“The Ohio case, while extreme, is not an aberration. Corrupt electric utilities using ratepayer funds to roll back climate policy is not limited to Ohio. As I described in Short Circuiting Policy, it is an unfortunately common pattern.
Last week, the Illinois utility ComEd — whose parent company is Exelon — admitted to engaging in bribery and agreed to pay a $200 million fine. It’s very likely that another speaker, Michael Madigan, is involved in that case — the Illinois governor has already called on him to resign.
In Arizona, which I examine in my book, the FBI similarly launched an investigation into an elected official over its ties to a private electric utility, Arizona Public Service. As we now know, Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Gary Pierce met privately with then-Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt numerous times. The utility also funneled over $700,000 through a dark money group to Pierce’s son’s failed bid for secretary of state.
Arizona Public Service also secretly spent tens of millions on campaigns to elect its own regulators in order to secure favorable decisions, including clean energy rollbacks and generous rate hikes. In 2018 alone, it spent upward of $40 million to successfully block a clean energy ballot initiative. The new CEO, Jeff Guldner, played a key role in directing the utility’s dark political spending.
And this isn’t a new strategy. Throughout the 1990s, electric utilities including FirstEnergy and Arizona Public Service were key funders of climate denial.”
“The dogged folks at the Energy and Policy Institute — a utility watchdog that has turned up real-time facts in most of these cases — paint a clear picture for those paying attention: Most electric utilities are resisting the clean energy transition and using corruption to do it.”
“Biden is making relief for child care centers part of his larger caregiving plan, which he unveiled on Tuesday in New Castle, Delaware. “As a first step, Biden will immediately provide states, tribal, and local governments with the fiscal relief they need to keep workers employed and keep vital public services running, including direct care and child care services,” states the campaign document outlining the plan. (The campaign did not provide specifics on the among of relief the candidate would make available if elected.)
But the former vice president also promises to go beyond the immediate crisis and invest in child care for the future. His plan would provide free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the country. And for kids under the age of 3, the plan would create a system of tax credits and subsidies so that families earning less than 1.5 times the median income in their state would pay no more than 7 percent of their income for child care, with “the most-hard pressed working families” paying nothing.
The plan also includes tax credits to encourage employers to construct onsite child care facilities, something companies did during World War II that’s become harder to imagine today, as families (most often mothers) are expected to handle child care on their own.”
“A National Guard officer will testify Tuesday at a congressional hearing that the June 1 clearing of protesters outside the White House was “an unnecessary escalation of the use of force” and “deeply disturbing to me, and to fellow National Guardsmen.”
“From my observation, those demonstrators—our fellow American citizens—were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” Adam DeMarco, a major in the D.C. National Guard, will tell the House Natural Resources Committee, according to his prepared remarks. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”
DeMarco’s testimony directly contradicts several of the Trump administration’s shifting explanations for what happened on June 1, when law enforcement violently dispersed a crowd of protesters in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. After police cleared the crowds, President Donald Trump conducted a photo shoot of himself holding a Bible outside St. John’s Church.”
“DeMarco testifies that around 6 p.m., Attorney General William Barr and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived.
“As the senior National Guard officer on the scene at the time, I gave General Milley a quick briefing on our mission and the current situation,” DeMarco writes. “General Milley told me to ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.” (Milley has since apologized for appearing in Lafayette Square. “I should not have been there,” he said. “My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”)
At around 6:20 p.m., DeMarco continues, verbal warnings were given to the crowd to leave. But from where he was standing, about 20 yards away from the line of protesters, the warnings “were barely audible and I saw no indication that the demonstrators were cognizant of the warnings to disperse.”
Law enforcement rushed the crowd at around 6:30 p.m. Videos showed law enforcement assaulting an Australian TV crew. Media and other observers also reported being tear gassed.
The Trump administration says that protesters were throwing items at law enforcement, which DeMarco testifies he did not see. Park Police also emphatically denied they fired tear gas, claiming that officers instead fired smoke canisters and pepper balls, the latter of which are also a chemical irritant. But DeMarco says that tear gas was indeed used.”
“Take, for example, the massive amount of additional debt the federal government has imposed on future generations of Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. That which is seen is the money flowing from the federal government to the unemployed, to those taking leave due to rescue money given to businesses during the pandemic. While we might be aware in the abstract that there is an accompanying rise in U.S. government indebtedness, that which is not seen is the increase in taxes that must be paid by future generations. Nor do we see the slower economic growth that will be caused by the need to pay off this debt.
Even less obvious are the unseen effects of making permanent the supposedly temporary creation of federal paid-leave entitlements. While it’s easy to point to all the advantages of such a move for the 35 percent of women who didn’t have any such benefits pre-COVID-19, it’s more difficult to see the lower wages and employment that will result. Also hidden from our vision is the increase in employment discrimination fueled by this policy: When governments arbitrarily increase employers’ costs to hire certain groups, fewer members of those groups get hired. The academic literature is clear that such legislation inflicts very real negative effects on women.
Also harder to spot are the unseen effects of rent-control legislation. Such regulations exist in states and cities nationwide, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see more such policies implemented in this crisis’s wake. The benefits are easy to see. The rules promise to make housing in high-value rent markets more affordable for middle- and lower-class families. But once such legislation is implemented, reality kicks in.
We see rents going up more slowly than they likely would have otherwise. When paired with eviction protections, this policy gives an illusion of control to tenants who were already in rental homes when the regulation was adopted. What is unseen, however, is significant. Rent-control statutes reduce the incentives for property owners to supply their facilities as residential housing, and they make it less attractive for developers to build rental housing. Rent control even diminishes landlords’ willingness to maintain the quality of their units. The final result is less and lower-quality housing for ordinary people.”
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and McKinsey & Co., 70–80 percent of independent contractors prefer contract work to a traditional job and do not feel financially strapped. I fall into that category—but the crusaders behind laws such as A.B. 5 treat people like me as if we are invisible. Here in New Jersey, a July 2019 report from Gov. Phil Murphy’s Task Force on Misclassification was written by a group that included no independent contractors and drew on work by the National Employment Law Project, a think tank funded by the AFL-CIO and other unions. The report acknowledged that misclassification of workers as independent contractors was most prevalent in low-wage, labor-intensive sectors such as janitorial services. But the policy changes it recommended applied to independent contractors across the board.”
“Most immigration watchers thought President Trump’s new executive order extending his 60-day April immigration pause until the end of 2020 was meant to stop new immigrants from coming into the United States. As I pointed out, the order was halting new green cards for anyone other than the children and spouses of American citizens. It was also imposing a moratorium on new temporary work visas, including H-1Bs for foreign techies, H-2Bs for low-skilled non-agricultural work, J visas for summer jobs, and L visas for intra-company transfers. Bringing in more workers from the outside, the proclamation’s zero-sum logic declared, “present[s] a significant threat to the employment opportunities for Americans,” which the country can’t allegedly afford at a time of high pandemic-induced unemployment.
But now the National Foundation for American Policy’s Stuart Anderson has found that buried in the proclamation is a potential deportation plan for hundreds of thousands of high-skilled foreign workers who’ve been legally living inside America, in some cases for decades. They have high-paying jobs for skills that are in short supply in America, they pay far more taxes than they’ll ever consume in welfare, and they are generally upstanding folks.
Foreign techies have to go through an exceedingly arduous, expensive, and long process to obtain green cards. The wait time for green cards is running over seven decades for many of the 350,000 Indian professionals on H-1Bs—and their 357,000 dependents—in the country currently. That’s because Congress capped employment-based green cards at a meager 140,000 per year.* And then, just for good measure, it gave every country the same quota for green cards. This means that countries like India, China, and the Philippines, which send America many tech workers, doctors, nurses, and other high-skilled laborers, have access to the same number of green cards every year as, say, Kazakhstan, which barely sends any. The upshot is that a massive backlog has developed for the former countries. But of course, the Trump administration has shown zero interest in a simple fix like eliminating the per-country limit and rolling over the unused green cards from previous years.”
“Anderson maintains that Trump’s new proclamation includes ominous language that potentially opens the door to subjecting the I-140 holder to one or more additional labor certifications while they are waiting to be approved for their green cards. At the same time, the administration might make the labor certification process itself so onerous as to ensure that few could pass it.
Should the administration proceed with its scheme, hundreds of thousands of high-skilled professionals who’ve played by every rule and waited patiently for years for their green cards, raising families and building lives in America, could find themselves ejected from the country. “If a foreign government wanted to come up with a plan to harm America’s technological leadership in the world, this would be the plan,” Anderson says.”
“there are significant statutory hurdles that might prevent the administration from successfully requiring repeat certifications, says Anderson. However, simply attempting to do so will sow fear and panic among foreign professionals and prompt at least those who are in the relatively early stage of the process to self-deport rather than take any risks with their lives and careers.
Nor is this the first attack on foreign professionals by this administration. The denial of new H-1B petitions has increased considerably during Trump’s term and renewal of existing petitions has become much harder.”
“Undocumented immigrants were just the lowest hanging fruit. Over the years, restrictionists have found ways to smear every category of immigrants. Family-based immigration got pilloried as chain migration; refugees got branded as national security threats; Latin American asylum seekers got lambasted as “invaders.” And now foreign techies, a once-sacrosanct class of immigrants that even conservatives considered highly desirable, are being branded as economic threats.
They came for the illegals first—but of course they didn’t stop there.”
“Numerous studies completed since the original China Shock research reveal fewer American jobs lost; significant consumer benefits in terms of lower prices and increased variety; substantial employment gains in services and export-oriented industries; and net economic benefits for the U.S. manufacturing sector and the country as a whole. Even if one were to treat the China Shock as economic gospel and pin most job-losses on PNTR, moreover, perspective on this damage is sorely needed: the 2 million American jobs destroyed over a 12-year period are less than the average weekly unemployment filings in April through June of this year, and even in normal times, the 1 million manufacturing jobs attributable to the China Shock would constitute less than 20 percent of all such losses (and less than 5 percent of all job losses) over the same period. Does that demand radical policy changes?”
“Recent analyses also show that U.S. low-skill manufacturing employment and “late stage” industries with routine, standardized processes likely would have suffered the same fate in the last two decades, regardless of the China Shock, due to non-trade issues like automation and competition from other developing countries. In fact, the data show that manufacturing jobs as a share of the U.S. workforce experienced only a modest change in their downward trend before and after China entered the WTO, and that Chinese imports replaced other imports (particularly those from Asia), not domestic production, between 1990 and 2017.”
“China’s WTO accession took more than 15 years and required dozens of intergovernmental meetings, negotiating texts, and Chinese economic reforms (not just the aforementioned tariff reductions)—reforms shown to have been so significant as to have fueled China’s post-WTO export competitiveness. The United States, meanwhile, was the final holdout among large industrialized nations to approve China’s WTO accession via bilateral negotiations, demanding ever more concessions from the Chinese government—including the right to impose special duties on Chinese imports—over a contentious 13-year negotiation. Key Clinton administration speeches and policy documents also demonstrate that U.S.–Chinese engagement was primarily a pragmatic decision to achieve commercial and foreign policy objectives, not “democratization.””
“The current obsession with China’s WTO entry also ignores myriad U.S. policy failures that actually did enable China or harm American companies and workers. Most notably, successive U.S. administrations pursued far too few WTO disputes in response to real Chinese trade infractions, despite the fact that global trade rules discipline key irritants like industrial subsidies and intellectual property, and that aggressive litigation has proven effective in curbing Chinese abuses. Other U.S. policy failures include the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that was designed in part to counterbalance China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions; its failure to reform tax, trade, and immigration policies that inhibit American companies’ global competitiveness; its failure to modernize adjustment assistance and worker retraining programs intended to mitigate trade, technological, or cultural disruptions; or its continued imposition of tax, education, occupational licensing, criminal justice, zoning, and other policies that leave American workers unprepared to compete in a global economy or discourage adjustment and recovery when disruptions occur.”
“China’s rise and the bilateral relationship arguably present this generation’s most pressing geopolitical issue, and the Communist Party’s human rights abuses, territorial expansionism, global health transgressions, and economic reversals deserve American scorn and response. Just as real and important are the seismic labor market and cultural disruptions that have upended many American families and communities. The proposed solutions to these problems, however, should stand on their own merit, not by pretending that they are an essential correction of the “mistakes” of PNTR and economic engagement with China more broadly. Doing so relieves such plans of the scrutiny they deserve, and could lead to truly bad governance: increasing U.S. protectionism and nativism, fomenting armed conflict, ignoring past policy mistakes, and thwarting a political consensus for real policy solutions to very real challenges—including and especially China.”
“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act, or CARES Act, signed into law by President Trump in March, was an unprecedented act of fiscal policy by the US government. It entailed measures that would have once seemed unthinkable, including an extra $600 in unemployment benefits, $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, and billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews recently laid out, the Covid-19 response was larger than the stimulus policies put in place in response to the Great Recession and, from a fiscal standpoint, bigger than the New Deal.
It made a difference. Personal incomes actually went up in April thanks in large part to unemployment insurance and stimulus checks. Poverty rates didn’t increase.”
“The stimulus bill had with it an underlying assumption that the economy would improve by the summer, and that was predicated on the country getting its outbreak under control. But the country didn’t — a series of public policy and leadership failures at the federal, state, and local levels have allowed the virus to thrive.”