wrote last week, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each provided optimistic versions of Republican governance, proposing national prosperity and “compassionate conservatism,” respectively. But today’s Republican party is characterized by “mostly bad, bitter feelings;” corporations and the military are now “woke” and should each be brought to heel; by legislative force, if necessary. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is broadly popular in his state and a likely 2024 presidential candidate, has turned this ethos into a series of punitive steps against disfavored groups and companies.”

Another Analysis Suggests Mandatory Reporting Laws May Be Doing Children More Harm Than Good

“Mandatory reporting laws say that certain classes of professionals are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and neglect to authorities. Federal law requires states to have such laws in place.
While mandatory reporting might seem at first rather uncontroversial—one hopes that any adult, mandated or not, would report suspected child abuse—the nature of these laws leads to a lot of unfounded reporting. Mandatory reporters who fail to do so face penalties ranging from criminal charges to professional sanctions and loss of occupational licenses, so it behooves them to report liberally. (“Mandatory reporters are required to report the facts and circumstances that led them to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected” but “do not have the burden of providing proof that abuse or neglect has occurred,” notes a report from the U.S. Children’s Bureau.) This can lead to a lot of false reports of abuse that cause major headaches and heartaches for the families involved.

The problem is exacerbated by states perpetually expanding the list of people considered mandatory reporters.”

“Being investigated by child protective services can be a disturbing experience for parents and children alike, and even lead to children being temporarily removed from their parents’ homes. It can also lead to a range of other invasive measures.”

“”Nationally, the families of more than half of Black children will be investigated by child protective services before those kids turn 18; in much of the country, more than one in 10 Black kids will be removed from their home,” she writes. “In New York City, Black families are six times more likely than white families to be investigated and 11 times more likely to experience a separation. If social workers are by and large earnest, gentle, well-intentioned individuals, they are also unavoidably narcs, bound by laws demanding that they rat on the very communities they’re supposed to help.””

Japan Is Reopening Nuclear Power Plants and Planning To Build New Ones

“Speaking of Fukushima, according to the Financial Times, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that the government plans to allow the restart of at least 10 more of the nuclear power plants it shuttered after the 2011 disaster. In addition, Kishida is pushing for research on and the construction of new safer nuclear plants as a way to protect Japanese consumers from erratic global fossil fuel markets and reduce his country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Kishida foresees Japan becoming a major exporter of nuclear generation technology to power hungry developing countries around the world.”

The IRS has a big opportunity to fix the way Americans file taxes

“The IRS desperately needs to put together an easier-to-use, simpler way for people to file their taxes and access benefits free of charge. Accomplishing that, of course, is easier said than done. The IRS has been underfunded for decades and does not have sufficient in-house technical expertise to build a free file system on its own.”

“The actual work of doing your taxes mostly involves rifling through various IRS forms you get in the mail. There are W-2s listing your wages, 1099s showing miscellaneous income like from one-off gigs, etc. The main advantage of TurboTax is that it can import these forms automatically and spare you this step.
But here’s the thing about the forms: The IRS gets them, too. When Vox Media sent me a W-2 telling me how much it paid me in 2020, it sent an identical one to the IRS. When my bank sent me a 1099 telling my wife and me how much interest we earned on our savings account in 2020, it also sent one to the IRS. If I’m not itemizing deductions (like 70 percent of taxpayers), the IRS has all the information it needs to calculate my taxes, send me a filled-out return, and let me either send it right back to the IRS if I’m comfortable with their version or else do my taxes by hand if I prefer.

This isn’t a purely hypothetical proposal. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Chile, and Spain already offer ”pre-populated returns” to their citizens. California experimented with a version called ReadyReturn before it was shut down under pressure from H&R Block and Intuit.”

“Congress needs to authorize more funding for the IRS.”

Democrats’ remaining options for raising the minimum wage, explained

“The Senate parliamentarian on Thursday dealt Democrats a disappointing blow in the fight for the $15 minimum wage, ruling that it can’t be included in a Covid-19 relief package if lawmakers want to use budget reconciliation.

That decision likely means that the $15 minimum wage is effectively dead — for now.”

“Sanders, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and other Democrats also floated the idea of establishing a tax penalty that incentivizes large corporations to pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and gives small businesses a tax credit for doing so. That change wouldn’t set a new federal standard for the minimum wage, but it could help nudge businesses into offering their employees better pay. Schumer, too, had offered his backing for a plan that dings corporations that don’t raise their wages. But over the weekend, Democrats determined the idea is a no-go for now.

Ultimately, Democrats may have to consider a potential compromise with Republicans to advance any type of standalone change to the minimum wage. Thus far, five Republicans — led by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) — have backed legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $10 by 2025, a change that would also be tied to immigration enforcement. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), too, has introduced a bill that would require a $15 minimum wage at companies that make $1 billion or more in annual revenues.”

Silicon Valley is spending millions more for Joe Biden than it did for Hillary Clinton

“To some extent, Silicon Valley is doing nothing unusual. 2020 is by far the most expensive election cycle, adjusted for inflation — costing more than twice as much as the runner-up, the 2016 race. But the new money reflects how Silicon Valley is increasingly turning its financial power into political power that could persist after Election Day.”

No, you cannot move to Georgia just to vote in the Senate runoffs

“It’s illegal to move to Georgia temporarily just to vote in an election and then leave. Georgia state officials are strongly urging prospective out-of-state voters to stay home, warning them they’ll face steep penalties if they vote fraudulently.”

Trump has been the biggest source of Covid-19 misinformation, study finds

“When I asked public health experts how the United States had reached 200,000 coronavirus deaths, several of them cited the misinformation coming from the White House and President Donald Trump himself.

The president has questioned the efficacy of masks, hyped unproven treatments, and continues to promise a vaccine before experts and the drug companies themselves believe it will actually be ready. That lack of clear and accurate communication has now extended to Trump’s own Covid-19 diagnosis, with his doctors seemingly obfuscating the details of the president’s condition. They have outright acknowledged downplaying the seriousness of his symptoms, and the treatment Trump is receiving does not entirely comport with the sunny prognosis advanced by the White House.

The effect of all of these communications failures is diffuse and uncertain. But we do know this much, according to new Cornell University research: The president of the United States was the loudest megaphone for Covid-19 misinformation during the first few months of the pandemic.

The researchers examined more than 1.1 million English-language articles published between January 1 and May 26 in traditional media outlets (retrieved through LexisNexis) that included some Covid-19 misinformation. They represented about 3 percent of the 38 million total articles published about the pandemic in that time.

Of those million-plus articles with misinformation, about 38 percent of them featured Donald Trump and some specific kind of misleading claim of which the president is fond, or a general reference to his penchant for spreading false information.

Trump’s influence is not just reflected in the amount of misleading information, but also the content of it — even if he wasn’t directly the source. Of the various types of misinformation identified by the Cornell study, “miracle cures” are by far the most common. The president has touted, without evidence, the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and said he’d taken a course himself.”

“In an unprecedented health care emergency, Americans needed clear and accurate information from their federal government. Instead, President Trump has sowed discord and doubt and disinformation, making it harder for the country to contain Covid-19.”

People Are Missing the Point on Trump’s Tax Returns

“Trump’s business model, which goes something like this: Launch several businesses, many of which hemorrhage millions of dollars each year, and use the publicity from those businesses to make money on personal branding. The latter is highly profitable, earning Trump $427.4 million between 2004-2018. The losses from the former—his hotels and resorts for instance—are then used to largely offset his tax liability.

The Times’ report does erode the savvy businessman brand Trump has sought to cultivate for himself, both commercially and as a candidate for office. The president is not necessarily the astute entrepreneur he claims to be, though he may be uniquely skilled at making money by wasting money. His most high-profile business successes—his golf courses—have reportedly lost $315 million since 2000. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., just opened in 2016, has already lost $55 million, both numbers according to the Times.

Losing money for a living is certainly an unorthodox business model, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

Trump’s deductions don’t stop there, however. There’s also the $9.7 million tax credit Trump claimed to renovate the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., which would later become the aforementioned Trump hotel. That fell under the historic preservation tax clause, an entirely legal tax incentive meant to encourage the redevelopment of old structures.

It could be legally problematic, or just another revealing symptom of U.S. tax law, that Trump has claimed millions of dollars in unspecified consulting fees on various business projects, which typically amounted to 20 percent of his income, according to the Times. Ivanka Trump was allegedly the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in such consulting fees. The president also declared $1.4 billion in business losses in 2008 and 2009. An IRS audit is ongoing.”

“Our tax code, which Bishop-Henchman says was written in the style of a “phone book,” is replete with overly complex rules and regulations meant to influence the public’s economic behavior. Former Vice President Joe Biden is no stranger to this. “I have nothing against Amazon,” he wrote in June of 2019, “but no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers. We need to reward work, not just wealth.” The tech behemoth paid no federal taxes in 2018 after making use of legal tax incentives established by Congress, of which Biden was a member for 36 years. For example, Amazon invested $22.6 billion in research and development in 2017, something the legislature hopes will spur job creation and economic growth.”