China’s property market continued its slump in November as home prices, sales, investment, and construction all fell on weak demand amid Evergrande’s debt crisis

China property Evergrande
China’s property sector continue to slump in November.

  • China’s new home prices fell 0.3% month-on-month in November, the biggest decline since February 2015.
  • Official statistics show home sales by value slumped 16.31% in their fifth month of declines.
  • The low demand was despite measures taken by some cities to boost transactions.

China’s property market suffered more headwinds in November, with home prices, sales, investment, and construction all falling, weighed by weak demand and a cash crunch among developers.

New home prices fell 0.3% month-on-month in November, the biggest decline since February 2015, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Wednesday. That was worse than the 0.2% drop in October.

Only nine of 70 cities tracked by NBS saw monthly price gains in November, the fewest since February 2015, according to Reuters calculations.

In a separate NBS statement, home sales by value slumped 16.31% in their fifth month of declines, pointing to gloomy demand despite measures taken by some cities to boost transactions.

“Cities of all classes are under pressure,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institution.

“The current scale of market supply is large and demand is weak. The key is to accelerate inventory de-stocking to stabilise home prices.”

China’s property sector has been grappling with tighter regulations this year, including curbs on bank lending and limits on how much property developers can borrow amid growing financial woes.

Last week, China Evergrande Group and another major developer, Kaisa, missed payment deadlines on their offshore bonds, prompting Fitch to downgrade the companies to “restricted default” status. 

New home prices have dropped in 64 of 70 cities so far this year, according to Reuters calculations.

For the supply side, new construction starts as measured by floor area tumbled 21.03% on year in November, down for the eighth month, while property investment by developers fell 4.3%.

“Due to the dual impact from the cyclical slowdown and (government) policies, coupled with the debt crises at some developers, the property shock is yet to pass, but with a good policy response, systemic risks can be avoided,” said Zhang Yi, chief economist at Zhonghai Shengrong Capital Management.

Supportive measures

China’s top leaders said “houses are for living in, not for speculation” during an agenda-setting meeting on Friday. They also pledged to promote the healthy development of the property market and better meet the reasonable demand of home buyers. 

“The Central Economic Work Conference has set the tone of stabilising growth for next year, so we believe that as government policy kicks in, economic growth in the fourth quarter and first quarter of next year would bottom out and rebound,” Zhang said.

At least six cities have introduced measures to boost home purchases since November, including providing subsidies or deed tax reductions, local media has reported.

Unsold housing stock in China’s 100 biggest cities rose to the highest level in five years in November, according to a private sector survey last Friday. 

New home prices dropped 0.4% month-on-month in tier-two cities and 0.3% in tier-three and four cities, compared with zero growth in tier-one cities last month.

S&P ratings agency expects the property downturn to persist on the back of credit tightening and restrictive policies in the sector, potentially leading to a 10% decline in nationwide residential sales next year.

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Congress lifts debt-ceiling on same day as deadline that risked plunging country into economic chaos

Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

  • The House voted 221 to 209 to pass a $2.5 trillion increase to the debt ceiling early Wednesday.
  • The hike pushes the next debt-limit battle to 2023 and averts a possible default mere hours before the deadline.
  • Hitting the debt ceiling risked erasing months of progress in the continuing pandemic recovery.

The House passed a $2.5 trillion increase to the debt ceiling early Wednesday morning, staving off an economic disaster just ahead of an urgent deadline.

The body voted 221 to 209 at around midnight eastern time to lift the limit on how much the government can borrow. Only one Republican joined Democrats in backing the measure. The vote comes after the Senate passed it earlier in the day along party lines.

The late-night vote marks the final step for Congress to pass the increase and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature. It also saves the US economy from crisis just hours before a dire cutoff. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously warned the government would hit the debt ceiling on December 15, and that breaching the deadline risked a default on federal debt.

The $2.5 trillion hike is expected to push the next debt-ceiling battle past next year’s midterm elections and into 2023. Although the Build Back Better plan making its way through Congress would add roughly $1.75 trillion to the deficit, only some of the related borrowing would happen before 2022. Expectations for Republicans to take control of the House could tee up an even more intense fight over the limit when it approaches next, as the GOP has been extremely critical of Biden’s spending agenda.

The debt ceiling limits how much the government can borrow to cover its bills for past spending. Congress came close to hitting the limit in October as Republicans pushed Democrats to raise the ceiling on their own through the time-consuming reconciliation process. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Democrats a 2-month extension in early October to dodge default, punting the problem into December.

The latest fix involved an even more novel process. Congress approved a one-time rule change last week to carve out the filibuster and allow Senate Democrats to raise the ceiling with a simple majority. The measure opened the door for Democrats to avoid catastrophe while letting Republicans say they didn’t directly vote to raise the ceiling.

Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters on Tuesday that the $2.5 trillion sum was agreed to in negotiations with Republicans on the rule change.

Fourteen Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the one-off reform, but other GOP members raised concerns over the deal striking a new precedent. The agreement struck by McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to lift the limit “was a mistake,” and it was “cynical” to connect the measure to Medicare funding, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri told Insider on Thursday.

Letting the House vote to change Senate procedure “on something this contentious” was “not the way to go,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Insider.

For now, the country can rest easy knowing the debt ceiling isn’t looming over the pandemic recovery. A self-imposed default would be disastrous for the still-healing economy. Hitting the ceiling could quickly freeze payments to government workers and service members, halt Social Security payouts, and immediately destroy trust in the US dollar. Without the last-minute votes, the country could’ve plunged into a wholly new and unprecedented recession.

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Elon Musk hurls insults at Elizabeth Warren over her criticism of his taxes, saying she’s like a ‘friend’s angry mom’ who randomly yells for no reason

Elon Musk
Elon Musk

  • Billionaire Elon Musk replied to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s critique of his tax-paying habits on Tuesday.
  • He said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s “angry Mom” who would “randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”
  • ProPublica previously reported that Musk paid no federal income taxes in 2018.

TIME person of the year and richest man in the world Elon Musk took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s critique of his tax-paying habits and push for policy changes.

“Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else,” Warren initially wrote on Twitter.

In his latest response, Musk wrote: “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.” Warren is indeed a mother, as well as a Harvard Law School professor and leading progressive voice.

He did not mention anything about tax proposals. A recent ProPublica investigation found that the billionaire, who is currently worth over $250 billion, paid no federal income taxes in 2018. Policymakers like Warren have been pushing for new tax measures that would target the net worths and assets of billionaires like Musk, who are able to use perfectly legal methods to not be on the hook for federal income taxes.

It was the latest insult that Musk lobbed at Senate Democrats in recent weeks. He previously took aim at Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon with a crude insult. Wyden was the chief author of a billionaire’s income tax plan that would have slapped Musk with an estimated $10 billion annual tax bill.

Musk also disparaged Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a prominent lawmaker who has aggressively advocated to tax the wealthiest Americans and large firms. “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

And Musk also assailed President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social and climate spending plan, arguing Democrats should “just can the whole thing.” He’s opposed to federal subsidies for electric vehicle charging stations.

In his interview with TIME, Musk said that he thinks “the government is inherently not a good steward of capital” — although he’s received government subsidies for various business ventures

“In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” Musk said in one Twitter reply in September. Then, he added:

“That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

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Senate Democrats pass debt-ceiling hike of $2.5 trillion just in time to avoid catastrophe — and without any Republicans

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference about climate change outside the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Senate Democrats voted to lift the debt ceiling on Tuesday to save the US from economic catastrophe.
  • The vote fell along party lines and sends the ceiling hike to the House for final approval.
  • The ceiling is expected to be hit on Dec. 15, making the Tuesday vote key to avoiding recession.

The Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling on Tuesday, advancing a crucial measure just before the US government risks defaulting on debt it has already incurred.

Senate Democrats approved the hike unanimously Tuesday afternoon, without any Republican voting in support. The body voted 50 to 49, with Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming not voting. The legislation now goes to the House, where Democrats have said they will act Tuesday night to approve it.

Republicans did, however, lift their filibuster on a one-time basis so the Senate could pass this on a majority alone, paradoxically preserving their right to filibuster future votes. The measure was made possible by a deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The hike will lift the limit by $2.5 trillion and is expected to cover all government bills set to come due by 2023, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. Though this vote comes amidst Democrats’ push to approve the $2 trillion Build Back Better package, the new debt ceiling would only cover some of that spending, as much of the plan’s debt won’t be due until after 2022 if it is passed.

The vote comes mere hours ahead of a projected Wednesday deadline. The debt ceiling serves as a limit for how much the government can borrow to pay its bills for past spending. Failure to lift the limit risks default, a freeze to federal government payments, and economic disaster as trust in the dollar plummets. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in November that the government is expected to hit the borrowing limit on December 15, giving lawmakers just a few weeks to reach a compromise.

It sets the stage for what could be another high-stakes showdown sometime in 2023 under very different circumstances: Republicans may control one or even both chambers of Congress, putting them in a stronger position to demand spending cuts or other concessions in exchange for their support to avert economic chaos.

“My view has consistently been that we should use the debt ceiling as leverage to enact meaningful structural reforms to address the out-of-control spending and debt that we have,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Insider, referring to a fiscal deal struck between Republicans and President Barack Obama to slash $900 billion in discretionary spending in 2011.

Then Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio told Insider that the federal debt is hitting “historic levels,” adding it was “a deep concern” for him and Republicans should “do something about it” if they retake Congress.

The Senate vote represents a necessary step toward concluding a months-long battle over the debt limit. The body first stared down a potential default in October as each party blamed the other for failing to raise the limit. Republicans argued Democrats could go it alone through the reconciliation process, and that they wouldn’t open the door to any more of President Joe Biden’s spending agenda. Democrats fired back by noting debt ceiling deals are historically bipartisan, and that much of the debt was incurred under President Donald Trump.

The one-time rule change helped each party meet in the middle. It opened the door for Senate Democrats to lift the limit on their own, and for Republicans to say they voted against directly raising the ceiling. It also forced Democrats to peg a dollar amount to the hike, something the GOP had pushed for in recent months.

Some Republicans balked at the plan, arguing it lets Democrats off too easy and paved the way for more spending. Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley, among others, voted against the rule change last week, though their opposition wasn’t enough to block the plan. The one-time change erodes the power of the Senate filibuster, and letting House Democrats alter Senate procedure sets a dangerous precedent, Graham told Insider on Thursday.

“For four months we said [Democrats] were going to use the process of reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling,” Graham added. “We took that burden away by doing this.”

A debt-ceiling recession is all but certain to be avoided, but Tuesday’s vote sets a new standard for just how late Congress will act to stave off default.

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White House punts Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student debt to Congress: ‘They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet’

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 14, 2021.

  • The White House said it’s up to Congress to help carry out Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student loans.
  • “If Congress sends him a bill, he’s happy to sign it. They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet,” Psaki said.
  • Millions of Americans are expected to restart their student-loan payments in 49 days. 

The White House on Tuesday said it’s up to Congress to help execute President Joe Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student loans per borrower, though Democrats have asked him to forgive the debt on his own for months. 

“What is the message to those people who feel that he is yet to follow through on that promise?” a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s press briefing.

“If Congress sends him a bill, he’s happy to sign it. They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet,” Psaki responded.

Biden campaigned on approving $10,000 in student debt cancellation per borrower, but he still has not done so nearly 11 months into his presidency. In a speech on November 16, he said student loans are holding borrowers up, and forgiving $10,000 “should be done immediately.”


His campaign website also said he’d work with Democrats to “authorize up to $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower” as part of COVID-19 relief, but the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he signed in March didn’t include student debt relief. And in early February, shortly after Biden was sworn in and pressure to fulfill the student-loan cancellation began, Psaki said that the president’s “calling on Congress to draft the proposal.”

But lawmakers have insisted that Biden can get it done himself by simply signing an executive order. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have led the push to cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower, which they believe Biden can do on his own via the Higher Education Act. 

“Cancelling $50,000 in student debt would completely wipe out student loans for 84% of borrowers, including more than 3 million borrowers who have been repaying their loans for more than 20 years,” Warren previously told Insider. “This is the single most effective executive action President Biden could take to jumpstart our economy and begin to narrow the racial wealth gap.” 

Biden has expressed doubt in his legal ability to cancel student debt broadly, and he asked the Education Department to prepare a memo in April on whether he has that authority. But recently released documents revealed that Biden received that memo as early as April but has yet to release its contents.

Even so, Psaki said during the Tuesday press briefing that “there have been questions and asks about what executive authorities could be used. That has been under review.”

“I don’t have anything to report on that in this point in time,” she added. 

Psaki’s comments come as millions of Americans are expected to restart their student loan payments on February 1, 2022, after a nearly two-year pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the public health crisis still ongoing, Democratic lawmakers, advocates and borrowers have urged Biden to extend the pause.

“This debt is just overwhelming for people,” Schumer said last week. “If we don’t extend the pause, interest rates just pile up. Students owe a fortune. And with Omicron here, we’re not getting out of this as quickly as we’d like.”

Borrowers across the country owe an estimated $1.7 trillion in student, a record-breaking total, according to data from the Federal Reserve. 

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Even 6-figure earners are being shoved out of the housing market

buying a house
Even six-figure earners are boxed out of the housing market.

  • Homes aren’t as affordable or available for six-figure earners as they were two years ago, per NAR.
  • Home prices are up, inventory is down, and the share of houses affordable on a $100,000 salary keeps shrinking.
  • A $100,000 paycheck is now considered middle class in a housing crisis era.

A six-figure salary is no longer enough to buy a home. Not really.

Availability and affordability for households earning $100,000 has dropped since 2019, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported. Home prices shot up by 13% year-over-year in October while housing inventory fell by 12% in the same time frame.

“Due to weaker affordability and lower inventory, there are 503,000 fewer homes available for sale that this household can currently afford to buy compared to two years ago,” Nadia Evangelou, NAR’s senior economist and director of forecasting, wrote in a blog post. That’s a huge drop, as the number was 348,800 as of October 2021. That means more than half the houses that $100,000 earner could afford are off the market.

Home prices have been going up for years, at a steeper rate than they did ahead of the Great Recession. By 2018, first-time buyers were paying 39% more than first-time buyers did at the same age nearly 40 years ago. The pandemic housing crisis, marked by a historic housing shortage, only exacerbated the situation.

There have been 20 times fewer homes built in the past decade than in any decade as far back as the 1960s, Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, told Insider back in April. It was no match for pandemic demand: as citygoers flocked to the suburbs in hopes of buying more space during the pandemic, America began running out of houses.

A lumber shortage didn’t help matters, as Americans bought more new houses than the lumber industry could keep up with and skyrocketing lumber costs were passed down to homebuyers. Coupled with the lack of inventory, it pushed the national median home sale upwards before reaching a record high of $386,888 in June.

$100,000 is no longer what it used to be

The price of houses isn’t the only thing that’s soared. The cost of living has increased for practically everything, from college tuition to health care. Income increases simply have not kept up with the exponential increase in living costs, and the pandemic has only thrown job loss and pay cuts into the mix.

As a byproduct of this increased cost in living, the middle class has been shrinking. Pew Research Center defines the US middle class as people earning two-thirds to twice the median household income — i.e., about $48,500 to $145,500 in 2018, the most recent data available found. 

That means a six-figure salary is no longer what it used to be. In today’s economy, $100,000 is considered middle class in the US. 

In fact, 40% of Americans raking in over $100,000 said they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a June survey by PYMNTS and LendingClub. Nearly 60% of millennials making more than $100,000 annually said they live that way, in part because of the affordability crisis they’ve been reckoning with, consisting of two recessions before the age of 40.

“Living paycheck to paycheck sometimes carries connotations of barely scraping by and of poverty. The reality of a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle in the United States today is much more complex, and the current economic environment has made it even more complicated,” the report reads.

Millennials just so happen to be the cohort driving the housing market right now. That this generation most feels broke on a six-figure paycheck says a lot about how difficult it’s become to buy a home for the first time — even for high earners.

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Democrats’ Build Back Better plan could boost inflation, BofA says. It’s exactly what Joe Manchin is worried about.

Joe manchin
Senator Joe Manchin seen at the US Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The Build Back Better plan does pose an inflation risk, Bank of America Research economists said.
  • Even if BBB leaves inflation high a little while longer, its investments are still worth making, BofA said. 
  • Joe Manchin has withheld his support so far, in part on fears that it would further stoke inflation.

Sen. Joe Manchin has a lot of reasons for opposing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Inflation is a big one.

He’s right to be concerned, but only so far, Bank of America Research says.

As Democrats push forward with plans to pass the social spending package before Christmas, the West Virginia senator remains the party’s biggest hurdle. Manchin’s vote is crucial to passing BBB, yet he has repeatedly raised concern around the $1.75 trillion bill driving inflation even higher. Democrats have argued the plan is fully paid for, and that its spending is spread out over 10 years. Yet Manchin continues to waver on whether the package should be approved while inflation runs at the fastest pace since 1982.

New research from BofA suggests Manchin’s concerns aren’t unfounded. Analysis of the package shows it adding roughly $260 billion to the government deficit over the next 10 years. Yet the plan’s spending is “front-loaded” and revenue from new taxes is “back-loaded,” economist Aditya Bhave said in a Friday note to clients. As such, the plan’s approval could quickly flood the US with new spending and keep price growth at worrying highs before the revenue from increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations begins flowing.

“We see it as a major near-term fiscal expansion,” he said, adding the legislation will “create upside risks to inflation.”

The package’s pros outweigh its cons, even if it keeps prices soaring a little while longer, according to BofA. The risk of higher inflation “does not mean the investments are not worth making,” Bhave said, adding elements like universal pre-school can be “very beneficial for the economy” in the long run.

BofA expects the spending plan to eventually pass in 2022, but only after some significant changes. The price tag will drop to $1.5 billion after trimming increases to Medicare and Medicaid spending, as well as offering a smaller increase to the SALT cap, the researchers predict. The tweaks will pull the package’s deficit impact as low as $100 billion after accounting for enhanced IRS tax enforcement, the bank said.

Still, investments made in the bill “stimulate demand more than supply” and risk lifting inflation, Bhave said. The bank sees price growth peaking in the fourth quarter of 2021, and while inflation is expected to cool in 2022, rates will hover between 2.5% and 4% through the year. That’s well above the 2% average the Fed plans to hold inflation at over the long term.

It also represents the biggest worry Manchin has toward BBB. The senator said earlier in December that the “unknown we’re facing” on whether inflation cools off “is much greater” than the need to quickly pass the bill. Data out on Friday confirmed Manchin’s fears, with a government report showing inflation accelerating again in November. Though Manchin kept the door open to passing BBB after a Monday talk with President Joe Biden, he’s yet to join the rest of his party in supporting the plan.

The plan’s passage would also give the recovery a small boost next year. Funding in BBB could offset the winding down of Democrats’ March stimulus, Bhave said. The bank sees the plan helping drive 4% GDP growth in the first half of 2022 and 2.5% growth in the second half.

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Bernie Sanders headed to Michigan to rally with striking Kellogg’s workers

Striker in middle of road carrying sign.
Kellogg’s Cereal plant workers demonstrate in front of the plant on October 7, 2021 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Workers at Kellogg’s cereal plants are striking over the loss of premium health care, holiday and vacation pay, and reduced retirement benefits.

  • Union workers at Kellogg’s in four states have been on strike since October 5, 2021.
  • They complain that Kellogg’s wants to cut pay and benefits for new hires.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders will rally with workers outside a factory in Battle Creek, Michigan.

US Senator Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he’s headed to Michigan later this week to attend a rally with striking workers outside a Kellogg’s plant in the city of Battle Creek.

Around 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in four states have been on strike since October when their last contract expired. They argue that the maker of Frosted Flakes and other breakfast cereals is seeking to undercut their union by creating a “two-tier” system of employment, with new hires offered less pay and fewer benefits.

Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union earlier this month voted to reject Kellogg’s offer of a 3% raise. That prompted the company to claim it was left with no choice but to permanently replace striking workers with new hires — a plan that “deeply troubled” President Joe Biden, who urged Kellogg’s to return to the negotiating table.

In a statement, Sanders’ office said the senator, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, would be joining some of Kellogg’s striking employees on Friday. The statement described Kellogg’s as “the new poster child of corporate greed.”

In November, the company reported an operating profit of more than $1.4 billion over the last year, an increase of 3.4%.

Kellogg’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The White House says it’s time to pay up on your student loans again starting February 1, but they’re watching to see how much Omicron could hit the economy

jen psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

  • The current pause on student-loan payments expires on February 1, 2022.
  • The White House said last week that is still the plan, but it’s reviewing the impact of the Omicron variant.
  • Some lawmakers say given the uncertainty from Omicron, the pause should be extended now.

President Joe Biden in August announced the “final” extension of the pandemic pause on student-loan payments through the end of January. That’s still the plan, and the Omicron variant appears to be the only thing that might change that.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question on a potential further extension of the payment pause during a press briefing. She said that in the coming weeks, the administration will release more details on how it plans to transition millions of borrowers back into repayment and is “making a range of preparations.”

“We’re still assessing the impact of the Omicron variant,” Psaki said. “But a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration. The Department of Education is already communicating with borrowers to help them to prepare for return to repayment on February 1st and has secured contract extensions with loan servicers.”

The Education Department said the same thing to Politico regarding a potential further extension last week and did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

It’s still unclear how, or if, the Omicron variant will impact economic recovery. But as Axios reported on Tuesday, new data from South Africa and Europe hint that COVID-19 cases are likely to surge in the US, with a senior Biden official telling Axios that “a large wave is coming.”

“It will be fast,” the official added. “It won’t be as severe, but regrettably, there will be plenty of hospitalizations.”

Even so, 43 million federal borrowers are still awaiting further details on the student-loan payment resumption in 49 days.

Some lawmakers have argued that more data on Omicron isn’t needed and that President Joe Biden should extend the pause now.

“This debt is just overwhelming for people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week. “If we don’t extend the pause, interest rates just pile up. Students owe a fortune. And with Omicron here, we’re not getting out of this as quickly as we’d like.”

Some of his Democratic colleagues agree. Schumer, along with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, urged Biden in a letter to extend the pause, citing data from the Roosevelt Institute that found restarting payments will strip $85 billion from 18 million borrowers over the next year.

Insider has also spoken with borrowers who have expressed concerns with looming student-loan bills in less than two months. Melissa Andretta, a 53-year-old borrower with $163,000 in student debt, recently said she’s “had more anxiety than I’ve had in years” with her upcoming payments.

For now, the Biden administration has made clear borrowers should prepare to resume paying off their student debt next year, despite opposition from lawmakers and advocates. 

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The 2nd-ranked Senate Democrat is daring Joe Manchin to sink Biden’s agenda: ‘It’s time to put up or shut up’

Richard Durbin Joe Manchin
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Capitol Hill.

  • Some Senate Democrats want to put Manchin on the spot about Biden’s $2 trillion bill.
  • “It comes a time we’ve got to say.. it’s time to put up or shut up,” Sen. Richard Durbin said.
  • But pressuring Manchin in a high-stakes vote could blow up in Democrats’ faces.

Some Senate Democrats are growing frustrated that Sen. Joe Manchin has not given their $2 trillion social climate and spending bill a green-light — and they’re ready to put him on the spot before the holidays.

“Many people will sit on the fence as long as possible,” Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Democrat in the upper chamber, told reporters on Tuesday. “It comes a time we’ve got to say, ‘All right, we’ve done the negotiating. We’ve made the accommodations, it’s time to put up or shut up.'”

The remarks are a clear reference to Manchin, who seems to be the only Senate Democrat who still hasn’t thrown his support behind Biden’s big spending bill. All 50 Senate Democrats must give it a thumbs-up for it to clear the 50-50 chamber, given strong GOP opposition. Senate Democrats are scrambling to iron out remaining disagreements and put it to a vote before their self-imposed Christmas deadline — only 11 days away.

Manchin has waffled on the bill and declined to state whether he’d vote for it. Instead, he’s raised concern about inflation, the price tag of the package, and whether the US can afford another burst of government spending on top of federal pandemic aid.

“Anything is possible,” he told reporters on Monday on whether passing it by Christmas was feasible. Biden spoke with Manchin that same day, and the pair are set to speak more in the coming days.

Final passage of the plan still seems far off. Democrats are still fighting on the state and local tax deduction (known as SALT), Medicare expansion, certain climate change provisions and immigration as well. They’re racing to avert a sudden lapse in President Joe Biden’s monthly child tax credit.

Still, such a high-stakes maneuver from Democrats to pressure Manchin may blow up in their face. It’s possible the West Virginia Democrat could vote to kick off a marathon series of amendment votes — and join Republicans to modify large chunks of the bill before the Senate ultimately votes on it.

“Nightmare for Ds isn’t that Manchin shoots down the motion to proceed, it’s that he allows debate to begin and then sides with Rs on amendments that alter the product in ways they have zero control over,” Republican lobbyist Liam Donovan wrote on Twitter. “Not a great plan.”

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