The Biden Administration’s Ridiculously Spendy Broadband Promises

“There’s a reason rural and small-town dwellers have less access to the sort of fast internet connections that urban dwellers enjoy: It costs a lot of money to lay fiber-optic cable—”an average cost of $1,000 to $1,250 per residential household passed or $60,000 to $80,000 per mile,” according to Dgtl Infra’s Jonathan Kim. It’s easier to limit and recover costs in densely populated areas where a lot of potential customers live along paved roads than in sparsely settled areas where there’s rough terrain and empty space between each household served. Costs rise dramatically in rural areas.”

“The Alaska Telephone Company, which won a $33 million grant, is planning to run fiber to 211 homes and five businesses at a staggering cost of nearly $204,000 per passing.””

“wireless internet offering 10-50 Mbps and (increasingly) satellite connections such as HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink are how we connect to the world in my piece of Arizona. It’s a tradeoff you accept if you want open space around you. Well, you accept that tradeoff unless you can rope other people into paying the cost of laying cable.”

“”If you’re spending $50,000 to connect a very remote location, you have to ask yourself, would we be better off spending that same amount of money to connect [more] families?””

At G-20 and in Vietnam, Biden to sell American partnerships — all at China’s expense

Biden admin to China: Hands off our tech but we’ll take your tourists

“Chinese “visitors” — a broad term that encompasses both tourists and longer-term students — were at the forefront of a boom in international travel to the United States in the decade before the coronavirus pandemic hit. They spent a record $34 billion in the United States in 2018 and another $33 billion the following year.

That fell sharply as both governments clamped down on travel during the pandemic. Chinese spending in the United States plummeted to about $11.4 billion by 2021, nearly all by Chinese students at American colleges and universities. It rebounded slightly to around $14 billion last year, with education still accounting for most of the expenditures.”

Joe Biden’s Email Aliases Are a Potentially Serious Transparency Problem

“The New York Post first reported in 2021 that Biden used at least three pseudonyms—”Robin Ware,” “Robert L. Peters,” and “JRB Ware”—on emails that mixed family and government business. The aliases were reportedly discovered in emails found on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation, a legal nonprofit group, filed a FOIA request in June 2022 for all emails associated with the aliases. In its initial response to SLF’s FOIA request, NARA said it had identified roughly 5,400 records potentially responsive to its request. However, NARA has yet to turn over those records. On Monday, the SLF filed a FOIA lawsuit to compel production.

“All too often, public officials abuse their power by using it for their personal or political benefit. When they do, many seek to hide it,” SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann said in a press release. “The only way to preserve governmental integrity is for NARA to release Biden’s nearly 5,400 emails to SLF and thus the public. The American public deserves to know what is in them.””

“Whether or not those emails contain government business or evidence of impropriety that Republicans have been searching for, the use of multiple pseudonymous email addresses and aliases, at the very least, creates suspicion for FOIA requesters. How are watchdog groups and records requesters supposed to know the government is performing complete searches if the existence of alternate or private email addresses isn’t revealed?

However, despite criticisms from transparency groups, the practice has been fairly widespread for at least the past few administrations. Obama-era EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used the alias “Richard Windsor” and her private email address in messages with lobbyists. Former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch also used alias email addresses. Trump-Era EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had four government email addresses.

The Obama administration defended using alternate government email addresses as necessary for high-level political appointees since the flood of emails to their public inboxes made those accounts unreasonable to manage.

At a 2013 press conference, then-White House press secretary Jay Carney assured reporters that “this is a practice consistent with prior administrations of both parties, and, as the story itself made clear, any FOIA request or congressional inquiry includes a search in all of the email accounts used by any political appointee.””

Upcoming Biden book recounts untold timeline of Afghanistan withdrawal

“When National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan relayed the news to Biden that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, he writes, Biden exploded in frustration and said, “Give me a break.”
In the excerpt, Foer depicts a scene that went viral of the withdrawal: when dozens of Afghans climbed onto the side of a jet to escape the country.

“Only after the plane had lifted into the air did the crew discover its place in history,” Foer writes. “When the pilot couldn’t fully retract the landing gear, a member of the crew went to investigate, staring out of a small porthole. Through the window, it was possible to see scattered human remains.””

“When former ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass touched down in Afghanistan after the plane’s departure to lead the evacuation effort, he toured the gates of the airport where he was greeted “by the smell of feces and urine, by the sound of gunshots and bullhorns blaring instructions in Dari and Pashto.”

“Dust assaulted his eyes and nose. He felt the heat that emanated from human bodies crowded into narrow spaces,” Foer writes.

Biden would shower Bass with ideas to evacuate more people.

“The president’s instinct was to throw himself into the intricacies of troubleshooting,” Foer writes. “‘Why don’t we have them meet in parking lots? Can’t we leave the airport and pick them up?’ Bass would kick around Biden’s proposed solutions with colleagues to determine their plausibility, which was usually low. Still, he appreciated Biden applying pressure, making sure that he didn’t overlook the obvious.”

“In total, the United States had evacuated about 124,000 people, which the White House touted as the most successful airlift in history,” Foer writes. “Bass also thought about the unknown number of Afghans he had failed to get out.””

Biden’s NIH pick gives Elizabeth Warren a major concession

“President Joe Biden’s pick to run the National Institutes of Health has agreed to a pair of major ethics demands made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to help jumpstart her stalled candidacy for the top medical research job.
Monica Bertagnolli, who was nominated more than three months ago, pledged to not seek employment or compensation from any of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies for four years after she leaves government”

“Warren has made it a practice to push Biden nominees to adopt stronger ethical standards, in a bid to address the “revolving door” between government agencies and the industries that they supervise.

Last year, she secured similar commitments from Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf not to seek employment or compensation from pharmaceutical or medical device companies he interacts with at the agency for four years after leaving government.

Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee and Armed Services Committee, has also sought to extract ethics concessions from nominees that come up in front of those panels — including top Federal Reserve officials and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“Going above and beyond what federal law requires, as you are doing here, sends a powerful message that you are working on behalf of the American people and no one else,” she told Austin in 2021, after he committed not to become a defense contractor or lobbyist following his stint in the administration.”

Biden’s New ‘Prevailing Wage’ Rule Will Cost Taxpayers, Benefit Unions, and Hike Inflation

“the changes are a significant step backward. Biden is effectively undoing a major change made by the Reagan administration—changes that were made, fittingly, to help combat inflation.
That change, made in 1982, repealed the “30 percent rule” that guided the process for determining what wages would be paid on which projects. Under the 30 percent rule, the prevailing wage for any particular area would be based on the highest wages paid to at least 30 percent of workers within the same area.

You don’t need an advanced degree in accounting to see how that mandate could artificially hike wages on federal projects. The government barred itself from even considering bids that might pay average wages, thereby obligating taxpayers to pay more than they might have had to in an open market.”

Biden’s risky Persian Gulf bet

“The 3,000 sailors and Marines arrived in the Middle East on August 6 alongside a deployment of US fighter jets to the region.
What exactly they’ll be doing isn’t yet clear: If US troops were to board commercial ships, the details would need to be worked out with the companies and countries in question. US officials told the Associated Press that such a policy is under consideration. (The Department of Defense did not respond to Vox’s questions for this story by press time.)

The Biden administration says that the Iranian threat to tanker traffic is the reason for the deployment of sailors and Marines. Iran seized two oil tankers in a week this past spring. Iran also intercepted a Tanzanian-flagged tanker on July 6, a day after the US Navy intervened to dissuade Iran from nearly seizing two ships. Iran has said that it sees itself as responsible for the security of the Gulf, not least because of its long coastline, and claimed it has not illegally seized tankers.

Other factors may be contributing to Biden’s decision-making: The US might be thinking about balancing China’s increased presence in the Middle East, as epitomized by the spring’s surprise rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US also might be responding to concerns from other partners in the region, especially as the US is pushing for Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations. “The noise has increased a lot from Gulf partners, especially as the [Biden] administration is pressuring Gulf partners on a number of different issues, including normalization with Israel,” Simone Ledeen, who served as a senior defense official in the Trump administration, told me. “It’s certainly connected.”

Above all, Iranian actions in the Gulf could affect oil prices. For President Biden, keeping oil prices low has been a priority of utmost importance. It’s partly why he traveled to Saudi Arabia last summer to make up with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. And since then, the Biden administration has sought to reassure Gulf partners like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of US commitment to the Middle East.

This “forward-deployed presence provides US officials with options,” writes analyst Bilal Saab, that would make Iran “think twice before using violence to achieve its political aims.””

Biden’s New Student Loan Payment Plan Has Arrived. Here’s What That Means.

“According to an analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the new plan is expected to cost around $360 billion over the next decade—a staggering price tag, though not quite as much as the over $500 billion predicted cost of one-time student loan forgiveness.”

“the SAVE plan radically reduces monthly payments—and the time required before forgiveness. Under the plan, borrowers only pay 5 percent of discretionary income, which is now defined as earnings above 225 percent of the poverty rate. Borrowers only have to make 10 years of payments before forgiveness, if the balance is less than $12,000. Further, interest will not accrue on borrowers’ loan balances when their monthly payments are not enough to cover interest.”