“So far, Democrats and Republicans have made some headway on the bipartisan deal. They have agreed to a very vague framework that includes funding for roads and bridges, public transit, passenger and freight rail, electric vehicle infrastructure, clean drinking water, and broadband internet, among a few other areas. The agreement goes into almost no detail beyond those broad categories — with lawmakers now working to get more specific as they transform that framework into actual legislation.
Where both sides haven’t reached any agreement yet is how all of this will be paid for. Democrats want to pay for it largely by undoing parts of former President Donald Trump’s tax law, while Republicans suggested raising the gas tax and electric vehicle charging fees. With both sides rejecting each other’s ideas, they instead put out a list of potential revenue sources, ranging from stronger enforcement of current tax laws to spending caps to public-private partnerships. But the sides haven’t reached any concrete agreements here, and all of these ideas may not even be enough to fund the full bill.
Democrats have also promised to pass an additional infrastructure bill through reconciliation (to bypass the filibuster on a party-line vote). This bill would aim to fill in the other parts of Biden’s agenda left out of the bipartisan deal, including broader action on climate change and “human infrastructure” measures like an expanded child tax credit and elder care.
But the party hasn’t come to an agreement on this measure. Manchin suggested the bill could be as little as $2 trillion, while Sanders has worked on a $6 trillion proposal. There is, suffice to say, a very wide space in between.
In short: A lot is up in the air. The specific details are still being worked out. It’s not clear if any of this will happen.”
“nearly a decade after the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose whether to expand their Medicaid programs, the fight over whether to do so is far from over. So far, 38 states and Washington, DC, have expanded Medicaid, covering nearly 15 million people. In the dozen states that have not, 4 million people are uninsured who would receive Medicaid coverage if their state expanded eligibility under the ACA. More than 95 percent live in the South, they are disproportionately Black, and many are not eligible for subsidies to buy private coverage on the ACA markets.”
“Reports varied on whether Colonial paid the ransom or not until May 19, when Colonial acknowledged that it did indeed pay $4.4 million worth of bitcoin (which may not be worth $4.4 million anymore). CEO Joseph Blount told the Wall Street Journal that it was a difficult decision, but one that he felt was “the right thing to do for our country.”
Blount added that it will cost Colonial far more — tens of millions of dollars — to completely restore its systems over the next several months.”
“Edwards did not simply limit the scope of Ramos. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s majority opinion also overruled a 32-year-old decision governing when the Supreme Court’s precedents apply retroactively. Kavanaugh did so, moreover, without following the ordinary procedures that the Court normally follows before overruling one of its previous decisions. As Justice Elena Kagan points out in dissent, no one asked the Court to overrule anything in Edwards, and the Court “usually confines itself to the issues raised and briefed by the parties.”
Edwards, moreover, is the second time in less than a month that Kavanaugh authored a majority opinion that overrules a prior decision without following the Court’s normal procedures. In late April, Kavanaugh handed down a decision in Jones v. Mississippi that effectively overruled a 2016 decision establishing that nearly all juvenile offenders may not be sentenced to life without parole.”
“this matters because Kavanaugh is the median vote on the Supreme Court. Last week, SCOTUSBlog published an analysis finding that Kavanaugh voted with the majority in 97 percent of cases decided so far this Supreme Court term — more than any other justice. If you want to win a case before the Supreme Court, you’ve got a tough road ahead of you if you can’t secure Kavanaugh’s vote.
And yet, Kavanaugh is signaling in Edwards, Jones, and in a few other significant opinions that he does not particularly care about precedent”
“When deciding whether to overrule a precedent, Kavanaugh wrote, the Court should consider whether the previous decision is “not just wrong, but grievously or egregiously wrong.” It should consider whether “the prior decision caused significant negative jurisprudential or real-world consequences,” and it should ask whether overruling the prior precedent would upset “legitimate expectations of those who have reasonably relied on the precedent.”
But Kavanaugh engaged in none of this analysis in Edwards, and it’s hard to see how Teague would qualify as worthy of being overruled under the standard Kavanaugh articulated in Ramos. Kavanaugh doesn’t claim in Edwards that Teague was egregiously wrong or that it’s led to “significant negative jurisprudential or real-world consequences.” Indeed, he claims the exact opposite — that Teague’s holding regarding “watershed” rules should be overruled because it’s had no jurisprudential or real-world consequences whatsoever.
Kavanaugh also ignored the standard he laid out in Ramos in his opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, the decision involving whether juveniles who commit homicide crimes can be sentenced to life without parole.”
“Kavanaugh, the median justice on most contentious issues that arise before the Court, is perfectly willing to overrule more than a century worth of precedent. And he’s willing to do so even when overruling those precedents would upend fundamental assumptions about how state election laws work — and who is in charge of deciding how our elections are conducted.
More broadly, much of American law — the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the right to an abortion, the power of the EPA to protect the environment, the power of states to require businesses not to discriminate against LGBTQ workers and customers, and numerous other laws — hinges on the Supreme Court’s willingness to honor past decisions that Republicans don’t like very much.
Liberals, in other words, are depending on the doctrine of stare decisis — the idea that courts should typically be bound by their prior decisions — to stave off a conservative legal revolution.
And as liberals shout for stare decisis to save them, the Court’s median justice is looking down upon them, and whispering “no.””
“the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 9.5 million more women than men have been vaccinated in the U.S.,1 and in the 42 states2 that collect gender data, a greater share of women are getting the vaccine as well. The magnitude of the gender gap varies from state to state but has hovered just below 10 percentage points on average over the past month.”
“The simplest explanation for the vaccine gender gap is that women got a head start. Among older Americans, who had early access to the vaccine, women outnumber men”
“those early restrictions on who could get the vaccine are gone now. The numbers remain imbalanced, however, so other factors must be contributing to the disparity as well.”
“COVID-19 isn’t the only health matter that men are less likely to be proactive about. Compared with women, they tend to see a doctor less often and use harmful substances like alcohol and illicit drugs more often; men also tend to eat less fiber and fruit, and they are even less likely to use sunscreen when compared to women. According to Dr. Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University, men’s shorter lifespans are the result of the cumulative effects of poor health decisions, not physiology. “There’s no real biological reason that men die earlier,” said Metzl. “The things that make you a successful, cool, tough man in America are also inversely related to health and longevity.”
Researchers are nearly unanimous in their assertion that traditional masculinity — the idea that men should be self-reliant, physically tough and emotionally stoic — is a risk factor for men’s health. James Mahalik, an expert on masculinity and health outcomes at Boston College, studies how traditional masculinity gets in the way of health-promoting behaviors. His lab’s research on mask-wearing indicates that men who conform to traditional masculine norms have lower levels of empathy toward people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and they are less likely to trust the scientific community. Mahalik suspects the same is true for their views about the vaccine.”
“women are typically held responsible for the health of others in ways that men are not: “Women know that if members of their family become sick, they’re the ones who will be responsible for caregiving.” Although vaccine distributors don’t track the gender of people who schedule vaccine appointments for family members, sociologists are concerned that women are taking on the brunt of this work — an extension of what has been called women’s “second shift.” Women’s greater responsibility for maintaining not just their own health but the health of others makes Reich suspect that women are more likely to be in contact with health services and seek out health-related information. Social expectations that women care for others and vigilantly monitor their reproductive health demand it of them.”
“gender differences in susceptibility to COVID-19 misinformation: Early in the pandemic, men — particularly those who identified as conservatives — were more likely than women to subscribe to COVID-19 conspiracy theories.”
“But it’s one thing to come up with a vaccine, and entirely something else to manufacture it on a mass scale. That’s where the world has stumbled and where concerted planning now can make sure we’re prepared for the future. If we’re to have a better chance to fight the next pandemic — and there will be a next one — the US needs to build on these vaccine tech innovations and make investments to establish permanent facilities producing mRNA and adenovirus vaccines.”
“that slack won’t arrive naturally.
Weber, the former assistant secretary of defense for biodefense, has pushed for what he dubs a “10 + 10 Over 10” plan to prevent biological threats in the future. It is essentially a big government investment that could enable the kind of infrastructure necessary to have gotten to full vaccine availability in the US in, say, one or two months, not five.
The plan calls for $10 billion in additional annual funding for the Department of Defense, and another $10 billion per year for the Department of Health and Human Services, devoted to anticipating pandemic and other biological risks, for at least 10 years.
With that funding, government could finance the infrastructure for year-round vaccine manufacture.”
“The key is that these facilities need to be active during non-pandemic times, otherwise their expertise and readiness could deteriorate.”
“Pharmaceutical companies are not going to go this big on their own, and there’s no guarantee that the government will fund them sufficiently without pressure. In 2020 — during the pandemic — the Trump administration cut the DOD’s chemical and biodefense programs by 10 percent, with much of the cuts going to the vaccine component of the budget. To set this vision in motion, the US needs to not just reverse cuts like that but spend much more, in line with Weber’s $20 billion per year proposal.”
“The US still hasn’t joined the most important international agreement to conserve biodiversity, known as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). And it isn’t just a small, inconsequential treaty. Designed to protect species, ecosystems, and genetic diversity, the treaty has been ratified by every other country or territory aside from the Holy See. Among other achievements, CBD has pushed countries to create national biodiversity strategies and to expand their networks of protected areas.
Since the early 1990s — when CBD was drafted, with input from the US — Republican lawmakers have blocked ratification, which requires a two-thirds Senate majority. They’ve argued that CBD would infringe on American sovereignty, put commercial interests at risk, and impose a financial burden, claims that environmental experts say have no support.”
“the evidence on the effects of universal background checks and assault weapons bans is pretty weak. Several studies in recent years have found that universal background checks, at least on their own, don’t seem to have a big effect on gun deaths. Similarly, the research on assault weapons bans, including the national ban that Biden helped pass in 1994, found they have little effect on gun violence, largely because the vast majority of such violence is committed with handguns.
But there’s some solid evidence that a license system reduces gun deaths. A 2018 study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that universal background checks alone correlated with more gun homicides in urban counties, while license systems were associated with fewer gun homicides. Other studies have similarly found that license requirements lead to fewer gun deaths.”
“In Massachusetts, one of the few states with a license system, obtaining a permit requires going through a multi-step process involving interviews with police, background checks, a gun safety training course, and more. Even if a person passes all of that, the local police chief can deny an application anyway. That creates more points at which an applicant can be identified as too dangerous to own a gun; it makes getting and owning a gun harder.”