The Week in Business: Where Are the Jobs?

Good morning and happy Mother’s Day. (Hi, mom!) Here’s the news you need to know for the week ahead in business and tech. — Charlotte Cowles

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

Economists expected the April jobs report to be full of great news — lower unemployment, robust hiring, confetti! And by most measures, they were disappointed. The pace of hiring actually slowed, and the unemployment rate rose slightly, to 6.1 percent, for the first time in a year. What’s going on? It’s complicated. Some lawmakers say that the government’s supplemental unemployment benefits are discouraging people from re-entering the work force, particularly in lower-wage positions. Others point to the millions of Americans who aren’t able to work because they’re managing child care, as many schools still aren’t yet back to normal operations. Either way, the country’s economic recovery isn’t going to be simple.

It’s been five months since Facebook barred former President Donald J. Trump indefinitely for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. As for when to allow him back, the platform kicked the question over to its independent oversight board, a group of about 20 academics, human rights leaders and political figures from around the globe. Last Wednesday, the group upheld Facebook’s ban, but ruled that the company had to establish a clearer policy for it. Facebook now has six months to make a long-term decision about Mr. Trump’s account and create community standards that justify it.

are divorcing. Their eponymous foundation has an endowment of about $50 billion and spent over $1 billion to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the past year alone. The organization released a statement saying that the couple intends to remain co-chairs and trustees, and no changes are expected. Still, the divorce will affect their shared fortune, much of which has been pledged but not yet donated to the foundation. Mr. Gates, 65, co-founded Microsoft and is one of the richest people in the world.

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

President Joseph R. Biden will hold a meeting with the four top House and Senate leaders, from both sides of the aisle, for the first time since taking office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, and their Republican counterparts, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, are expected to discuss Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda and his plans to fund it by taxing the rich. Republican lawmakers have fought the proposals from day one. Sounds like a fun conversation.

Warren Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, says inflation is rising. The price of building materials and other consumer goods is going up as demand grows and production costs increase. But the Federal Reserve has repeatedly encouraged investors not to fret. Is the economy going to overheat, with interest rates so low? Probably a bit. But slightly higher prices for a temporary period is in step with the Fed’s general aim for an inflation rate of 2 percent on average over time, to make up for exceptionally weak gains over the past several years.

The Biden administration has backed a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, which would allow third-party drugmakers around the world to manufacture and distribute them to nations that need them. But the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is not happy about this, particularly those who hold the patents on these vaccines. (Pfizer alone generated $3.5 billion in revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine in the first three months of this year.) Representatives of the companies argue that suspending those patents will discourage future innovation and potentially decrease the safety standards of vaccine manufacturing and efficacy. Support from the White House does not guarantee that a waiver will happen, but it adds momentum.

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Biden Will Seek Tax Increase on Rich to Fund Child Care and Education

WASHINGTON — The next phase of President Biden’s $4 trillion push to overhaul the American economy will seek to raise taxes on millionaire investors to fund education and other spending plans, but it will not take steps to expand health coverage or reduce prescription drug prices, according to people familiar with the proposal.

Administration officials had planned to include a health care expansion of up to $700 billion, offset by efforts to reduce government spending on prescription drugs. But they have decided to instead pursue health care as a separate initiative, a move that sidesteps a fight among liberals on Capitol Hill but that risks upsetting some progressive groups that have pushed Mr. Biden to prioritize health issues.

The president is set to outline his so-called American Family Plan, which includes measures aimed at helping Americans gain skills throughout life and have more flexibility in the work force, before his first address to a joint session of Congress next week. Its details remain a work in progress and could change in the days before the announcement.

But after weeks of work, administration officials have closed in on the final version of what will be the second half of Mr. Biden’s sweeping economic agenda, which also includes the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan the president described last month. That plan focused largely on physical infrastructure spending, like repairing bridges and water pipes and building electric vehicle charging stations, and was funded by tax increases on corporations.

expanded tax credit for parents — which is essentially a monthly payment from the government for most families — that was created on a temporary basis by the $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed into law last month. The duration of that extension was earlier reported by The Washington Post.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have urged Mr. Biden to instead make permanent that credit, which analysts say will drastically cut child poverty this year. Those pushing Mr. Biden include Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Ritchie Torres of New York.

“Expansion of the child tax credit is the most significant policy to come out of Washington in generations, and Congress has an historic opportunity to provide a lifeline to the middle class and to cut child poverty in half on a permanent basis,” the lawmakers said this week in a joint statement. “No recovery will be complete unless our tax code provides a sustained pathway to economic prosperity for working families and children.”

The family plan will also include some type of extension for an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, which was included in the earlier aid package on a one-year basis.

The plan’s spending and tax credits will total around $1.5 trillion, according to administration estimates, in keeping with early versions of the two-step agenda first reported last month by The New York Times.

To offset that cost, Mr. Biden will propose several tax increases he included in his campaign’s “Build Back Better” agenda. That starts with raising the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent, the level it was cut to by President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul in 2017. Mr. Biden would also raise taxes on capital gains — the proceeds of selling an asset like a stock or a boat — for people earning more than $1 million, effectively increasing the rate they pay on that income to 39.6 percent from 20 percent.

The president will also propose eliminating a provision of the tax code that reduces taxes for wealthy heirs who sell assets they inherit, like art or property, that have gained value over time. And he would raise revenue by increasing enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service to bring in more money from wealthy Americans who evade taxes.

Administration officials were debating other possible tax increases that could be included in the plan this week, like capping deductions for wealthy taxpayers or increasing the estate tax on wealthy heirs.

All of the tax provisions would keep with Mr. Biden’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on individuals or households earning less than $400,000 a year.

Previous versions of the family plan, circulated inside the White House, also called for raising revenues by enacting measures to reduce the cost of prescription drugs bought using government health care programs. That money would have funded a continued expansion of health coverage subsidies for insurance bought through the Affordable Care Act, which were also temporarily expanded by the economic aid bill earlier this year. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California had pushed for that continued expansion.

Mr. Biden’s team was under pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and the chairman of the Budget Committee, to instead focus his health care efforts on a plan to expand Medicare. Mr. Sanders has pushed the administration to lower Medicare’s eligibility age and expand it to cover vision, dental and hearing services.

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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 Administration Directs FEMA to Help Shelter Migrant Children

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in processing an increasing number of children and teenagers who have filled detention facilities at the southwest border, as criticism mounts over the treatment of young migrants.

FEMA, which normally provides financial assistance during natural disasters, will help find shelter space and provide “food, water and basic medical care” to thousands of young migrants, Michael Hart, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement.

The administration also asked officials in the Homeland Security Department to volunteer “to help care for and assist unaccompanied minors” who have been held in border jails that are managed by Customs and Border Protection.

Previous administrations have also dispatched FEMA to help process migrants during surges in border crossings. However, the Biden administration cannot use disaster aid funding to support the processing of migrants in Texas after they cross the border without the consent of Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. States must request the funding from the federal government.

9,457 children, including teenagers, were detained at the border without a parent in February, up from more than 5,800 in January.

The Biden administration has so far failed to quickly process the young migrants and transfer them to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they are held until the government matches them with a sponsor. The administration has struggled to expand the capacity of those shelters, where roughly 8,500 migrants were held this week. The Biden administration recently directed the shelters intended to hold the children to return to normal capacity, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

surge of crossings is adding new pressure in a divisive policy fight that the last three administrations have also confronted.

Mr. Biden’s critics have moved quickly in recent days to blame him for the increase of arrivals that they say threatens the country’s safety, economic recovery and health as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives.

Many of them appear eager to shift attention away from the president’s handling of the pandemic and his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which has been well received by the public, and toward an issue that could unite the Republican Party in opposition to Democrats.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called the influx of migrants, particularly children, “a humanitarian challenge to all of us.” But she was determined to cast blame on Mr. Trump and his policies, and longstanding unrest in Central America that had driven waves of migrants north.

“What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children’s interest,” she said on “This Week” on ABC.

Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, who had also pointed to the Trump administration, said she found the situation at a processing facility that she had toured in El Paso on Friday “unacceptable.”

Nicholas Fandos and Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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Congressional Aides Unite to Push for Change at the Capitol After the Riot

WASHINGTON — After the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, Herline Mathieu knew things had to change.

As president of the Congressional Black Associates, one of a hodgepodge of organizations on Capitol Hill that represent the aides who serve members of the House and Senate, she heard from scores of fellow staff members who did not want to return to the complex after the violence and racism of the riot.

“I spoke with at least 60 members who were just really concerned about their safety,” said Ms. Mathieu, a legislative aide.

One staff member told her bluntly, “I don’t know if I can work here.”

So Ms. Mathieu began to organize, a relatively rare endeavor for employees in Congress, which is exempt from most labor laws, including occupational safety and anti-discrimination statutes.

disparate treatment that Black Lives Matter protesters received from law enforcement compared with the relatively restrained tactics used against the pro-Trump mob.

“Many of my members, we marched last summer in the protests against police brutality,” Ms. Mathieu said. “We were overwhelmed with the security.”

But in their push for a safer environment, the aides are also pressing to ensure that the Capitol Police does not resort to racial profiling or cracking down on minority groups in response to the latest rash of violence.

“We’ve seen in post-9/11 that South Asians have been disproportionately profiled,” said Nishith Pandya, the president of the Congressional South Asian-American Staff Association and the legislative director for Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois. “It is very clear who the perpetrators of this attack were, and it’s nobody who looks like the people here. Yet we all have to be concerned about racial profiling because of how this country has reacted to attacks like this before.”

congressional aides have reported trouble sleeping and feeling anxious, claustrophobic, angry and depressed. Lawmakers have requested additional resources to support the mental health needs of employees in response to surging demand.

Ms. Pelosi has pledged to spend what is necessary to make sure the Capitol is safe.

“It’s going to take more money,” she said at a recent news conference, “to protect the Capitol in a way that enables people to come here, children to come and see our democracy in action, all of you to cover what happens here safely, members to be comfortable that they are safe when they are here.”

The organizing after Jan. 6 is not the first time some of the staff associations have joined forces. In November, a task force from the Congressional Black Associates and Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus produced a policy report on racial justice and reform. Several of the groups had previously teamed up to work on a campaign to increase diversity among Capitol Hill staff.

According to a 2019 survey of about 10,000 House employees — about half of whom responded — nearly 70 percent of employees are white, compared with nearly 15 percent Black, 12 percent Hispanic and nearly 7 percent Asian.

Kameelah Pointer, the president of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus and an aide to Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, said the 9/11-style commission should include a racially diverse team. Ms. Pointer said that would be vital to “analyze how race played a role” in the failure to adequately prepare for the Capitol rampage, which was led by supporters of President Donald J. Trump and included white supremacist and extremist groups.

The organizations say they will watch the commission closely and ask for more meetings with leadership.

“This won’t be the last time that we work together to address the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack,” Ms. Ramirez said.

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