Dems Reconciliation Debate: Fewer Things Better or Everything For a Shorter Duration
Progressive lawmakers emerged Tuesday from a meeting at the White House saying President Biden has taken charge of the negotiations and is urging lawmakers to put their differences aside and get a bill to his desk on Oct. 31. Sen. Joe Manchin, returning from the White House, announced that he was set to launch focused talks with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sinema and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer in an effort to break the months-long impasse.
There remains some internal disagreement over how to cut the costs that Manchin and the moderates are demanding. Some Democrats want to limit the scope of the benefits package in order to focus on the party’s top priorities and fund them at length — ”to do fewer things better.” Yet the takeaway from the Biden meeting was just the opposite, that the scope would resemble that contained in the $3.5 trillion “family” benefits package initially championed by Biden. Including a Medicare expansion, an expansion of ObamaCare benefits; child care; universal preschool; paid family leave; and elder care. Funding them for a shorter duration in this reconciliation.
Fed Beige Book: U.S. Growth Slowed in Recent Months
U.S. economic growth slowed to a modest to moderate rate this fall as companies grappled with supply-chain problems, a labor shortage and continued fears around the Delta variant of Covid-19, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. Businesses were also burdened with “significantly elevated prices” due to higher costs for raw materials and shipping, and many said they passed those price increases on to their customers.
“Outlooks for near-term economic activity remained positive, overall, but some districts noted increased uncertainty and more cautious optimism than in previous months,” the report said. One bright spot in the report was the continued rise in consumer spending, which grew in most parts of the country. Manufacturing activity also increased and residential real estate spending was flat.
NAM Pushes Back on Global Minimum Tax Increase
The NAM is fighting against congressional efforts to increase the minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign earnings above the rate recently reached by a global minimum tax deal—thereby putting globally engaged manufacturers at a significant disadvantage. The United States already has a global minimum tax, called the global intangible low-taxed income tax, or GILTI, which operates as a minimum tax on the foreign earnings of U.S. multinational corporations. Now, Congress is considering increasing it from the current 13.125% tax rate to 17.4%—above the proposed global minimum tax rate.
The NAM has made clear that the United States shouldn’t move forward with any changes to GILTI before other countries implement a minimum tax, and that the U.S. shouldn’t have a minimum tax regime that results in a higher tax burden than the rest of the world. Such a burden on globally engaged companies would make it more difficult for these companies, including manufacturers, to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.
OSHA Sends Employer Vaccine Rule to White House for Final Review
The U.S. Labor Department advanced an emergency regulation for final White House review that will force many private-sector companies to require employee vaccinations or virus testing. OSHA sent the rule to the White House’s regulatory office Tuesday, the agency announced. Although the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can sometimes take months to conclude its analysis, President Joe Biden called for an expedited process, which could mean the office will give its OK in as little as a day.
The standard implements the president’s Sept. 9 order for a regulation requiring businesses with at least 100 employees to mandate workers get fully vaccinated or be tested weekly for Covid-19. Biden also asked for the rule to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects.
US COVID – Once Authorized Vaccine for Kids 5-11 Will Be at Pediatric Offices, Schools
The Biden administration plans to make Covid-19 vaccines available to children ages 5-11 at more than 25,000 pediatric offices and primary care sites and at pharmacies and schools, should it be approved by federal regulators. The Biden administration said it has procured enough doses to inoculate the nation’s children and will begin shipping them across the country if and when the vaccine is cleared for use.
White House officials said focusing on pediatricians and primary care offices will help build confidence among parents. The early vaccine rollout for adults was more focused on mass vaccination sites. A panel of outside experts at the FDA is scheduled to review the data Oct. 26. Although the agency doesn’t have to follow the group’s recommendation, it typically does. The CDC’s independent advisory committee will meet on Nov. 2-3 to consider the vaccine.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday October 20th:
One Vaccine Dose
- 73.0 of all New Yorkers – 14,164,010 (plus 15,001 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,483,401 (plus 1,764)
- 65.5% of all New Yorkers – 12,774,675 (plus 18,613).
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,321,121 (plus 1,685).
The Governor updated COVID data through Tuesday October 19th. There were 34 COVID related deaths for a total of 57,487.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,144.
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 2.33%
- Mid-Hudson: 2.05%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
FDA Authorizes Moderna, J&J Boosters – Says Mix and Match OK
The US Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Wednesday and also said any of the three authorized vaccines could be used as a booster in a “mix and match” approach. But it left in place a complex formula for who should get get boosters and when, with officials saying they may simplify the framework as more safety data comes in.
The FDA said it decided to allow the mix-and-match boosters after National Institutes of Health researchers presented their findings last week to its vaccine advisers. Although the findings were limited, they made it clear mixing up the different vaccines was safe.
New Virus Variant Could Be More Infectious
Scientists worldwide are closely tracking a descendant of the highly infectious Delta variant that’s spreading in the UK. England’s public-health authority said in a report on Friday that it was monitoring a subtype of the Delta variant called AY.4.2, which had infected more people recently.
As of September 27, 6% of UK sequenced tests were AY.4.2, Public Health England said in its report on Friday, adding that estimates could be imprecise because it was difficult to sequence the variant’s mutations. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the new variant wasn’t an “immediate cause for concern,” but he called for “urgent research” to work out whether it was more infectious or able to avoid the body’s immune response.
Nearly 1,900 Washington State Employees Quit, Fired Over Vaccine Mandate
Nearly 1,900 Washington state employees have either quit their jobs or been fired for failing to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) coronavirus vaccine mandate. In a statement, the state’s Office of Financial Management said that over 63,000 employees, are in compliance with the mandate as of Tuesday afternoon, which is 92 percent of employees. Of this, 89.4 percent of employees have verified that they are vaccinated, and 3 percent have an accommodation.
A separate 3 percent of employees, 1,887, have left their jobs or were terminated as part of the mandate. The remaining 4.6 percent of employees, are either in the process of being vaccinated, pending retirement, or are pending an accommodation or separation.
Amazon and Others Commit to Using Zero-Carbon Shipping Fuels by 2040
Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and IKEA are among commercial users of container shipping that will opt for zero-carbon marine fuels by 2040 in a new initiative aimed at speeding up decarbonisation in the maritime sector, executives said on Tuesday. The initiative, which was organised by the non-profit Aspen Institute and has nine signatories so far including others such as Unilever (ULVR.L) and Michelin (MICP.PA), sets a goal for companies to only purchase ocean freight services powered by scalable zero-carbon fuels by 2040.
With about 90% of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions and the sector is under growing scrutiny to become cleaner.
WHO: Europe the Only Region With Rise in COVID-19 Cases Last Week
In its weekly assessment of the pandemic released late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said there were about 2.7 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week worldwide, similar to the numbers reported the previous week. Britain, Russia and Turkey accounted for the most cases in Europe.
WHO said the two regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 incidence were Europe and the Americas. Globally, the U.S. reported the biggest number of new cases, more than 580,000, which still represented a 11% decline.
Procter & Gamble Uses Its Size to Lessen Impact of Supply-Chain Mess
Procter & Gamble Co. said that it expects solid sales and profit growth over the next nine months, even as costs for everything from warehouse space to raw materials rise faster than the consumer-products company expected. P&G executives said the company’s scale, ability to spend on supply-chain fixes and its flexible operations are enabling it to keep products in stock even as consumers increasingly encounter sparse shelves at stores.
The maker of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste, said Tuesday it will start charging more for razors and certain beauty and oral care products, price increases that come in addition to earlier moves to start charging more for staples from diapers to toilet paper.
ASML and Intel Report Results
The semiconductor industry is in the midst of what one analyst calls the “mother of all cycles”. On Wednesday, ASML reported a strong set of results. The Dutch firm is the world’s sole supplier of high-tech “extreme ultraviolet” lithography machines, which are vital for advanced chipmaking. That is an enviable position at the best of times. But the firm’s shares have soared since the start of the pandemic, fueled in part by promises by TSMC, Samsung and Intel, its customers, to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new chip factories to ease shortages.
Today Intel reports its results. The chipmaker, which for decades defined the state of the art, has lost pace in recent years amid uncharacteristic delays and technological hiccups. Pat Gelsinger, its new boss, has announced an ambitious turnaround plan. But despite soaring demand for semiconductors, the company’s shares have lagged behind both the market and its peers.
How Can Manufacturers Benefit from New Policies to Reduce Bottlenecks?
The Biden Administration’s Task Force on Supply Chain Disruption has been working behind the scenes to improve supply chain performance. Last week, the administration announced three industry commitments designed to reduce bottlenecks and move goods faster:
- The Port of Los Angeles will add off-peak night and weekend open hours, doubling the hours that goods will be available to move off dock. The Port of Long Beach expanded its hours of operation similarly in mid-September.
- The stevedores’ union, the ILWU, agreed to work those extra shifts.
- Walmart, Home Depot, Samsung, Target, FedEx and UPS announced they will use the expanded opening hours to expedite moves of cargo off the dock. This will free up dock space, allowing vessels to berth more quickly at two of the U.S.’s busiest ports.
The announced actions are a welcome and meaningful first step, particularly if additional shippers commit to moving cargo during off-peak hours. Small, coordinated improvements in each link of the supply chain will yield incremental performance improvements.