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Sunday, January 16, 2022

More of the Biden address aftermath

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Ezra Klein/NY Times:

100 Days of Big, Bold, Partisan Change

Bipartisanship on big bills isn’t possible right now, and Senate Democrats know it. Still, they want to work with Republicans, and they want Republicans to work with them, and they muse about where it all went wrong. “The 2017 tax cut bill didn’t get a single Democratic vote in the House and Senate,” Senator Ron Wyden told me, disbelief in his voice. “You really have to work at it to not get a single Democratic vote for tax cuts. Everybody likes dessert!”


Philip Bump/WaPo:

What the back-and-forth over America being a ‘racist country’ is actually about

“Hear me clearly,” [Sen. Tim Scott] added: “America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”

That these words came from a Black Republican obviously added some heft to his argument and to his later arguments about how his party wasn’t actively trying to keep non-Whites from voting. But it is nonetheless the case that Scott’s rhetoric was focused on a straw man.

Most Americans are in agreement about the existence of racism and racial discrimination at the individual level. We all know that there are people out there who view people of other races as inferior, and most of us disdain the people who hold those views. Instead, the debate centers on the extent to which systems within the country — business, government, law enforcement — reflect biases that disadvantage non-Whites. That’s not the same as the country itself being racist, a position that it seems safe to assume most Americans wouldn’t agree with — which is why it’s how Scott frames the Democratic position.


CNN Poll: Americans want bipartisanship, but most don’t think it will happen

All told, 87% say that attempts at bipartisanship are a good thing, including 92% of Democrats, 90% of independents and 77% of Republicans. But 60% say they see bipartisanship as unlikely on upcoming legislation, including 50% of Democrats, 60% of independents and 76% of Republicans. And although Democrats are more optimistic about the success of bipartisanship, they aren’t particularly confident it will happen: Just 6% see it as very likely to happen, about the same as among independents (7%) and Republicans (4%).

Asked whether Democrats in Congress should “work across the aisle to get things done in Washington, even if it means losing out on some high-priority policies” or “stand firm on their beliefs without compromise, even if it means not much gets done in Washington,” 74% choose working across the aisle. A similar 72% feel the same way about Republicans in Congress, and 71% say President Joe Biden should try to work across the aisle.

Partisans seem to agree on the merits of bipartisanship even when they are considering how they want members of Congress on their own side of the aisle to behave.


Erik Wasson and Billy House/Bloomberg:

Biden Musters Early Congress Momentum for Tax-Spend Vision

President Joe Biden is likely to see some version of his $4 trillion economic plan passed in Congress by September or October if he can keep various Democratic factions from splintering the party and continue fending off Republican attempts to paint it as radical.

Biden holds some advantages in pushing for what would be a massive expansion of the government, not the least of which is that the trillions of dollars spent to counter the economic dislocation of the Covid-19 pandemic reset expectations in Congress and among voters about fiscal policy.

Once Biden’s plan is put into legislative text, Democrats can use Senate rules to bypass Republican opposition to most of it. The GOP, meanwhile, has struggled to make a focused attack on the Biden plan amid an internal power struggle between loyalists to former President Donald Trump and establishment Republicans aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


Tom Nichols/USA Today:

President’s message to China and Russia: America is back, Trump is gone, the free ride is over

Biden offered a sturdy reassertion of American exceptionalism and leadership, but warned that autocracies like China are anticipating our collapse.

Joe Biden’s speech to Congress was the first time in four years that people who focus on foreign policy and national security have had to pay attention to a presidential address. There was actually a recognizable foreign policy in it, a statement of principles about democracy and America’s role as a global leader, from a functioning White House that seems to care about engagement with the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, one of Biden’s clear themes on foreign affairs was his recognition of the destruction former President Donald Trump left in his wake and the need to restore American credibility. The past four years were good days for the world’s dictators and other miscreants, and Biden on Wednesday night began the job of making a case for restoring America’s alliances, of defending American ideals, and of warning off the various wolves that have circled the democratic camp while the American lanterns were dimmed.

Cathy O’Neil/Bloomberg:

How Good Are Vaccines? Try 99.9999% Effective

That 95% efficacy number isn’t the whole story.

I have a friend who works in the New York City Department of Education’s Covid-19 “situation room” — tracing cases, informing contacts and so on. She’s really good at her job, which is why I was surprised to hear her make a strange statistical assertion: Since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% effective, one in 20 vaccinated people are going to get Covid.

That’s wrong, dangerously so. And given that an expert who works in the area every day can make such a mistake, I figure it’s worth some explaining

Sabrina Tavernese/NY Times:

Vaccine Skepticism Was Viewed as a Knowledge Problem. It’s Actually About Gut Beliefs.

Identifying those psychological traits may help health officials convince the sizable minority of Americans who don’t want a coronavirus vaccine. Simply sharing information hasn’t worked.

For years, scientists and doctors have treated vaccine skepticism as a knowledge problem. If patients were hesitant to get vaccinated, the thinking went, they simply needed more information.

But as public health officials now work to convince Americans to get Covid-19 vaccines as quickly as possible, new social science research suggests that a set of deeply held beliefs is at the heart of many people’s resistance, complicating efforts to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

“The instinct from the medical community was, ‘If only we could educate them,’” said Dr. Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, who studies vaccine skepticism. “It was patronizing and, as it turns out, not true.”



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