Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The press convention showcased a reliable and assured president

Peter Nicholas/Atlantic:

Biden Isn’t Talking for a Reason

Yes, he wants to avoid making a gaffe, but he also doesn’t want to be an in-your-face president.

Overlooked is that Biden and his team are also making a strategic bet. Limiting his exposure to the press and, by extension, the public isn’t simply a defensive ploy to avoid an embarrassing gaffe. It’s a conscious calculation that people don’t need—or want—to hear from the president on an hour-by-hour basis, that they will be satisfied if he can revive the economy and end the pandemic. After all, Americans just had a president who entered their life and refused to leave, who gripped the megaphone and wouldn’t let go. Biden has no wish to resurrect Donald Trump’s in-your-face presidency.

“People aren’t beating down the door and saying, ‘Why isn’t he in my living room every day? Why am I not seeing that big face staring at me and promoting himself in some way?’” Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, told me. “People are happy to see Joe Biden when they see him. But they’re happy not to see him every day.”

Michael A. Cohen/USA Today:

Boulder shooting: Senators have no excuse for inaction on guns. Tell them to save lives.

We’ve learned to live with preventable gun violence for too long. Too many Americans have died in vain from this scourge. We need action, not despair.

It does not have to be this way. With the Congress and White House controlled by a Democratic Party that is fully supporting gun control efforts, now is the time for the Senate to have an up-and-down vote on gun laws that could actually save lives.

Background checks are not a panacea for stopping the daily carnage of gun violence in America, which takes about 40,000 lives year. But as Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told me, “Background checks are the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and, ultimately, to decrease gun violence. They’re the foundation of a holistic gun safety system.”


Rich Thau/Bulwark:

This Is What Trump-Biden Voters Think About the Republican Party

Spoiler: It’s not very nice.

I was not asking them to describe any particular person, but rather to “pretend that the attributes you associate with the Republican party were encapsulated in one person.”

The answers these Trump-Biden voters gave were interesting, and may shed light on how four years of Donald Trump have affected perceptions of the party. The first group was composed of five independents and one Democrat. Their responses were:

  • Stubborn
  • Conservative
  • Unreliable
  • Selfish
  • Greedy
  • Ultra-capitalist
  • Closed-minded
  • Ultra-religious
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Hypocritical



Asian Americans experienced largest rise in severe online hate in 2020, report finds

Survey finds Asian and Black Americans saw major jump in harassment, while LGBTQ+ respondents face highest rate overall

A survey released on Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate speech organization founded in 1913, discovered that in 2020 Asian Americans experienced the largest single rise in severe online hate and harassment year-over-year in comparison with other groups, with 17% reporting having experienced sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, swatting, doxing or sustained harassment, compared with 11% last year.

The survey’s release comes as the Asian American community grapples with an increase in real-world violence, most recently the murders of six Asian women working at massage parlors in Georgia, and a 75-year-old man from Hong Kong who died after being robbed and assaulted by a man police said had a history of victimizing elderly Asian people. Stop AAPI Hate, a group dedicated to tracking crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, documented 3,800 hate-related incidents targeting Asian Americans in 2020.

“Not surprisingly, after a year where national figures including the president himself routinely scapegoated China and Chinese people for spreading the coronavirus, Asian Americans experienced heightened levels of harassment online, just as they did offline,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League.



How should local leaders use their American Rescue Plan funding?

For many cities and counties, the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) state and local funds are not just a $350 billion lifeline; they represent the largest positive fiscal jolt to their budgets in decades. Now, a scramble is underway to determine how best to deploy the money. The decisions made in the coming weeks— and over the next year regarding the second tranche of funding—will determine whether cities merely enjoy a brief stimulus or seed a new trajectory of inclusive economic growth.

The stakes are high. The money needs to move fast and be deployed smartly and equitably. In 10 years, we may look back at this time and ask: Which places merely spent their money, and which places invested it?

Based on our on-the-ground work in Northeast Ohio and Birmingham, Ala., we believe that elected officials—and the networks of civic, business, philanthropic, and community stakeholders that surround them—should take a three-pronged approach to using their ARP funding: stabilize, strategize, and organize.


Daniel McGraw/The Bulwark:

Joe Biden Just Fixed Obamacare’s “Subsidy Cliff”

The American Rescue Plan isn’t just about COVID relief. It also solves one of Obamacare’s lingering problems.

The subsidy cliff is the reason many middle-class Americans thought that Obamacare was good for those less well off, but left them out in the cold.

In the Affordable Care Act as originally passed, public subsidies for private market purchase health care weren’t part of the plan for people making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Translation: No help for individuals making $51,000 and above; couples making $68,960 or more; or a family of four making more than $104,800.

The American Rescue Plan caps any health care payment at 8.5 percent of income and makes up the difference with a federal subsidy. Which will means significant reductions in healthcare costs for middle-class Americans over the next two years. It will likely culminate with Biden pushing this policy to become permanent part in 2023.

And daring Republicans to object.


Paul Davidson/USA Today:

‘I don’t want to be the one who gives it to people’: Many Americans won’t eat out, fly until COVID-19 herd immunity arrives

A growing share of Americans would feel safe resuming activities like  dining out or flying within a few weeks of their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but 25% to 30% would wait until the nation reaches herd immunity, according to a Harris Poll survey for USA TODAY.

Their attitudes bode well for what’s expected to be a historically robust recovery from the coronavirus recession. But the sizeable share of people who prefer to wait until at least 70% of the population is immune could mean a less roaring launch to the rebound as some activity shifts to late summer and fall from midyear.

There’s no doubt that Americans who have largely been confined to their homes the past year can hardly wait to bust loose.




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