Tag Archives: President Biden

White House Memo: ‘The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All’

White House staff issued a memo to “All Interested Parties”: The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

In a nutshell, President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda comes down to this: seizing this rare opportunity to grow the economy in such a way so that all benefit, or continuing a system that benefits a small slice of society while holding back the rest, states a “memo” from White House Senior Staff to “Interested Parties”. Re: “The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All”

  
Memo: The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All
To: Interested Parties
From: White House Senior Staff
 
America is at a crossroads right now: whether to create sustained economic growth that benefits everybody by addressing the challenges that have held back working families for decades, or maintain the status quo of a failed strategy to invest government resources in tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy.
 
The choice in front of us is simple. We can pass a plan that 17 Nobel Prize winning economists last week said would boost our economy and ease long-term inflationary pressures. We can pass a plan that last week the Economic Policy Institute said would support 4 million jobs per year over the decade. Or we can prioritize the interests of the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations over building an economy that works for everyone.
 
These are the choices in front of us:
 
1. We can continue to give the wealthiest 0.1% of households – those making $2 million a year – an annual tax cut of $36,000
…OR we can dramatically reduce child poverty by providing a tax cut to nearly 40 million households and the parents of 90% of American children through a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit.

  • Economic impact: Last week, 450 economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, highlighted in an open letter the clear evidence of the economic benefits of the CTC – including higher long-term earnings for children in families receiving credit. This led the economists to conclude that “the net cost to taxpayers of the expansion has been estimated to be as little as approximately 16 cents for every $1 of new benefits.”

 
2. We can let pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on drugs that we depend on and allow nearly 1 in 4 Americans to struggle to afford prescription drugs…
OR we can lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, expand health care coverage to 4 million uninsured people, and reduce health insurance premiums – saving 9 million people an average of $50 per month.

  • Economic impact: Reducing drug and healthcare would mean putting more money in Americans’ pockets that they can use to drive demand for U.S. goods and services. And, studies show that making health care more affordable enables more Americans to work, boosting employment and expanding the labor market.

 
3. We can let the wealthiest 1% of Americans evade $160 billion per year in taxes
… OR we can enforce our existing tax laws and invest that money to make universal preschool a reality – benefiting more than 5 million families and bringing down the crushing costs of child care for middle class families, which will help the average family save $13,000 per year. 

  • Economic impact: Investing in universal preschool would help grow our economy for generations to come: research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for low-income children yields more than $7 in benefits. The Economic Policy Institute study released last week projected that the President’s plan would support 1.1 million caregiving jobs per year this decade.

 
4. We can continue to allow large, profitable corporations to take advantage of tax loopholes
… OR we can require big corporations to finally pay their fair share and use that money to invest in small businesses – the engine of our economy in communities throughout the country.

  • Economic impact: Supporting small businesses would help grow our economy in a way that benefits everyone: small businesses account for 44% of U.S. GDP, create two-thirds of net new jobs, and employ nearly half of America’s workers.

             
5. We can continue to let 55 Fortune 500 companies pay $0 in taxes on more than $40 billion in profits per year
…OR we can eliminate loopholes like the ones that allow companies to shift jobs and profits overseas and use that money to address the threat of climate change and make critical investments so that our communities are more resilient against extreme weather events. These companies have said we need to take on the existential threat of climate change; now they face a real choice – pay a little more or continue to allow extreme weather events to devastate communities around the country.

  • Economic impact: Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. The climate investments in the Build Back Better plan would support more than 750,000 green jobs per year over the coming decade, and prevent economic shocks brought on from extreme weather events.

 
6. We can allow the middle class to be taxed more for their work than the richest are taxed on their investment income
…OR we can ask the top 0.3% to pay a higher tax rate on their investment income and use that money to drive down housing costs for the 10.5 million renters paying more than half of their incomes on rent and boost housing supply with the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes.

 
7. We can keep the corporate tax rate for the top 1% most profitable corporations at the lowest rate it has been since World War II
OR we can make a modest increase to the corporate tax rate and use that money to reduce the crushing cost of child and elder care for middle class families. The President’s child care proposal would provide high-quality child care for children up to age 5, saving the average family $14,800 per year.

  • Economic impact: Investments in child care improve worker productivity, workforce participation, family incomes, and business revenue. One study found a $57 billion annual cost to the economy due to child-care related lost earnings and productivity.

 
8. We can accept a tax system where a teacher pays a higher tax rate than a hedge fund manager
OR we can restore fairness in our tax code and expand paid family and medical leave to the nearly four in five private sector workers and 95% of lowest wage workers who currently lack it – so that millions of Americans no longer have to decide between keeping their jobs or caring for loved ones and their personal health.

  • Economic impact: Comprehensive paid and medical leave policies would increase labor force participation and lead to better outcomes for workers and businesses. The adoption of a paid leave program is associated with a 4.6% increase in revenue per full-time employee and 6.8% increase in profit per full-time employee.

The President believes that these choices are easy. He chooses leveling the playing field to ensure the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations pay their fair share and working-class families get a fighting chance to succeed and prosper. He chooses tackling the existential threats facing our country and making investments to position our nation for success for generations to come. These are the choices we face now.

Biden to Rally Allies, Partners & Institutions to Address the Major Challenges of Our Time in Speech to UN General Assembly

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at J.F. Kennedy International Airport for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he will rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden will use his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly to rally allies, partners and institutions to deal with the major challenges of our time: “COVID-19; climate change; emerging technologies; rules of the road on trade and economics; investments in clean infrastructure; a modern approach to counterterrorism; and vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War,” said a senior administration official during a press call to preview the President’s speech.

“The speech will drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force and that require the cooperation of many nations around the world as well as nonstate actors from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations and international institutions,” he said.

These big, hard challenges “will define the scope and shape of prosperity and security for the people of the United States and for people of the world in the years ahead.”

The President “will reinforce the notion that our futures and our fortunes are really interconnected and bound up with one another.  And so, we all have to work together to cooperate in service of solving problems and seizing opportunities that lie before us.”

After arriving at Kennedy International Airport, President Biden was to have his first extended one-on-one meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to discuss issues including Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as big global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change. 

President Joe Biden is greeted upon his arrival at J.F. Kennedy International Airport by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At the end of the week, the President will host the first-ever in-person Quad Summit, “a gathering of likeminded, democratic partners to tackle these big challenges — COVID, climate, economic investment, technology.”
 
He will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia in New York on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom in the evening in Washington; Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India on Friday, as well as an engagement with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan on Friday in Washington. 
 
On Wednesday, President Biden will host a summit on COVID-19 “to rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better to be able to handle the next pandemic. 
 
“He believes that it is high time for the world to come together — and not just national leaders, but he’s placing a heavy emphasis on international institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations — all of the actors who collectively have the capacity to beat COVID-19.  And he is going to call for an all-hands-on-deck effort that can end this pandemic much more rapidly than if we allow for things to unfold without the kind of focused, sustained energy and effort that is required,” the official said.
 
The summit will involve setting bold goals to hit on everything from vaccinations to the supply of lifesaving medications and technologies.  And it will also set out a pattern of high-level meetings through the coming months to ensure that we are holding ourselves and the world accountable to following through on achieving these goals. 
 
The United States will also have a series of announcements about further contributions above and beyond what has already been contributed to ending the pandemic globally.

Earlier in the day, the Biden administration announced it was easing up restrictions on foreign travel into the United States, by opening access to foreign nationals who have been vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel. In addition, airlines will be required to keep information for contact tracing, should that be necessary.  The new, strict protocols will be in place by early November.  

“Critically for our European partners and for the UK, this policy means that we will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November.  We’ll be moving to a consistent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the United States. 
 
“But we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that will permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the E.U. and the UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination.”

Responding to a question about the controversy over the United States selling nuclear submarines to Australia – which angered France –and whether this would be a new precedent for the United States to sell nuclear technology, the official said, “This is a unique set of circumstances involving a unique actor — Australia – which is a model nonproliferation citizen in the world, has incredibly high standards, has a history of proving out its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It has proven that not just by word but by deed, decade after decade. 

“And so, President Biden felt that with the unique case of Australia and then a unique set of safeguards for this material — the highest possible standards of safeguarding the HEU, stewardship of the HEU, consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in consultation with the relevant international bodies — that we will be able to show that this is not a broad precedent that opens the doors but rather a very narrow-use case involving the combination of a unique set of circumstances.”

There is no plan to sell such technology to South Korea or any others.

With respect to President Macron, he said, President Biden plans to discuss the way forward, and reinforce his deep commitment to the U.S. alliance with France – “an alliance that has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for decades.  The President wants to communicate his desire to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and to talk about specific practical measures that we can undertake together. 

“We understand the French position.  We don’t share their view, in terms of how this all developed, but we understand their position.  And we will continue to be engaged in the coming days on this.  And we look forward to the phone call between President Biden and President Macron once its time is fixed on the books.  We think that will be an important moment and opportunity for the two leaders to speak directly with one another.”

He countered an assertion that the Afghanistan evacuation and the unilateral decision with Australia warrant criticism that the U.S. is not engaging with its partners and that it’s moving on its own.

“If you look at the most significant challenges, the highest-priority issues facing the world today, you see the United States has been deeply engaged with allies and partners and with the relevant international institutions. 
 
“The President is hosting a summit on COVID-19 on Wednesday where allies, partners, and even competitors have been invited to talk about how we find a collective way forward. 
 
“The United States and the European Union are holding a ministerial-level meeting of the Trade and Technology Council on September 29th.  This will be an opportunity to talk about how we shape a common way forward on our economy and on emerging technologies, and it’s an unprecedented vehicle to be able to do that. 
 
“So, when you walk through those significant issues — the depth and richness of the engagement with our allies and partners, the work that we have done with the European Union, the work we have done with Asian allies and partners, the deepening of the Quad as a vital part of the institutional framework of Asia — I think the picture is actually quite positive, despite the differences in perspective on Afghanistan and the issues we are dealing with France right now.”

He said that the US and France can find a productive pathway forward, working together on critical security issues. 
 
“So, if you look at the totality of the Biden foreign policy — of the ways in which we have worked on the big issues and done so very much in coordination, consultation, and common action with allies and partners, and then you look at the months ahead and what’s on the docket and the trajectory that we’re setting for ourselves — the President feels very good about the path forward and about how American foreign policy can play a vital role in rallying the world and especially rallying like-minded democracies to solve the great challenges of our time.”

Hosting the leaders of the Quad fundamentally is a demonstration of the priority Biden’s foreign policy is placing of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations designed to focus on 21st century challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and clean-energy,  partnering on emerging technologies in cyberspace, promoting high-standards infrastructure, and an overarching commitment at the core of the Quad to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

 ____________________________

© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Reached: Here’s What’s Included

New York City shows off a new electric bus at the Heroes Parade honoring healthcare and city frontline workers. The bipartisan infrastructure deal struck by the Biden Administration invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, including $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses and deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On July 28, 2021, President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. In total, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet from the White House , which details what is included:

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create good jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
 
The deal will create good-paying, union jobs. With the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.
 
President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver progress towards those objectives for working families across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal:

  • Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
  • Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
  • Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
  • Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
  • Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
  • Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Development Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid

The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results for working families. He believes demonstrating that democracies can deliver is a critical challenge for his presidency. Today’s agreement shows that we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.
 
Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
 
One in five miles, or 173,000 total miles, of our highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year.  This investment will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes a total of $17.5 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.
 
Safety
 
America has one of the highest road fatality rates in the industrialized world. The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It will more than double funding directed to programs that improve the safety of people and vehicles in our transportation system, including highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.
 
Public Transit
 
America’s transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. The deal invests $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization.  This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit in the history of the programs. It will repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users, and bring transit service to new communities. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles.  And, it will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options.
 
Passenger and Freight Rail
 
Unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multi-year funding stream to address deferred maintenance, enhance existing corridors, and build new lines in high-potential locations. The deal positions Amtrak and rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The deal invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Within these totals, $22 million would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.
 
EV Infrastructure
 
U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. This is the first-ever national investment in EV charging infrastructure in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop.  Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Electric Buses
 
American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.
 
Reconnecting Communities
 
Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. In particular, significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods. The deal creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure.  The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.
 
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
 
The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.
 
Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure
 
Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts and floods, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.

Clean Drinking Water
 
Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
 
High-Speed Internet

Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The deal’s $65 billion investment ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.

The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and helping families comparison shop, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service. It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act, ending digital redlining, creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet, and establishing a new program to help low-income households obtain the devices required to access the internet.
 
Environmental Remediation

In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.
 
Power Infrastructure
 
As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The deal’s $73 billion investment is the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history.  It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.
 
Offsets
 
In the years ahead, the deal, which will generate significant economic benefits, and it is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.

Dating Apps Answer White House Call to Action, Launch New Efforts to Encourage COVID Vaccinations

Okay to date again! In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America – Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo – are launching new features and incentives to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo to create badges displaying vaccination status and offer vaccinated Americans free premium benefits

In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. These companies join organizations across the country that have answered the President’s call by stepping up and offering incentives and information to help Americans get vaccinated. 

Today, dating apps are announcing that they will offer a variety of features such as:

  • Badges showing vaccination status
  • Access to free premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes for vaccinated people
  • In-app promotions and links to vaccines.gov or the text code for users
  • Filters so individuals can see individuals who have been vaccinated

According to research from OKCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more Matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated. Specific actions by dating apps will launch over the next several weeks, including:

  • Tinder: Members will be able to add stickers to their profile including “I’m Vaccinated” or “Vaccines Save Lives.” And vaccinated users will have access to free premium content like a “Super Like” to help them stand out among potential matches. Tinder will also launch a “Vaccine Center” with a suite of resources to education and connect users with their nearest vaccination site. Tinder is the world’s biggest non-gaming app.
  • OkCupid: Daters will be able toadd an “I’m Vaccinated” profile badge and be featured within OkCupid’s “Vaccinated Stacks,” a new matching system that lets users search by vaccination status. Vaccinated people will also receive a free “Boost” to move their profile to the front of a daters’ stack. The campaign will begin on May 24 and will continue to help daters “Match on What Matters.”
  • Bumble and Badoo will enable all U.S. customers to add a “vaccinated” badge to their profiles. In addition, Bumble and Badoo will give vaccinated users complimentary credits for premium features such as Spotlight and Superswipes across both apps. The apps will also leverage their network of influencers to amplify the need to get vaccinated as part of a push this summer.
  • BLK will add a new “Vaxified” profile badge for singles to show their support in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. When vaccinated individuals add the badge to their profile, they will receive a free “Boost” on the app to be one of the first profiles seen by potential matches. The features will launch on June 1. BLK is the largest dating app made for Black singles.
  • Chispa will add a new “Vacunado” profile badge for Latinx singles to show their support for ending the pandemic. Vaccinated individuals who add the badge will get a free “Boost,” making them one of the first profiles to be seen by their matches. The feature will be available starting June 1. Chispa is the largest dating app for Latino singles in English and Spanish.
  • Hinge: Hinge will encourage users to share their vaccination status on their profile and give vaccinated users a free “Rose,” which is premium content that indicates to other users that they’re especially excited to get to know them. As the dating app “designed to be deleted,” Hinge is focused on helping its community get back out on dates and in safe relationships.
  • Match: Members will have the option to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profile to display their vaccine status, with vaccinated Americans getting access to a free “Boost” to help them stand out on the app.
  • Plenty of Fish: Members will be able to add an “I Got My Shot” badge to their profiles in early June. Those who participate will receive 20 Live! credits to use on the Plenty of Fish Live! streaming feature. In the spirit of Plenty of Fish’s mission to create low pressure dating experiences, this campaign will provide members with one less question to ask so they can start building meaningful connections.

More than 60% of U.S. adults have gotten at least one vaccine shot. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, with more than 80,000 locations with vaccines and 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccine. Find out more about where to get vaccinated by visiting Vaccines.gov or texting their zip code 438829.

President Biden Signs Executive Order Charting New Course to Improve Nation’s Cybersecurity, Protect Government Networks

Just days after Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45 percent of the gasoline to the Eastern Seaboard, was hit by a ransomware attack which the FBI believes was perpetrated by DarkSide, a relatively new criminal group based in Eastern Europe exposed the vulnerability of key U.S. infrastructure, President Biden signed an Executive Order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect federal government networks. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

Today, just days after Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45 percent of the gasoline to the Eastern Seaboard, was hit by a ransomware attack which the FBI believes was perpetrated by DarkSide, a relatively new criminal group based in Eastern Europe exposed the vulnerability of key U.S. infrastructure, President Biden signed an Executive Order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect federal government networks.

The White House supplied this fact sheet about the actions taken under the Executive Order:

Recent cybersecurity incidents such as SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and the Colonial Pipeline incident are a sobering reminder that U.S. public and private sector entities increasingly face sophisticated malicious cyber activity from both nation-state actors and cyber criminals. These incidents share commonalities, including insufficient cybersecurity defenses that leave public and private sector entities more vulnerable to incidents. 

This Executive Order makes a significant contribution toward modernizing cybersecurity defenses by protecting federal networks, improving information-sharing between the U.S. government and the private sector on cyber issues, and strengthening the United States’ ability to respond to incidents when they occur.  It is the first of many ambitious steps the Administration is taking to modernize national cyber defenses.  However, the Colonial Pipeline incident is a reminder that federal action alone is not enough. Much of our domestic critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and those private sector companies make their own determination regarding cybersecurity investments. We encourage private sector companies to follow the Federal government’s lead and take ambitious measures to augment and align cybersecurity investments with the goal of minimizing future incidents.

Specifically, the Executive Order the President is signing today will:

Remove Barriers to Threat Information Sharing Between Government and the Private Sector. The Executive Order ensures that IT Service Providers are able to share information with the government and requires them to share certain breach information. IT providers are often hesitant or unable to voluntarily share information about a compromise.  Sometimes this can be due to contractual obligations; in other cases, providers simply may be hesitant to share information about their own security breaches. Removing any contractual barriers and requiring providers to share breach information that could impact Government networks is necessary to enable more effective defenses of Federal departments, and to improve the Nation’s cybersecurity as a whole.

Modernize and Implement Stronger Cybersecurity Standards in the Federal Government. The Executive Order helps move the Federal government to secure cloud services and a zero-trust architecture, and mandates deployment of multifactor authentication and encryption with a specific time period. Outdated security models and unencrypted data have led to compromises of systems in the public and private sectors. The Federal government must lead the way and increase its adoption of security best practices, including by employing a zero-trust security model, accelerating movement to secure cloud services, and consistently deploying foundational security tools such as multifactor authentication and encryption.

Improve Software Supply Chain Security. The Executive Order will improve the security of software by establishing baseline security standards for development of software sold to the government, including requiring developers to maintain greater visibility into their software and making security data publicly available. It stands up a concurrent public-private process to develop new and innovative approaches to secure software development and uses the power of Federal procurement to incentivize the market. Finally, it creates a pilot program to create an “energy star” type of label so the government – and the public at large – can quickly determine whether software was developed securely. Too much of our software, including critical software, is shipped with significant vulnerabilities that our adversaries exploit. This is a long-standing, well-known problem, but for too long we have kicked the can down the road. We need to use the purchasing power of the Federal Government to drive the market to build security into all software from the ground up.

Establish a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board. The Executive Order establishes a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board, co-chaired by government and private sector leads, that may convene following a significant cyber incident to analyze what happened and make concrete recommendations for improving cybersecurity. Too often organizations repeat the mistakes of the past and do not learn lessons from significant cyber incidents. When something goes wrong, the Administration and private sector need to ask the hard questions and make the necessary improvements. This board is modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board, which is used after airplane crashes and other incidents.

Create a Standard Playbook for Responding to Cyber Incidents. The Executive Order creates a standardized playbook and set of definitions for cyber incident response by federal departments and agencies. Organizations cannot wait until they are compromised to figure out how to respond to an attack. Recent incidents have shown that within the government the maturity level of response plans vary widely. The playbook will ensure all Federal agencies meet a certain threshold and are prepared to take uniform steps to identify and mitigate a threat.  The playbook will also provide the private sector with a template for its response efforts.

Improve Detection of Cybersecurity Incidents on Federal Government Networks. The Executive Order improves the ability to detect malicious cyber activity on federal networks by enabling a government-wide endpoint detection and response system and improved information sharing within the Federal government. Slow and inconsistent deployment of foundational cybersecurity tools and practices leaves an organization exposed to adversaries. The Federal government should lead in cybersecurity, and strong, Government-wide Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) deployment coupled with robust intra-governmental information sharing are essential.

Improve Investigative and Remediation Capabilities. The Executive Order creates cybersecurity event log requirements for federal departments and agencies. Poor logging hampers an organization’s ability to detect intrusions, mitigate those in progress, and determine the extent of an incident after the fact.  Robust and consistent logging practices will solve much of this problem.

White House Releases State-by-State Fact Sheets to Highlight Need and Benefit of American Families Plan in Each State

The White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The lack of affordable, accessible, quality day care has kept millions of women from returning to the workforce, while the availability of two extra years of public school contributes to higher graduation rates and 20 percent higher annual incomes over a lifetime © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity: education, health care, and child care.
 
The fact sheets highlight how many families would benefit from free community college and universal pre-K, the high costs of child care, the number of workers who lack access to paid family leave, and the thousands of dollars families and workers would save in tax cuts and credits.

Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories are linked below.

These fact sheets are the latest in a series from the White House highlighting the benefits of the American Families Plan for communities, in addition to a series of fact sheets on the American Jobs Plan. Fact sheets on how the American Families Plan advances racial equity and supports rural America have been released in recent weeks.

Fact Sheets by State/Territory:
Alaska
Alabama
American Samoa
Arkansas
Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Guam
Hawaii
Iowa
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Massachusetts
Maryland
Maine
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Mississippi
Montana
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Marina Islands
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
Nevada
New York
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Virgin Islands
Washington
Wisconsin
West Virginia
Wyoming
 
Fact Sheets by Issue:
 
Racial Equity
Rural Communities

Biden Convenes Historic Leaders Summit on Climate, Reestablishing US Global Leadership: ‘America is Back’

President Biden held a historic Leaders Summit on Climate,  in which he announced higher targets for the US to achieve, and underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution, linking climate action to economic growth. The White House issued this summary:

Over the course of two days and eight sessions of his historic Climate Summit, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span.org.

On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Days later, he took executive actions to ensure we tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad – all while creating jobs and strengthening our economy. This week, he held a historic summit with 40 world leaders to show that America is back.

Over the course of two days and eight sessions, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.

On the first day of the summit, President Biden upped the ante. He announced the United States will target reducing emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. He underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution and creating good-paying, union jobs – noting that the countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of the future.

In the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government approach to unleash economic opportunities, create good jobs, and advance environmental justice. From the national to the local level and across all agencies, the federal government is not only working to help those hit hardest by climate impacts, but also creating a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future.

While the Biden-Harris Administration has committed itself to addressing the climate crisis, countries across the globe must also step up. Given that more than 85 percent of emissions come from beyond U.S. borders, domestic action must go hand in hand with international leadership. All countries – and particularly the major economies – must do more to bend the curve on global emissions so as to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. President Biden’s Leaders Summit helped ensure the international community is working together to tackle the climate crisis and support the most vulnerable. Together with the new United States 2030 target along with those announced in the run-up to and at the summit, more than half of the world’s economy is now committed to the pace of action we need to limit warming to 1.5 degree C. And this coalition is growing.

President Biden convened the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, a group the United States first convened during the George W. Bush Administration. Together, the 17 MEF economies are responsible for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and global GDP. At the Summit, alongside the United States, the other MEF participants committed to take the necessary steps to set the world up for success in this decisive decade. The heads of state and leaders of the MEF participants were also joined by the leaders of countries that are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, as well as countries charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. Business leaders, innovators, local officials, and indigenous and youth representatives participated in the summit, sharing their insights and planned contributions to help tackle the climate crisis.

For our part, the United States is leading the way with a range of bold new commitments across the federal government that demonstrate its leadership, create jobs, rally the rest of the world to step up, mobilize finance, spur transformational innovations, conserve nature, build resilience, strengthen adaptation and drive economic growth for communities. U.S. commitments include:

Enhancing climate ambition and enabling the transformations required to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. President Biden is galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical period. From reducing short-lived climate pollutants and supporting the most vulnerable to investing in nature-based solutions, these transformational changes are critical to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Just as importantly, they will create new, good-paying jobs today to drive tomorrow’s economy.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach is ensuring that climate considerations are incorporated across U.S. engagements both at home and abroad. Some of the initiatives that were announced today include:

  • Launching a Global Climate Ambition Initiative. The U.S. government will support developing countries in establishing net-zero strategies, implementing their nationally determined contributions and national adaptation strategies, and reporting on their progress under the Paris Agreement. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working with other agencies, will coordinate U.S. government efforts to support countries around the world to enhance and meet their climate goals in ways that further their national development priorities. We will engage strategically with governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities to support transformational policies and programs, build human and institutional capacity, and create momentum toward a zero-emissions, climate-resilient future.
  • Setting ambitious benchmarks for climate investments at DFCThe U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is committing to achieve a net zero investment portfolio by 2040, the earliest target of any G7 or G20 development finance institution (DFI), and to make at least one-third of all its new investments have a climate nexus beginning in FY 2023. DFC will make climate issues central to its development strategy for the first time and bring all of its tools to bear to ensure a just transition that supports sustainable economic growth in developing countries. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, DFC will support distributed renewable energy and other innovative climate investments to benefit millions worldwide. It has released a rolling call for proposals for climate investment funds, is bringing onboard its first Chief Climate Officer, and has established a $50 million climate technical assistance facility. These pioneering goals are unique among its peer institutions, and DFC will collaborate with other DFIs and encourage them to raise their own ambitions.
  • Committing to climate investments at MCC. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will expand and deepen work to address climate change challenges across its investment portfolio and business operations—investing in climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure. Over the next five years, MCC commits that more than 50 percent of its program funding will go to climate-related investments. MCC will promote low-carbon economic development, help countries transition away from fossil fuels, and maintain a coal-free policy across its portfolio of grants.
  • Launching a Greening Government InitiativeThe Greening Government Initiative launch marks the first international convening on greening national plans for sustainable government operations. Co-chaired by Canada and the United States, GGI countries seek to lead by example in developing and implementing climate action plans that increase the resilience of and mitigate emissions from national government operations and real property. Through coordinating our national priorities and collaborating on common goals, we hope to foster and inspire a global “race to the top” of government efforts toward achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United States and Canada will lead this initiative through cooperation in the management of national government procurement and real property, helping both nations achieve their individual goals of a net-zero emissions economy, 100 percent clean electricity usage, and a zero-emissions vehicle fleet.

Mobilizing financing to drive the net-zero transition and adapt to climate changeFinance plays a vital role in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and building a climate-resilient future. Current financial flows are inadequate for addressing the scale of the climate crisis. Through President Biden’s international climate finance plan, the U.S. government will make strategic use of multilateral and bilateral channels and institutions to assist developing countries in implementing ambitious emissions reduction measures, protect critical ecosystems, build resilience against the impacts of climate change, and promote the flow of capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments. To more effectively mobilize public and private finance to address the climate crisis, the United States announced it is:

  • Scaling up international financing to address climate needs. The United States intends to double by 2024 our annual public climate finance to developing countries relative to the average level during the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). As part of this goal, the United States intends to triple its adaptation finance by 2024. The Biden Administration will work closely with Congress to meet these goals.
  • Issuing the first U.S. International Climate Finance Plan. The United States is publishing its first-ever U.S. international climate finance plan, which lays out how federal agencies and departments responsible for international climate finance will work together to deliver that finance more efficiently and with greater impact.
  • Launching an international dialogue on decreasing fiscal climate risk through national budgets. Earlier this month, the United States announced a more than $14 billion increase in the President’s Budget over FY 2021 enacted levels across the entire government to tackle the climate crisis, the largest in history. The United States is launching an international dialogue on aligning the budget with climate risks and opportunities. The dialogue will build both on U.S. leadership in climate budgeting and assessing climate risk and on the pioneering work already being done in multilateral fora. The United States will engage with participating countries through bilateral and multilateral channels to collaborate on cost-effective strategies across participating countries to increase climate investments while creating good-paying jobs. The dialogue will also explore how to improve climate risk analysis in national operations that could help countries optimize and expand investments in adaptation and reduce national exposure to the impacts of climate change.

Transforming energy systemsThe potential of solar energy, wind power, and electricity storage technologies has improved dramatically over the past few years. But we need to go further and faster. To support accelerated action, new commitments include:

  • Establishing a Net-Zero Producers Forum. In support of efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury, the United States, together with the energy ministries from Canada, Norway, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, representing 40 percent of global oil and gas production, established a cooperative forum that will create pragmatic net-zero strategies, including methane abatement, advancing the circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean-energy and carbon capture and storage technologies, diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues, and other measures in line with each country’s national circumstances.
  • Establishing a U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The United States is working with allies and partners around the world to set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy innovation and deployment. The U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership will elevate ambitious climate action as a core theme of U.S.-India collaboration and support the achievement of India’s ambitious targets, including reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.
  • Supporting ambitious renewable energy goals and pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Department of State announced scaled-up technical assistance to countries participating in the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) initiative, a regional effort led by Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica to increase renewable energy capacity to at least 70 percent by 2030. Expanded U.S. support through the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory will center on peer learning and training on policies and technical measures for achieving high levels of renewable energy grid integration. U.S. support to enable current RELAC countries and motivate additional countries to join RELAC will be delivered in cooperation with the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium.
  • Supporting clean energy mineral supply chains. The Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) is a multinational effort founded by Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru, and the United States to help build sustainable supply chains and promote sound sector governance for the minerals vital to technologies powering the energy transition, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and battery storage. The United States has committed more than $10.5 million in bilateral technical assistance in support of ERGI principles in more than ten countries around the world. The Initiative’s focus is now expanding to include greening mining operations, as well as re-use and recycling of key minerals and metals. The United States will also join the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining in support of international cooperation on the minerals and metals that make the renewable energy transition possible.

Revitalizing the transport sector. The transformation of the transport sector offers some of the biggest opportunities for deep emissions cuts, new jobs, and healthier cities. To jump-start this revolution, the United States is committing to:                                                                                       

  • Sparking the zero-emission transportation revolution – at home and abroad. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis and expanding ways for all modes of transportation to transition to zero emissions. This includes funding for lower-emission buses, expanding access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, using our public rights of way in climate-supportive ways, and working with partners around the world bilaterally, regionally, and in multilateral fora to help catalyze the transition to zero-emitting transportation as swiftly as possible.
  • Joining the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. The United States will join a coalition of governments representing more than half of new vehicle sales globally that is dedicated to accelerating the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
  • Reducing emissions from international shipping. The international shipping sector contributes approximately three percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the sector’s emissions are only projected to increase. In support of the global effort to keep within reach a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature increase, and in support of global efforts to achieve net-zero GHG emissions no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.
  • Reducing emissions from international aviation. The United States is committed to working with other countries on a vision toward reducing the aviation sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions for our economy by 2050, as well as on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety. The United States intends to advance the development and deployment of high integrity sustainable aviation fuels and other clean technologies that meet rigorous international standards, building on existing partnerships, such as through ASCENT– the Aviation Sustainability Center – and pursue policies to increase the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels. In the International Civil Aviation Organization, we will engage in processes to advance a new long-term aspirational goal in line with our vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector, and continue to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Building workforces for the future and ensuring U.S. competitivenessClimate action is an opportunity to spur job creation while enabling all communities and workers to benefit from the clean energy economy. To create opportunities for American-made solutions to tackle the climate crisis abroad, the United States is announcing new commitments to:

  • Launching a Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will launch the Global Partnership to connect U.S. industry to major energy and transportation infrastructure investments in emerging markets. This initiative will support the rebuilding of the U.S. middle class through the export of U.S.-manufactured goods and services, while enhancing economic recovery through climate-smart infrastructure development for our partners and allies globally. The Global Climate-Smart Infrastructure Partnership will leverage USTDA’s project preparation and partnership-building tools to support the use of U.S. technologies and services in overseas climate-smart infrastructure projects.
  • Creating the EXIM Chairman’s Council on Climate. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) will create a Chairman’s Council on Climate, a sub-committee of EXIM’s Advisory Committee dedicated to advising EXIM on how to better support U.S. exporters in clean energy, foster the transition to a low-carbon economy, and create clean U.S. jobs at home. Membership will be comprised of a wide range of representatives which could include, for example, members of U.S. industry, the financial sector, trade associations, labor, academia, think tanks, and civil society organizations. EXIM will open applications to the public in summer 2021.
  • Supporting workers and communities in the shift to a global clean energy future. As the United States moves towards a clean energy economy, it is committed to helping energy workers and communities address the challenges and equitably capitalize on the opportunities associated with this transition. The U.S. Secretary of Energy convened the energy ministers of Canada, India, and the European Commission, along with representatives from the labor and advocacy communities, to begin a discussion on global efforts to address this critical issue. To continue the dialogue, the Department of Energy announced that it is joining Canada, the European Union, and Chile to launch the Empowering People initiative at the Clean Energy Ministerial this June.

Promoting innovation to bring clean technologies to scaleInnovation will spur the technology and transformations necessary to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change at scale, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities to build the industries of the future. To build the future we want, the United States announced:

  • Clean energy innovation and manufacturing. The United States commits to accelerating the technology progress critical to advancing sustainable development and achieving a net-zero global economy. The effort will spur good-paying American jobs focused on developing, manufacturing, and exporting cost-effective products that support sustainable development across the world. The U.S. Department of Energy will define a series of performance targets and coherently leverage the diverse expertise and talent at American universities, businesses, and national laboratories to accelerate research and development in top linchpin technologies, beginning with: hydrogen, carbon capture, industrial fuels, and energy storage. The targets and roadmaps will look beyond incremental advances and aim, instead, at the game-changing breakthroughs that will secure American leadership in the manufacture of net-zero carbon technologies and support sustainable development around the world. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy will convene experts from American academia, business, and the national laboratories to announce the first of these moonshot-style ventures and catalyze the game-changing breakthroughs that will grow new businesses and new jobs domestically and export these net-zero carbon technologies all around the world.
  • Reinvigorating leadership and participation in Mission Innovation. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced plans to quadruple clean energy innovation funding over the next four years, and the United States is playing a key role in advancing international collaboration on innovation and supporting the launch of Mission Innovation 2.0, including:
    • Launching, and leading together with international partners, a major Mission Innovation international technology mission on carbon dioxide removal at COP26.
    • Joining Mission Innovation’s hydrogen mission and co-leading, with Denmark, a mission to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping, both slated to launch at the June 2021 Mission Innovation ministerial.
    • Planning to host the co-located 2022 Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings.
  • Leading the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate. The United States will lead the creation of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate along with the United Arab Emirates and in coordination with several other partner countries. The goal of this initiative is to accelerate innovation and research and development in agricultural and food systems in order to spur low-carbon growth and enhance food security. The initiative will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021 through the UK’s COP26 Campaign for Nature. 
  • Joining the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT)The United States will join the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), along with co-founders Sweden and India. LeadIT convenes countries and companies committed to speeding innovation in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive sectors and speed progress to net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Launching a Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium. To speed progress toward a carbon-free power system by 2035 at home and around the world, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, joined leading power system operators, world-class research institutes, and private institutions from countries at the forefront of power system transitions to launch this new consortium, which couples cutting-edge research with knowledge diffusion to share best-in-class operational, engineering, and workforce development solutions with power system operators around the world. The G-PST Consortium aims to help system operators to permanently change their emissions trajectories while simultaneously improving grid reliability, resiliency, and security and supporting economic growth.
  • Launching the FIRST Program to support the use of small modular reactors. In support of the Administration’s commitment to increasing reliable energy access worldwide while meeting carbon reduction targets, the Department of State is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program with an initial $5.3 million investment. FIRST provides capacity-building support to enable partner countries to benefit from advanced nuclear technologies and meet their clean energy goals under the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.

Providing urgent support for vulnerable countries to adapt and build resilience to the climate crisisThe climate crisis is already posing challenges to communities at home and around the world. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when agriculture fields are flooded, wildfires destroy neighborhoods, and storms knock out power. Communities of color and low-income communities around the country are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Abroad, many vulnerable countries already are facing catastrophic climate impacts. They must build their resilience to the climate crisis now. To strengthen our capacity to help people, reduce future risks and improve resilience, the United States is announcing it is:

  • Supporting environmental justice and climate resilienceEPA will fund $1 million in grants/cooperative agreements through the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to work with underserved and vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities, in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to prepare them for climate-related impacts. This initiative will provide funding directly to community-based organizations to help them develop community-driven solutions to the challenges of climate change. These projects could involve vulnerable communities converting workers to clean jobs, addressing extreme weather impacts, transitioning to clean energy and/or transportation, or utilizing traditional ecological knowledge. Following a competitive process, the most innovative and impactful projects will be approved by consensus by the environment ministers of the three countries. The United States currently chairs the CEC Council.
  • Partnering with islands to lead on climate and energy resilience. The United States is committed to partnering with small islands in their efforts to combat the climate crisis in ways that reflect their unique cultures and development challenges by building resilience in the face of a changing climate. Working together, the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a new partnership to advance the inclusion of locally generated climate information, knowledge, data and decision support tools in ongoing and emerging sustainability and resilience endeavors in island regions. The Department of State will support a unique island-led partnership, the Local2030 Island Network, which links U.S. island jurisdictions with those around the world in developing common solutions in a shared cultural context. NOAA will work with this network and other partners to enhance the capacity of island nations to integrate climate data and information, and it will apply effective coastal and marine resource management strategies to support sustainable development. DOE will launch the Energy Transitions Initiative – Global, which will focus on transforming the energy systems of and increasing resilience for islands and remote communities, starting in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific and growing to include other vulnerable communities. USAID, through the Pacific Climate Ready project and the Caribbean Energy and Resilience initiatives, will support small island developing states to strengthen their systems and capacities to become more climate resilient in ways that are country-driven, coordinated, inclusive, and equitable.
  • Reducing black carbon by investing in clean cookstovesHousehold energy emissions have a significant impact on the climate, environment, human health, gender, and livelihoods. In addition, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, can in the short term contribute significantly to keeping a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Given the urgent need for tangible, ambitious, and global action, the U.S. government is announcing that it is resuming and strengthening its commitment to the United Nations Foundation’s Clean Cooking Alliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with the Clean Cooking Alliance, other governments, and partners to reduce emissions from home cooking and heating that contribute to climate change and also directly affect the health and livelihoods of almost 40 percent of the world’s population.
  • Mitigating black carbon health impacts in Indigenous Arctic communitiesEPA, working through our partners in the Arctic Council, is pleased to announce the Black Carbon Health in Indigenous Arctic Communities project to be implemented by the Aleut International Association. Indigenous Arctic communities need tools to understand their exposure to black carbon emissions, to help them identify significant local sources, and to share best practices for preventing and mitigating the health impacts of air pollution and climate. The project will help these communities measure, analyze, and addresses black carbon exposure and strengthen their capacity to develop and promote black carbon mitigation strategies.

Implementing nature-based solutionsNature is a critical part of reaching net-zero emissions and enhancing community resilience. The world’s ocean and forests are critical carbon sinks and a source of life and livelihoods. Recognizing nature’s vital role, the United States is announcing new resources and support for:

  • Investing in tropical forests to drive towards a net-zero world. Halting deforestation globally, and restoring forests and other ecosystems, is critical to reaching a net-zero emissions world by 2050. The United States is joining together with other governments and private sector companies today to announce the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition. The LEAF Coalition expects to mobilize at least $1 billion this year to incentivize tropical and subtropical countries in reducing emissions from forests by paying for verified emissions reductions that meet a high environmental and social standard. This is a crucial component to raising global climate ambition and to halting and reversing deforestation by 2030.
  • Funding nature-based approaches to coastal community and ecosystem resilience. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and additional governmental and private partners will provide $34 million for nature-based approaches through the National Coastal Resilience Fund. These projects will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, such as coastal wetlands, dunes, and coral reefs, to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from flooding, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife. NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation commit to advancing the science and practice of implementing nature-based approaches to coastal resilience with international communities of practice by participating in exchanges and dialogues to share the lessons and innovations learned from these projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners will also provide $78 million in grants to help conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetlands in Canada, Mexico, and the United States through the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
  • Promoting resilience in the Southern OceanThe United States is supporting the three marine protected area proposals in the Southern Ocean before the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). These unique areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and they must be protected. The United States is calling on all CCAMLR members to adopt these marine protected areas at this year’s meeting.

Promoting safety and security at home and abroadClimate change has been identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a critical national security threat and threat multiplier. As a result, DoD has undertaken assessments of the impacts that the climate crisis has on American military instillations. Today the United States is announcing:

  • Conducting climate exposure assessments on all U.S. installationsThe DoD is announcing a plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within 12 months and all major installations outside the continental U.S. within 24 months using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT). The DCAT helps identify the climate hazards to which DoD installations are most exposed, which is the first step in addressing the potential physical harm, security impacts, and degradation in readiness resulting from global climate change.
  • Supporting assessments in partner countries around the world. The DoD is also announcing its commitment to share the DCAT with a number of attending allied partners and militaries.

Supporting action at every levelFully addressing the climate crisis requires an all-of-society response. President Biden is committed to working with sub-national actors, business, civil society, indigenous communities, and youth to facilitate collective ambitious action that yields lasting results.

  • Advancing subnational and non-state engagement abroadThe United States will step up engagement with subnational governments and non-state actors around the world to accelerate climate action. It will also partner with U.S. cities, states, territories, and Tribes in the context of its diplomatic outreach globally, supporting their engagement at UN Climate Change summits and working with other countries to elevate similar efforts.
  • Catalyzing subnational action and participation in COP26. The United States endorses Race To Zero, a global campaign for net-zero targets from businesses, cities, and regions, and will work to seek additional U.S participants. The United States also announced an intent to commission analysis of the emission reduction potential from subnational leadership worldwide and to work with national and subnational partners globally to achieve this potential.

Today’s announcements are additional steps in the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance an unprecedented whole-of-government response to climate change while creating good-paying, union jobs and advancing environmental justice. On his first day in office, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and one week later he signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As part of this Order, the President charged federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis. From reducing emissions to advancing a just transition, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working hand in hand with international leaders, civil society, businesses, and communities and getting countries around the world to step up and meet this global challenge.
 

Biden on Derek Chauvin Verdict: ‘We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country-let that be George Floyd’s legacy’

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin being led away to jail after being found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. President Joe Biden declared, “We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden gave remarks immediately following the jury verdict that found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty for the death of George Floyd, saying “We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.” Here is a highlighted transcript:

Today, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May.
 
It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism
the Vice President just referred to — the systemic racism that is a stain our nation’s soul; the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans; the profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.

The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights era in the ‘60s — protests that unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say, “Enough.  Enough.  Enough of the senseless killings.”

Today — today’s verdict is a step forward.  I just spoke with the Governor of Minnesota, who thanked me for the close work with his team. 

And I also just spoke with George Floyd’s family again — a remarkable family of extraordinary courage.  Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back.  But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.

Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare.  For so many people, it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors: a brave young woman with a smartphone camera; a crowd that was traumatized — traumatized witnesses; a murder that lasts almost 10 minutes in broad daylight for, ultimately, the whole world to see; officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks, which should be commended; a jury who heard the evidence, carried out their civic duty in the midst of an extraordinary moment, under extraordinary pressure.
 
For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just — just basic accountability.
 
We saw how traumatic and exhausting just watching the trial was for so many people.  Think about it, those of you who are listening — think about how traumatic it was for you.  You weren’t there.  You didn’t know any of the people. 

But it was difficult, especially for the witnesses who had to relive that day.

It’s a trauma on top of the fear so many people of color live with every day when they go to sleep at night and pray for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
 

Again — as we saw in this trial, from the fellow police officers who testified — most men and women who wear the badge
serve their communities honorably.
 
But those few who fail to meet that standard
must be held accountable.  And they were today; one was.  No one should be above the law.  And today’s verdict sends that message.
 
But it is not enough.  We can’t stop here.

In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen and occur again; to ensure that Black and brown people or anyone — so they don’t fear the interactions with law enforcement, that they don’t have to wake up knowing that they can lose their very life in the course of just living their life.  They don’t have to worry about whether their sons or daughters will come home after a grocery store run or just walking down the street or driving their car or playing in the park or just sleeping at home.

And this takes acknowledging and confronting, head on, systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and in our criminal justice system more broadly. 

You know, state and local government and law enforcement needs to step up, but so does the federal government.  That’s why I have appointed the leadership at the Justice Department that I have, that is fully committed to restoring trust between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to serve and protect.  I have complete confidence in the Attorney General — General Garland’s leadership and commitment. 

I have also nominated two key Justice Department nominees — Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke — who are eminently qualified, highly respected lawyers who have spent their entire careers fighting to advance racial equity and justice. 

Vanita and Kristen have the experience and the skill necessary to advance our administration’s priorities to root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system, and they deserve to be confirmed. 

We also need Congress to act.  George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago.  There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.  You just heard the Vice President speak of it.  She helped write it.  Legislation to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments, to restore trust between law enforcement and the people that are entrusted to serve and protect.  But it shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.

In my conversations with the Floyd family — and I spoke with them again today — I assured them that we’re going to continue to fight for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act so we can — I can sign it into law as quickly as possible.  And there’s more to do. 

Finally, it’s the work we do every day to change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies — that’s the work we have to do.  Only then will full justice and full equality be delivered to all Americans.  And that’s what I just discussed with the Floyd family. 

The guilty verdict does not bring back George.  But through the family’s pain, they are finding purpose so George’s legacy will not be just about his death, but about what we must do in his memory.

I also spoke to Gianna — George’s (inaudible) — George’s young daughter, again.  When I met her last year — I’ve said this before — at George’s funeral, I told her how brave I thought she was.  And I, sort of, knelt down to hold her hand.  I said, “Daddy’s looking down on you.  He’s so proud.”  She said to me then — I’ll never forget it — “Daddy changed the world.”

Well, I told her this afternoon, “Daddy did change the world.”  Let that be his legacy: a legacy of peace, not violence — of justice. 

Peaceful expression of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate, but violent protest is not.  And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment — agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice; who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, to fan the flames of hate and division; who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice.  We can’t let them succeed.
 
This is the time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans.  There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America.

I’ve said it many times: The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years — a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.

At our best, the American ideal wins out.  So we can’t leave this moment or look away, thinking our work is done.  We have to look at it as we did for those 9 minutes and 29 seconds.  We have to listen.  “I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.”  Those were George Floyd’s last words.  We can’t let those words die with him.  We have to keep hearing those words.

We must not turn away.  We can’t turn away.  We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.  It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.

May God bless you.  And may God bless the — George Floyd and his family.

Thank you for taking the time to be here.  This can be a moment of significant change. 

Biden Declares Way Forward in Afghanistan: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home’

President Joe Biden pays his respects to the fallen at Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery where recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden, announcing that US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks, keeps a tally of how many have died in Afghanistan, 2,448, and 20,722 wounded © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On April 14, speaking from the Treaty Room in the White House, President Joe Biden declared that American troops would be out of Afghanistan, America’s longest war, by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the terror attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda that left 3000 dead New York, Washington DC and Shanksville, PA. here is a highlighted transcript:

Good afternoon.  I’m speaking to you today from the Roosevelt — the Treaty Room in the White House.  The same spot where, on October of 2001, President George W. Bush informed our nation that the United States military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.  It was just weeks — just weeks after the terrorist attack on our nation that killed 2,977 innocent souls; that turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster area, destroyed parts of the Pentagon, and made hallowed ground of a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and sparked an American promise that we would “never forget.”

We went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out al Qaeda, to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan.  Our objective was clear.  The cause was just.  Our NATO Allies and partners rallied beside us.  And I supported that military action, along with overwhelming majority of the members of Congress.

More than seven years later, in 2008, weeks before we swore the oath of office — President Obama and I were about to swear — President Obama asked me to travel to Afghanistan and report back on the state of the war in Afghanistan.  I flew to Afghanistan, to the Kunar Valley — a rugged, mountainous region on the border with Pakistan.  What I saw on that trip reinforced my conviction that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country, and that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government. 

I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again.  We did that.  We accomplished that objective. 

I said, among — with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be.  That’s exactly what we did, and we got him.  It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama’s commitment into form.  And that’s exactly what happened; Osama bin Laden was gone. 

That was 10 years ago.  Think about that.  We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since.  Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved.

Over the past 20 years, the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe: al-Shabaab in Somalia; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Nusra in Syria; ISIS attempting to create a  [caliphate] in Syria and Iraq, and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. 

With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders.  We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal, and expecting a different result. 

I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats.  I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the Vice President, as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world, I have concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war.  It’s time for American troops to come home. 

When I came to office, I inherited a diplomatic agreement, duly negotiated between the government of the United States and the Taliban, that all U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just three months after my inauguration.  That’s what we inherited — that commitment. 

It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.  So, in keeping with that agreement and with our national interests, the United States will begin our final withdrawal — begin it on May 1 of this year. 

We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.  We’ll do it — we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.  And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do. 
 
And the Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal. 

Our allies and partners have stood beside us shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and we’re deeply grateful for the contributions they have made to our shared mission and for the sacrifices they have borne.

The plan has long been “in together, out together.”  U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO Allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11th. 
 
But — but we’ll not take our eye off the terrorist threat.  We’ll reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent reemergence of terrorists — of the threat to our homeland from over the horizon.  We’ll hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil.  The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well.  And we’ll focus our full attention on the threat we face today. 
 
At my direction, my team is refining our national strategy to monitor and disrupt significant terrorist threats not only in Afghanistan, but anywhere they may arise — and they’re in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

I spoke yesterday with President Bush to inform him of my decision. While he and I have had many disagreements over policies throughout the years, we’re absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor, courage, and integrity of the women and men of the United States Armed Forces who served.  I’m immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone that they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments.  We as a nation are forever indebted to them and to their families. 

You all know that less than 1 percent of Americans serve in our armed forces.  The remaining 99 percent of them — we owe them.  We owe them.  They have never backed down from a single mission that we’ve asked of them.

I’ve witnessed their bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan.  They’ve never wavered in their resolve.  They’ve paid a tremendous price on our behalf.  And they have the thanks of a grateful nation.

While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue.  We’ll continue to support the government of Afghanistan.  We will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defenses and Security Forces. 

And along with our partners, we have trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel today and hundreds of thousands over the past two decades.  And they’ll continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost.  They’ll support peace talks, as we will support peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, facilitated by the United Nations.  And we’ll continue to support the rights of Afghan women and girls by maintaining significant humanitarian and development assistance.

And we’ll ask other countries — other countries in the region — to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey.  They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan. 

And over the next few months, we will also determine what a continued U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan will look like, including how we’ll ensure the security of our diplomats.

Look, I know there are many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust U.S. military presence to stand as leverage.  We gave that argument a decade.  It’s never proved effective — not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan, and not when we were down to a few thousand.

Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way — U.S. boots on the ground.  We have to change that thinking.  American troops shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries.  You know, that’s nothing more than a recipe for keeping American troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. 

I also know there are many who will argue that we should stay — stay fighting in Afghanistan because withdrawal would damage America’s credibility and weaken America’s influence in the world.  I believe the exact opposite is true. 

We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago.  That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. 

Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us.  We have to track and disrupt terrorist networks and operations that spread far beyond Afghanistan since 9/11.

We have to shore up American competitiveness to meet the stiff competition we’re facing from an increasingly assertive China.  We have to strengthen our alliances and work with like-minded partners to ensure that the rules of international norms that govern cyber threats and emerging technologies that will shape our future are grounded in our democratic values — values — not those of the autocrats. 
 
We have to defeat this pandemic and strengthen the global health system to prepare for the next one, because there will be another pandemic. 
 
You know, we’ll be much more formidable to our adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20. 
 
And finally, the main argument for staying longer is what each of my three predecessors have grappled with: No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan forever, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave. 

In 2014, NATO issued a declaration affirming that Afghan Security Forces would, from that point on, have full responsibility for their country’s security by the end of that year.  That was seven years ago. 

So when will it be the right moment to leave?  One more year, two more years, ten more years?  Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent? 
 
“Not now” — that’s how we got here.  And in this moment, there’s a significant downside risk to staying beyond May 1st without a clear timetable for departure. 
 
If we instead pursue the approach where America — U.S. exit is tied to conditions on the ground, we have to have clear answers to the following questions: Just what conditions require to — be required to allow us to depart?  By what means and how long would it take to achieve them, if they could be achieved at all?  And at what additional cost in lives and treasure?

I’m not hearing any good answers to these questions.  And if you can’t answer them, in my view, we should not stay.  The fact is that, later today, I’m going to visit Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, and that sacred memorial to American sacrifice. 

Section 60 is where our recent war dead are buried, including many of the women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There’s no — there’s no comforting distance in history in Section 60.  The grief is raw.  It’s a visceral reminder of the living cost of war. 

For the past 12 years, ever since I became Vice President, I’ve carried with me a card that reminds me of the exact number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That exact number, not an approximation or rounded-off number — because every one of those dead are sacred human beings who left behind entire families.  An exact accounting of every single solitary one needs to be had. 

As of the day — today, there are [2,448] U.S. troops and personnel who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — our Afghanistan conflicts.  20,722 have been wounded. 

I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a warzone.  And throughout this process, my North Star has been remembering what it was like when my late son, Beau, was deployed to Iraq — how proud he was to serve his country; how insistent he was to deploy with his unit; and the impact it had on him and all of us at home. 

We already have service members doing their duty in Afghanistan today whose parents served in the same war.  We have service members who were not yet born when our nation was attacked on 9/11. 

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.  We were attacked.  We went to war with clear goals.  We achieved those objectives.  Bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is degraded in Iraq — in Afghanistan.  And it’s time to end the forever war. 

Thank you all for listening.  May God protect our troops.  May God bless all those families who lost someone in this endeavor.

Biden Promotes $2 Trillion American Jobs Plan: ‘A once-in-a-generation investment in America to win the future’

Freight Train, rambles through Rochester New York station built 100 years ago. Two hundred years ago, trains were not considered “infrastructure” but President Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, felt it important enough to build the Intercontinental Railroad which paved the way for America to become a global powerhouse. Now President Biden wants to build the infrastructure for tomorrow so that America can continue to be the global leader © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden provided the rationale for his American Jobs Plan in remarks on April 7, justifying the $2 trillion plan as a “once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.” While saying he was willing to hear other ideas and compromise on such things as raising the corporate tax rate to 28% (still lower than 35% rate up until 2017), doing nothing is “not an option.” Here is an edited transcript of his remarks:

Last weekend, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I announced my plan to rebuild what I refer to as the “backbone of America” through the American Jobs Plan. 
 
It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges; it’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.
 
It’s the single largest investment in American jobs since World War Two, and it’s a plan that puts millions of Americans to work to fix what’s broken in our country: tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair.
 
But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow — not just yesterday; tomorrow — for American jobs, for American competitiveness.
 
Last week, I said that once Congress is back from recess, I’d get to work right away because we have no time to lose.  So here we are. 
 
Democrats, Republicans will have ideas about what they like and what they don’t like about our plan.  That’s — that’s a good thing.  That’s the American way.  That’s the way democracy works.  Debate is welcome.  Compromise is inevitable.  Changes are certain. 
 
In the next few weeks, the Vice President and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone.  And we’ll be listening.  We’ll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations. 
 
But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing.  Inaction simply is not an option. 
 
Now, since I announced this plan, I’ve heard from my Republican friends say that it’s — many of them say it’s too big.  They say, “Why not focus on traditional infrastructure, fix what we’ve already got — the roads and the highways that exist and the bridges?”
 
I’m happy to have that debate.  But I’d like to tell you my view.  We are America.  We don’t just fix for today; we build for tomorrow. 
 
Two hundred years ago, trains weren’t “traditional” infrastructure either until America made a choice to lay down tracks across the country.  Highways weren’t “traditional” infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines.
 
The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs, and it’s evolving again today.
 
We need to start seeing infrastructures through its effect on the lives of working people in America.  What is the foundation today that they need to carve out their place in the middle class to make it — to live, to go to work, to raise their families with dignity, to ensure that good jobs will be there for their kids, no matter who they are or what ZIP Code they live in? 
 
That’s what infrastructure means in the 21st century.  It still depends on roads and bridges, ports and airports, rail and mass transit, but it also depends on having reliable, high-speed Internet in every home.  Because today’s high-speed Internet is infrastructure. 
 
It depends on the electric grid — a grid that won’t collapse in a winter storm or be compromised by hackers at home or abroad.  It depends on investing in “Made in America” goods from every American community, including those that have historically been left out — Black, Latino, Asian American, Native Americans, rural communities.
 
Talk to folks around the country about what really makes up the foundation of a good economy.  Ask a teacher or a childcare worker if having clean drinking water — non-contaminated drinking water in our schools, in our childcare centers is part of that foundation — when we know that the lead in our pipes slows a child’s development when they drink that water. 
 
Ask the entrepreneur whose small business was destroyed by the second 100-year flood in the last 10 years in Iowa — or wildfires in the West that burned 5 million acres last year, an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More fires than ever.  Or the devastating damage — seeing more frequent and more intense hurricanes and storms on the East and Gulf Coasts.
 
Ask all those farmers and small-business owners and homeowners whether investing in clean energy to fight the effects of climate change is part of infrastructure. 
 
Ask folks in rural America, where more than 35 percent of the people lack a reliable, high-speed Internet, limiting their ability to conduct business or engage in remote learning for their schools.  Ask them whether investing in Internet access will lead to better jobs in town, new markets for farmers, and better opportunities for their kids. 
 
And I’m serious about this.  Ask the moms and dads in the “sandwich generation” — the folks carrying enormous personal and financial strains trying to raise their children and care for their parents — their elderly parents or members of their families with a disability.  Ask them what sort of infrastructure they need to build a little better life, to be able to breathe a little bit.
 
It’s expanded services for seniors.  It’s homecare workers, who go in and cook their meal, help them get around and live independently in their home, allowing them to stay in their homes — and I might add, saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
 
It’s better wages and benefits and opportunities for caregivers, who are disproportionately women, women of color, and immigrants.  Or ask our wounded warriors and military families.
 
To my Republican colleagues in Congress, shouldn’t we modernize VA hospitals, update them?  Many of them are more than 50 years old.
 
How about the estimated 450,000 post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, who, when they make that emergency call — or their husband, wife, son, daughter makes that call to the VA hospital — “Dad needs help, we have to bring him in.”  And they hear, “You have to wait.  We don’t have room now.  Come back.  Call me back in 8 days, 10 days, 12 days.”
 
Look at more suicides in the military than people getting shot.  Is it really your position, my friends, that our veterans don’t deserve the most modern facilities?  We could catch that cancer diagnosis quicker, with access to better roads, cleaner water, high-speed Internet that delivers information faster and more of it.
 
Above all, infrastructure is about meeting the needs of a nation and putting Americans to work and being able to do and get paid for doing — having good jobs.  Plumbers and pipefitters replacing those, literally, thousands of miles of — of dangerous lead pipes.  They’re still out there.
 
Everybody remembers what happened in Flint.  There’s hundreds of Flints all across America.  How many of you know, when you send your child to school, the fountain they’re drinking out of is not fed by a lead pipe?  How many of you know the school your child is in still has asbestos in the walls and lacks the ventilation?  Is that not infrastructure? 
 
Line workers and electricians laying transmission lines for a modern grid, providing over 500,000 charging stations on the highways we are going to build to accommodate electric vehicles so we can own the future. 
 
Construction workers and engineers building modern hospital — modern hospitals and homes for American families.  Healthcare workers, steelworkers, folks who work in the cutting-edge labs.  Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created by our American Jobs Plan can be filled by people who don’t have a college degree.  Seventy-five percent don’t need an associate’s degree.

As I said last week, this is a blue-collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people.  It also includes the biggest investment in non-defense research and development on record.

I promise you — this is not part of my speech — but I promise you, you’re all going to be reporting over the next six to eight months how China and the rest of the world is racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future, attempting to own the future.  The technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money and dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s — that’s the infrastructure of a nation. 

There’s a new book out about how our — we’ve fallen behind.  America is no longer the leader of the world because we’re not investing.  It used to be we invested almost 2.7 percent of our GDP in infrastructure.  Now it’s about 0.7 percent.  When we were investing in it, we were the leader in the world. 

I don’t know why we don’t get this.  One of the only — a few major economies in the world whose public investment in research and development has declined as a percentage of GDP in the last 25 years — declined: the United States of America — that led the world.

Why does this matter?  Investing in research and development help lead to lithium batteries, LED technology, the Internet itself.  It helped lead to vaccine breakthroughs that are helping us beat COVID-19; to the Human Genome Project, which has led to breakthroughs in how we understand and fight cancer and other diseases. 

Government — meaning, the taxpayers — funded this research.  Government. 

When we stop investing in research, we stop investing in the jobs of the future, and we give up leading the world.And when we do invest in research, what we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine.

Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane. 

Imagine your children growing up to work in innovation, good-paying jobs in fields that haven’t even been invented yet, like the parents of every computer programmer, every graphic designer, every renewable energy worker once did — imagined. 

We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow, so America can lead the world that is — as it’s historically done.

That’s why I brought back scientists into the White House.  We need to think. 

Look, do we think the rest of world is waiting around?  “We’re not going to make those kinds of investments,” the rest of the world is saying.  Take a look.  Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development?  I promise you, they are not waiting, but they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace. 

You’ve heard me say it before: I think this generation is going to be marked by the competition between democracies and autocracies, because the world is changing so rapidly.  The autocrats are betting on democracy not being able to generate the kind of unity needed to make decisions to get in that race.  We can’t afford to prove them right.  We have to show the world — and much more importantly, we have to show ourselves — that democracy works; that we can come together on the big things.  It’s the United States of America for God’s sake. 

Of course, building the infrastructure of tomorrow requires major investments today. 

As I said last week, I’m open to ideas about how to pay for this plan, with one exception: I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year.  If others have ideas out there on how to pay for this investment without violating that rule, they should come forward. 

There’s all kinds of opportunities.  Just list all the tax breaks that I find difficult to explain: wealthy deductions, $360 billion if you cap them; top rate of 39 percent, which it used to be for a hundred — for years, all the way to the Bush administration; almost a quarter of a trillion dollars, corporate minimum tax; and the fossil fuel giveaways at $40 billion, et cetera.  I could go on. 

But let me tell you what I proposed, how to do it.  We’re going to raise the corporate tax rate.  It was 35 percent for the longest time, which was too high.  Barack and I thought it was too high during our administration.  We all agreed five years ago that it should come down somewhat, but the previous administration reduced it all the way down to 21 percent. 

What I’m proposing is that we meet in the middle: 28 percent.  Twenty-eight percent — we’ll still have lower corporate rates than any time between World War Two and 2017.  It will generate over a trillion dollars in taxes over 15 years. 

A new, independent study put out last week found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal income tax in 2020.  It’s just not fair.  It’s not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers.

We’re going to — we’re going to try to put an end to this.  Not fleece them — 28 percent.  If you’re a mom, a dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, et cetera, you’re paying close to that in your income tax. 

I’ve also proposed a global minimum tax, which is being proposed around the world for U.S. corporations, of 21 percent.  Let me tell you that means.  It means that companies aren’t going to be able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, in tax havens.  We’re going to also eliminate deductions used by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas.  They offshore the jobs, shift the assets overseas, and then don’t have to pay taxes on all they make there. 

And we’ll significantly ramp up IRS enforcement against corporations and the super wealthy who either failed to report their income or underreported.  Estimated, that would raise tens of billions of dollars.  It adds up to more than what I proposed in just 15 years.  It’s honest.  It’s fair.  It’s fiscally responsible.  And it pays for what we need and reduces the debt over the long haul. 

And, by the way, I didn’t hear any of our friends, who are criticizing this plan, say that the corporate tax cut, which added $2 trillion to the debt — the Trump tax cut, $2 trillion — $1.9 trillion in debt — wasn’t paid for, the vast majority of which went to the top 1 percent of the wage earners.  I didn’t hear anybody hollering in this recovery — the so-called — before I became President — this “K-shaped” recovery, where billionaires made $300 billion more dollars during this period.  Where’s the outrage there?

I’m not trying to punish anybody.  But damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced. 

Let me close by saying this: Whatever partisan divisions there are around other issues, there don’t have to be around this one.  The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.  These aren’t Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals, or a Democratic power grid. Think of the transcontinental railroad, Interstate Highway System, or the Space Race.  We’re one nation, united and connected.

As I said last week, I’m going to bring Republicans to the White House.  I invite them to come.  We’ll have good-faith negotiations.  And any Republican who wants to get this done, I invite.  I invite them.  We have to get this — things done.

We’re at an inflection point in American democracy.  This is a moment where we prove whether or not democracy can deliver.  Whether it can lay the foundation for an economy built from the bottom up and the middle out, not trickle-down economics from the very top.  Whether it can lay a good foundation for good jobs in a 21st century economy.

I tell the kids — the young people who work for me and to all my kids — when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years.  We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds — supersonic speeds.  Be able to, figuratively, if you may — if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour.  So much is changing.  We have got to lead it. 

I believe democracy can come through when the American people come together.  We saw it in the American Rescue Plan.  We’re seeing it with the Jobs Plan.  And the American Rescue Plan, which got so badly criticized — how many of my Republican colleagues have you seen gone on your stations or your newspapers and say, “Boy, people in my state really like it”?  Because it would be improper having permission.  The number of Republicans and Democrats who were hesitant and have called me saying, “God, this really works.”

Overwhelming majority of the American people — Democrats, Republics, and independents — support infrastructure investments that meets the moment.

So, I urge the Congress: Listen to your constituents and, together, we can lay a foundation for an economy that works for everyone and allows America to remain the world leader.  When we do that, I believe, as I said last week, that in 50 years from now, when people look back, they’ll say this was the moment, together, that we won America’s future.  I really believe that.

Thank you all.  And God bless you.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, are you willing to go lower than the 28 percent corporate tax rate?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m willing to listen to that.  I’m willing to — I’m wide open to, but we’ve got to pay for this.  We got to pay.  There’s many other ways we can do it, but I’m willing to negotiate that.

I’ve come — I’ve come forward with the best, most rational way — in my view, the fairest way, to pay for it.  But there are many other ways as well, and I’m open.

Q    Will you have failed on your promise of bipartisanship if you don’t get Republicans on board with this plan?  Your first plan passed along party lines.

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, what I said was I would try to work with my friends on the other side.  There are things we’re working on together — some of which we’ve passed and some we will pass.

But the last plan I laid out what was available, what I was suggesting, and how I’d deal with it.  And a bipartisan group came to see me.  And then a Republican group came to see me.  And they started off at $600 billion, and that was it.

If they come forward with a plan that did the bulk of it and it was a billion — three or four, two or three — that allowed me to have pieces of all that was in there, I would have been — I would’ve been prepared to compromise, but they didn’t.  They didn’t move an inch.  Not an inch.

But, for example, I am dealing with a bipartisan group that came to see me.  Now it’s about — what? — three, four weeks ago when they came about computer chips and about — and they said, “Look, we have to have our own supply.  We have to work together.”  We’re working on that.  Chuck Schumer and, I think, McConnell are about to introduce a bill along those lines.

So I’m prepared to work.  I really am.  But to automatically say that the only thing that’s infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, or whatever — that’s just not rational.  It really isn’t.

I think the vast majority of Americans think everything from the sewer pipes, to the — to the — the sewer facilities, to the water pipes — I think they’re infrastructure.

Anyway.  Thank you all so very much.