The mission of USRENEW NEWS is to report on policy and programs to rebuild America and renew its spirit. We help our readers make informed choices about the public policy issues that affect their lives.
LATEST USRENEW NEWS
Brief #2—US Renew News Blog
By Sean Gray
Post-presidential life promises little relief from the civil, and potentially criminal litigation. Whilst occupying the White House, Trump was able to weaponize the Justice Department to insulate him from trouble. Those protections are gone, and many chickens may be coming home to roost.The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel holds that indicting a sitting president would unconstitutionally undermine his ability to execute his duties. That is no longer at issue, and private citizen Trump has no further pretense for refusing to comply with the subpoenas.
New Top Dogs, Same Old Tricks: Uncovering the Power of Big Tech, Part 1 Washington’s Biggest Influencers
By Scout Burchill
Move over Big Oil and Big Tobacco. According to a new report by Public Citizen, Big Tech companies now run the largest lobbying operations in Washington. For the first time ever, Facebook and Amazon topped the 2020 list of individual corporate lobbying spenders. Facebook spent close to $20 million and Amazon was not far behind spending close to $19 million, about 30% more than Comcast Corporation, the third highest spender. Since 2018, Amazon and Facebook have increased their spending by 30% and 56%, respectively.
These sums only represent reported federal lobbying dollars. Additional spending to gain influence through campaign contributions, Super Pacs, advertising campaigns, research funding, non-profits, associations, federations or trade groups, as well as state, local and international political spending are not included. Taking reported campaign contributions into account, Amazon and Facebook spent a combined $124 million in lobbying and campaign contributions during the 2020 election cycle alone.
Brief #103—Health And Gender
By Lily Lady Cook
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded in 1971 to protect workers from hazards on the job. OSHA has faced intermittent funding challenges since the ‘70s, and reached new lows under the previous administration. Currently, the U.S. has one labor inspector for every 70,000 people although The International Labor Organization recommends one for every 10,000 people. This means that about 1,850 inspectors are responsible for overseeing the safety of 130 million workers. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Labor criticized OSHA for its lack of regulatory guidance and decreased on-site inspections. On the campaign trail, President Biden called upon then-President Trump to double the amount of OSHA investigators; once in office, he instructed OSHA to release Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) guidelines for employers by March 15. OSHA did not follow through on this order, possibly due to legal barriers related to the ‘grave danger’ precondition necessary for their release. In the absence of federal guidelines, separate states established their own ETSs. OSHA did, however, issue a National Emphasis Program in March, which increased pandemic-related inspection mandates for high hazard industries.
By Scout Burchill
What exactly does progressivism mean nowadays? This question is worth thinking about as a consortium of tech companies have recently announced the creation of a business association called the Chamber of Progress. Positioning itself as a center-left progressive organization, it is funded by tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Doordash, Google, Grubhub, Instacart, Twitter, Uber, Zillow and a few others. Their website describes the partnership as “a new tech industry coalition devoted to a progressive society, economy, workforce, and consumer climate.”
Beyond advocating for progressive causes, the organization aims to steer the conversation around tech regulation and Section 230, of which they oppose any reform or repeal. The Chamber’s first official policy engagement is to support the passage of two recent voting rights legislation bills (the “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act”) and to condemn voter suppression proposals that are currently pending in 43 states.
Brief #108—Foreign Policy
By Will Solomon
Last week, President Biden announced plans for an American military withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year. The date will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the events that precipitated the invasion of that country, and the catalyst for what subsequently became the longest-running war in American history. Biden’s announcement was received largely positively, both by those who have demanded the withdrawal for a long time (Biden himself once stated that America would leave Afghanistan by 2014) and even by some more traditionally hawkish members of the national security establishment, who recognize the war has lost popular support and legitimacy, and is in practice un-winnable.
This is not to say approval was universal: a significant sector of the national security state would evidently be content with a drawn-out occupation, and many neoconservatives—Max Boot, Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, and others—have been vocal in their opposition to Biden’s plan. There are also reservations from the anti-war sector: many contend that Biden’s announcement obscures the heavy unofficial American military presence, in the form of special forces, drones, and mercenaries and other contractors who will remain after American troops leave. Across the spectrum, there is also concern for the direction Afghanistan may go, even if clear solutions to avoiding outcomes like a Taliban takeover are not readily apparent.
Brief #13—Social Justice
By Erika Shannon
For almost a month, the nation has been watching the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. He was on trial for murdering 46-year-old George Floyd; the unfortunate events leading to Floyd’s death unfolded when police were called to a convenience store over a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Former officer Chauvin responded to this call (with 3 other Minneapolis police officers), and ended up kneeling on George Floyd, cutting off his air supply for approximately 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
On April 20th, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts that he was facing in the trial: unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Sentencing will be in eight weeks, and while the charges collectively add up to 75 years in prison, focus will be on the most serious charge of second-degree murder. This charge carries with it up to 40 years in prison. Many are holding their breath and hoping for the maximum sentence possible.