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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: we nonetheless have a pandemic to cope with, even when DC reporters are bored

Joey Garrison and Deborah Barfield Berry/USA Today:

‘It’s sick’: Biden slams Republican efforts in state legislatures to limit voting rights

An impassioned President Joe Biden on Thursday condemned efforts in Republican-led state legislatures to pass bills making access to the ballot box more difficult, calling it “all by design” to suppress voters.

“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is,” Biden said during his first White House press conference. “It’s sick. It’s sick.”

Biden singled out some of the most draconian of the more than 253 bills introduced in 43 states that would restrict access to voting. The tally is according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, which is tracking the legislation.

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Susan B Glasser/New Yorker:

The Presidential Press Conference in the Biden Era Is as Awful as Ever

Under Trump, we had to listen. But now? There must be a better way.

For weeks, Washington clamored for a Biden press conference. This was, after all, the longest a new President had gone without holding one since the Coolidge Administration. Republicans—and the state-run media in Russia—seized on Biden’s reticence as proof that he was somehow too old or incoherent to face the rigors of extended, unscripted questioning. With his critics having set such a low bar, it should surprise no one that Biden, who did, after all, win a national election by surviving almost a dozen debates with his Democratic-primary rivals and two with Donald Trump, cleared it. Republicans, it could be said, succeeded in one respect with their preshow spin: they wanted Biden to be on the defensive talking about immigration and the border, not the passage of his $1.9 trillion covid-relief package and the success of his vaccine campaign. Reporters, based on the questions, agreed.

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NY Times:

For Biden, a New Virus Dilemma: How to Handle a Looming Glut of Vaccine

As U.S. manufacturers hit their stride, vaccine scarcity will soon turn to plenty as much of the world goes begging. And vaccine makers need answers now about what to do with the coming surplus.

President Biden has promised enough doses by the end of May to immunize all of the nation’s roughly 260 million adults. But between then and the end of July, the government has locked in commitments from manufacturers for enough vaccine to cover 400 million people — about 70 million more than the nation’s entire population.

Whether to keep, modify or redirect those orders is a question with significant implications, not just for the nation’s efforts to contain the virus but also for how soon the pandemic can be brought to an end. Of the vaccine doses given globally, about three-quarters have gone to only 10 countries. At least 30 countries have not yet injected a single person.

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Lauren Weber/KFF:

How One State’s Public Health Defunding Led to Vaccination Chaos

Missourians have driven hours to find vaccines in rural counties — at least those with cars and the time. Tens of thousands of doses are waiting to be distributed, slowly being rolled out in a federal long-term care program. Waitlists are hundreds of thousands of people long. Black residents are getting left behind.

Missouri’s rocky vaccine rollout places it among the bottom states nationwide, with 23.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose as of Thursday, compared with the national average of 26.3%. If Missouri were on par with the national rate, that would be roughly equivalent to more than 162,000 additional people vaccinated, or almost the entire population of the city of Springfield.

Christopher Ingraham/WaPo:

The richest 1 percent dodge taxes on more than one-fifth of their income, study shows

Those at the very top of the income spectrum deny the U.S. government roughly $175 billion a year in revenue, researchers estimate.

That’s costing the federal government roughly $175 billion a year in revenue, according to the findings by a team of economists from academia and the IRS.

The data come as Senate Democrats consider raising taxes on the ultrawealthy to reduce inequality and fund their legislative priorities. President Biden, in a sharp reversal from his predecessor, has signaled that he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, corporations and estates.

The researchers say that years of IRS funding cuts, combined with the increased sophistication of tax evasion tactics available to the rich, have made shirking tax obligations easier than ever. And they say that these estimates probably understate the true extent of tax evasion at the top of the income spectrum.

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

A scorching reply to Georgia’s vile new voting law unmasks a big GOP lie

Turnout was impressively high on Election Day and during the Senate runoffs, especially among African American voters.

That should have been widely cheered. Yet it’s precisely what the state’s Republican officials apparently want to ensure never happens again.

Georgia Republicans just passed a far-reaching voter suppression law that is shockingly blatant in its efforts to restrict voting. It was signed Thursday by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), as one Democratic lawmaker who sought to watch was arrested.

In multiple ways, the measure appears designed to target African American voters, the very voters who drove the 2020 Democratic wins. That complaint is at the core of a new lawsuit filed on Thursday night against the law.

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