Americans were freaking out over inflation this spring. They aren’t anymore – and it shows they believe in the Biden economy.

Two masked women walk along S. Catalina Avenue in the Riviera Village shopping area of Redondo Beach, CA.
Riviera Village shopping area of Redondo Beach, CA.

  • Google searches for “inflation” have plummeted close to pre-crisis levels, Bespoke Investment Group said Thursday.
  • The slide suggests Americans buy President Biden’s argument that surging price growth is temporary.
  • The easing concerns could help Biden’s outlook materialize, as inflation is guided by Americans’ expectations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Inflation still sits at decade highs, but Americans are less and less worried about it.

Just four months after inflation fears peaked, public interest in nationwide price growth sits near pre-crisis lows. Google searches for inflation and inflation-related terms plummeted through the summer and are now roughly one-third the levels seen in May, according to data collected by Bespoke Investment Group. Search activity is now the lowest it’s been since fall 2020 and below some peaks seen before the pandemic.

The months-long decline in inflation searches suggest a newfound confidence in the economic recovery.

For President Joe Biden and the Federal Reserve, the trends were expected. Both said earlier in the year that quick reopening would boost inflation, particularly in sectors where activity completely froze during lockdowns. Instead of cutting stimulus and putting the administration’s infrastructure plan on ice, Biden pushed for both. Inflation, the administration argued, would fade even with more government spending.

Bespoke
Source: Bespoke Investment Group

And inflation did pick up. Price growth rocketed to its fastest pace since the Great Recession. Republicans seized on the public’s concerns, linking inflation to Democrats’ $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. And all the while, Americans concerns over surging prices leaped higher.

That phenomenon has since abated, and the return to normal levels of concern reflects the public is confident in the Biden administration and the Fed’s outlooks.

Where Republicans amplified concerns of irresponsible spending and an inflation crisis, the White House sees recent price growth as a side effect of the otherwise healthy recovery. Americans are increasingly siding with the latter, according to search trends.

That suggests Democrats have public support as they work to finalize Biden’s next spending package. Moderate Senate Democrats have balked at its $3.5 trillion price tag, with Sen. Joe Manchin saying in a Wall Street Journal column that the party should “pause” to see if inflation “is transitory or not” before spending more. Americans seem to be telling Manchin they don’t need a pause.

Recent inflation reports have also fallen in line with Biden’s forecast. Price growth slowed sharply for a second straight month in August as categories that previously saw rapid inflation cooled off. While year-over-year inflation remains elevated, monthly price growth is on the decline.

The slowdown could be aided by Americans’ easing worries. Inflation is somewhat driven by people’s expectations, and fears of permanently soaring prices can speed up inflation. The data, then, signals Americans could be helping the government’s inflation dreams come true.

“If this more recent trend of declining search interest continues, it would further support the Fed’s forecast for recent inflation pressures to be ‘transitory’ in nature,” Bespoke said in a Thursday blog post.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott applauded border enforcement for a miles-long ‘steel barrier’ of vehicles deterring Haitian migrants at Del Rio

Greg Abbott border
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks to reporters at a news conference along the Texas border.

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott lauded state troopers for erecting a “steel barrier” of vehicles to stop people from crossing into the US.
  • He said Texas is sending a message to those thinking about crossing the border that they may be jailed.
  • Thousands of refugees seeking to enter the US are camped underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott praised border officials and state troopers on Tuesday for erecting a “steel barrier” of police vehicles stretching miles along the southern US border to deter Haitian migrants from crossing into the state.

“One day there were countless people coming across the border, then that very same day the Texas Department of Public Safety put up all these DPS vehicles, and suddenly, in an instant, people stopped crossing the border in this location,” he said at a news conference.

Abbott added that the state is taking “unprecedented steps” to control the border, and is sending a message to anyone who tries to cross the Rio Grande river that they “may wind up having handcuffs on their hands going straight to jail.”

Thousands of Haitian refugees are camped underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas – a border town of around 35,000 on the about 150 miles west of San Antonio. Migrants there are fleeing Haiti after the assassination of their president Jovenel Moïse in July and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the country in August. Reports differ on exactly how many migrants are now gathered at the Texan border, but estimates place the number at around 8,000 people after some were sent back or processed by immigration authorities.

Footage of border enforcement confronting migrants on horseback with whips has sparked criticism from the White House and politicians, and prompted the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation. Some are decrying the situation as inhumane and cruel.

As Abbott spoke to reporters on Tuesday, he blamed President Joe Biden for not doing enough to secure the southern border, and said the president’s lax policies led to the flood of illegal immigrants in Del Rio, per CNN.

“When you have an administration that is not enforcing the law in this country, when you have an administration that has abandoned any pretense of securing the border and securing our sovereignty, you see the onrush of people like what we saw walking across this dam that is right behind me,” he told the network.

It’s unclear why so many migrants have amassed at Del Rio so quickly, but misinformation that the border would be easier to cross there may have played a part, reported The New York Times.

“False information, misinformation and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope,” Guerline M. Jozef, the executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a group that works with migrants, told The Times.

The Biden administration had been denying immigrants at the border under Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy that allows migrants to be deported as a measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading. However, last week a judge ruled that Title 42 was “likely unlawful” and issued a preliminary injunction against it. The Biden administration has said they are appealing the decision.

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The US Treasury issued its first-ever sanctions against a crypto exchange for aiding ransomware attacks

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during an event at the US Department of the Treasury on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

  • The US Treasury Department will sanction Suex for its role in laundering financial transactions for ransomware actors.
  • This marks the first time the agency has ever blacklisted a cryptocurrency exchange.
  • Analysis of transactions of Suex showed that over 40% was associated with illicit actors, the department said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The US Department of the Treasury on Tuesday revealed it will sanction Russian-owned Suex for its role in laundering financial transactions for ransomware actors, marking the first time the agency has ever blacklisted a cryptocurrency exchange.

An analysis of transactions of Suex showed that over 40% were associated with illicit actors, according to a department announcement, adding that the crypto exchange also facilitated illicit funds from at least eight ransomware variants.

Tuesday’s designation would generally ban all US citizens from engaging in transactions with Suex, a private company based in the Czech Republic.

The agency’s Office of Foreign Assets Control warned players in the space that it “has imposed, and will continue to impose, sanctions on these actors and others who materially assist, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for these activities.”

The move came after a series of cyberattacks paralyzed several US businesses such as Colonial Pipeline and major meat processor JBS earlier this year, prompting the Biden Administration to ramp up its efforts to prevent future incidents.

“Demand for ransomware payments has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as cyber actors target online systems that US persons rely on to continue conducting business,” Treasury said. “The US government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands and recommends focusing on strengthening defensive and resilience measures.”

Ransomware payments reached over $400 million in 2020 – more than four times their level compared to the previous year, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show a 21% increase in reported ransomware cases from 2019 to 2020.

Ransomware is a specific type of attack in which hackers block access to a computer system or data until their demands are met. Typically, these are payments are requested in cryptocurrencies, due to their perceived anonymity.

“Ransomware and cyber-attacks are victimizing businesses large and small across America and are a direct threat to our economy. We will continue to crack down on malicious actors,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement Tuesday.

Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, has been known to crack down against cryptocurrencies, citing how their use in laundering the profits of online drug traffickers and financing terrorism.

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Shocking photos show Haitian migrants swimming across the Rio Grand into Mexico and being confronted by Border Patrol agents on horses

CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.
CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO – SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.

  • Some 14,000 mostly-Haitian migrants settled under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Friday.
  • The Biden administration is using Title 42 to deport the migrants and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Photos show the migrants’ journey as they seek asylum.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Photos captured between Friday, September 17, and Monday, September 20 show Haitian migrants trying to navigate the humanitarian crisis at the US and Mexico border.

Some of the estimated 14,000 mainly Haitian migrants that ended up in Del Rio, Texas, seeking asylum following a massive earthquake and the assassination of the Haitian president, began heading back to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Monday, to avoid being deported by the US.

Thousands of migrants had settled underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, in the heat where essentials such as food, water, and restrooms were scarce.

President Joe Biden, who had discontinued some of Trump’s immigration policies, leading migrants to believe the US was more open to migrants, has begun deporting migrants back to Haiti, The New York Times reported.

The mayor of Del Rio, Texas declared a state of emergency on September 17 following the settlement of thousands of mostly Haitian migrants underneath a bridge in Del Rio.

Haitian migrants use a dam to cross to and from the United States from Mexico, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.
Haitian migrants use a dam to cross to and from the United States from Mexico, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.

Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano is working alongside Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Chief of the US Border Patrol Raul Ortiz to find a solution at the border and to deport migrants, the mayor said in a tweet on Sunday.

Some Haitian migrants were spotted moving back towards Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 20, to prevent being deported back to Haiti.

Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande river from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico.
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande river from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. The US is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico.

Desperate to not return back to Haiti, some migrants have begun moving from Texas back into Mexico. CNBC reported that at least 100 migrants were heading back to Mexico.

As of Sunday, September 19, the US had flown 3,300 Haitians back to Haiti. 

Haitian migrants were captured on photo wading through the Rio Grande.

CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.
Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As US immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.

Some migrants also crossed the Rio Grande in search of food and other resources.

Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande to get food and supplies near the Del Rio-Acun?a Port of Entry in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila state, Mexico on September 18, 2021. - The mayor of Del Rio, Texas declared a state of emergency on September 17, 2021 after more than 10,000 undocumented migrants, many of them Haitians, poured into the border city in a fresh test of President Joe Biden's immigration policy. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said that the migrants were crowded in an area controlled by the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) beneath the Del Rio International Bridge, which carries traffic across the Rio Grande river into Mexico.
Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande to get food and supplies near the Del Rio-Acuna Port of Entry in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila state, Mexico on September 18, 2021.

US Customs and Border Patrol agents were photographed using whips to prevent Haitian migrants from joining the other Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.

United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. - US law enforcement are attempting to close off crossing points along the Rio Grande river where migrants cross to get food and water, which is scarce in the encampment. The United States said Saturday it would ramp up deportation flights for thousands of migrants who flooded into the Texas border city of Del Rio, as authorities scramble to alleviate a burgeoning crisis for President Joe Biden's administration.
United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.

Those who tried to return with resources on Sunday were met by US Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback who were armed with whips.

“I have seen some of the footage,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said to reporters during a news briefing on Monday, referring to video of the CBP agents scattering migrants. “I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details. … I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

According to The Washington Post, the Border Patrol agents eventually let the migrants in through the border. 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet on Monday that the current “immigration system is designed for cruelty towards and dehumanization of immigrants.” 

“This is a stain on our country,” she continued.

“Video and photos coming out of Del Rio showing US Border Patrol’s mistreatment of Haitian migrants along the border are horrific and disturbing,” Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, told The Post.

“This mistreatment runs counter to our American values and cannot be tolerated,” he added.

The Department of Homeland Security responded to the footage on Monday.

United States Border Patrol agents on horseback tries to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. - The United States said Saturday it would ramp up deportation flights for thousands of migrants who flooded into the Texas border city of Del Rio, as authorities scramble to alleviate a burgeoning crisis for President Joe Biden's administration.
United States Border Patrol agents on horseback tries to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.

The Department of Homeland Security said that CBP is currently investigating the crisis, according to PBS anchor Yamiche Alcindor.

“Secretary Mayorkas visited Del Rio today and witnessed the extraordinary work of DHS personnel,” DHS spokesperson said in the statement. “The footage is extremely troubling and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.”

“We are committed to processing migrants in a safe, orderly, and humane way. We can and must do this in a way that ensures the safety and dignity of migrants,” the statement concluded.

DHS and CBP did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

The Biden-Harris Administration will continue invoking Title 42 – an order issued by Trump.

Migrants, many from Haiti, board a bus after they were processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped at Texas border town back to their homeland and trying to block others from crossing the border from Mexico.
Migrants, many from Haiti, board a bus after they were processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. The US is flying Haitians camped at Texas border town back to their homeland and trying to block others from crossing the border from Mexico.

The Biden-Harris administration has challenged courts for the ability to invoke Title 42 and despite activists’ cries to end it.

“If you come to the US illegally, you will be returned,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a Monday news conference. “Your journey will not succeed.”

Title 42 is an immigration policy issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention during Trump’s presidency that allows the swift deportation of migrants as a measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

Steven Forester, an immigration policy coordinator at the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told Al Jazeera that the order is entirely “unconscionable.”

“There’s no way Haiti can handle the people that are in Haiti now given the conditions there. It can’t provide for these people,” he added.

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Fox News reporter Peter Doocy says it ‘never feels like I’m getting smacked down’ when Jen Psaki criticizes his questions

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a daily briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House May 4, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy praised White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s professionalism.
  • “It never feels like I’m getting smacked down or vice versa,” Doocy told The New York Times.
  • Psaki and Doocy’s regular, heated briefing room exchanges often make headlines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy says there’s mutual respect between himself and President Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki.

Doocy complimented Psaki’s professionalism and described their relationship as respectful in a recent New York Times profile of Psaki.

“It never feels like I’m getting smacked down or vice versa,” Doocy told The Times. “I understand why it looks like that, some of the ways that stuff gets clipped, but it doesn’t feel like that in the room.”

Doocy, the 34-year-old son of conservative “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy, pointed to the time when Psaki publicly congratulated him on his wedding when he returned to the White House briefing room.

“When I got back from my wedding, she made a point to tell everybody in the briefing room that I just got married,” he said. “That’s a transcript I can print out and show to my kids one day.”

Psaki has also said her interactions with Doocy are “entirely professional” and that there’s an element of performance in Doocy’s briefing room questions because they’re televised.

“My engagement with him, people don’t always see this, but outside the briefing room, it is entirely professional and entirely, hopefully, responsive,” Psaki told Mediaite last month. “There’s a performative component from the TV side of the briefing room.”

Doocy and Psaki’s praise for each other might come as a surprise to viewers of their briefing room exchanges. The Fox correspondent regularly asks Psaki pointed – and sometimes misleading or disingenuous – questions, which Psaki sometimes condemns. Their back-and-forths often make headlines, with Psaki’s fans celebrating her so-called “Psaki bomb” replies.

In one heated exchange in July, Psaki called Doocy’s question about the administration’s efforts to crack down on misinformation about vaccines “loaded and inaccurate.” Last month, Psaki called Doocy “irresponsible” for claiming that American citizens were “stranded” in Afghanistan.

Psaki, a veteran political operative and top Obama administration communications staffer, has pledged to bring “transparency and truth” back to the briefing room. Since taking her post in January, she’s fostered significantly more respectful relationships with the press than her immediate predecessors did. Still, Biden has been criticized for refusing to take questions from reporters at several of his press conferences and Psaki has said she advises the president not to take impromptu questions from the press.

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The US will relax restrictions for vaccinated travelers from the EU and UK

jfk airport
Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport ahead of Memorial day weekend on May 28, 2021 in New York City.

The United States is relaxing its travel restrictions for people from the European Union and the United Kingdom who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The policy change will allow vaccinated people from the UK and EU to travel to the US starting in November, three people with knowledge of the relaxed restrictions told the Financial Times.

Currently, only US citizens and their immediate families, green card holders, and some travelers with special exemptions can come to the States if they’ve been in the UK or EU within 14 days before travel.

The US also bars most noncitizens coming from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India, who will not be affected by the upcoming policy change.

The Biden administration is set to announce the new policy on Monday, the sources told the Financial Times.

President Biden signed the proclamation suspending travel to the US from 28 European countries in January 2021, when the Alpha variant was circulating in the UK. As new variants of the coronavirus emerged, the administration kept the policy in place and added additional restrictions on travel from other countries.

The highly infectious Delta variant has become dominant in the US, the UK, and other countries around the world. The variant has been known to infect some people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, resulting in cases that are relatively mild but do pose a transmission risk.

Early data suggests vaccinated people who get COVID-19 tend to be less infectious than unvaccinated patients, and they typically clear the virus quicker. Multiple public health experts have said vaccination is the key to beating Delta and the coronavirus pandemic as a whole.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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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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Photos: Who were the protesters who showed up to the Justice for J6 rally in DC

A man on a scooter with an American flag.
A participant in the Justice for J6 rally.

The Justice for J6 rally began at noon on Saturday in front of the US Capitol. There were far more police officers, journalists, and counter-protesters than the 150 to 200 protesters who attended.

A few minutes before the scheduled start, the strains of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli’s signature “Con te partirò” suddenly started blasting over the Mall at high volume.

Robert Jimenez, an audio engineer and owner of “All About Shows” based in Silver Spring, Maryland, confessed that he always does his soundchecks with opera. He said that he received the gig from Matt Braynard, a former Trump administration staffer, and the “Look Forward America” group three weeks before, with a 50% deposit of the $7500 fee for the sound system, stage, and video screen.

“I have to submit my ID and business license to the police for any event we do here, so I need at least five days’ notice,” he said. “Today, I have five staff including myself and three volunteers. We had to bring generators for power.”

A row of police in riot gear.
U.S. Capitol police at the “Justice for Jan. 6” rally.

US Capitol police made a show of force with new riot armor and shields. The city was clearly determined to avoid the stunning, violent scene that unfolded on Jan. 6, when thousands of protesters forced their way into the Capitol. 643 alleged rioters would later face criminal charges.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s protest, The Proud Boys and other right-wing groups urged people to stay away.

A women in a hat holds an American flag
A woman who would identify herself only as Kesia.

A woman who would identify herself only as Kesia from Maryland said she attended the Jan. 6 rally.

“I will be out here again and I was here on Jan. 6th and I’m not ashamed to say that,” she said.

A man in a raccoon-fur hat holding am American flag in front of the US Capitol.
A man in a raccoon-fur hat declined to give his name.

A young man in a raccoon-fur hat was less forthcoming. He declined to answer questions about where he was from, whether he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, or to give his name. “I’m not saying anything about myself or where I was on any day, ever. They should never have been arrested. I just want to be visible,” he said, adding that he saw the Biden administration as illegitimate.

As for his hat, he said that he had made it using the “frontiersman’s method.”

“You take the raccoon and make a cut starting from the base of the feet, back. Then you cut a brim around the front, and take the feet and stitch them to the beginning of the curve, and stitch up the inside. That’s it. I do it as a hobby. I’ll be watching videos as I’m working. You can do it in 20-25 minutes,” he said.

A shirtless man sits with a large sign that says Loser.
Counter-protester Tim Smith with his handmade sign.

Between the police and a large showing from the media, the protesters’ showing was modest. A counter-protester, Tim Smith, came with a handmade sign that read “LOSER” in the same style as the signs from the 2020 Trump campaign.

The sign mocked former President Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 presidential election and baselessly claimed it was due to voter fraud.

XX
Geraldine Lovell from Prince George’s County, Maryland, was surrounded by journalists.

Geraldine Lovell, from Prince George’s County, Maryland, was one of the first protesters to arrive, and was initially warned by the police that if she were counter-protesting, she would have to go elsewhere to an adjacent but physically separated area that they had prepared. She assured the police that she was in support of the demonstration.

A man stands with a staff.
Washington DC resident Thomas Ritchie.

Another protester, Thomas Ritchie, said he moved to Washington DC 4 months ago, after spending the last 11 years in Helena, Montana. He said that the staff he carried had been a gift from his Montana church.

“I am wearing a sackcloth because of everything that is wrong and evil with the world, he said. “I know something big is going to happen, I just don’t know what, yet, or when. We kill people for killing people.”

Three men stand wearing suits
The protest was called by former Trump staffer Matt Braynard (center).

The rally was organized by former Trump staffer Matt Braynard. When a journalist asked him to identify himself, Braynard replied, “you should do your homework,” and walked away.

A protester holds an American flag as a security person stands behind her.
Protester Diane Atkins.

Diane Atkins said she goes by “Diane *Anglo-Saxon* Atkins” and identifies as a “Proud Christian American, Republican, activist.”

Behind her, a member of a private security team guarding the state and the rally speakers was wearing a mask that said “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter.”

None of the guards answered questions about their assignment nor identified themselves.

A man with a large dog.
Jeremiah Shivers came from Massachusetts with his family and his Great Dane.

Jeremiah Shivers came from Massachusetts with his family and his Great Dane to attend the rally. The dog was wearing a sign that said “Abolish the Democrats.”

Police face a row of photographers
Police and media outnumbered participants at the Justice for J6 rally.

In total, police made four arrests and seized two weapons on Saturday.

No injuries were reported.

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Congress is like a kid with a ‘box of dynamite’ when it comes to paying off the government’s debt, JPMorgan says

Pelosi McConnell Schumer
From left to right: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

  • Congress is hurtling toward a mid-October deadline to raise the limit on how much debt the government can carry.
  • If the US is a house, lawmakers are children playing with “a box of dynamite,” JPMorgan’s David Kelly said.
  • If Congress fails to lift the limit, spending on key programs will freeze and the country will likely plunge into recession, the White House warned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If the US is a house, lawmakers are children, and the possibility of Congress defaulting on the national debt is a “box of dynamite,” David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan, said in a Monday note.

For the 58th time in 50 years, Congress is faced with the task of either raising or suspending the government’s debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic recession. Democrats have just a few weeks to stop picking on each other or get their Republican friends to play nice and agree on a fix

Every generation of children, Kelly said, “seems just a little more reckless and irresponsible than the last.”

The debt ceiling is a simple concept. Borrowing is a regular part of government operations to keep the country running. The limit – created at the start of World War I – refers to the amount of money the Treasury Department can borrow before risking default.

The Treasury last suspended the ceiling on July 31, which froze the limit just above the present-day amount of debt. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has since kept debt just below that limit using several accounting tricks. Yellen warned lawmakers last week that this temporary solution would only last through mid-October, but Congress has yet to agree on a fix.

Republicans have balked at the prospect of raising the ceiling even more, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently saying Democrats will have to lift the limit on their own to pay for their $3.5 trillion social spending plan.

Democrats, however, maintain Republicans are at least partially responsible for the ballooning debt pile. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened raising the ceiling to “paying the Trump credit card,” and President Joe Biden said Thursday that the GOP’s 2017 tax cut drove the deficit sharply higher.

What happens when the fuse is lit

Should Congress fail to lift the ceiling, the fallout could be drastic, as Yellen has warned.

Federal support for disaster relief, education, infrastructure, and public health would end. Lawmakers would be forced to take a sharp turn toward austerity, slashing spending on social programs and other sources of aid to cut down the budget deficit. And taxes would likely be raised to make sure the government can cover its expenses.

To take such action in a time of normal growth would dramatically slow economic activity. To do so in October would “potentially trigger a catastrophic default on US government debt,” Kelly said. Though the US has rebounded from the worst of the COVID downturn, it’s still far from fully recovered. More than 8 million Americans remain unemployed. Consumers’ confidence in the economy sits at decade lows. And the Delta wave is more powerful than ever, with daily case counts exceeding those seen during the coronavirus’s winter resurgence.

The Biden administration is keenly aware of the risks and warned state and local governments of the consequences in a recent memo. The document, obtained by Insider, details how the country could fully reverse its recovery from COVID-19 if the limit isn’t lifted.

“Hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession. Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs,” the White House said.

Democrats have just weeks to either sway Republicans or rally their disparate ranks around a last-minute plan. And whether the limit is raised before or after the October deadline, lawmakers have to once again face the prospect of hitting the ceiling again.

According to Kelly, there’s an “obvious solution”: eliminate the debt ceiling entirely. This would help avoid last-minute haggling on the issue, which happens every time the debt pile nears the government-set ceiling. There’s “no evidence” that having a borrowing limit has ever slowed the growth of government debt, says Kelly.

Plus, raising the ceiling only provides a temporary fix for a decades-old problem.

The government has long run a budget deficit, meaning it spends more than it raises in taxes. Eliminating the ceiling can let Congress spend more time crafting a sustainable budget, Kelly said. Lawmakers should focus on “the more relevant questions” of how much the US should tax, who it should tax the most, and how that cash should be spent, he added.

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White House warns states of potential big cuts to Medicaid, school lunch and disaster relief programs if the US government defaults on its debt

mcconnell biden
Mitch McConnell; Joe Biden

  • The White House sent a memo to state and local governments warning of potential cuts to federal programs if Congress fails to lift debt ceiling.
  • Measures like Medicaid and free school lunches could be affected, it said.
  • The memo warned of a possible recession as Republicans show no sign of budging on raising debt ceiling.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The White House is warning state and local governments of substantial cuts to federally funded measures such as Medicaid, school lunch, and disaster relief programs if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

In a new memo sent to state and local governments on Friday and obtained by Insider, the Biden administration laid out how a potential US default would ripple through at the state and local level. Programs that could face major reductions in federal aid include Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, both measures that provide free health insurance to tens of millions of low-income Americans.

It also warned of cuts to federally funded school lunch programs that provide free or reduced-cost meals to nearly 30 million children and halt money for disaster relief. That could hinder aid efforts in the wake of wildfires that scorched parts of the western US and Hurricane Ida slamming into the South.

“Hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession,” the memo said. “Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs.”

Put simply, the debt ceiling caps how much the government can borrow. While the government raises cash through taxes, it borrows to pay off past spending. Yet in recent years, lifting the limit has become just as much a political battle as it is a housekeeping item.

President Joe Biden is urging Republicans to get on board with a debt ceiling increase, as they did three times under the Trump administration. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans won’t help Democrats raise the debt limit, arguing they’re responsible for it to cover spending from their $3.5 trillion social spending plan. He told Punchbowl News this week that he wasn’t “bluffing.”

That hasn’t impeded the Biden administration and Democrats from trying to ramp up pressure on Republicans, warning of economic calamity if the US is unable to pay off its debt. “The president wants to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. “Our view continues to be: this should be done in a bipartisan way and there should be a bipartisan path forward.”

A debt-ceiling recession would come as the US recovery is already faltering. The unemployment rate hasn’t yet reached its pre-pandemic lows, and more than 8 million Americans remain jobless. Supply-chain bottlenecks and shortages have lifted inflation to decade highs. Also, as Delta cases soar higher, banks have lowered their forecasts for economic growth. Peak rebound has come and gone, and crashing into the debt limit would reverse more than a year of recovery progress.

The “obvious solution” would be to erase the limit indefinitely, David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, said in a Monday note. There’s little evidence the ceiling did much to slow the growth of the government’s debt pile, and battles over raising the limit shift focus away from discussions on taxes and spending programs, he added.

Each Congress has been “just a little more reckless and irresponsible than the last” with the debt limit, and the current legislative body is dangerously close to letting the country default, Kelly said.

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