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May 28, 2021: Big Biden Budget Battle Brewing; UN Opens Gaza Inquiry; Sanders Rallies For College Athletes

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The Biden administration will today unveil its biggest and sure to be most controversial proposal yet – for a $6 trillion federal budget. And from child care to electric vehicles, there’s a lot in there for Republicans to cry over.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is launching an unprecedented, open-ended inquiry into the root causes of the latest violence in Gaza. War crimes may be found on both sides, but Israel has made clear it does not welcome the scrutiny.

And lastly, hard-working college athletes could finally get what’s due to them. Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy want to give them the right to form unions and bargain collectively with colleges.


Why can’t we have nice things? Politico reports that President Joe Biden continues to negotiate with Republicans on his big-ticket spending plans. But yesterday, when he left Washington for Ohio, he mocked them for voting against the coronavirus recovery package and then turning around and promoting the bill. In a speech at Cuyahoga Community College, Biden said his trillions of dollars in proposals are already igniting economic recovery and creating millions of jobs following the coronavirus pandemic. Back in Washington, Senate Republicans sent Biden their latest proposal, but the $928 billion infrastructure plan is still hundreds of billions less than the White House’s last offer of $1.7 trillion.

And there’s an even bigger budget fight brewing. The New York Times reports Biden will propose a $6 trillion budget today that would take the United States to its highest levels of federal spending since World War Two. Biden is looking to fund a sweeping economic agenda that includes new investments in education, transportation and fighting climate change. The budget request includes money for roads, water pipes, broadband internet, electric vehicle charging stations and advanced manufacturing research. It also envisions funding for affordable child care, universal prekindergarten and a national paid leave program. Spending on national defense would also grow, though it would decline as a share of the economy.

Biden plans to fund his agenda by raising taxes on corporations and high earners. The documents show budget deficits shrinking in the 2030s. So maybe we can have nice things after all.

UN Opens Gaza Inquiry

his diplomatic dispatch comes from the Guardian. The UN’s main human rights body will launch an investigation into systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine, with the aim of identifying the root causes of recent Gaza bloodshed. The proposal, called at the request of Muslim states, was passed by the forty seven-member United Nations human rights council yesterday. Opening the session in Geneva, the UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet (Ba-chuh-let), said Israel’s attacks on Gaza this month could constitute war crimes if they were found to be disproportionate. She also accused Hamas of firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel. Bachelet, a former president of Chile, called the death and injury of children in the conflict "a source of shame for all."

According to the Guardian, Bachelet said the Gaza violence was directly linked to protests in Jerusalem that began weeks beforehand, which she said were met with a heavy response from Israeli security forces. She said two factors led to the escalation – the imminent eviction of Palestinians under forced displacement in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah; and Israel’s use of excessive force against Palestinian protesters, including at the al-Aqsa mosque. Yesterday’s resolution received twenty four votes in favour, nine against and fourteen abstentions. The US didn’t vote because it is not a member of the council. Israel and its allies, including the US, have accused the UN of anti-Israel bias. Criticize away, but is anyone better suited than UN investigators to establish the facts of the situation?

Sanders Rallies For College Athletes

College sports break! The Washington Post reports that a new bill from Congressional Democrats would allow college athletes to unionize, making it possible for students from across universities to band together to form unions within athletic conferences. The bill from Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Chris Murphy of Connecticut would rewrite federal labor law to define all college athletes receiving scholarships and other pay as employees of both public and private universities. It would be a significant reimagining of the college sports landscape. And it would open a door to athletes receiving additional compensation from colleges by bargaining over wages, working conditions, revenue sharing agreements, and other rights afforded to employees.

The Post says the bill, called the College Athlete Right to Organize Act, is unlikely to pass in the current Congress. A companion bill introduced by three House Democrats has also not found any Republican co-sponsors. But it has created substantial momentum in Congress to pass legislation that would set a single standard for how athletes can earn income, rather than a patchwork of conflicting state laws. In a statement yesterday, Sanders linked the right of athletes to form a union to the fight to earn money through their personal brands. He said, "College athletes are workers. ... We cannot wait for the NCAA to share its billions with the workers who create it.". The NCAA put out a statement condemning the bill. But of course they did – they don’t want to share the wealth!


The Associated Press reports that Senate Republicans are poised to deploy the filibuster to block a commission on the January 6th insurrection. The GOP maneuver may shatter chances for a bipartisan probe of the deadly assault on the US Capitol and revive pressure to do away with the procedural tactic. Indeed, why give the Republicans a veto?

According to the Washington Post, Amazon and other retailers are opposing a bipartisan measure in Congress that would require online sellers to clearly state where their products are made. Current laws don’t force online retailers to include this information. Sounds like a fine loophole if you sell tons of cheap junk made god-knows-where!

The Seattle Times reports that three Tacoma, Washington police officers will face criminal charges in the March 2020 killing of Manuel Ellis, a thirty three-year-old Black man whose death sparked widespread calls for justice. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said yesterday he will charge officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins with second- degree murder, and Timothy Rankine with first-degree manslaughter. More consequences for violent cops – let’s get it trending!

The New York Times reports that the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly yesterday to expand a subsidy program that could make apartments affordable to tens of thousands of people who are homeless or threatened with eviction. The council voted to sharply increase the value of housing vouchers provided by the city. The value of the new vouchers would be in line with fair market rent. So they’re actually useful? Imagine that.

MAY 28, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw