Daily Briefing – 373

Democrats Release Details of Proposed Tax Increase

House Democrats spelled out their proposed tax increases on Monday, pushing higher rates on corporations, investors and high-income business owners as they try to piece together enough votes for legislation to expand the social safety net and combat climate change. Democrats plan a committee vote this week on the proposals, which would generate more than $2 trillion over a decade.

The plan would increase the corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21%, impose a 3-percentage-point surtax on people making over $5 million and raise capital-gains taxes—but without the changes to taxation at death sought by the Biden administration. The tax increase details were the last major missing piece in the Democratic agenda, and their release will accelerate lawmakers’ negotiations over which new spending to give priority to and which tax increases they find acceptable.

Read more at Reuters


Short-Lasting Inflation Depends on Long-Lasting Goods

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has argued for a while that the higher inflation is largely driven by temporary factors unique to the pandemic. In a speech hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in late August, Mr. Powell offered more details on his thinking. He singled out the sudden rise in durable goods prices—in contrast to the more modest rise in services prices—as evidence that inflation is bound to fall back to the Fed’s 2% goal.

Mr. Powell cited several forces driving down prices for durable goods. One is globalization: Competition from other countries, in particular emerging markets with lots of low-wage workers like China and India, has stoked competition for American producers and led some to outsource production. As a result, costs for parts and products have fallen.

Read more at the WSJ


Controversy Erupts Over Biden’s Vaccination Mandate

Opponents of President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate command pledge to have it overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court—and they may actually have a good chance of accomplishing that. But in the immediate term, the overwhelming difficulties surrounding organizing and imposing such a massive program on so many employers could prove to be quite daunting for the administration.

OSHA has not successfully issued an ETS since 1978. Its last attempt before COVID would have regulated asbestos exposure and was invalidated by a U.S. Court of Appeals in 1984. The court held that OSHA had not sufficiently supported its conclusion of a “grave danger,” i.e., that 80 people would die in the next six months without the ETS, and that OSHA could not show that an asbestos ETS was “necessary” given its existing respiratory standard, attorney Gabrielle Sigel of the Jenner & Block law firm, pointed out last March.

Read more at EHS Today


Tensions Mount Between CDC and Biden Health Team Over Boosters

Top Biden Covid-19 officials are increasingly clashing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the administration pushes to begin distributing booster shots widely by Sept. 20. White House Covid-19 task force and the Food and Drug Administration have repeatedly accused CDC of withholding critical data needed to develop the booster shot plan — delaying work on the next step of President Joe Biden’s vaccination campaign and making it more difficult to set clear expectations for the public.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had signed a high-profile statement on Aug. 18 endorsing boosters.  But less than two weeks later, when it came time for CDC to make the case for boosters to an influential advisory panel, senior agency officials argued that priority should be given to nursing-home residents and frontline health workers before expanding access to other groups based on their vulnerability. The new approach blindsided health officials across the federal government, further straining the tenuous relationship between the White House and the CDC.

Read more at Politico


US COVID-19 Update – Deaths in Delta Surge Trend Younger in U.S.

Federal data show Covid-19 deaths among people under 55 have roughly matched highs near 1,800 a week set during last winter’s surge. These data show weekly tallies for overall Covid-19 deaths, meanwhile, remain well under half of the pandemic peak near 26,000 reached in January.

Deaths have been concentrated among the unvaccinated, federal data show. The CDC released studies on Friday showing that unvaccinated Americans were 4.6 times as likely to be infected, 10 times as likely to be hospitalized and 11 times as likely to die.

Read more at WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday September 13th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.1 of all New Yorkers – 13,379,529 (plus 22,196 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,413,276 (plus 1,609) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,998,154 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,509)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,252,219 (plus 1,461) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday September 12th.  There were 29 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,029.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,391.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.19%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.64%

Useful Websites:


Covid-19 Could Become Like the Flu if More People Get Vaccinated

Covid-19 may become a routine illness like a common cold or the flu one day, virologists and epidemiologists say. But it will take a lot to get there, and the ferocious spread of the Delta variant that has filled hospitals again shows how challenging that path could be. Among the most contagious of known disease-causing pathogens, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is now zeroing in on people who haven’t been vaccinated, pushing hospitalizations and deaths in some places in the U.S. to new highs.

More than 20 months after the pandemic began, people around the world are having to change the way they think about a disease that many public-health authorities once believed they could conquer. A terrifying emergency has become a long, grinding haul. 

Read more at the WSJ


2022 Salary Increases Look to Trail Inflation

According to the findings of The Conference Board’s long-running Salary Increase Budget Survey, which includes more than 180 organizations. Pay raises in the U.S. are returning to pre-pandemic levels but rising prices mean higher salaries aren’t likely to keep pace with inflation, new research shows. The median total U.S. salary increase budgets for 2021 are 3 percent, on par with the previous 10 years, and projections for 2022 are also 3 percent, The Conference Board reported in June.

The 3 percent median increase for 2022 is expected to hold steady across employment categories (i.e., nonexempt hourly, nonexempt salaried, exempt and executive), according to Judit Torok, a senior research analyst at The Conference Board, a large-business membership and research association.

Read more at SHRM


Delta Air Lines’ $200 Per Month Experiment for Changing Unvaccinated Employees’ Minds Seems to be Working

In the two weeks since Delta Air Lines announced a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees, 20% of Delta’s unvaccinated employees have already gotten the jab, Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer, said in an Infectious Disease Society of America briefing Thursday. “I think [that’s] a huge number in terms of shifting that group that’s most reluctant,” he said.

Of the airline’s 80,000 employees, 20,000 still remain unvaccinated, added Ting, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and a professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. The surcharge was first announced on Aug. 25, and will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Read more at CNBC


Hospital Announces it Will Stop Delivering Babies After Unvaccinated Staffers Resign

The Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York will be “unable to safely staff” its maternity department after Sept. 24.  During a Friday news conference, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer said 30 employees have resigned and 30 have been vaccinated since the mandate was announced in August. Of the 30 who stepped down from Lewis County General Hospital, 21 work in clinical areas. 

He said 165 employees, 27 percent of the hospital system’s workforce, are not vaccinated and it is “not clear what they will do.” The hospital has approved three medical exemptions, and an additional 12 have indicated they will seek exemptions but have yet to request them. Cayer said six employees in the maternity unit at Lewis County General Hospital have resigned rather than get the shot and another seven are undecided, resulting in a critical staff shortage that will pause maternity services. 

Read more at The Hill


Tensions Flare Between the ‘Vaxxed and Unvaxxed’

A survey by Seyfarth at Work reveals 37% of companies report anger from vaccinated employees at the risk posed by unvaccinated workers, while 21% say those who are unvaccinated are expressing discontent about perceived unfair treatment at work. Disputes are most commonly happening internally, either verbally or via workplace communications platforms, with workers also protesting against management, posting online or refusing to work near each other, says Philippe Weiss, Seyfarth’s president.

Read more at CNBC


Automation Is Not to Blame for Growing Income Inequality

For at least four decades, wages have grown more slowly for less-educated workers than workers with more education, although the gap is often exaggerated. But to be sure, income growth has not been as broad-based as it was in the post-war period. The key question is why?

Many neoclassical economists have laid the blame on technological change, arguing first that it was biased in favor of workers with more skills. If more workers would just go to college, all would be well. The newest flavor of the “blame technology” argument is that automation has caused inequality. This is a much more dangerous argument. In contrast to the SBTC argument that logically led policies to get more people to go to college, the automation argument leads to destructive policies to limit automation and productivity growth, such as robot taxes.  

Read more at IndustryWeek

 

 

 

 

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