Come Together, Right Now, Over Me
We heard from President Joe Biden last night.
Oh, how’s he doing?
Bipartisanship…as in, it seemed possible at the beginning of the night, less so by the end. Biden kicked off his speech by sharing a nice moment with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). As he put it, “I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you.” But tensions with Republicans soon rose over Social Security and Medicare. Good news for consensus: everyone (maybe) agreed to not cut those. So amid more heckling and crowd work, at least there’s that.
The economy…a leading concern for Americans. The president talked up last month’s near-record-low unemployment rate and the 12 million jobs added since 2021. He acknowledged inflation, calling it a global issue — but said it was coming down. And was less talkative about the wave of recent layoffs and recession rumors. Instead, he talked up infrastructure investment, buying ‘made in America,’ and cracking down on corporate taxes. Oh, and he gives the oil industry “at least another decade.”
Social issues…like police reform. With Tyre Nichols' parents in the audience, Biden spoke of his executive order banning chokeholds and limiting no-knock warrants. He noted recent wins, like the most sweeping gun legislation reform in 30 years. And reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. But still called for a ban on assault weapons. He also wants Congress to codify Roe v. Wade. But promised to veto a national abortion ban if Republicans go that route.
Everything else…like what he wants Congress to tackle next: including cracking down on Big Tech, passing paid family leave, and restoring the Child Tax Credit. Biden wants less identity fraud and fewer hidden fees from credit cards and concert tickets. He also wants to avoid the US going into default. And free pre-K and college.
What about the rebuttal?
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) said the Biden admin had been “hijacked by the radical left.” She criticized crime levels as well as record illegal border crossings…that have since come down. But the main focus was on cultural issues like critical race theory and gender identity. Now, she said, it’s time for a “new generation of Republican leadership.”
Biden’s second SOTU was his first address to a divided Congress. And with 2024 on the horizon, it remains to be seen how much the Dems and GOP can work together. But at least the night ended without any ripped speeches.
What’s not a weird flex…
Hybrid work. Yesterday, a company that focuses on hybrid work released its first report on flexible work trends. According to Scoop, about half of the 3,000+ US companies surveyed offer some degree of work location flexibility, with one-third able to go fully remote. But the other half still make employees show up every day like it’s 2019. Of course, flexibility depends on the industry: tech and media companies are among the most flexible while restaurant and hospitality — surprise — rank toward the bottom. The report had other interesting findings, too: If you’re in a hybrid situation, chances are high (72%) you’re in the office on a Tuesday…but not a Friday (6%). Now, the company has launched the Flex Index, a tool to let people on the job hunt look up a company’s remote policy to know what they’re getting into. (While you’re at it, maybe check out their leave policy, too.)
…Oh and speaking of remote work, Zoom. The company that pretty much defined the 2020 pivot to remote work is now laying off 15% of its workforce. It’s a reminder that location flexibility from the tech industry is nice...but you need to be able to have the job to enjoy it.
Where the search continues…
Turkey and Syria. The death toll from the earthquake has now soared to more than 9,600 people. But countless are still believed to be trapped under thousands of collapsed buildings. Now, hospitals are overloaded. Hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering in government centers and hotels. And rescue teams are up against time — and freezing temperatures — to try to find survivors. It comes as the worst may not be over: experts say at least 100 aftershocks have been reported in the region since Monday’s quake.
Who people are talking about…
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Today, he’s expected to address Britain’s Parliament in a surprise visit. The UK is one of the largest weapons suppliers to Ukraine. And has helped train 10,000 Ukrainian troops. The visit comes weeks before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s expected to ask for more aid. And will meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III. This is the Ukrainian president's second international trip since Russia’s invasion.
What’s popped up to the surface…
The Chinese spy balloon. Yesterday, the US Navy released photos of the now-popped surveillance balloon. The Navy pulled the debris out off the coast of Myrtle Beach, SC. It was about 200 ft tall and weighed more than a ton. Do you ever feel like a plastic bag...
Who’s breaking silver ceilings…
Who just made history as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer...
What’s giving the theater kids what they want...
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