The Biden administration could sidestep McConnell’s refusal to pay off America’s bills by minting a $1 trillion platinum coin

Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell speaking
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Joe Biden.

  • The GOP is standing firm on its resolution not to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling before a crucial October deadline.
  • The Treasury Department technically has the ability to issue platinum coins of any denomination.
  • In theory, Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen could order up a $1 trillion platinum coin, mint it, and deposit it at the Federal Reserve.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new fight over the debt ceiling is brewing on Capitol Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has firmly dug in on refusing GOP help to renew the US’s ability to pay off its bills, known as the debt ceiling. Instead, the Kentucky Republican said it’s up to Democrats to raise it in order to finance their social spending plans on healthcare, education, and childcare. He insists he’s not “bluffing.”

But the conundrum could have a coin-sized solution. A loophole in the law that prescribes the types of coins that can legally be minted in the US theoretically allows the Treasury Department to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin, deposit it at the Federal Reserve, and then continue paying its bills as normal.

The deal with the debt ceiling

The debt ceiling places a fixed limit on the total amount of money the Treasury Department can borrow in order to fund government activities, and Congress has to vote to either raise or suspend that limit from time to time as the federal debt grows ever larger.

The Biden administration and Democrats are pressuring Republicans to back down, ruling out raising the debt limit on their own and reminding the GOP they played a role racking up $8 trillion in new debt under the Trump administration. There’s no clear path out for lawmakers as they confront a barrage of deadlines this month, including another spending brawl that could end in a government shutdown.

Former President Barack Obama said in a 2017 interview with Crooked Media that senior officials had considered minting a coin to stave off a potentially catastrophic default.

“We were having these conversations with Jack Lew and others about what options in fact were available, because it had never happened before,” Obama said, referring to the treasury secretary at the time. “There were all kinds of wacky ideas about how potentially you could have this massive coin.”

The huge conundrum with a coin-sized solution

The debt ceiling sets up a frustrating conundrum: Congress can pass budgets that direct the government to spend a fixed amount of money across its departments and programs, and sets tax rates at particular levels to fund some of it. The gap between Congressionally mandated spending and Congressionally mandated revenues then needs to be paid for by borrowing money.

But, the debt limit requires yet another act of Congress to authorize the Treasury Department to actually borrow the money needed to pay for the spending lawmakers already authorized.

This causes a problem once the department hits that debt limit, as it did at the end of July. While the Treasury Secretary has a bit of leeway to use “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the bills for a few months using cash on hand and shuffling money around, that only works for so long. It may exhaust those abilities sometime in mid-October.

Actually reaching a point where the US government is no longer able to meet its obligations would likely be a financial and economic calamity. A default on existing US debt would send financial markets into chaos, and government payments ranging from Social Security checks to military paychecks could abruptly halt. The White House is also warning about potential cuts for programs at the state and local level like Medicaid.

This isn’t the first time Congress and the president have had a showdown over the debt limit.

In the Obama era, several economists and commenters noted a potential workaround to the debt limit. The law that governs the types of coins that the Treasury Department is legally allowed to mint includes descriptions of typical coins like dimes, nickels, and quarters, as well as special commemorative and collectors’ coins, like a palladium $25 coin.

The law includes this clause: “The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

That clause leaves it up to the Treasury Secretary to decide on the denomination for a platinum coin, meaning in theory, Yellen could carve out the amount required and Congress could get on with more pressing business.

Of course, Treasury officials have long ruled out using the trillion-dollar platinum coin as a solution to the debt ceiling, arguing that Congress should do its job and raise the ceiling itself.

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Biden thought Obama was manipulated by his generals over Afghanistan and pledged that ‘the military doesn’t fuck around with me’: book

joe biden white house
President Joe Biden walks along the Colonnade Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, to the Oval Office of the White House.

  • Biden thought Obama was manipulated by his top commanders over Afghanistan, a new book says.
  • Biden strongly disagreed with Obama’s decision to surge troops to the country in 2009.
  • He later privately pledged that “the military doesn’t fuck around with me,” the book said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joe Biden believed that then-President Barack Obama was manipulated by his military commanders when they advised him to surge thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009, according to “Peril,” by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Biden, who was vice president at the time, disagreed so strongly with the troop surge that he privately pledged, “The military doesn’t fuck around with me,” the book says, according to The Post.

Instead of surging thousands more troops into Afghanistan, Biden favored a “counterterrorism plus” strategy that called for deploying a smaller number of troops and carrying out more drone strikes and special forces raids.

The US’s 20-year war in Afghanistan took a dramatic turn this year as the last US troops withdrew from the country. The Biden administration was sharply criticized for the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, which resulted in the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban seizing power. While the US was able to airlift more than 120,000 Americans and Afghan allies, thousands are still stranded in Afghanistan amid fears of the Taliban’s brutal rule.

According to “Peril,” Biden’s top advisors debated alternatives to a full troop withdrawal last spring but ultimately decided against them.

And Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also deferred to Biden on the issue of Afghanistan, reportedly saying in recent remarks that “you never, ever, ever box in a president of the United States. You always give him decision space.”

“You’re dealing with a seasoned politician here who has been in Washington, DC, 50 years, whatever it is,” he added, referring to Biden, according to the book.

Milley’s approach to Biden was markedly different than the one he took with then-President Donald Trump. Trump’s actions, especially after he lost the 2020 election, were so alarming that Milley believed his mental state was declining, Woodward and Costa wrote, according to The Post. In a January 8 phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the book said, Milley agreed when Pelosi called Trump “crazy.”

The president’s behavior was so erratic during and after the election that it sparked concerns overseas that he would start a war, prompting Milley to call his counterpart in China to assure him that the US was not planning to launch any military strikes against the country.

Trump nominated Milley, a Princeton-educated Army general, to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2018 and he was serving in that role when the Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020.

The deal laid out a power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government – even though representatives for the Afghan government were left out of the talks – and said that the US would withdraw from Afghanistan in 14 months. In exchange, the Taliban pledged not to let the country become a haven for terrorists and to stop attacking US servicemembers.

Biden officials have in recent weeks blamed the deal for the disorderly troop withdrawal and claimed they inherited a mess from Trump. But former Trump officials brushed off the criticism, saying Biden could have altered the terms of the agreement if he wasn’t satisfied.

“If he thought the deal was bad, he could have renegotiated. He had plenty of opportunity to do that if he so desired,” Chris Miller, who served as acting secretary of defense under Trump, told The Associated Press.

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Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejects bid to halt construction of Obama presidential library

amy coney barrett
Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stands during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

  • Amy Coney Barrett rejected a bid to halt construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.
  • The petition was brought by Save Our Parks, which disagrees with Jackson Park as the library site.
  • Plans for the Obama center went through a four-year federal review process.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday rejected a bid to halt construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park.

A nonprofit organization called Protect Our Parks, which has long opposed the library being built on the site, asked the Supreme Court to temporarily bar construction.

The library’s opponents filed an emergency motion directed at Barrett, who is assigned to such handle matters for much of the Midwest.

Barrett, who was appointed to the court by former President Donald Trump in 2020, denied the motion without comment.

The suit asked that a writ of injunction be issued to block any additional groundbreaking for the center, as well as preventing trees from being cut in Jackson Park for the facility.

The organization’s website states that they support an Obama Presidential Center on the city’s South Side, preferably in the Washington Park neighborhood located west of the Jackson Park, but stress that the site should be “outside of a dedicated public park.”

Read more: We’ve got your guidebook to the wealth – and potential ethical conflicts -of 31 top Biden appointees

The applicants argued that the groundbreaking should be stopped because the trees in Jackson Park, which was designed in 1871 by the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, are important for migratory birds, in addition to raising concerns about noise and air pollution.

With Barrett’s decision, the Supreme Court will let construction of the presidential center proceed as planned.

After a four-year federal review process, the Obama Presidential Center released their plans to break ground at the site earlier this year.

“The project serves as a catalyst for long-overdue investment in and around historic Jackson Park – creating a new destination to move visitors from hope to action, breathing new life into the park, and delivering amenities and economic benefits to the community the Obamas called home,” the Obama Foundation said in a February release.

Obama, who lived in the nearby Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago when he served as a US Senator, praised the progress of his library in a videotaped statement at the time.

“Michelle and I want to thank you for making this project even better – a space for the community, built in partnership with the community,” he said. “We know that by working together, we can unlock the South Side’s fullest potential – and help set up our city, our country, and our world for even better years still to come.”

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Stephen Colbert says he was uninvited from Obama’s scaled-down 60th birthday party

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert.

  • Stephen Colbert said he was cut from Barack Obama’s downsized 60th birthday party.
  • He joked that Obama was “forced to limit the invites to only his closest Beyoncés.”
  • Obama had downsized the Martha’s Vineyard party at the last minute due to Delta variant fears.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Stephen Colbert said he was uninvited from former President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday party after it was scaled back over coronavirus concerns.

He told “The Colbert Report” on Monday night: “There’s a fourth wave of coronavirus, we just got a global warming red alert for humanity, there are wildfires consuming Northern California and Greece.”

“So naturally, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Did I go to Barack Obama’s birthday party?”

He said he was cut from the guest list after Obama changed the Martha’s Vineyard event from one that hundreds of people were supposed to attend, to a smaller one, due to the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

“Given the whole pandemic thing and the Delta variant, a celebrity mosh pit was maybe not the wisest choice,” Colbert said.

“So, Obama scaled back the guest list for his party. He was forced to limit the invites to only his closest Beyoncés.”

Watch him speak here:

The New York Times reported that some celebrities, like Jay-Z and Beyoncé, were still invited, while others, like late-night talk show hosts David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, were cut. Many of Obama’s former administration staffers, including top advisor David Axelrod, were also cut, The Times said.

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Photos show the Martha’s Vineyard that welcomed guests to former President Barack Obama’s scaled-down 60th birthday bash

Martha's Vineyard Ferry
Passengers travel on a ferry en route to Martha’s Vineyard.

  • After a plan to host hundreds for his 60th birthday, former President Barack Obama held a “significantly” scaled-back event.
  • The outdoor celebration on Saturday was “planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines,” a spokeswoman for Obama said.
  • But Obama faced pressure to cut down his party size amid concerns over the hyper-contagious delta variant.
  • Photos show guests arriving at Martha Vineyard for the star-studded birthday bash.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Martha’s Vineyard has long been a popular summertime destination, and former President Barack Obama’s affinity for the island goes back to the early years of his White House tenure.

Martha's Vineyard
Ferry passengers take in the landscape of Oak Bluffs as they approach Martha’s Vineyard.

Lori Fisher of Martha’s Vineyard said she believes a 60th birthday is an incredible milestone.

Martha's Vineyard Obama
Lori Fisher, left, and Sandy Fisher stand beside a sign they made to congratulate former President Barack Obama on his 60th birthday.

One resident, Lori Fisher, constructed a banner for Obama because she turned 60 years old in 2019 and felt it was a major milestone.

She said she only saw the former president on the island once, six years ago, when his car passed by. She said she also saw former first lady Michelle Obama walk into a bookstore about two years ago.

“I figure one day I will actually meet them … hopefully,” she said. “I was hoping he would stop by and sign the banner.”  

A sign commemorating Lori Fisher’s son, who died suddenly a few years ago, is usually hanging in place of the current Obama banner. She will switch banners in a few days and replace it with the sign that memorializes her son.

Nancy’s is a popular Martha’s Vineyard dining destination.

Nancy's Martha's Vineyard
Nancy’s is a longstanding restaurant known for its seafood and frozen drinks.

Nancy’s Restaurant, an Oak Bluffs institution, has been in operation since 1960 and boasts stunning views of the harbor. The former president has visited Nancy’s in the past, and first daughter Sasha Obama worked at the restaurant one summer while still in high school.

The Winnetu Oceanside Resort was originally set to host a larger gathering to kick off the former president’s birthday weekend.

Martha's Vineyard Winnetu Oceanside Resort
A gathering can be seen on the balcony of the Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown on August 6, 2021.

According to the New York Times, Obama was scheduled to kick off his birthday party on Friday at the Winnetu but scaled it back in the last few days.

The Rev. Al Sharpton arrived Saturday. He has been a fixture in Black politics for decades and even ran for president himself in 2004.

Al Sharpton
Sharpton arrives at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport on August 7, 2021.

The former president may have scaled back his birthday party, but there were still a range of guests who made it out to his Edgartown property.

Obama Martha's Vineyard
The road leading to the Obama property in Edgartown.

Authorities kept watch on Saturday at an access road near the Obama property in Edgartown.

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Obama cut Larry David, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien from his 60th birthday party, but Beyoncé and Jay-Z are still invited

Barack Obama stands on stage with rapper Jay-Z and musician Bruce Springsteen at an election campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio in 2012.
Barack Obama stands on stage with rapper Jay-Z and musician Bruce Springsteen at an election campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio in 2012.

  • Former President Barack Obama is hosting a scaled-down 60th birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend.
  • Obama uninvited some guests, including celebs like Larry David and Conan O’Brien, to slim the guest list.
  • Obama faced pressure to shrink his party amid concerns over the hyper-contagious delta variant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Barack Obama made a last-minute decision to significantly scale down his 60th birthday bash on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend, and several VIP guests didn’t make the cut.

Comedian Larry David and the talk show hosts David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were uninvited amid concern about the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 delta variant, The New York Times reported Friday. The majority of Obama’s former administration staffers, including top adviser David Axelrod, also got the axe, the Times reported.

“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with COVID safeguards in place,” Obama’s spokesperson, Hannah Hankins, said in a statement. “Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.”

But several other celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Spielberg, and George Clooney, made the pared-down list.

Some other high-profile guests made their own decision not to attend. President Joe Biden said he wouldn’t attend the party, but would find some other way to celebrate the former president’s birthday. Oprah Winfrey and filmmaker Ava DuVernay decided not to go amid concerns over delta, the Times reported.

The party, which will be held at the Obama’s 29-acre, $12 million mansion on the island, originally had a 475-person guest list. It’s unclear how many guests will attend the event, which will reportedly be held outdoors and will feature a meat-less, vegan menu put together by the musician Questlove.

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75 House Democrats urge Biden to take immediate steps to close Guantanamo, calling the prison a ‘fundamental betrayal’ of US values

A detainee at Guantanamo Bay wearing an orange jumpsuit is escorted by US military police as other police look on.
US Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell January 11, 2001 in Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during in-processing to the temporary detention.

  • 75 House Democrats signed a letter calling on Biden to take swift steps to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
  • The lawmakers decried the prison as a “fundamental betrayal of our values.”
  • The Biden administration has vowed to work toward closing the controversial facility.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Democrats are ramping up pressure on President Joe Biden to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, widely viewed as a damning symbol of torture and human rights abuses committed by the US post-9/11.

The White House earlier this year said it was the administration’s intention to close the prison after a review process.

“We write in strong support of your stated goal to close the prison,” said the letter addressed to Biden on Wednesday and signed by 75 House Democrats – including top lawmakers such as House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff of California, House Foreign Affairs Chair Gregory Meeks of New York, House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith of Washington state, and House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler of New York.

“We share your belief that after nearly two decades and tremendous expense, it is time to close the prison and seek prompt resolutions for the cases of the remaining detainees,” the letter continued. “We ask that as you take the steps necessary to finally closing the prison, you act immediately to further reduce its population, ensure that the remaining detainees are treated humanely, and increase the transparency of military commission proceedings at the Guantanamo detention facility.”

The letter decried the prison as a “fundamental betrayal of our values and our commitment as a country to the rule of law.”

The controversial Cuba-based detention center was opened in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush to house alleged terrorists, and nearly 800 people have been held there in the time since. Former President Barack Obama vowed to close the prison during his first presidential campaign, but faced Republican opposition in Congress and failed to accomplish this before leaving office. The number of detainees did reduce significantly under the Obama administration, however, from 245 to 41.

Former President Donald Trump took a drastically different approach, signing an executive order in 2018 to keep the prison open – and only one prisoner was transferred out during his term in the White House.

Biden has taken small steps toward shuttering the facility. In June, the Pentagon announced a Moroccan citizen held at the prison, Abdul Latif Nasser, was transferred to his home country.

“Since earlier this year, the Biden administration has been involved in an interagency review of detentions at Guantanamo Bay,” a senior administration official told Politico’s NatSec Daily. “Now, the administration is engaged in a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and closing of the Guantanamo facility.”

There are still 39 men imprisoned at Guantanamo – many have been held for years without being tried or charged, and 10 have been cleared for release.

A number of Republicans in Congress continue to oppose closing the prison.

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Janet Yellen says Treasury is prepared to pay the US’s bills to prevent ‘irreparable harm’ to the economy as GOP balks at raising debt ceiling

Mitch McConnell Janet Yellen Congress Treasury
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

  • Yellen said Treasury is prepared to pay off the country’s bills starting August 2.
  • It comes as McConnell opposes raising the debt ceiling without political concessions.
  • Yellen said even the threat of a default risks major damage to the US economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to renew the federal government’s ability to pay off its debt ahead of a major deadline, warning that failing to do so in a timely manner risks major damage for average people and the economic recovery.

Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are balking at raising the debt limit without ensuring spending cuts from Democrats. He suggested earlier this week that Democrats would have to do it on their own with no GOP support.

In the letter, Yellen said the US will hit its statutory debt limit on August 1. The next day, she said Treasury is prepared to take “certain extraordinary measures” to pay the country’s outstanding bills and prevent a default that could ripple through the global economy.

“Failure to meet those obligations would cause irreparable harm to the economy and the livelihoods of all Americans,” Yellen wrote on Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She noted that raising the debt ceiling doesn’t prompt more federal spending, it only authorizes the government to pay what it already owes.

Yellen underscored the potential damage that even the threat of a default could have on the economy. She cited a 2011 showdown between Obama and House Republicans that led to the first-ever credit downgrade of US debt. Yellen also said it’s hard to predict when Treasury would exhaust its ability to pay off the US’s bills on its own.

On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasted Treasury would “probably” run out of cash sometime in October or November.

Republican opposition is hardening now that President Joe Biden sits in the White House. In July 2019, they voted to suspend the borrowing limit for two years under President Donald Trump.

A default from the federal government could precipitate a chain reaction of cash shortages, starting with US bondholders that include people, businesses, and foreign governments. Democrats insisted this week they wouldn’t allow the GOP to use the debt ceiling as a political weapon.

“We’ll handle our business,” Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a cosponsor of a bill to abolish the debt ceiling, told Insider on Wednesday. “This is something the Hill freaks out about every year or so. We will not negotiate over it, we will not concede anything and we won’t fail to do our job.”

The Biden administration is pushing lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling ahead of the August 2 deadline.

“We certainly expect Congress to act in a bipartisan manner as they did three times under the prior administration to raise the debt limit,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

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America’s post-pandemic rebound could blow the 2009 economic recovery out of the water

obama biden first 100 days
President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017.

  • The US post-pandemic rebound could be much faster than the 2009 recession.
  • One expert said the economy may even end up stronger, which “is crazy to think about.”
  • Still, experts caution that even a blitz of emergency spending could leave people behind.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last week, President Joe Biden alluded to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” remark, saying “the sun is coming out.” And the economic data supports that. It’s a lot like morning in America, 2020s style.

After enduring a year of shutdowns, the country may now be on course for one of its fastest growth periods since the 1980s. The economy regained 850,000 jobs in June, a sharp increase after disappointing gains in May and April. Unemployment claims are falling steadily as well. Should job growth maintain the June trend, payrolls would fully rebound by February, exactly 24 months after the pre-pandemic peak. By comparison, it took 76 months for the US to recoup all jobs lost during the Great Recession.

The recovery from the Great Recession was, by several measures, the most sluggish in US history. The policy response to the coronavirus, including $6 trillion of emergency spending, has not only been more effective, but appears to be crafted with the mistakes of 2009 in mind.

“I’m incredibly encouraged when it’s compared to the Great Recession,” Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, told Insider. “Responding at the speed and level of crisis as we did with fiscal and monetary support … means that our economy may not only recover so fast, but it may be stronger than it would have been without it, which is crazy to think about.”

The chart below shows the rate of job losses and gains after the Great Recession compared to the coronavirus recession.

Withdrawing federal support in 2012 caused “a lot of scarring” in the labor market, and lawmakers learned from it, Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist and senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute, said.

“I think of March of 2021 being this pivotal moment like the end of 2012 was,” Sahm said. “This time, Congress did the right thing, in terms of pushing more money out.”

A new playbook for economic revival

The sheer size of the pandemic-era relief bills dwarfs those seen during the Great Recession. The Obama administration was wary of passing a $1 trillion package in 2009, as officials feared the price tag would erode support from Republicans and even moderate Democrats.

The scope is also drastically different. Instead of allocating funds to tax credits and federal spending programs, recent stimulus sent money directly to households through checks and enhanced unemployment insurance. The use of direct cash relief was the most encouraging aspect of pandemic-era support, Sahm said.

“This time we didn’t monkey around with [tax credits],” she told Insider, adding stimulus checks helped Americans pay down debt, build financial buffers, and maintain spending.

To be sure, the two recessions boast some critical differences. The COVID-19 recovery hinged on thwarting the virus’s spread. The financial crisis was far more systemic in nature, and it took more than a year for the recovery to even begin.

“Everything about this crisis has been much faster than during the Great Recession,” Sahm said. “The bottom fell out, then we hit the bottom, and then we started moving up.”

Other experts argued that last year’s response deserves a larger share of the credit. “I think fiscal policy in 2020 was really important and what we’ve seen so far this year has been unneeded and created some real risks in the economy,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office and GOP aide to George W. Bush, said in an interview.

Most signals point to a healthy recovery

Holtz-Eakin is among the conservative economists arguing that Biden’s stimulus has caused a stronger rise in inflation than expected. Indeed, popular gauges of price growth rose at the fastest pace since 2008 in May as rebounding demand ran up against dire supply shortages.

For now, the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office both expect inflation to weaken as shortages are addressed. And early signs point to price growth cooling into the summer.

Other signals are similarly encouraging. Wages are rising for workers in the leisure and hospitality sector, and Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll say they’re the happiest they’ve ever been as vaccinations become more widespread and restrictions ease up.

Though most signs are good, experts are still urging caution given the huge hit absorbed by low-income workers, many of whom are Black and Hispanic.

“We should also remember that the road to recovery is long, even at this optimistic, faster timeline, it’s still gonna be until the end of next year to get to pre-pandemic levels and there’s gonna be a lot of people who are worse off,” Konczal said.

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Rep. Eric Swalwell says that Trump ‘achieved brilliant success’ in getting smart people ‘to overthink how to handle him’

Eric Swalwell
Representative Eric Swalwell of California.

  • Rep. Swalwell said that Trump was great at getting smart people to “overthink how to handle him.”
  • In his new book, Swalwell says that Trump’s political acumen allowed him to distract the public.
  • “The Ukraine shakedown scheme pierced through the fog,” the congressman wrote.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who served as a House impeachment manager in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, said that the former president was masterful in pushing “very smart people” to “overthink how to handle him.”

In his new book, “Endgame: Inside the Impeachments of Donald J. Trump,” Swalwell details how the Ukraine scandal was a key turning point in Trump’s seeming inability to move past most political controversies.

Before Trump was eventually impeached for the first time over his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate political rival and now-President Joe Biden, Swalwell said that the former president’s litany of distractions “avoided letting the public focus on one clear outrage for long.”

“The Ukraine shakedown scheme pierced through the fog,” he wrote. “Finally, we’d cut to Gordian knot of endless overthinking on our side. The overthinkers, trying to jump four steps ahead in a game of chess, worried that impeaching Trump could give him fodder to enflame his base and be a net political win for him.”

He emphasized: “All that worry was paralyzing.”

Read More: A key fundraising group for Republican women is shunning Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, calling them ‘carnival barkers’

Swalwell continued with his analysis of Trump, articulating that the former president’s biggest critics often made decisions that helped him.

“Trump had achieved brilliant success in getting even very smart people to overthink how to handle him, to tie themselves up in confusion to the point where they made choices that ultimately benefited him,” he wrote. “Think back to the 2016 election. Trump kept insisting the election would be ‘rigged.’ He said this again and again and again, all the while knowing that the Russians were actually truing to rig the election in his favor.”

He added: “President Obama overthought the situation, loath to play into Trump’s hand and lend indirect support to his wild claims of election issues. The end result was that the Obama administration never came down hard on the Russians or even alerted the public to what was going on. Trump benefited.”

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