30-day comment period on to-be-drafted regulations that would make it harder to obscure who controls a company. Among the details to be worked out are what entities should report and when; how to collect, protect and update information for a database; and the criteria for sharing with law enforcement.

“We could not be more excited,” Kenneth Blanco, the director of the Treasury’s Financial Criminal Enforcement Network (FinCEN), told bankers recently. The U.S. has been under pressure to address its vulnerability to money laundering and financial crimes:

  • In 2016, the international Financial Action Task Force gave the country a failing grade on transparency of company ownership.

  • In 2018, banks and financial institutions began having to collect that information from clients to help law enforcement identify individuals.

  • In January, Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act, which requires businesses to report ownership to the government.

New rules could make forming small businesses, special purpose vehicles and other closely held entities “significantly” more burdensome, said Steve Ganis of Mintz, an expert in anti-money laundering regulation. “FinCEN’s new regime will make things much more complicated for start-ups, where control and ownership are highly fluid,” he said. Public companies and many larger businesses would be exempt because they already face stricter scrutiny.

Deals

  • Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce company owned by Walmart, is reportedly planning to go public through an I.P.O. this year. (Bloomberg)

  • Grab, the Singaporean tech giant, is near a deal to merge with a SPAC backed by Altimeter Capital at a $35 billion valuation. It would be the biggest-ever blank check deal. (FT)

  • Fox sued the owner of FanDuel over the price of its option to buy a stake in the sports betting service. (CNBC)

Politics and policy

Tech

  • Coinbase, whose direct listing is set for next week, said it collected more revenue in the first quarter this year than in all of 2020. (CNBC)

  • The audio chat start-up Clubhouse is said to be raising funds at a $4 billion valuation. (Bloomberg)

  • The S.E.C. accused an actor of running a $690 million Ponzi scheme built around false claims of deals with Netflix and HBO. (Bloomberg)

Best of the rest

We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Baseball Card Maker Topps Is Going Public via a SPAC

Topps, known for its trading cards and Bazooka gum, is going public by merging with a blank-check firm in a deal that values the company at $1.3 billion, the DealBook newsletter was the first to report.

The transaction includes an investment of $250 million led by Mudrick Capital, the sponsor of the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, along with investors including Gamco and Wells Capital. Michael Eisner, the chairman of Topps and former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, will roll his entire stake into the new company and stay on.

“Everybody has a story about Topps,” Mr. Eisner said. That’s what initially attracted him to the trading card company, which he acquired in 2007 via his investment firm, Tornante, and Madison Dearborn for $385 million. Buying Topps was a bet on a brand that elicits an “emotional connection” as strong as Disney, the company Mr. Eisner ran for 21 years.

In the years since Mr. Eisner’s initial purchase, Topps has focused on a shift to digital, starting online apps for users to trade collectibles and play games. It also created “Topps Now,” which makes of-the-moment cards to capture a defining play or a pop culture meme. (It sold nearly 100,000 cards featuring Senator Bernie Sanders at the presidential inauguration in his mittens.) And it has moved into blockchain, too, via the craze for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

especially trading cards. Topps generated record sales of $567 million in 2020, a 23 percent jump over the previous year.

The secondhand market is particularly hot, with a Mickey Mantle card recently selling for more than $5 million. “Topps probably made something like a nickel on it, 70 years ago,” said Jason Mudrick, the founder of Mudrick Capital. NFT mania will allow Topps to take advantage of the secondhand market by linking collectibles to digital tokens. Topps is also growing beyond sports, like its partnerships with Marvel and “Star Wars.”

It continues to see value in its core baseball-card business, as athletes come up from the minor leagues more quickly. “The trading card business has been growing for the last several years,” Michael Brandstaedter, the chief executive of Topps, said. “While it definitely grew through the pandemic — and perhaps accelerated — it did not arrive with the pandemic.”

That resilience is part of the bet that Mudrick Capital is making on the 80-year old Topps. It’s a surer gamble, Mr. Mudrick said, than buying one of the many unprofitable start-ups currently courting SPAC deals. “Our core business is value investing,” he said.

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Global Economy Expected to Grow 6% This Year, I.M.F. Says: Live Updates

World Economic Outlook report.

The emergence from the crisis is being led by the wealthiest countries, particularly the United States, where the economy is now projected to expand by 6.4 percent this year. The euro area is expected to expand by 4.4 percent and Japan is forecast to expand by 3.3 percent, according to the I.M.F.

Among the emerging market and developing economies, China and India are expected to lead the way. China’s economy is projected to expand by 8.4 percent and India’s is expected to expand by 12.5 percent.

Ms. Gopinath credited the robust fiscal support that the largest economies have provided for the improved outlook and pointed to the relief effort enacted by the United States. The I.M.F. estimates that the economic fallout from the pandemic could have been three times worse if not for the $16 trillion of worldwide fiscal support.

Despite the rosier outlook, Ms. Gopinath said that the global economy still faced “daunting” challenges.

Low-income countries are facing bigger losses in economic output than advanced economies, reversing gains in poverty reduction. And within advanced economies, low-skilled workers have been hit the hardest and those who lost jobs could find it difficult to replace them.

“Because the crisis has accelerated the transformative forces of digitalization and automation, many of the jobs lost are unlikely to return, requiring worker reallocation across sectors — which often comes with severe earnings penalties,” Ms. Gopinath said.

The I.M.F. cautioned that its projections hinged on the deployment of vaccines and the spread of variants of the virus, which could pose both a public health and economic threat. The fund is also keeping a close eye on interest rates in the United States, which remain at rock-bottom levels but could pose financial risks if the Federal Reserve raises them unexpectedly.

The global economy is on firmer ground one year into the pandemic thanks to the rollout of vaccines, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday. But the recovery will be uneven around the world because of persistent inequality and income gaps.

“Emerging market and developing economies are expected to suffer more scarring than advanced economies,” the I.M.F. said in its World Economic Outlook report, which projected 6 percent global growth in 2021. Here are projections for the growth of some individual countries:

Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps rookie card is one of the most sought-after cards. While a Mantle with a rating of SGC 7 like this one is valuable, a version of the same card rated PSA Mint 9 recently sold for $5.2 million.
Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Topps, known for its trading cards and Bazooka gum, is going public by merging with a blank-check firm in a deal that values the company at $1.3 billion, the DealBook newsletter was the first to report.

The transaction includes an investment of $250 million led by Mudrick Capital, the sponsor of the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, along with investors including Gamco and Wells Capital. Michael Eisner, the chairman of Topps and former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, will roll his entire stake into the new company and stay on.

“Everybody has a story about Topps,” Mr. Eisner said. That’s what initially attracted him to the trading card company, which he acquired in 2007 via his investment firm, Tornante, and Madison Dearborn for $385 million. Buying Topps was a bet on a brand that elicits an “emotional connection” as strong as Disney, the company Mr. Eisner ran for 21 years.

In the years since Mr. Eisner’s initial purchase, Topps has focused on a shift to digital, starting online apps for users to trade collectibles and play games. It also created “Topps Now,” which makes of-the-moment cards to capture a defining play or a pop culture meme. (It sold nearly 100,000 cards featuring Bernie Sanders at the presidential inauguration in his mittens.) And it has moved into blockchain, too, via the craze for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

The pandemic has driven new interest in memorabilia, especially trading cards. Topps generated record sales of $567 million in 2020, a 23 percent jump over the previous year.

The secondhand market is particularly hot, with a Mickey Mantle card recently selling for more than $5 million. “Topps probably made something like a nickel on it, 70 years ago,” said Jason Mudrick, the founder of Mudrick Capital. NFT mania will allow Topps to take advantage of the secondhand market by linking collectibles to digital tokens. Topps is also growing beyond sports, like its partnerships with Marvel and “Star Wars.”

It continues to see value in its core baseball-card business, as athletes come up from the minor leagues more quickly. “The trading card business has been growing for the last several years,” Michael Brandstaedter, the chief executive of Topps, said. “While it definitely grew through the pandemic — and perhaps accelerated — it did not arrive with the pandemic.”

That resilience is part of the bet that Mudrick Capital is making on the 80-year old Topps. It’s a surer gamble, Mr. Mudrick said, than buying one of the many unprofitable start-ups currently courting SPAC deals. “Our core business is value investing,” he said.

United Airlines is the first major U.S. carrier to run its own pilot academy.
Credit…Chris Helgren/Reuters

United Airlines said on Tuesday that it had started accepting applications to its new pilot school, promising to use scholarships, loans and partnerships to help diversify a profession that is overwhelmingly white and male.

The airline said it planned to train 5,000 pilots at the school by 2030, with a goal of half of those students being women or people of color. The school, United Aviate Academy in Phoenix, expects to enroll 100 students this year, and United and its credit card partner, JPMorgan Chase, are each committing $1.2 million in scholarships.

About 94 percent of aircraft pilots and flight engineers are white and about as many are male, according to federal data. United said 7 percent of its pilots were women and 13 percent were not white.

Airlines have had more employees than they needed during the pandemic, when demand for tickets fell sharply, and they have encouraged thousands, including many pilots, to retire early or take voluntary leaves. Since September, nearly 1,000 United pilots had retired or taken leave. Last week, the airline said it would start hiring pilots again after stopping last year.

But the industry is facing a long-term shortage of pilots because many are nearing retirement age and many potential candidates are daunted by the cost of training, which can reach almost $100,000 after accounting for the cost of flight lessons.

United is the first major U.S. carrier to run its own pilot academy, although many foreign airlines have run such programs for years. The company said it hoped the guarantee of a job after graduation would be a draw. In addition to the 5,000 pilots it plans to train, United said it would hire just as many who learned to fly elsewhere.

United Aviate is meant for people with a wide range of experience, from novices who have never flown to pilots who are already flying for one of United’s regional partners. A student with no flying experience could become a licensed pilot within two months and be flying planes for a living after receiving a commercial pilot license within a year, the airline said. Within five years, that person could fly for United after a stint at a smaller airline affiliate to gain experience.

The airline said it was also working with three historically Black colleges and universities — Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University and Hampton University — for recruitment. The first class of 20 students is expected to start this summer.

Air France is considered too big to fail in its home country, but the company’s debt has ballooned during the pandemic.
Credit…Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Air France on Tuesday said it would receive a new bailout from the French government worth 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) to help the beleaguered airline cope with mounting debts as a third wave of pandemic lockdowns around Europe prolong a slump in continental air travel.

The support comes on top of €10.4 billion ($12.3 billion) in loans and guarantees that Air France and its partner, the Netherlands-based KLM, received from the French and Dutch governments last year.

Air France-KLM chief executive, Benjamin Smith, citing an “exceptionally challenging period,” said the funds would “provide Air France-KLM with greater stability to move forward when recovery starts, as large-scale vaccination progresses around the world and borders reopen.”

Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said Tuesday that the new aid is taking the form of a state-backed recapitalization, which involves converting €3 billion in loans the government granted the airline last year into bonds with no maturity, as well as €1 billion in fresh capital through the issuance of new shares.

The French government is the airline’s largest shareholder, at 14.3 percent. The agreement could allow the government to raise its stake as high as 30 percent, Mr. Le Maire and Air France said, by buying some of the new shares. China Eastern Airlines, also a large shareholder, will also participate, Air France said.

Air France-KLM lost two-thirds of its customers last year, and its debt has nearly doubled to €11 billion. It expects an operating loss of €1.3 billion in the first quarter.

As vaccinations speed ahead in the United States, air travel has started to recover, fueling a return of ticket sales. Delta Air Lines announced it would add more passengers and start selling middle seats for flights starting May 1.

By contrast, Europe’s vaccine rollout has faltered and variants of the virus have gained ground, prompting renewed travel restrictions. That has left major flagship air carriers, including Air France-KLM, Lufthansa of Germany, and Alitalia of Italy, struggling.

The French government recently cut its economic growth forecast for 2021 to 5 percent, down from 6 percent.

Air France’s board approved the deal on Tuesday after the French government and European regulators agreed on the terms.

The Dutch government is holding separate talks with European regulators over converting a €1 billion loan to KLM into hybrid debt in return for slot concessions at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Air France employs tens of thousands of workers in France and is considered too big to fail. Still, Mr. Le Maire said the aid was not a “blank check,” adding that the company would have to “make efforts on competitiveness” in exchange for the support and must continue to reduce its carbon emissions.

To conform to European competition rules, Air France was forced to relinquish 18 slots per day, representing nine round-trips, to competing airlines at Orly, Paris’ second-largest airport after Charles de Gaulle.

Credit Suisse’s offices in Zurich. The bank said it would hire outside experts to investigate what led to losses tied to its involvement with Archegos Capital Management and Greensill Capital.
Credit…Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Credit Suisse said Tuesday it would replace the head of its investment bank and the chief of risk and compliance after losses from its involvement with Archegos Capital Management, the collapsed hedge fund, totaled nearly $5 billion.

The bank, which is based in Zurich, is in turmoil after a series of disasters that have battered its reputation and are likely to diminish its global clout. Credit Suisse also serves as a warning of the risks that may lurk in the financial system, as bankers and investors try to earn returns when interest rates are at rock bottom and stock values are already frothy.

Credit Suisse detailed the financial impact of its dealings with Archegos for the first time on Tuesday, saying it would report a loss for the first quarter of 900 million Swiss francs after booking a charge of 4.4 billion francs, or $4.7 billion, related to the hedge fund. The losses were higher than some estimates.

Brian Chin, the chief executive of Credit Suisse’s investment bank, will leave on April 30. Lara Warner, the chief risk and compliance officer, will step down immediately, the bank said.

Members of Credit Suisse’s executive board will forgo their bonuses for 2020 and 2021, the bank said. Credit Suisse will also cancel plans to buy back its own shares, a way of pushing up the stock price. But the bank, seeking to dispel any questions about its overall health, said its capital was still at levels considered acceptable.

Credit Suisse shares were down more than 2 percent in Zurich trading early Tuesday. They have lost one-quarter of their value since the beginning of March.

Thomas Gottstein, the chief executive of Credit Suisse since last year, said the bank would hire outside experts to investigate what led to the “unacceptable” loss from Archegos as well as the bank’s involvement with Greensill Capital, which collapsed last month.

Credit Suisse’s asset management unit oversaw $10 billion in funds that Greensill packaged based on financing it provided to companies, many of which had low credit ratings.

“Serious lessons will be learned,” Mr. Gottstein said.

Tucson is building on a five-year growth plan that predated the pandemic. “We’re working together as a region,” Mayor Regina Romero said.
Credit…Rebecca Noble for The New York Times

Some midsize cities — like Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; and Portland, Ore. — may be poised to rebound faster than others because they have developed strong relationships with their local economic development groups.

These partnerships have established comeback plans that incorporate a number of common goals, like access to affordable loans, relief for small businesses and a focus on downtown areas, Keith Schneider reports for The New York Times.

In Tucson, the revitalization plan, which goes into effect this month, calls for assessing the effect of the pandemic on important business sectors, including biotech and logistics. Other provisions advocate recruiting talented workers and preparing so-called shovel-ready building sites of 50 acres or more.

City leaders are building on a five-year, $23 billion growth plan in industrial and logistics development in the Tucson region that resulted in 16,000 new jobs before the pandemic, according to Sun Corridor, the regional economic development agency that sponsored the recovery plan. Caterpillar and Amazon moved into the region, while Raytheon, Bombardier and GEICO were among the many prominent companies that expanded operations there.

Other cities are struggling to recover after pandemic restrictions emptied their central business districts. The question is how much these downtowns will bounce back when the pandemic ends.

“The number of square feet per worker has declined really dramatically since 1990,” said Tracy Hadden Loh, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. Couple that with recent announcements from companies like Google, Microsoft, Target and Twitter about remote work, and some cities could see less office construction activity.

A Starbucks cafe in Seoul.
Credit…Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Starbucks says it plans to eliminate all single-use cups from its South Korean stores by 2025, the chain’s first move of this sort as it seeks to reduce its carbon footprint.

The coffeehouse chain plans to introduce a “cup circularity program” in some stores beginning this summer, in which customers would pay a deposit for reusable cups that would be refunded when the containers are returned and scanned at contactless kiosks, the company said in a statement on Monday. The arrangement will be expanded to cafes across the country over the next four years.

“Starbucks Coffee Korea is a leader in sustainability for the company globally, and we are excited to leverage the learnings from this initiative to drive meaningful change in our stores and inform future innovation on a regional and global scale,” Sara Trilling, the president of Starbucks Asia Pacific, said in the statement.

South Korea has in recent years tried to cut back on disposable waste in cafes, banning the use of plastic cups for dine-in customers in 2018. Legislation introduced last year would require fast food and coffee chains to charge refundable deposits for disposable cups to encourage returns and recycling. Last year, the environmental ministry said it planned to reduce the country’s plastic waste by one-fifth by 2025.

The increased use of plastic packaging and containers amid the coronavirus pandemic has been a setback for initiatives aimed at reducing single-use plastic waste. In March 2020, Starbucks and other chains said they would no longer offer drinks in washable mugs or customer-owned cups to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Investors have been focused on the Biden administration’s infrastructure spending plan, which includes money to encourage investment in renewable energy, including wind turbines.
Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

U.S. stocks dipped on Tuesday, a day after Wall Street’s major benchmarks climbed to records.

The S&P 500 climbed above 4,000 points last week for the first time amid signs that the economic recovery was strengthening, with manufacturing activity quickening and the biggest jump in jobs since the summer. The United States is administering three million vaccines per day on average, but the number of coronavirus cases has started to tick up again because of the spread of new variants.

That said, many investors have focused on the vaccine rollout and the potential impact of the Biden administration’s large spending plans, including the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, intended to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and speed up the shift to a green economy.

“Investors should not fear entering the market at all-time highs,” strategists at UBS Global Wealth Management said in a note on Tuesday, recommending stocks in the financial, industrial and energy sectors. The reopening of economies because of the vaccine rollout also favored small and medium-size companies, they wrote.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.7 percent to a record in its first day of trading since Thursday because of the long Easter weekend. In Britain, mining companies led the FTSE 100 higher, which was up 1.2 percent. The DAX in Germany rose 0.9 percent

Asian stock indexes were mixed. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 2 percent and the Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 percent.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes slipped to about 1.69 percent.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose 2 percent to just below $60 a barrel.

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Contentious Union Vote at Amazon Heads to a Count

SEATTLE — By the end of Monday, thousands of yellow envelopes mailed to a squat brick building in Birmingham, Ala., will hold the fate of one of the most closely watched union elections in recent history, one that could alter the shape of the labor movement and one of America’s largest employers.

The envelopes contain the ballots of workers at an Amazon warehouse near Birmingham. Almost 6,000 workers at the building, one of Amazon’s largest, are eligible to decide whether they form the first union at an Amazon operation in the United States, after years of fierce resistance by the company.

The organizers have made the case in a monthslong campaign that Amazon’s intense monitoring of workers infringes on their dignity, and that its pay is not commensurate with the constant pressure workers feel to produce. The union estimates that roughly 85 percent of the work force at the warehouse is Black and has linked the organizing to the struggle for racial justice.

Amazon has countered that its $15 minimum wage is twice the state minimum, and that it offers health insurance and other benefits that can be hard to find in low-wage jobs.

stopped construction on an office tower when Seattle wanted to tax the company, and backed out of plans to build a second headquarters in New York City after facing progressive opposition.

But the company has committed more than $360 million in leases and equipment for the Bessemer warehouse, and shutting down the vote of a large Black work force could publicly backfire, said Marc Wulfraat, a logistics consultant who closely tracks the company.

Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Wulfraat said that the election is a sign Amazon has work to do. “For most companies that end up with labor organizing in some capacity,” he said, “it didn’t come about because they were doing a fantastic job managing people.”

If the union loses, Amazon will lose at least one customer: Michael Render, the rapper who goes by Killer Mike. Appearing alongside Mr. Sanders on Friday, he said, “If that vote does not go through, if these conditions do not improve, I won’t be ordering from Amazon again.”

Sonam Vashi contributed reporting from Bessemer, Ala.

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Amazon Walks a Political Tightrope in Its Union Fight

WASHINGTON — Amazon is aligned with the Biden administration on several fronts.

It backs a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. It has pledged to meet all the goals of the Paris climate agreement on reducing emissions. It has met with the administration to discuss how to help with the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

But a union drive at one of its warehouses in Alabama has the retailer doing a political balancing act: staying on the good side of Washington’s Democratic leaders while squashing an organizing effort that President Biden has signaled his support for.

Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., have been voting for weeks on whether to form a union. The voting ends Monday. Approval would be a first for Amazon workers in the United States and could energize the labor movement across the country.

Labor organizers have tapped into dissatisfaction with working conditions in the warehouse, saying Amazon’s pursuit of efficiency and profits makes the conditions harsh for workers. The company counters that its starting wage of $15 an hour exceeds what other employers in the area pay, and it has urged workers to vote against unionizing.

seized on the union drive, saying it shows how Amazon is not as friendly to workers as the company says it is. Some of the company’s critics are also using its resistance to the union push to argue that Amazon should not be trusted on other issues, like climate change and the federal minimum wage.

Amazon has always fought against unionizing by its workers. But the vote in Alabama comes at a perilous moment for the company. Lawmakers and regulators — not competitors — are some of its greatest threats, and it has spent significant time and money trying to keep the government away from its business.

Amazon’s business practices are the subject of antitrust investigations at the Federal Trade Commission and in multiple state attorney general offices. Mr. Biden on Monday nominated Lina Khan, a legal scholar who came to prominence with her critique of the company, for a seat on the F.T.C.

“I think everyone is seeing through the P.R. at this point and focusing on both their economic and political power,” Sarah Miller, a critic of Amazon, said about the company. Ms. Miller, who runs the American Economic Liberties Project, an antitrust think tank, added, “I think the narrative is cooked now on their status as a monopoly, their status as an abusive employer and their status as one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in Washington, D.C.”

Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president for worldwide communications, said in a statement that the company shared common ground with the Biden administration on climate change, immigration reform, the minimum wage and pandemic policy, and was “seeing really positive collaboration on those fronts” with the White House.

a national survey by The Verge, a technology news site, found that 91 percent had a favorable view of the retail giant. When professors at Georgetown and New York Universities asked Americans in 2018 which institutions they had the most confidence in, only the military ranked higher than Amazon.

Still, when Jeff Bezos, the chief executive, testified before Congress last year, he faced accusations that the company squeezes the small businesses that use its online marketplace. A liberal philanthropic organization funded a network of activists to press Amazon on privacy, competition and labor issues. They have also attacked Mr. Bezos, the richest person in the world by some measures, for his personal wealth.

Amazon has made efforts to reach out to the new administration. Dave Clark, who runs the company’s consumer business, sent a letter to the White House in January offering to help with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine and met virtually with Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, to discuss the vaccine rollout.

appeared in a video that didn’t mention Amazon explicitly but was seen as a clear sign of support to the union. In the video, he said there “should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats” from employers in coming union elections, including in Alabama.

said on Twitter.

It recalled the message Amazon had waiting for a delegation of progressive lawmakers who met with union representatives in Alabama this month.

At the warehouse, workers held up a large banner with text in bold letters: “CONGRESS: PLEASE MATCH AMAZON’S $15/HOUR MINIMUM WAGE!”

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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Biden’s Big Plan

A new president needs to make choices. Recent history suggests that an administration has only about a year to push major legislation through Congress before attention turns to the midterm elections (which rarely go well for the party in power). Any bill not at the very top of the president’s list is unlikely to happen.

For the past few decades, new presidents have focused on two issues above all others: taxes and health care. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both made expanding access to health insurance their top long-term priority, with Clinton failing and Obama succeeding. George W. Bush focused on cutting taxes, and Donald Trump tried to cut taxes and repeal Obamacare.

President Biden will break this pattern.

His advisers are preparing a set of proposals intended to reshape the U.S. economy and other parts of American life. If they pass, they will almost certainly have a more lasting effect on people’s lives than the virus-relief bill that Biden signed two weeks ago. And while the proposals include measures on health care and taxes, they are broader — more diffuse, a critic might say — than the top priorities of other recent presidents.

During last year’s campaign, Biden described the package with the phrase “build back better.” It is an attempt to create a more prosperous, equal and sustainable economy. It’s the Democratic Party’s answer to decades of rising inequality and growing damage from climate change.

latest episode of Ezra Klein’s Times podcast. “Now we have to deal with the long-term structural problems facing our country that have long, long been neglected, way before the pandemic. And that is the need to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, the need to address the existential threat of climate change, the need to create many millions of jobs, decent-paying jobs.”

The White House has not yet released all of the details, and they will probably change as the package moves through Congress. But here’s an overview of what we know about the major pieces.

a monthly child payment that starts at $250 per child for most families, as well as a big expansion of paid family leave. These provision would significantly reduce both economic and racial inequalities.

Health care. Biden’s plan would expand Obamacare by extending several two-year provisions in the virus-relief bill, The Times’s Margot Sanger-Katz says. It would cut costs for nearly every family that receives coverage through the law and expand subsidies to some making more than $100,000 a year.

The package may also include a measure to limit how much pharmaceutical companies can charge Medicare for prescription drugs, which could lead to lower prices for private insurance plans.

The plan does not appear to include another idea Biden has said he favors — expanding access to government insurance plans, through a public option or allowing younger people to buy into Medicare.

Lower prescription-drug costs would cover some of the package’s $3 trillion to $4 trillion in new spending over 10 years. But a bigger source of money would be higher taxes on the affluent — people making at least $400,000 a year — and on corporations.

Republicans are unlikely to support any such tax increases, which means Democrats would need to pass major parts of the package through a Senate mechanism known as reconciliation. Bills that go through reconciliation need only 51 votes in the Senate, rather than 60, to pass.

have almost uniformly opposed the top legislative priorities of each new Democratic president over the past three decades.

have rallied across Britain in opposition to a bill that would give the police more power to crack down on nonviolent demonstrations.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court will review a case considering the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

  • Since Ellen DeGeneres apologized over accusations of workplace misconduct, her talk show has lost about one million viewers, more than 40 percent of its audience.

  • Ancient: The oldest wooden sculpture is 12,500 years old. It’s teaching us about prehistory.

    Lives Lived: Elgin Baylor played above the rim in a Hall of Fame career with the Lakers. His acrobatic brilliance foreshadowed the freewheeling shows put on by future N.B.A. stars. Baylor died at 86.

    is selling thousands of books. Some enthusiastic readers — mostly women in their teens and 20s — are posting videos of themselves reading or recommending novels. Occasionally, they sob into the camera after a particularly devastating ending.

    a popular TikTok video last year, and the book is now selling roughly nine times as many copies a week as it was in 2012, when it won a prestigious fiction award. The book is currently third on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback fiction.

    Seeing the potential, some publishers have begun paying — or sending free books to — users with large followings. The fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post. For now, though, the majority of these videos remain unsponsored, happening organically.

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    How Shifting Politics Re-energized the Fight Against Poverty

    WASHINGTON — A quarter-century ago, a Democratic president celebrated “the end of welfare as we know it,” challenging the poor to exercise “independence” and espousing balanced budgets and smaller government.

    The Democratic Party capped a march in the opposite direction this week.

    Its first major legislative act under President Biden was a deficit-financed, $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” filled with programs as broad as expanded aid to nearly every family with children and as targeted as payments to Black farmers. While providing an array of benefits to the middle class, it is also a poverty-fighting initiative of potentially historic proportions, delivering more immediate cash assistance to families at the bottom of the income scale than any federal legislation since at least the New Deal.

    Behind that shift is a realignment of economic, political and social forces, some decades in the making and others accelerated by the pandemic, that enabled a rapid advance in progressive priorities.

    Rising inequality and stagnant incomes over much of the past two decades left a growing share of Americans — of all races, in conservative states and liberal ones, in inner cities and small towns — concerned about making ends meet. New research documented the long-term damage from child poverty.

    economic equity at the forefront of the new administration’s agenda.

    Whether the new law is a one-off culmination of those forces, or a down payment on even more ambitious efforts to address the nation’s challenges of poverty and opportunity, will be a defining battle for Democrats in the Biden era.

    broadly popular with voters, an intensified focus on worker struggles on both the left and the right, including Republicans’ increasing efforts to define themselves as a party of the working class, has scrambled the politics of economic policy across the ideological spectrum.

    prominent conservatives have welcomed the antipoverty provisions, applauding them as pro-family even though they violate core tenets of the Republican Party’s decades-long position that government aid is a disincentive to work.

    Many Republicans from conservative-leaning states have turned increased attention to growing social problems in their own backyards, in the middle of an opioid crisis and economic stagnation that has left rural Americans with higher poverty rates than urban Americans, particularly for children.

    An emerging strain of conservatism, often supported by a new generation of economic thinkers, has embraced expanded spending for families with children, to help lower-income workers and, in some cases, to encourage families to have more children. The conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt celebrated the expanded child credit in a series of Twitter posts on Friday, urging parents to use the proceeds to send their children to parochial school, and said he would work to make them permanent.

    nearly six million children out of poverty, “came to be part of the package because families that earn in the bottom third of the income distribution, or at least of the wage distribution, have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic,” said Cecilia Rouse, the chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

    Democrats and poverty researchers began laying the groundwork for many of those provisions years ago, amid economic changes that exposed holes in the safety net. When a 2015 book by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, “$2.00 a Day,” argued that rising numbers of families spent months with virtually no cash income, Mr. Brown arranged for all his Democratic Senate colleagues to receive a copy.

    At the same time, many scholars shifted their focus from whether government benefits discouraged parents from working to whether the vagaries of a low-wage labor market left parents with adequate money to raise a child.

    A growing body of academic research, which Obama administration officials began to herald shortly before leaving office, showed that a large proportion of children spent part of their childhood below the poverty line and that even short episodes of poverty left children less likely to prosper as adults. A landmark report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2019 found that aid programs left children better off.

    “That allowed us to change the conversation,” away from the dangers of dependency “to the good these programs do,” said Hilary W. Hoynes, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who served on the committee that wrote the report.

    cut child poverty from prepandemic levels among whites by 39 percent, Latinos by 45 percent and African-Americans by 52 percent.

    “Covid exposed the fissures of systemic racism and systemic poverty that already existed,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, who helps run the Poor People’s Campaign, an effort to get the needy more involved in electoral politics. “It forced a deeper conversation about poverty and wages in this country.”

    White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress say Mr. Biden’s rescue plan has now changed that conversation, creating momentum for permanent expansions of many of its antipoverty efforts. Multiple researchers project the bill will cut child poverty in half this year.

    Democrats say they will turn that into an argument against Republicans who might oppose making the benefits permanent. “You’re voting for doubling the child poverty rate — you’re going to do that?” Mr. Brown said.

    In selling the plan, Mr. Biden has blurred the lines between the poor and the middle class, treating them less as distinct groups with separate problems than as overlapping and shifting populations of people who were struggling with economic insecurity even before the pandemic. Last week, he at once talked of “millions of people out of work through no fault of their own” and cited the benefits his plan would bring to families with annual incomes of $100,000.

    “This is part of why I think it is more transformational,” said Brian Deese, who heads Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council. “This is not just a targeted antipoverty program.”

    In coming months, Democrats will face significant hurdles in making provisions like the child benefit permanent, including pressure from fiscal hawks to offset them by raising taxes or cutting other spending.

    But the swift passage of even the temporary provisions has left many antipoverty experts delighted.

    “A year ago, I would have said it was a pipe dream,” said Stacy Taylor, who tracks poverty policy for Fresh EBT by Propel, a phone application used by millions of food stamp recipients. “I can’t believe we’re going to have a guaranteed income for families with children.”

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    Partisan Reactions To Covid-19 Relief Bill Trending

     

    On Saturday, the U.S. Senate concluded its marathon voting session and passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill 50 to 49 on party lines. It will now need final congressional approval in the House of Representatives before it is sent to the president’s desk for his signature.

    The measure follows five previous bills that Congress enacted since spring totaling around $4 trillion to address the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    The Senate package was delayed as Democratic lawmakers were forced to make eleventh-hour changes to balance the demands of the party’s more moderate and progressive factions. However, soon after the passage of the bill in the United States Senate, many of its supporters took to social media.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) praised the passage of the bill, “The American Rescue Plan is the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country.”

     

    “BREAKING: The American Rescue Plan has passed the Senate! Every Republican voted against it — against checks for families, expanding vaccine roll-outs, money to help schools reopen safely. They are so out of touch,” posted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

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    Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) was also quick to post, “The American Rescue Plan has PASSED. Democrats promised: Shots in people’s arms Money in people’s pockets Children in schools Workers in jobs We’re following through on that promise.”

    Sen. Ed Markey (@Ed Markey) (D-Mass.) added, “Every Republican tried to stand in our way, but today we delivered the urgently needed relief demanded by the American people.”

    Fellow Democratic Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) concurred “The American Rescue Plan will make a real difference to get more Americans vaccinated, safely reopen our schools, and help struggling families make ends meet. I’m going to keep fighting for more relief, and to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour—because our work is not done.”

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) also called out her Republican colleagues, “Fact: 76% of Americans, including 60% of Republicans, support the American Rescue Plan. Fact: Not 1 Republican Senator voted for the bill. Fact: Democrats just approved: $1,400 direct payments Extended UI benefits Rental assistance Quicker vaccine distribution”

    “We made sure the coronavirus relief package included critical health care funding, like increased vaccine doses, expanded testing, $8.5 billion for rural providers, $14.5 billion for veterans’ health services, and $6 billion for the Indian Health Service,” posted Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

    The Media Reaction

    As more people now get their news on social media, it wasn’t surprising that many reporters jumped to Twitter to share news of the passage of the bill, while adding a bit of “color” to the commentary.

    “The Senate has passed their amended version of the American Rescue Plan, after 25+ hours of debate and a grueling vote-a-rama. The final vote was 50-49, with cheers and applause coming from Democrats when the Senate gaveled out,” noted CBS News reporter Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers).

    Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) of USAToday shared some historical insight, “For those wondering, this is not the longest-ever all-night Senate session. That distinction goes to a 54-hour session on the ‘Ship Purchase Act’ in February 1915” – only to offer a correction, “Correction here – as several folks have pointed out, the longest session was in fact the March 1960 session on civil rights. From noon on Monday, Feb 29, to 5:31 p.m. on Saturday, Mar 5. (125+ hours)”

    Some political pundits didn’t pull any punches in how they saw the bill pass on party lines. This included author Joy-Ann Reid (@JoyAnnReid), who called out the Republicans in the House and Senate in a tweet, “Republicans – House and Senate alike – will now have to face re-election in 2022 or beyond explaining why they opposed giving Americans financial relief despite the ongoing pandemic. They’ll likely cite some culture war justification about trans kids in sports, abortion or this:”

    NBC News’ Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) showed some partisan feelings, “Democrats just passed a $1.9 trillion bill with zero Republican votes and told deficit hawks to shove it. This is a changed party.”

    User Response

    While many users on social media also applauded the passage of the bill, there were plenty of angry responses from both the right and the left.

    On the right side, many users addressed the cost of the bill, which has total spending that is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy.

    “Proud to join @LindseyGrahamSC on this. Hard working Kansans shouldn’t be forced to bail out blue states who totally shut down their economies & schools. Dems want to bail out mismanaged states at the expense of taxpayers w/ dollars distributed unfairly. KS shorted $400 million,” noted Dr. Roger Marshall (@DrRogerMarshallMD).

    “76% of Americans don’t understand the bill and all of the pork in it. They will be glad when inflation kicks in and the dollar devalues even more,” @juddbus13 replied to Sen. Duckworth.

    That sentiment was shared by @Firefrogs2021, “Exactly. I find it funny when Democrats post sh*t like this trying to make republicans looks bad. Those reasons she listed isn’t the reason the Republicans votes against it. I just wish they would be honest with the American people.”

    “That is a horrible, misguided, pork laden bill of trash. That’s why reasonable people voted no. They don’t want to mortgage our children’s future for a political gain today,” suggested @realsupero

    On the left, Rep. Ro Kanna (D-Calif.) was among those who didn’t think the bill goes far enough, “Please, show me how to budget rent, utilities, food, child care, health care, school supplies, and clothes with a one-time payment of $1,400.”

    “as one of your constituents i’m pretty disappointed that you did not fight harder for 400/week UI and to overrule the parliamentarian on the $15/hr wage. sure, republicans stood in your way, but you’re neglecting the fact Ds negotiated against themselves to whittle away relief,” @t00thsome responded to Sen. Markey.

    Another user also said it doesn’t go far enough to help struggling families, “Does it have $2000 in it? Per month? Does it have minimum wage increase? Or are y’all breaking your promises and selling it as victory after struggling with your own selves?”

    It isn’t just the Republicans in the Senate who clearly didn’t support the bill, and across social media it appears that the nation’s deep divide will show little sign of closing. Unity will have to wait.

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    Annmarie Reinhart Smith, Who Battled for Retail Workers, Dies at 61

    This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

    Annmarie Reinhart Smith had worked for Toys “R” Us for nearly three decades when the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017, leading to store closings and the layoffs of 33,000 workers, including her. Left without severance pay, she vented her frustration on a Facebook page called the Dead Giraffe Society, named after the store’s mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

    A labor advocacy group that was helping Toys “R” Us workers mobilize to demand compensation, like severance and back pay, took notice and recruited her.

    Mrs. Reinhart Smith was soon on Capitol Hill, chasing down legislators and meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Cory Booker, among others, to ask for their support. She joined with other former employees to march in protest through Manhattan, shouldering a mock coffin for Geoffrey.

    recent profile, like one who threw a Power Ranger figurine at her, leaving a scar on her forehead.

    In 2005, the private equity firms Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the real estate firm Vornado Realty Trust took control of the company with a leveraged buyout that left it burdened with $5 billion in debt.

    Terrysa Guerra, the political director of United For Respect, the group that recruited Mrs. Reinhart Smith, credited her with helping push Bain and K.K.R. to create the hardship fund. “People saw her as a leader and a trusted voice,” Ms. Guerra said.

    On the Dead Giraffe Society’s Facebook page, people who once mocked Mrs. Reinhart Smith’s seemingly futile battle thanked her and the other labor leaders for winning the payouts, even if it was only enough to buy a week of groceries or pay a month’s rent.

    While Mrs. Reinhart Smith called the subsequent $2 million bankruptcy settlement “a slap in the face,” the case was considered precedent-setting. Former employees at Shopko and Art Van Furniture, which both also recently filed for bankruptcy protection and closed, have since followed a similar playbook in fighting for hardship funds and severance, Ms. Guerra said.

    Mrs. Reinhart Smith remained involved in labor advocacy — helping workers from other retailers organize, pushing for Congress to pass a bill called the Stop Wall Street Looting Act aimed at private equity, and campaigning for a $15 minimum wage.

    “If she thought people were being stepped on, she would just step up and be the spokesman, whether that person wanted it or not,” Mr. Smith, her husband, said. “She was just that type of person.”

    She continued to work in retail, most recently at a Belk department store in Durham. Belk, also heavily burdened with debt after a leveraged buyout, filed for bankruptcy protection in February but quickly emerged after a reorganization of its finances.

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