Show an ad over header. AMP

Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.

The big picture: Biden handed some of his most visible positions, including Treasury Secretary, to "old-timers" like former Fed chair Janet Yellen, says Joseph Trevisani, senior analyst at FXStreet.

  • "But the power positions, where vast changes can be effected with a rule or regulatory change, are going to the younger officials like Rohit Chopra," Biden's choice to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The backstory: Trump appointee Kathy Kraninger resigned as CFPB director, clearing the way for Biden to nominate Chopra, an FTC commissioner and acolyte of Sen. Elizabeth Warren who worked with her on establishing the CFPB, as its next director.

  • That, coupled with a Wall Street Journal report that Biden is set to name former Obama Treasury official Michael Barr as Comptroller of the Currency, the major regulator of big banks, looks like the continuation of a more progressive trend.

On immigration, a coalition of 200 U.S. mayors challenged the new administration to adopt a highly progressive agenda — one that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship — only to find their announcement upstaged by Biden's pledge that he would try to enact nearly all the reforms they are pressing for.

Between the lines ... Biden wants to have his cake and eat it too, says Jaret Seiberg, financial services and housing policy analyst for Cowen Washington Research Group:

"That will work in the short-term, but eventually those progressives who are taking over key jobs will impact the regulatory environment. Changes will be more dramatic than what the market may be expecting based on Biden’s cabinet picks and other top advisers."

The other side: The party's center has been shifting left for years, and Biden arguably just moved with it.

  • His executive actions so far have largely just rolled back parts of the Trump legacy, including rejoining the Paris climate deal, and freezing 11th hour regulations pushed through by the last administration.
  • Biden also extended a Trump-era student loan payments pause, and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, that that were set to expire.

One sign of the delicate dance to appease the most progressive members of his party: In response to Biden's decision to extend the student loan pause, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "OK now let’s cancel them."

  • Biden's campaign said it would ask Congress to cancel $10,000 in student debt for borrowers, CNBC reported earlier this month.

Courtenay Brown and Jennifer Kingson contributed reporting.

COVID-19 drives smell loss awareness, research

The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Keep reading... Show less

Why we need to know COVID's origins

Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.

Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.

Keep reading... Show less

Mexican Americans are the US largest Latino group but lack political power for their numbers

Data: Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Mexican Americans make up the nation's largest Latino group, yet they remain politically outshined by more recently arrived Cuban Americans.

Why it matters: The disparities in political power between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans reflect the racial, historical, geographical and economic differences within Latino cultures in the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less

A coronavirus vaccine passport to nowhere

Vaccine passports could become available soon to help people resume their livesbut theyface numerous scientific, social and political barriers to being accepted.

The big picture: Reliable and accessible proof of vaccine-induced protection from the novel coronavirus could speed international travel and economic reopening, but obstacles to its wide-scale adoption are so great it may never fully arrive.

Keep reading... Show less

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening on extending unemployment insurance in the President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating for most of the day, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The deal allows Congress to move forward with voting on amendments to the bill, though it caused a massive delay in the 20-hour debate over the legislation.

Keep reading... Show less

Capitol review panel recommends boosting security with more police, mobile fencing

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Keep reading... Show less

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

Keep reading... Show less

Chamber of Commerce decides against widespread political ban following Capitol insurrection

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories