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Uncle Bernie's calculator
Sanders asks for senators to be able to do the $3,500,000,000,000 math
Good Wednesday from Washington D.C., where, despite living here for years, it’s still possible to get startled awake by cannon fire. Let’s see what’s what…
Senator Bernie Sanders stood on the Senate floor Tuesday to "ask unanimous consent that the use of calculators be permitted on the floor during consideration of the budget resolution."
It was a funny, “ha, ha, look at Uncle Bernie” moment, but there’s more at work here. Sanders is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and a driving force behind the sweeping $3.5 trillion budget package advocated for by President Joe Biden that would greatly expand investment in education, health care, and more in the United States. Sanders is well aware that part of the enduring criticism of his legislative approach is, sounds great, how do you pay for it? The calculator is a nod towards the notion of making the math work, at least enough to ensure passage.
But Bernie’s calculator also slots into a debate that’s gone on for decades in the Senate, where floor rules generally ban the use of personal electronic devices. Former Wyoming Senate Republican Mike Enzi, a key figure in this debate who passed away last month after a bicycle accident, argued all the way up until his farewell speech that allowing everything from iPads to calculators would equip the Senate to better do its work. “We simply want senators to be able to utilize on the floor the same tools most of us use wherever we are to help us do things better,” said Enzi in 2014. But there are plenty in the Senate who think senators should have to rely only on their own brains, and that allowing in electronics would further scatter attention in the chamber.
That’s part of the bigger, unanswered social question of whether all these digital tools help or hurt us — though with the stakes raised because there’s $3,500,000,000,000 on the table.
INTERNET CASH PART TWO — There’s also, in that bill, new rules for tax reporting on cryptocurrency. It’s a cash source — a la selling spectrum — that Congress has discovered and likely won’t soon forget.
We’re still eager for someone to report out the relationship between Ron Klain and J.D. Vance, the Republican now running for the Senate in Ohio on a platform that might be summed up as, as Vance put it Tuesday, “a substantial amount of modern leftism is elite sociopathy disguised as a political philosophy.” Klain, Biden’s White House chief of staff, and Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” were once colleagues at the same D.C. venture capital firm, the Steve Case-led Revolution. Vance’s work as a VC was once framed as bridging the gap between coastal tech and the rest of the country. The burning of that bridge is an interesting story of whether there’s really any possibility of ever really closing that gap. Also, there’s probably some good gossip.
“Why Silicon Valley’s Many Asian Americans Still Feel Like a Minority”
Priya Anand and Ellen Huet, Bloomberg Businessweek
“The cruel twist is that the stereotypes that make entry-level Asian American workers attractive to hiring managers may be the same ones that block them from becoming leaders. [Eric] Bahn, the early-stage investor, says that after arriving in Silicon Valley it was easy to forget about his racial identity. ‘You’re part of an even more welcomed, privileged class here,’ he says. Now he sees how that can become a complacency trap. ‘The story that Silicon Valley tells is really clean: We don’t care what you look like, we care about your ideas—and to some degree, for Asians that’s true. But it feels like a rule is being set: What’s the bare minimum to keep us happy?’”
“How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare”
Megan McCluskey, Time Magazine
“Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has evolved into the world’s largest online book community. The social networking site now has millions of users who rate and review books, find recommendations for new ones and track their reading. But over time, Goodreads has also become a hunting ground for scammers and trolls looking to con smaller authors, take down books with spammed ratings, cyberstalk users or worse.”
“Human Rights Are Not A Bug: Upgrading Governance for an Equitable Internet”
Niels ten Oever, Ford Foundation
“The internet’s defining characteristics—its distributed architecture and its decentralized governance—offered the promise of improved access and greater freedom for everyone, but the internet has not exactly delivered on it. Instead, the very structures and practices established to maintain the internet widened the gap between the promise of a public good and the more complicated present-day reality.”
In case you missed it
—Our talk with UNC’s Daniel Kreiss on polarization last week sparked a response among his fellow academics, where there’s a sense that at an intense focus on misinformation risks overlooking its root causes. A taste:
The trick? Exploring that dynamic without, as Kreiss put it, letting Facebook et al “off the hook.”
Judd Legum, who’s success with corporate accountability via his Popular Information newsletter we’ve investigated here, points out a new study that examines his role in getting Olive Garden to change its policies and practice on paid sick leave. The research, says Legum, shows “doubters underestimate the power of online advocacy.” Here’s the study.
And Demand Progress has a bit of pushback on the idea that being physically present on Capitol Hill was central to Rep. Cori Bush’s success in helping to pass an eviction moratorium — and thus a demonstration of one powerful reason Congress isn’t remote:
“In our opinion, what helped Rep. Bush was that the Senate was in — and not much else was happening — which prompted reporters stuck on the Hill to tell other stories, i.e. Bush’s. In other words, it was the ability to get attention. In a fully remote House, Rep. Bush would have had legislative options available to raise the matter on the floor instead of having to sleep upright on the Capitol steps.”